Todd Lipscomb was a successful financial executive for Western Digital who had spent seven years working in Asia. During that time, he writes in his manifesto, "Re-Made in the USA," he came to some "disturbing insights into America's place in the global market." While other nation's put their interests first, the United States clung to its free-trade policies. "That we deem such a vague concept as more important than our own factories and people is a joke abroad," he writes, adding: "Asia gets the factories and the future. We get cheap goods today and a dire future."
One day, he told IndustryWeek in a recent interview, he was holding his young daughter and suddenly thought, "I am getting richer but my nation is getting poorer." Worried about what her future would hold, he quit his job and in 2007 started MadeinUSAForever.com, a website that now features 420 U.S. manufacturers. While consumers can purchase products ranging from jeans to garden tools on the site, Lipscomb says many use the site primarily for research on what American products are available.
In "Re-Made in the USA," Lipscomb is harshly critical of American executives who he accuses of "killing off their own customer base as they eliminate middle-class jobs, and then look to Washington for a bailout." He says many American businesspeople are nave about working conditions in low-cost countries, arguing that much of the production is done by subcontractors whose workplaces are unsafe and lead to rampant pollution. And he chastises big-box retailers for encouraging the purchase of cheap, poorly made imports over American-made goods that may be price-competitive or cost more initially but last much longer.
Lipscomb urges individual action by American consumers to help address what he says are dangerous economic trends. The U.S. trade deficit leads to "massive, unsustainable borrowing from other countries." And the inability of the United States to manufacture many goods here is "strategically unsound." He says outsourcing of manufacturing and our dependence on foreign oil could leave the United States "entirely dependent on nations we know we cannot rely on." But if consumers more consciously purchase American goods and urge government action to support U.S. manufacturing, he states, "Good jobs will return. Manufacturing will be restored. We will be able to compete on equal footing with any country in the world."
Making the Case for Made in America