Recently, my parents returned to India following an extended visit with my family in Ada. In preparation for their return journey, we desired to purchase some gifts for them to take back to India.
My father being a very enthusiastic person, especially when it comes to American products, asked me to purchase only items that were Made in USA. As such, we went shopping and looked around for some appropriate items. This included dresses, kitchen utensils, bathroom items and various electronic devices. Surely we thought these would be the right items to purchase. After checking the origin of manufacture, we discovered many of these items were manufactured in China. The remaining items were made in other Asian countries.
To our disappointment for not finding anything appropriate that would pass my father’s test, we returned home from our unproductive quest.
My father was shocked that we could not find any worthy items with the “Made in the USA” label. He could not understand how America, without a strong foundation of manufacturing, could continue the status of a world super power.
At this point, our discussion changed course to America’s manufacturing history and its current state.
Until 50 or 60 years ago, America was the center of global manufacturing. The “Made in USA” label was a symbol of pride for Americans and people around the world. After China opened its market in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of President Nixon’s China diplomacy, most U.S. manufacturers started shifting their manufacturing processes to China.
Low labor costs and the favorable exchange rate of the Chinese Yuan to the U.S. dollar made it cheaper to manufacture products in China and then ship them back to the United States. Tough U.S. environmental regulations, the IT revolution and short-term profit objectives of U.S. corporations provided further impetus to shift manufacturing to China.