No matter what side of the political fence you're on, there seems to be one common sentiment about our government lately. It's broken. Whether or not you identify more with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Teapartiers, the right wing, the left wing or somewhere in between, I think we can all agree that things are just not right.
Our heads are spinning from the corporate bailouts, bank bailouts, jobs leaving the U.S., housing market in the tank, etc. The list could go on forever. When reporters ask the Occupy Wall Street folks what they're protesting, the answers are so varied, many of us are left bewildered. I know what I want the movement to be about, but what I want is something I've only heard mentioned once or twice. Most of the time, someone says something I think is irrelevant or doesn't address the big picture at all.
I can't help but think that as much as we blame the major corporations and the government for the pickle our country is in, we all hold a bit of responsibility in our hands. Sure, there needs to be reform, but some of this reform should start at the household level. One of the reasons corporations were able to send our jobs oversees is we all turned a blind eye to where our consumer goods came from.
It's a sad, but true fact that many of our consumer goods can be produced more cheaply in other countries. That makes the prices at Wal-mart, Target, The Christmas Tree Shop, the mall and wherever else we shop lower than they would be for goods made in the U.S. What do we, as consumers, do?
We all like to think we're frugal, so we buy the inexpensive items, regardless of where they're made. Most of the time, we don't even look at the label. If we do, it's just to shake our heads and say what a shame it is that nothing is made in America anymore. Never mind the fact that these cheaply manufactured goods are often of inferior quality. Remember the childrens' toys that contained lead a few years ago? What about the tainted dog food? And, the reported levels of arsenic in apple juice that's made from apple concentrate imported from China?
If you're watching the TV news and giving a thumbs up to the Occupy Wall Street folks, but don't know how you can help, this is it. Heck, even if you think they're a bunch of idiots, but admit that things aren't right in our country at this time, this is something you can do to help make it right.
Look for the Made in the U.S.A. label when you shop. If you've got a choice between something made in the U.S. and something made elsewhere, choose the U.S. manufactured good. That purchasing choice translates to supporting someone's job in the United States. It keeps a factory running in a community where it's helping to support a local school district. It's employees are working and living in a community where they're paying taxes, raising kids and building a retirement fund. Not only that, but the U.S. companies have manufacturing guidelines they have to follow to keep consumers safe.
Even better, when it's time to make certain purchases, look around your community for local crafters that make the item you need. It's not possible to find everything you need this way, but you can certainly find a few things. Toys, quilts, decorative items, furniture and many other things can be purchased from local crafters in many places. Don't assume prices are too high for these types of goods. You might be surprised at what bargains you can find at the local craft fair! Not only are you supporting a local person, you're buying a well-crafted consumer item.
We all know some consumer goods simply aren't made in American anymore. Most electronic manufacturing is overseas, for intance. The key is to not get frustrated when you run up against a brick wall in shopping for American made goods. Do your best. Buy American when you can find it and when it's practical. If you've got a choice between U.S. made Scotch tape and tape made elsewhere, pick the Scotch tape, even when it's a few cents more. A few cents isn't going to break anyone's bank. But, not supporting the Made in the U.S.A. companies just might.
I'm not saying buying American will solve all of our countries problems. It won't. But, it's something you and I can do now that can help point our country back in the right direction.