Simmermaker said the idea of buying only American hit him out of the blue one
day several years ago while shopping.
The 38-year-old electronics technician
at Lockheed Martin's Cape Canaveral operation found it nearly impossible to find
American-made products. It led him to pen a book, "How Americans Can Buy
American," which lists American-made products as a guide for consumers.
With nearly shoulder-length hair and a soft-spoken demeanor, Simmermaker doesn't
necessarily look the part of someone who has a testimonial by hard-line conservative
Pat Buchanan on his book jacket.
He seems to enjoy the dichotomy.
I'd describe myself as more conservative-leaning, I also belong to two unions,
and so I see the liberal point of view pretty clearly, too," said Simmermaker,
who lives in Orlando with his wife and two children.
"The thing about
buying American -- a great thing -- is that it's truly nonpartisan. We all stand
to benefit from buying American."
Florida Today interviewed Simmermaker
on his book, "How Americans Can Buy American -- The Power of Consumer Patriotism,"
published by the Orlando-based Rivercross Publishing Inc. Here are excerpts from
What are the major differences between the first and second
editions of "How Americans Can Buy American"?
There are two main
differences between the first edition (1996) and the second edition, which was
printed this past October. The first had about 7,500 listings of products and
services, but the new book has over 16,000, including a special section of 1,000
|Roger Simmermaker got the idea
of compiling American-based companies and American-made products after finding
it was difficult to 'buy American' without a guide. He said, 'So often we're being
tricked into thinking we're buying American when... we're not."|
The second main difference is that there
are now what I call "traditional-text" chapters that discuss the current
issues of free trade, foreign investment, the "New Economy" and how
they relate to Buying American.
Why is the issue of buying U.S. made-products
still important. in your view?
Buying U.S.-made, or Made in USA, will always
be important to the prosperity of our country and ourselves.
But what's of
equal, if not greater, importance to me, is taking that concept and going one
step further with it. By that I mean, yes, do buy "Made in USA" but
also buy from American-owned companies.
Why is this important? Because the
taxes American workers and American-owned companies pay into our country go towards
funding Social Security, our military, education, health care, the NASA space
program and national defense.
And, simply put, American-owned companies pay
a whole lot more taxes than foreign-owned companies do . . . three times as many,
to be exact.
On a more-personal note, I work for Lockheed Martin on a U.S.
Navy contract, and so my wages are funded by tax dollars. Buying from American-owned
companies, (such as Lockheed) helps support other defense-industry contracts because
of the above-stated fact that American-owned companies pay three times as many
taxes than foreign companies.
This applies not just to tax money going towards
our national defense, but also towards teachers' salaries, firefighters, policeman,
librarians and any other government employee whose wages are paid by tax dollars.
To me, it comes down to respect for your own paycheck.
most-common reaction you get from your book?
It would have to be: "But
I already buy Made in USA."
And so the majority of people I meet don't
really understand why the book is important. I explain that "Made in USA"
is only part of the overall big picture and that buying American is the other
People really feel empowered when they realize they can do more
for their own prosperity and their country's prosperity and do it without spending
an extra dime.
We have more power than we ever imagined to steer the global
economy in a direction that really benefits America, and ultimately ourselves.
I try to explain it this way: We don't just vote (in November). We vote every
day -- with our wallets, checkbooks and credit cards.
How much additional
effort does it take to ensure you're buying American? A little? A lot?
"only a little." Buying American can usually be done at little or no
inconvenience to the consumer and at little or no extra cost, too.
If we think
about where we shop most often . . . like the supermarket, it's really very easy.
Almost all the products there are made, canned, processed, etc. in the USA.
The only difference is who owns the company.
And, as I mentioned, this determines
where the profits and the taxes on those profits go (or stay).
Since we want
the profits to be paid to American companies who pay three times as much in taxes
to America than foreign ones do, we definitely want to know who owns what.
then it's truly as easy as buying Swiss Miss instead of Carnation; Hershey's instead
of Nestle Crunch; or Clorox instead of Lysol.
Why would an American not do
this, knowing they'd be tripling the amount going to fund our schools, libraries,
military personnel, national defense and so on?
The book is organized into
chapters such as Retail Stores, Electronics, Home and Office Products, Food Products
and the like. It's easy to use and easy to see if you're actually buying American
when you're buying.
