By William D. Feniger
There is a lot of big talk, flag waving and hot air being thrown about in the United States today relating to “Buy American.” In reality, the game is to display the signs but ultimately purchase based on price, regardless of patriotic sentiment.
What is that attitude really doing for America? Not much at all. America continues to struggle with less domestic steel, fewer trucks and rail cars to move the steel, less revenue for American manufacturers of steel products, and fewer jobs for Americans. It’s an economy of less is less. This tub of half-full economics also leaks. More and more jobs continue to leave our shores and the longer they are away from America, the bigger the risk that they will not return.
Americans are complacent critters. Despite protestations to the contrary, as a nation we let Washington make all of our decisions, hoping they give us something for nothing. It’s simply not working. America needs to realize that its government is not Washington, but its citizens who must re-awaken to this reality that seemed so clear two hundred years ago. If we don’t take back our destiny, the foundation of America, its infrastructure, the very moral fiber that made us who we have been, will crumble like the pillars of the Roman Empire.
This is no manifesto, no denial of world markets and international trade. It is simple common sense and basic economics. Like so many companies that diversified from their core business and died, we need to return to what we do best in America: taking care of ourselves by making it, building with it, and selling it – in America. We particularly need to reestablish the small and medium-size entrepreneur in America. They built this country and they will help bring us back to the dominance we once enjoyed world-wide.
We cannot forget the man hours it takes to produce a ton of steel. Every 10,000 tons of steel made in America creates ten full-time steel mill jobs. That same steel needs to be processed by slitting or leveling, which generates another ten jobs. The steel must be transported from location to location, which generates another five jobs in the transportation industry. Then, the steel is delivered to manufacturers in order to produce American products, which would generate another 30 jobs. Each manufacturer has numerous vendors that will provide him with services and products that could possibly add another 20 jobs to the work force.
We started with 10,000 tons of steel and in the simplest analysis saw how 75 jobs could be created in America rather than in some foreign country. In turn, these jobs generated paychecks for those 75 workers. Each of those workers will pay city, state and Federal Income Taxes. They will also spend their earnings at their local drug store, grocery store and car dealer, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc. Not to mention, buy houses and appliances. How much more American does that get? That scenario is what built this great country. As a system it may have had flaws, but it was never wrong. It worked. Somehow we started pulling gears from the American machine, thinking it would work just as well if the work was done by foreign machines. We know now that tinkering with the machine causes the gears to slip and make whirring noises in Washington.
The result of 10,000 tons of steel being made in America is the generation of 15 million dollars being pumped into the U.S. economy. Now think about the 20 to 30 million tons of foreign steel currently coming in to America, and the difference it would make to our country if that steel was produced here. The numbers are enormous and we have to stop closing our eye to what is happening in America.
Did you say something? I didn’t hear you. Maybe you can call a friend, write a letter to your Senator or join a group to further the efforts. Most critically, speak up and be heard. Do something!