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Made In America Making Sense

March 24, 2011

In class we discussed ABC’s recent series “Made in America” and the lack of info regarding Disney, their parent company and contributor to the problem ABC news identifies. The series ran through what it takes to find American made products, and it happens to be quite difficult, no thanks to large corporations.

At the same time, and to much smaller fanfare, Wired Magazine ran their own story about the lack of American made products. They identify the shifting trends that are making US based products much more feasible, especially for small to medium sized companies. They’re trends that have resulted in growth in manufacturing jobs for the first time since 1997.

Wired approaches the subject as though it’s a new product, and it’s an analogy that works well. Everyone adopted cheap Chinese labor in fear of being left behind. With wages at only a fraction what they are in the US, it sounded simple. The Chinese helped the process by marketing themselves to the US. After everyone moved off shore, however, the weaknesses have surfaced, and not everyone agrees that off shore is the only way anymore.

As China’s economy booms, it’s turning off US manufacturers. The average wage of a Chinese factory worker has doubled and, although still small compared to the US, the cost is catching up. When paired with other expenses like shipping, it’s no longer a no-brainer.

ABC’s approach to the story made it personal by selecting a family and illustrating just how many products are made outside of the US. Wired took a more scholarly and researched approach. What I wish for would be a combination. ABC’s story made for good television, but I think a glimpse into the deeper issues, as FAIR pointed out, would have helped to truly enlighten the public.

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