What are the most-popular American-made products?
Harley-Davidson, for example?
Yes, Harley-Davidson is probably the most
popular. Not only is the company American-owned and all of their motorcycles American-made;
the domestic-parts content is very high at 95 percent.
Cooper Tire is one of
my favorite American-owned companies. Almost all the tires Cooper makes to sell
to the U.S. market are made in America, and they export from here to over 100
countries as well.
Hershey is a real American-owned hero company, to me. They
rejected a huge takeover bid from foreign-owned Nestle (Swiss).
What was their
reason for the rejection? Hershey's believed that a change of ownership to Nestle
would have had an adverse effect on the community. I think that's just an amazing
example of modern-day patriotism in action.
There's a mention in your
book about how labels can be deceiving. For example, Swiss Miss is an American
company, while Carnation is based in Switzerland. What's the easiest way for consumers
to find this out?
It's tricky because labels will only list where a product
is made, but not where the company is based. And most foreign-owned companies
will usually list the address of their U.S. subsidiaries.
Looking at the label
will therefore not tell you that Carnation, Nestle, Lysol, 7UP, Maybelline and
Ragu are all foreign brands. And since Chef America was recently bought by Swiss-owned
Nestle, it's obvious we can't go by the company name, either.
So often we're
being tricked into thinking we're buying American, when, actually, we're not.
The easiest way for consumers to find this out is to pick up their own copy
of "How American Can Buy American." The book is literally the only current
and comprehensive book on the subject.
Do you and your family buy strictly
American-made products? What kind of car do you drive and where do you buy your
gas? Would it be cheaper to buy your gas elsewhere or drive a foreign-made vehicle?
Yes, we try whenever possible to buy American-made.
virtually impossible to buy strictly American-made products. But I really think
we shouldn't get hung up on the areas where we can't buy American-made products
and concentrate on the areas where we can.
For instance, I drive a 1996 Lincoln
Town Car, which was union-made in Michigan. My wife drives a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer,
which was union-made in Louisville, Ky.
I buy my gas at strictly American-owned
company stations. So this means I never stop at and/or fill up at 7-Eleven with
the Citgo gasoline they sell. 7-Eleven is based in Japan and Citgo is based in
The truth is, gas prices are about the same, regardless of company
ownership, and foreign-made vehicles don't mean they cost less than American-made
Remember in the late '90s, when Nissan moved production of their Sentra
model from Kentucky to Mexico? Did the price of the car drop to reflect the lower
wage rates in Mexico? No.
In fact, sometimes, American cars are actually cheaper
than similar foreign models. The Ford Taurus, which has a 95 percent domestic-parts
content, costs less than the Toyota Camry, which only has a 55 percent domestic-parts
content. So here are two cars made in USA, but the American one is cheaper and
supports more American jobs to boot.
What is your position on so-called
I'm very wary of it, because free trade
encourages consumption at the expense of production, and production is the only
way to truly create wealth for Americans.
American consumers can only be as
affluent as they are wage-earners and producers.
Free trade encourages interdependence,
instead of independence. Our Founding Fathers saw this as a problem very early
on, and so they used protective tariffs. And we prospered from George Washington's
administration right on through to Teddy Roosevelt's.
Buying American is rooted
and grounded in such traditional American values as self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
Aren't those the same things we try to teach our kids? And that they should
not depend on others for what they can do for themselves?
Those are also the
core principles behind buying American. As it is for the American family, so should
it be for the American nation.
In the first three months after Sept. 11, we
imported no less than 100 million American flags. Poor Betsy Ross: If she were
alive today, she'd be first in the unemployment line and thousands more like her
would be standing right behind her.
What is your prediction for the
future? Will it be harder to buy American in the next five to 10 years, or easier?
Until we realize that American companies support more Americans than comparable
foreign companies do, America's financial situation will continue to deteriorate,
as imports continue to make up a larger share of our consumer choices.
if we make a bigger effort to buy American, we are helping our own American companies
become more profitable, and so we stand a good chance of convincing them to produce
It comes down to knowing that American companies are the home team
and we have to come out and support them because they support us.
the message I'm trying to get out to everyone. Support the home team. Buy American.