As we continue our efforts to recover the economy and return jobs to America that have been lost to foreign lands, many politicians are pointing the finger at regulatory agencies as a hindering factor in America’s competitiveness. Several have even made campaign promises to eliminate entire government agencies whose sole purpose is to protect the citizens and guests of the United States. Far be it of me to argue that “common sense” shouldn’t always prevail, and unfortunately I must agree that common sense is not all that “common.” But eliminating entire regulatory agencies strikes me a bit like, throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I recently read through a monthly report offered by the U.S. Department of Labor that lists companies and individuals who have been cited for various violation of OSHA safety regulations, and the Wage and Hour Division for violation of regulations ranging from child labor to underpayment of wages. And for those who don’t feel child labor laws are needed anymore, a pallet manufacturing company was recently found in violation of “employing six minors, including an 11 year old, performing hazardous tasks.” The discovery occurred during a safety investigation after a 17-year-old youth lost his arm in an accident.

(Source: http://www.dol.gov/whd/media/press/whdpressVB3.asp?pressdoc=Midwest/20120111_1.xml)

Can America compete head-to-head in manufacturing with companies based in China, India or anywhere there are few, if any, regulations to protect workers’ rights and the health and safety of the population? I don’t happen to think so. But neither do I think we should water down our standards. So, how do we bring manufacturing jobs back to America and at the same time protect people from hazards in the workplace, greedy employment practices, and keep our air and water clean? The case is much clearer than a pre-EPA Los Angeles sky:
  •            Toys made with lead paint.

  •            Pharmaceuticals tainted with foreign substances.

  •            Pirated movies, music, software and other intellectual property.

  •            Fake designer labels.

  •            Did I forget to mention Chinese drywall?

Consumers have power. If we “demand” products to be made in the USA, under common sense regulations for health, safety and workers’ rights, then the “supply” will come. I’m not saying we need to draw up picket signs and go occupy a public park. I’m talking about good, old fashioned CAPITALISM. We can, and should, flex our muscle via our purchasing dollar. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need that is made under unsafe sweatshop conditions in a far away land. If you can’t find a USA Made choice, take a minute and ask the store manager, “Don’t you have this same thing made in America?” and if the answer is, “no” don’t buy it unless you absolutely can’t do without it.

Like it or not, we are at war; an economic war. Our grandparents sacrificed by rationing metal, rubber and other commodities, we can take just a moment to look at a label to see if it says “Made in the USA” and put it back if it doesn’t.