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Buy American: Compelling Reasons

For years, the media and Hollywood have sent the message that anyone who wants to be fashionable should eschew American products and buy foreign ones.  Recently, Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, put a different message on Facebook: “If you want to live in a country that builds things, you have to buy things your country builds.”  By the time someone sent Rowe’s comment to me, it had been “liked” by 125,996 Facebook users and “shared” by 122,978.  It wasn’t surprising to see Rowe embrace economic patriotism: He is a pitchman for Ford, and Walmart chose him to advertise its promise to buy $250 billion worth of American-made products over the next ten years.  But other celebrities who don’t share Rowe’s blue-collar persona have also started sending a similar message.  Since 2012, Martha Stewart has been giving an “American Made” award in order to spotlight “the next generation of great American . . . entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners.”

Mike Rowe and Martha Stewart aren’t alone.  A 2013 poll sponsored by Consumer Reports—a magazine that has long disparaged American goods, particularly cars—found that, if given a choice between an American product and an identical foreign one, 78 percent of Americans would rather buy the American product.  Of those who preferred American...

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