It’s becoming an all too familiar and unwelcome sight — row upon row of sparse or empty store shelves. Adding to this season of our discontent, these annoying shortages appear random. Semiconductors, canned cat food, dress shoes, men’s underwear — the list goes on.
So, what’s going on with the supply chain, and is there any end in sight to these problems?
We’re eternal optimists around here at Contrast While Made in the USA supply chain problems are a thorn in everyone’s side right now, long-term, we believe that Made in the America will enter a new golden age.
Why don’t we make as much in America anymore?
In short, our relationship with domestic manufacturing is complicated. After WWII, the American economy, and particularly manufacturing, boomed.
Now, we’re not historians. But what we do know is one major reason domestic manufacturing took off in the middle of the last century was because of the war. European and Asian factories were destroyed, so US companies filled the gaps in demand.
So, what went wrong?
Turns out, a lot. It’s beyond the scope of this article to break down in precise detail why our manufacturing base has been reduced. In short, it was a combination of the following factors chipping away at US-based manufacturing over the last decades:
- Increasing, modernized manufacturing centers in Europe and Asia
- Tax law changes encouraging manufacturers to expand overseas
- Policy changes driving domestic manufacturing to other countries
- Infrastructure problems making domestic manufacturing cost-prohibitive
The average person’s obsession with getting everything for the lowest price possible is also an issue. Unfortunately, cheap (especially in the short run) isn’t always so cheap in the long run.
Case in point? The ongoing supply chain problems.
How Made in America is an insurance policy for future supply chain issues.
We’re not in the business of pointing fingers over here. What we are in the business of doing is working together with business owners, investors, and consumers to find win-win solutions.
One such solution is supporting domestic manufacturing and buying Made in the USA products. This will go a long way to unsnarling that troublesome supply chain and strengthening it for future generations.
Sadly, the US has slowly given up its capability of making essentials in the pursuit of cheap at all costs, thinking everyone would benefit from reduced prices and a diversified manufacturing base.
But having such a complex supply chain with multiple, vital nodes in dozens of countries is fundamentally vulnerable to the slightest disruption. When one node breaks down, the entire chain risks collapse.
The global supply chain’s inherent fragility: The fun doesn’t stop there
The frailness of the international supply chain questions the USA’s independence and protection from demographic changes and foreign policy issues.
For instance, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has prompted the Biden Administration and Congress to ban imported Russian crude oil. And if China gets involved in the crisis — Molly, you in danger, girl.
With an international supply chain, the environment takes a hit, too.
If US domestic policy favors environmental protection, but a large percentage of our dollars go to nations that do not, well, you get the terribly polluted picture. The same goes for purchasing from countries engaging in labor, animal, and human rights violations.
What can we do?
There are many strategic benefits to rebalancing the global supply chain with increased domestic manufacturing. However, it took many years and many players to get to this stage in the game. As such, it’s going to take the same effort and time to truly fix it.
It won’t be two weeks to flatten the supply chain curve. But how do you devour a whale? One bite at a time, and it all starts at home.
To ensure a stronger supply chain, buy Made in the USA.
True, these products are often pricier than those made overseas, but cheap can’t be the North Star for every purchasing decision.
The higher prices in US manufactured goods often reflect the following:
- Protections for workers
- Clean air and drinking water
- Higher-quality materials
- Consumer protections
- Strong local communities
- Robust local economies
- Good paying jobs
Also, domestic manufacturing increases and protects workers’ knowledge base. For instance, maintenance knowledge of vital infrastructure and building techniques.
In addition to all the positive effects Made in the USA can have on individuals and their communities, many companies are exploring domestic manufacturing out of necessity.
Good news. There’s a way to offset some of the increased prices of buying products Made in the USA. Hold on a minute while we adjust our capes.