3 Things Anyone Can Do At Home To Fix The US Trade Deficit
First, let's review America's trade deficit. At close to $500 billion per year, it is simply a measure of what we import vs. what we export. What's leaving vs. what's coming in. Our trade deficit disaster has two giant pieces. One is our import of foreign oil, mostly from countries that would like to see the U.S.A. fail. These countries are for the most part in the Middle East. Our trade deficit in oil is about $250 billion. The other enormous disaster is our nearly $300 billion a year trade deficit with Communist China. Actually, if we can correct these two long standing problems, we would have a trade surplus.
Our elected officials in Washington have decided to ignore this problem. They get a lot of money from big oil companies and large American multinational (now really Chinese) companies that are making large profits from using A) cheap Chinese labor, B) a rigged Chinese currency kept 30-40% too low, and C) much higher tariffs on exports to China than imports to America.
So what can we do at home until we elect some people that will put America first, rather than Communist China and Saudi Arabia?
1) Ask for the brand "Made in America" in every store you visit. Combine that with trying to do most of your shopping at stores where you can actually speak with the owner. You will be shocked by the reaction. In January 2012, I happened to be at the Colorado Farm Show. I saw some great looking work gloves and picked them up. The regional distributor came over and asked me if he could help. I simply asked, "Where are your gloves made?" He knew. Great guy...his head went down and he replied. "Well, unfortunately, they are made in China." We proceeded to have a conversation about China and while I did not buy the gloves, I did get him to say he would ask his manufacturer about making them in America.
We must do this everywhere we go. We won't always win. I really don't know what to do about computers; they all seem to be made in China (although often "inspired" in the USA---whatever that means). But people are busy; you can't always shop in 10 stores to find the product you want that is made in America. But try and ask...you will be astounded by the reaction. Just imagine us all doing it, local shop owners reporting back that tens of millions of Americans are just simply putting products back on the shelf and walking out.
Things would change. Products and manufacturing jobs would come back to America, and our national trade deficit would move towards a surplus, as would our budget deficit, as more people would be working IN America, paying more in taxes.
2) Make your house more efficient. For example, switch to natural gas from oil where you can. Natural gas is mostly a domestic USA product, while much of our oil comes from countries that despise America. I have done this in several homes in which I have lived.
Also, in 2011, I spent some money to make my house much more efficient. In certain areas of the country, like mine, a great investment is a home house fan. You put one up in the ceiling, leave a window open downstairs and turn it on at night in the summer. It sucks in the cooler air and reduces the need for air-conditioning. I looked for one made in America and bought one from Tamarack, called the "Ghost". I am estimating a 3-year payback. Take that OPEC.
3) Call your elected officials from home. Just give them one simple message. "I want our country to have a trade surplus. Unless you do something about allowing America to create all our own energy and stop this nonsense with Communist China, I am going to vote for the other person in November. My name is Joe Smith and I have 5 voters in my household who are voting in a block on these issues. What are you going to do?"
So there we are. One, two, three. It's not perfect; we'll still get some stuff from China because we forget, are too busy or whatever. But we'll try. We will ask and make decisions based upon the answers. If we can't have it made by an American company in America, the next best situation is from a company based in a free country (Canada, Germany, Australia, France...you get it), but made in America. We will switch as best we can off foreign oil, as too much comes from the Middle East, to natural gas, solar and wind where appropriate, and we will call our elected officials and tell them what we are doing. They can either come along or we will vote them out.
Sometimes we can get a two for one deal. At my property in Colorado, I needed a new lawn mower. I waited until the middle of winter, saw a drastic price reduction, and bought a Zeon all-electric mower made by Hustler in Kansas! So now I am riding around, supporting jobs in nearby Kansas and being powered by electricity, which in my city seems to be 70% domestic coal! Nothing for Communist China, nothing for Middle East Oil--OK here we go!