Economist Michael Mandel has reported something fascinating (and disconcerting)...
Mandel was doing some research through the Federal Register and came across a March 21, 2011 item showing the U.S. Air Force granting a waiver from domestic procurement for the purchase of a number of products and components needed in the construction of military family housing units at Eilson Air Force Base in Alaska.
These components should be procured from American companies under the provisions of the 2009 stimulus. However, the Air Force says that despite a "thorough investigation" these items are not available in the "domestic manufacturing landscape." In fact, these products are manufactured "almost exclusively in China."
Just what are the products that are not made in USA, and can only be sourced from China? Screws, clamps, light fixtures, door stops, microwave ovens, air vents, toilet paper holders, shower rods... The list goes on, and includes a lot of commonplace items, like "towel rings." [CLICK HERE to read the actual list.]
While it's possible that the U.S. no longer makes a single microwave oven or ceiling fan, it's hard to believe that there is not a single American manufacturer of "1″ Collated Screws," a "Residential Style Polished Chrome Double Robe Hook," or "Handrail Brackets."
Last week, ManufactureThis reported on a new study showing a worrisome deterioration of America's defense industrial base. Some troubling examples of U.S. dependence on foreign sourcing include basic items like "machine tools" all the way up to key high-tech equipment such as "night vision goggles."
We didn't expect our military to be so compromised, though, that the nation is now dependent on foreign sourcing for bathroom light fixtures and towel bars.
We invite U.S. manufacturers to please visit the Federal Register item and see if they can fulfill the Air Force's need for screws and door stops. It would be a shame to see taxpayer money go to China because the U.S. can't even make screws anymore.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Michael Mandel for his excellent research and reporting on this issue.]