December 2nd, 2008
04:00 PM ET

O Say Can You Buy?

Nicole McClelland

Who knew that going Made in the USA would leave me hungry, broke, and half-naked?

I had been cursing up and down the aisles at the grocery store for half an hour when I finally found a can of black beans claiming to be "100% usa family farm organically grown." I was on a weeklong mission to buy only American-made goods, and my very first shopping trip had turned into a debacle. I'd been forced to put back the bananas, cherries, coconut, and chipotle peppers, and I was about to blow $15 on a tiny bottle of US-made olive oil.

I was hoisting the beans triumphantly above my head when my roommate approached. "What about the packaging?" she asked. I scowled at her. More of the world's aluminum comes from China than from anywhere else; the only way to know the origins of this particular can was to call the company—and it was Saturday. "Buying American is such a pain in the ass!" I wailed.

In 1990, when I was in grade school, I watched a union-sponsored commercial in which a mother told her little boy that they would have to move because Dad had lost his job—too many people were buying imports. As union jobs dried up, so did that campaign; now, 14 years into nafta, buying local is hot, but buying American is, at best, a joke (though in August Barack Obama dusted off the sentiment with his "Buy American, Vote Obama" slogan). When I told Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, that I was going to buy only American for a week, he laughed. "I'm very sorry to hear that.

"It's exceptionally hard, if not impossible, to be 100 percent pure," he explained. "There are just some things you can't buy. It's incredibly difficult and depressing."


Filed under: Economy • Nicole McClelland • Raw Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Cathi

    Yes, it is the Great Depression, Part II however, this is not your grandfather's depression. The variables are different and consequently, the solutions will be different as well.

    Protectionism within the confines of a global economy is, at best, near sighted. Key to an effective and lasting solution is a long, hard look at corporated ethics and our current corporate tax structure.

    December 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    The voting publics complacency is eulogized with shallow empathy regarding their dillusional trust with government,and big business,......buddy can ya spare a yaun?

    December 2, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  3. hugh ~ california

    Until we tax cheap imports from foreign countries to level the cost of products, and start producing more in America than just food, we will continue the downhill spiral. The out-sourcing of jobs has a lot to do with the problem.
    We have become a nation primarily of consumers rather than producers. When US jobs decline production declines. People out of work cannot afford to spend, this creates a vicious cycle. As a result, people out of work lose their homes as well. This is what happened in the Great Depression. America was at its peak when it led the the world in production. We must increase the GNP–Gross National Product.
    "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." –George Wilhelm Hegel

    December 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Absolutely! I tried the same experiment....no food, no television, no electronics what-so-ever, no bed linens, probably no chair to sit it...were we doing foreign nations a favor?

    December 2, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  5. Cindy

    It is extremely hard to find and use only things made in the U.S. now. Most companies do everything overseas because it is way cheaper to get it from there and bring it here to sell. That's why a lot of our companies choose to move overseas...who can blame them. They are after all in it to make money.


    December 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm |