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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

Boneyard USA: 18 Iconic Products That America Doesn't Make Anymore

"Buying American" used to be a popular political gesture. But these days it's becoming impossible. Simple products like lightbulbs are not manufactured ANYWHERE in America. Even the shirt on your back is almost certainly not made in this country, unless it comes from a few craft companies. We fear this trend will only continue. Economists are talking more than ever about the need to offshore if American industry will survive and recovery in any form. Rawlings baseballs, Gerber baby food, Etch-a-sketch, Converse shoes, Stainless steel rebar, Dress shirts,* Mattel toys, Minivans, Vending machines, Levi jeans, Televisions, Cell phones, Railroad equipment, Dell computers, Canned sardines, Forks, spoons, and knives, Incandescent light bulb,

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Brock Lorber
Entered on:

Thankfully, there's no shortage of cattle in America, so we can continue to be regaled by stories of economic BS!

Looking through the list of 18 products, unsurprisingly America never did make any of them.  As it turns out, America is an inanimate concept.  Workers in St. Louis, Puerto Rico, Detroit, Ohio, etc. made these products.

As a practical matter, what difference is it to you if your baseball is made in St. Louis, Puerto Rico, Haiti, or Costa Rica?  If Haiti is too far, what makes Puerto Rico better?  If St. Louis is good, wouldn't someplace in your state be better?  Or, in your town?

If "who" makes the product is the issue, why should you have more identity with an unknown Missourian than a unknown Haitian?  At the extreme, shouldn't you limit purchases to only people within your nuclear family if identity is the issue?

Of course, specialization and division of labor provides the most total production and thus the greatest total wealth.  If the comparative advantage lies in Costa Rica and not St. Louis, then Costa Rican workers are better off making the baseballs, St. Louis workers are better off making whatever they have a comparative advantage in, and everyone who purchases baseballs is better off.

The economic ignorance isn't limited to this one article, though.  The follow-on about deindustrialization is laughably ignorant.

First, the article states that consumption is 70% of GDP.  Actually, consumption is 100% of GDP (C+I+G+Xn).  Individual consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports are all flavors of resource consumption.

Next, the article conflates "jobs" with "manufacturing".  Fact is, until recently, manufacturing output of US companies was higher than it has ever been.  Right now it is higher than at any time before 2007.  The average worker in the US has become more productive, so much fewer workers are required for an equal level of output.

Perhaps the answer is to smash the looms once again and trade only with our closest neighbors, ensuring bare subsistence, no savings, and a short, precarious existence.

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