You remember Cliff Claven, the postman from the popular television series, Cheers? He’d philosophize and pontificate and come up with the most interesting factoids. Well, Cliff Claven was played by talented comedian and actor John Ratzenberger. I recently had the opportunity to interview him about buying American made products. And with only a few shopping days left until Christmas, that’s exactly was Ratzenberger wants us to do.
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Ratzenberger is touring the country promoting the concept of buying American. In fact, he and entrepreneur Mark Andol have created a website, madeinamericastore.com, which educates the public on the advantages and necessity of buying American and also sells American made products. Currently on special for the holidays are gift boxes of made-in-America products designed for children, men, and women, respectively.
He gives an example as to why, if we want to experience economic growth, it is important to buy American. “If you buy a T-shirt made in China for $4-5 cheaper than you can get here, you will eventually put the American T-shirt company out of business.” This company will then no longer pay for a business license (tax), collect and pay sales taxes, or pay income taxes to the state and to Uncle Sam. Lower tax revenues eventually lead to economic decline. It also leads to the missing tax dollars being made up by the rest of the population.
“It’s a domino effect,” Ratzenberger says. “I know a lot of truckers in Los Angeles. They used to take a truck load of merchandise back east and return with a full load of merchandise to be shipped out from L.A. to points around the world. You know what they’re telling me now? They’re coming back empty.” This is a reduction in the trucker’s pay. Therefore a reduction in the amount of taxes he pays. Everyone is affected. If there are fewer truckers on the road, there’s less need for truck stops and fuel and junk food too.
Ratzenberger grew up in Bridgeport, Ct., a manufacturing town. He started out as a journeyman carpenter. In fact, he helped build the stage at Woodstock. “All my heroes were people who could make things. Manufacturing is our strength. It’s the people who get up in the morning and put their hands to something that make America strong. But they are eliminating shop courses in schools and people are losing skills.” Ratzenberger feels that this must change or our country will suffer.
Ratzenberger claims the tools made by American manufacturers, such as the Estwing hammer, will last far longer than its Chinese counterpart. He says, “I can spot a Chinese hammer from yards away just by the way the metal glints off the sun. Those hammers chip and break in no time at all. Whereas an Estwing hammer can be handed down from one generation to the next.”
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You get what you pay for.
Products made in China are of poorer quality. Not only that, but Ratzenberger adds, “There are no laws in China covering environmental issues. They do whatever they want. One third of all our air and water pollution comes from China. They have no EPA. In America we have found ways to protect the environment but these methods cost money. As a result, we must charge higher prices. But investment in American-made products will pay off in a cleaner, safer environment and a stronger economy.”
When going into a big box store this holiday season and thereafter, Ratzenberger encourages Americans to ask where the “made in America” section is. “And if they don’t have one,” he adds, “walk out!”