More American

September 28, 2009 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

I was recently told that without a doubt, a Chevy built by Mexicans or Canadians is “more American” than a Toyota built buy Americans.  And that got me thinking…

What is “more American” to purchase:  (1) A product manufactured by foreigners working for a company that is headquartered in America; or (2) a product manufactured by American workers (in American factories) by someone headquartered in another country? 

In other words: How important is the geographic location of the CEO’s desk?

I have to think about not just the worker and his/her family, but the whole kit ‘n caboodle…everything that goes along with both the factory and the work.  I think that Toyota and Honda might be just as “American” (if not more-so) than buying GM or Dodge*.  Especially considering that these foreign manufacturer’s sacrificed some of their bottom line in exchange for R&D, increased efficiency, and other long-term sound business practices which results in their American employees still being able to cash their check and support their families. 

Factories equal land and buildings….and those require endless maintenance from all sorts of third parties.   There is lanscaping and irrigation and roofing and HVAC and fire systems and repairs from gutters to toilets. There are cafeterias and insurance premiums.   There are electricity charges and water bills.  There are computers and network cabling and phone lines and data links.  There is machinery and machinery maintenance and raw materials and waste.  Factories are generating revenue for lots of other companies. 

Next is the paycheck and this doesn’t just go to the worker’s family and then disappear – it is given to other local businesses in the worker’s country (be that America or a foreign country).  The worker spends it at grocery stores, clothing stores, sporting events, little league dues, vacations, mortgages, and so on and so on (most of which also generates sales taxes).  Some of the paycheck goes towards income taxes.   Like the factory itself, the paycheck is generating other revenue.   

The taxes (property, sales, income) are also spent again in the country where the factory is located.  Tax revenue is used to pay teachers and soldiers.  To pay people to build roads and to build satellites.  To conserve our parks and to build our tanks.  

Seems to me that buying a Toyota Tundra that was built in Texas is more American than buying a Silverado built in Mexico or Canada.

Some well known Americana companies that have moved most, if not all, of their manufacturing outside the U.S.:

Fender – Nearly all of its instruments are built in Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and India.  Only a few high-end models are built in America. 
Levi’s – Check your label: A very few still say “Made in the U.S.A.”
Rawlings – “Baseball is as American as apple pie. But baseballs themselves — the actual leather-covered spheres hurled in the major leagues — are only as American as gallo pinto, the national dish of Costa Rica, where Rawlings balls have been made since 1986.”
The Chrysler Building – An American Icon.   In July of 2001, the Abu Dhabi government bought a 90% stake in Manhattan’s Chrysler Building for $800 million. 
7-11 – “While the chain’s down-home origins may lie deep in the heart of Texas, its parent company is nestled amid the flashing neon of Tokyo.”
GM, Ford, Dodge: Many cars and trucks are built in Mexico and Canada.  On the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit there are cars from Chevy, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota.  The only car that’s American is the Toyota. 

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/made-in-america-no-longer.aspx?GT1=33002&slide-number=1

* Ford is excused for while they made poor decisions to overpay executives and to ignore fuel efficiency in their US cars, they (1) Have shown they can do it by being the number 1 auto importer into Brazil (a energy-independent country who uses flex-fuel / bio-fuel in all its new cars) and by building a 60+ mpg Ford Focus in England.  So it can build efficient cars for South America and Europe, it simply chose not to in the USA; and (2) they did not accept / require bailout money as did GM.

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