One of the time-honored American political traditions is to complain about how America no-longer makes things. This is not quite true, however. America still makes plenty of things. In fact, America manufactures more stuff than any other country in the world.
Why, then, do so many Americans think that nothing is made in America anymore? Well, let’s take a look at four things that America makes:
Cars – This is perhaps the least surprising thing on this list. The world’s biggest car company is American. American car companies, however, have plenty of competition. German, Japanese, and South Korean companies all sell many cars inside the United States (strangely, France and Italy are home to some very prestigious automobile companies which have failed to penetrate the American market).
Commercial Airplanes – Remember the last time you bought a commercial airplane? Well, it was probably made in America. Boeing is the world’s dominant manufacturer of commercial airplanes. The only other company that can compete is Airbus, located primarily in France and Germany (Russia also makes commercial airplanes, but nobody buys them).
Construction Equipment – When you look at any construction site, you’ll almost certainly see a bunch of heavy yellow machines with the letters CAT stamped on them. Those machines were made in America. The industry of building machines which build buildings is dominated by one American firm: Caterpillar. The main other company that seems to also be in the business is Komatsu Limited, a Japanese firm with one-fourth as many employees as Caterpillar.
Tanks – It’s hard to tell, naturally, what country makes the world’s best tanks. Nevertheless, America does make a lot of tanks – and it’s probably safe-to-say that the quality of American tanks is amongst the best in the world (the cost, on the other hand…). It seems that the major “competitors” in this field are Germany, Great Britain, and perhaps Russia.
There are several things which are easily noted about this list. First of all, the items listed above are very difficult to make. These items require extensive expertise with lots and lots of parts that have to be put together just right (making those parts is usually a multibillion dollar industry itself). There is generally no room for failure. This is not like making a T-shirt (although America also does do that).
Secondly, America’s major “competitors” in manufacturing are not the countries most people accuse of stealing jobs. Third World countries do not manufacture the same things that America manufactures. Rather, America “competes” with France, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan.
Finally, to answer the question above: Why, then, do so many Americans think that nothing is made in America anymore? Well, the answer is that America tends not to make consumer goods that people buy every day. Rather, it makes things like cars, commercial airplanes, heavy construction equipment, and tanks. But if you ever decide to buy a commercial airliner for your next vacation, or some heavy construction equipment for your house…that commercial airliner or heavy construction equipment is probably going to be made in America.