Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

What makes it Made in America?

Big weekend in Made-in-the-USA television news, everybody! Donald Trump, America’s sweetheart, went on Fox News Sunday and said:

I just ordered 4,000 television sets. You know where they come from? South Korea. … I don’t want to order them from South Korea. I don’t think anybody makes television sets in the United States anymore. I don’t want to order from South Korea, I want to order from here.

That caught the attention of Washington Post columnist George Will, who appeared later on the same program as a panelist:

Now, again, this is outrageous what he said, it's just not factual.  I mean, he said you can't buy a television made in the United States.  When he gets to South Carolina, the third state in the nominating process, he can go visit the factory where they're making televisions in South Carolina.  

Will is talking about Element Electronics, a brand that – last time the Federal Trade Commission checked – has many of its televisions manufactured by its parent company, a Chinese conglomerate; then shipped over to its American facility for some light screwdriver work; and then stamped its packaging with confusing claims about all of its product being “assembled in the USA,” which is not the same as “made in America.” The FTC told Element to clear up the discrepancy.

Now look, George Will is an attractive man ...

... but he’s not atop the polls in the Republican presidential field. Therefore it was Trump’s claim that drew the attention of Politifact, which rated his claim about U.S. television production “Half True.” Its write-up of Trump’s claim is worth reading.

But let’s get back to Will. After nitpicking about Trump’s claim, he was challenged by Fox News host Chris Wallace, who asked, “you don’t think that’s a legitimate complaint that we don’t make products in this country?” Will said:

I do not. I think that – in fact, we're delighted and not complaining about the fact that the iPhone you have in your pocket says designed in California, assembled – not manufactured – assembled in China from parts from all over the world. The idea of where you manufacture a product in today's world makes very little sense.  

Can’t outsource a syndicate columnist job, I guess.