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Archive for Tuesday, January 21, 1992

BUYING AMERICAN

January 21, 1992

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The heralded ``Buy American'' appeal for U.S. citizens has a lot of merit, but it's a double-edged sword that requires commitment from the people who turn out products as well as those who buy them.

One of the major attractions for people who drive foreign cars or purchase foreign electronic gear is better quality for a lower or even comparable price. If American workers want better and more jobs because their countrymen buy their products, then they must redouble their efforts to prove they can turn out top-flight goods at a reasonable cost. Few, indeed, are the Americans who will purposely buy foreign goods when they can get homemade products as good at the same price.

American producers, from the front offices to the production line workers, must offer equal or better quality for a given number of dollars. While Japan, Germany and other nations have cut deeply into our markets, and are due some blame for recessionary trends, Americans, too, need to realize they have not worked hard enough or well enough to meet such challenges. The quality-cost gap needs to be closed, then American producers must initiate good information and promotional programs to let American buyers know about the excellence of U.S. products. A learning period will be required to win back those who have strayed.

Some major U.S. companies are now giving employees bonuses if they ``buy American.'' This has merit, at least for now as a jump-start, but the best way to get the job done is for the producers to make things so good that people need no artificial incentive to buy them.

Part of the problem is created from outside. But even that obstacle can be overcome by better performances by American firms putting goods on the market so that citizens find it easy to decide in favor of their products.

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