With the still recent rise of gas prices to $4.00 per gallon forever ingrained (hopefully) into the memory of American consumers, many of us have realized the real danger of dependence on foreign oil. But this present day reality check shouldn't stop there as it can be used to bring realizations of the dangers of foreign dependence in other areas of the economy as well.
In my opinion, we shouldn't allow Detroit automakers to sink into oblivion, thereby transferring our hopeful newfound independence from foreign oil for a newfound dependence on foreign automakers, but that's a subject for another article on another day. However some of my thoughts on this issue are evident in my recent interview on Fox Business Network on Wednesday, November 12, 2008. To view my interview with Alexis Glick and on the other side of the fence from John Tamny of RealClearMarkets.com, simply go to www.foxbusiness.com, click on the video/video archives tab, and do a search on "Simmermaker." As Alexis Glick noted at the close of the interview, you'll find it to be a "healthy and lively discussion."
Dependence on foreign companies and products can not only cost us our independence as a nation in the long term, but it can also cost us our hard-earned dollars in the near term. It has recently become evident that millions of American consumers have been paying more than they should have for computers, TVs, cell phones among other electronic gadgets.
Japan-based Sharp Corp., South Korean-based LG Display Co, Ltd., and Taiwan-based Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. were recently found guilty of "conspiring to drive up the price of LCD panels" forcing consumers "to pay more for these products" according to the Justice Department. LG Display agreed to pay a $400 million fine, Sharp agree to fork over $120 million and Chunhwa consented to a $65 million fine for fixing prices to gain prominence in the $70 billion worldwide LCD screen market.
But how does buying American enter into the picture since most of the electronic devices that use LCD screens are made outside of the United States anyway? The answer is that we can still buy American by supporting U.S.-based companies even when their products are sourced from overseas.
Why does this matter? For one, American companies typically pay twice the amount in taxes to the U.S. Treasury than foreign-owned companies. So supporting American companies allows the U.S. Treasury to collect more tax revenue not by us paying higher taxes but accumulating more tax revenue from the money that we're already spending anyway.
Of course the U.S. Treasury isn't too popular these days in light of the recent financial crisis, but we have to keep in mind it is funds from this same treasury that are used to build highways, roads and bridges, fund American schools and libraries, keep our police and fire departments well equipped, and ensure that if you should ever need to dial 911, there's a paid professional on the other end of the phone to assist you. And additional funding has been used to extend this service to calls placed from cell phones as well as land-based phones so people in emergency situations can have their location pinpointed.
But if we want to stay away from price-fixing foreign companies and patronize American companies when you're looking for a new TV, for instance, how do you do that when no TVs are made in the USA? My advice would be to look into a Plasma HDTV or LCD HDTV from California-based Vizio, Inc.
Vizio TVs are'nt made in the USA, but no other company makes TVs here either. However, if you call their toll-free technical support number, you'll reach either California or Texas instead of Calcutta or Taiwan. And the technical support is for free and for life.
Another reason to support Vizio instead of one of the many foreign-based competitors has to do with the independence issue I brought up at the beginning of this article. Independence equals control, and control equals independence. We simply cannot remain an independent nation by having our wants and needs supplied by foreign-based companies regardless of where their manufacturing takes place.
Foreign companies that build plants here can close them and move them just as quickly. And if we continue to send our money to companies like Sony and Samsung and the American-based competition doesn't survive, foreign companies can fix prices to whatever level they want and the don't have to collude to do it. Why? Because there isn't any American competition left to offer any resistance and prevent such a scenario.
Back when Charley Reese conducted a book review of the first edition of How Americans Can Buy American in 1996, he said it's easier to convince American companies to bring jobs back to America than it is to convince foreign companies to keep jobs here. He's right. I continue to hold out hope that one day we as consumers will use our leverage through an emphasis on corporate responsibility to convince American companies to move more production back to the United States. One thing that's for sure is we could never use such corporate responsibility leverage with foreign companies since they aren't based here and owe no allegiance to the United States.
I can tell you that I do not own a Vizio TV. My old American-made General Electric 27 inch tube type TV is still doing just fine. But what I am suggesting is to do what I would do if I needed a new TV realizing they don't make them in the U.S. anymore and compare their picture quality to other brands. I can also tell you that I have heard good comments about Vizio TVs from friends who have bought one, and apparently Vizio's prices are very competitive and can even be cheaper than the foreign-based alternatives.
So if your in the market for a new TV and want to keep as much of your money in the U.S. as possible or if you're just outraged over the latest foreign price-fixing scandal, you might check want to check out Vizio.
Roger Simmermaker is the author of How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism. He also writes "Buy American Mention of the Week" articles for his website www.howtobuyamerican.com and is a member of the Machinists Union and National Writers Union. Roger has been a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, has been quoted in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report among many other publications, and is now a weekly contributor to WorldNetDaily.