A moment here for jingo-ism. Free and fair trade is good for everyone — may the best products make it to the marketplace, at the best prices. Many more Americans are able to enjoy the good life — we are a nation of passionate, obsessive consumers! — thanks to the lowering cost of goods from the USA and all over the world. That’s good. Folks in low-to-moderate income ranges can afford the nice things for their families, their kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews. That’s good!


Bad: Foreign competitors underpricing American firms to drive them out of business. Often with the elected officials in our country looking the other way — and former officials hiring on to represent foreign interests (as lobbyist and trade representative) and thereby sealing the fate of a few more plants. There were serious allegations of this happening for 40 years with Japan’s output — goods were priced lower in the USA and higher at home (the Japanese subsidized exports).


The USA invented clock radios — any made here anymore? (Send us the list.) And televisions — any made here anymore? And great cars (although the Americans were not the first or the only manufacturers) — look at the penetration of foreign makers into the market once dominated by GM-Ford-Chrysler et al. Industrial labor unions are also being hollowed out by globalization. The opinions on this are all over the place — but let’s not forget what union pioneers achieved for all workers, not just their members. All that proud legacy of unionism is at stake in the race to globalization.


So this type of story, about an upstate New York manufacturer and its Pennsylvania-based toy manufacturing customer (both) steadily sliding toward “going out of business” signs in the windows, is most disturbing. Yes, globalization is good. No, hollowing out American manufacturing on the altar of low, lower and lowest prices is not good. Not good. (Also not good: The practices of Big Box predators — from the story: “Holgate toys will not be found in the big-box stores. Television journalist Rick Smith showed how Wal-Mart, for example, forces companies to move their manufacturing, often all their equipment, offshore to comply with Mal-Mart’s pricing structure.” And to think — Sam Walton’s great autobiography was “Made in America!”



Pick up your phone and call 814-368-4454 and ask the Holgate folks what they might have for your gift-giving needs this year. (Among their offerings: Mister Rogers trolleys and toys.) Their toys are made in America. A few jobs may be saved (in Pennsylvania and New York, once towering symbols of USA manufacturing). You’ll probably feel better. The folks at Forsyth and Holgage will feel better. It’s a “little bit” but every little bit helps — we may rue the day we sold out our American manufacturing prowess to distant lands…


Hank Boerner


Accountability Central


And your thoughts on USA manufacturing?


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