Things the United States Makes


By: inoljt,

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.



Another Romney Flip Flop: More Pollution From Cars and Trucks

Another day, another flip flop. At Sunday’s Mike Huckabee-hosted presidential forum, Republican candidate Mitt Romney offered up yet another flip flop, this time on reducing global warming pollution from cars and trucks. He said that he would “get the EPA out of its effort to manage carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks.”

Back in 2004, then Governor Romney signed Massachusetts up to copy California in implementing carbon emissions standards for light duty vehicles. The car companies pretty much hated that because it created a dreaded “patchwork,” in which the standard would apply in about half of the states but not in the rest.

Luckily, the Obama administration stepped in. The President brokered a deal to come up with a single national standard to reduce carbon pollution, which the car companies, the states, unions, EPA, and environmental groups like NRDC could all agree on. He made it happen primarily through a rule issued by EPA, which reduces pollution, saves consumers money, and reduces confusion for industry. That program was so successful that last month, EPA proposed to extend and strengthen the program through 2025.

Back to Romney. Of course, no one likes a flip-flopper. But the truth is, sometimes it makes sense to change your mind. You get new information, like former climate-skeptic Richard Muller who came to his senses and realized the globe really is warming up. That’s what makes Romney’s latest flip flop so infuriating. Almost every bit of new information we have shows that the need to reduce global warming pollution is greater than ever and the dangers are worse than we previously thought.

And the rules that Romney once supported, but now decries, provide tremendous benefits. The new set of rules would save over 4 billion barrels of oil. Owners of new efficient vehicles would save up to $4,400 over the life of the vehicle. Since he doesn’t seem to have any problem with changing his positions, can we humbly suggest that the Governor just go ahead and switch back to the position that is good for industry, good for consumers and good for the planet?

The Birth of My Activism

I have always been an electric vehicle and alternative fuel enthusiast, following every change in the industry, researching its history, looking for kinks in the armor of the market for a way to get these vehicles into people’s hands. Then one day, it seemed to come true. General Motor’s announced in 1996 it was to produce an electric car to be called the EV1. This following its successful entry into the first World Solar Challenge in 1987 and the positive hoopla raised by the press for GM’s presentation of its future electric car, a prototype called the Impact, at the 1990 LA Auto Show.



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Cash for Clunkers ends, cash for appliances coming soon

The $3 billion "Cash for Clunkers" program officially ends today, having helped generate at least 625,000 new car sales. Hoping to repeat this success, Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced that $300 million in stimulus money will go toward cash incentives for consumers to buy energy-efficient home appliances:

Beginning late this fall, the program authorizes rebates of $50 to $200 for purchases of high-efficiency household appliances. The money is part of the broader economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year. Program details will vary by state, and the Energy Dept. has set a deadline of Oct. 15 for states to file formal applications. The Energy Dept. expects the bulk of the $300 million to be awarded by the end of November. (Unlike the clunkers auto program, consumers won't have to trade in their old appliances.)

"These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement announcing the plan. Only appliances covered by the Energy Star seal will qualify. In 2008, about 55% of newly produced major household appliances met those standards, which are set by the Energy Dept. and Environmental Protection Agency.

Replacing old appliances can significantly reduce a household's energy use and utility bills, so this seems like a good use of stimulus money. However, some analysts are skeptical that the new program will be as successful as "Cash for Clunkers":

"The cash-for-clunkers (program) had a discernible value proposition for the consumer, because he knows how much his (clunker) is worth," says [Sam] Darkatsh, the Raymond James analyst. "With appliances, there is no trade-in. You can walk into Home Depot and get a great deal on a home appliance any time you want one. Why would it drum up sales now?" Laura Champine, an analyst with Cowen & Co., agrees. "I'm not sure if it will be as powerful as cash for clunkers because there is something compelling about that $4,500 discount," she says. "Also, a new car is more fun than a new dishwasher. So I'm not sure if it will be as much of a driver, but any driver is welcome right now."

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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Another $2 billion for Cash for Clunkers

President Barack Obama signed a bill on Friday allocating an additional $2 billion to the to the Car Allowance Rebate System, more commonly known as Cash for Clunkers. The money will come from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the economic stimulus bill approved in February). The Senate approved the bill by a 60-37 vote on Thursday night.

I liked Senator Tom Harkin's idea to put income limits on this program, but the Senate needed to pass the same bill that cleared the House in order to keep Cash for Clunkers going during the summer recess. If the Senate had approved any amendments to the House bill, the funding would have been delayed until September.

The Senate vote went mostly along party lines, but four Democrats joined 33 Republicans in voting no: Claire McCaskill (who had been criticizing the program), Pat Leahy, Ben Nelson, and Mark Warner. Seven Republicans joined 53 Democrats in voting yes: Lamar Alexander, Kit Bond, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Sam Brownback, Olympia Snowe, and George Voinovich.

I'm pleased to learn that most consumers who have taken advantage of this program have traded in a "clunker" for cars that get significantly better mileage. (Click here for lists of the most popular vehicles traded in and the most popular purchased with Cash for Clunkers vouchers.) The way Congress wrote the bill, people could have traded in SUVs and trucks for similar vehicles with only minimal improvements in fuel economy.

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