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I've been wondering lately what the balance is between being a good citizen and a good steward. I want to be a good citizen and buy American-made products. But I also want to be a good steward and find the lowest cost for products. Does "buying American" really matter in today's economy?
Dear Patriotic Steward,
This is a great question since there is a heightened concern over trade wars in our country now. I am not for closing our borders to imports; an open economy with competitive options is good for everybody, but given equal product choices, buying domestically-made products makes a lot of economic sense for any nation.
Specifically, buying American-made products contribute to our nation's economic stability and supports local businesses, local communities, and individual states. When American businesses flourish, they can expand, hire more employees from the community, and contribute more tax dollars to the local government.
The nonprofit group, Reshoring Initiative, reported that 171,000 jobs were brought back to the United States in 2017. "We believe the huge increases were largely based on anticipation of greater U.S. competitiveness due to expected corporate tax and regulatory cuts following the 2016 election."
Consider the textile industry. William McCrary, Jr., chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) reported that 550,000 Americans are employed in the textile sector of the United States and that 2017 exports of American-made textiles and apparel equaled $28.6 billion.
Buying American-Made Makes You a Better Steward?
If all your purchases are American-made but you don't provide for your family, give, save, or invest, then you are not a good steward. Stewardship means surrendering your finances to God and recognizing yourself as a manager, not owner of all you have. It's part of your identity, not just your behavior.
Stewardship is not ordering your finances in a way that you can spend whatever you want. It's ordering your life in such a way that God can spend you however He wants.
In a few years, everything you have will be thrown away, given, or sold to someone else. Everything! Our time here on earth is limited, but believers are promised eternity in heaven. That must be our main focus. An eternal perspective will give us the motivation to wisely steward our resources here on earth.
When it comes to spending money, buy what you need and avoid an indulgent lifestyle. Balance can be achieved by supporting local businesses whenever possible and avoiding debt. For big ticket items, I recommend researching to determine quality brands that will last. If you can buy American, then do it!
When Nebuchadnezzar had the residents of Jerusalem exiled to Babylon, the prophet
Jeremiah wrote them saying, "...seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."
That same principle of being a good citizen applies today. When we support local artisans, manufacturing firms, and American companies, we help grow our nation's economy. Consider the following reasons to buy American when you have the choice.
5 Reasons to Buy American-Made Products
When money is invested in products made here, the manufacturing sector will grow more, creating more jobs and putting money into the economy which will reduce the deficit. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 1.4 jobsare supported by every U.S. manufacturing job. These include construction firms, accountants, energy suppliers, etc.
2. Labor Control
The health and dignity of children and adults are violated by lack of standards and exploitative working conditions in many countries. It is estimated that over 160 million children are engaged in child labor worldwide with children as young as six some places, and the possibility of 12 million between the ages of 10-14 employed in China. Unfortunately, child labor leads to child trafficking. Laws and safety regulations protect the most vulnerable.
3. Quality Control
Excellence and longevity can be enforced here. In addition, the safety for consumers is protected when controls are in place. For example, toxins have been found in imported pet products and children's toys, along with faulty Christmas lights.
4. Promotes Independence
Purchasing American-made products grants an increased sense of security when not relying on imports from other countries.
5. Better for the Environment
Our technology and laws aim to protect our land and water for today's families and future generations. Many countries with large manufacturing operations have polluted their air, land, and water due to lack of controls and safety measures.
If you desire to purchase genuine products, look for a flag and "Made in America" label. Did you know that "Made in the USA" labeling requires only 75 percent of a product's components to be USA-sourced? Also, look for an inconspicuous Country of Origin label, a requirement by the regulatory agencies often missed by those who are committed to buy American.
God does not prohibit us from enjoying the benefits of this world. Rather, we are admonished not to get entangled in them to the point that we are not able to fulfill our primary purpose of serving Him. The purpose of resources is to free us to do more for Christ, not less. Focusing on the pursuit of "things", regardless of where they are made, is one of the greatest dangers we face in America. Our great abundance threatens our requirement to be faithful stewards.