What does ‘Made in the USA’ mean, anyway?

Made in USA Stamp

Source: What does ‘Made in the USA’ mean, anyway?, clarionledger.com

As you read this, look around at the products near you. Chances are, many of them were made outside the United States. On my desk is a videotape, made in Japan. A coffee cup says “China” on the bottom, and a three-ring binder comes from Mexico. The global economy is a reality, and it’s sometimes difficult to truthfully claim your product originates in the U.S.

Consumer Reports noted in 2013 that nearly eight in 10 Americans would choose an American-made product over the same product that had been made abroad, so it’s no wonder why companies would want to make this claim. Increasing numbers of companies are jumping on this bandwagon, and although most such claims are honest, some are not.

The “Made in USA” issue has even become part of national politics. On Tuesday, President Trump visited the Kenosha, Wisconsin, headquarters of Snap-On Tools to sign an executive order on a new policy called “Buy American, Hire American.” The order includes instructions requiring federal agencies to review purchasing procedures to ensure American companies are prioritized when purchasing goods and services.

To claim something is “Made in the USA” has for years been a serious matter and can get companies in hot water with federal officials and watchdog agencies if not used correctly. The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing “Made in USA” policies and just this week announced the closure of two recent cases in which companies had made “Made in USA” claims. In the first, Georgia-based iSpring Water Systems settled charges it had deceived customers by claiming U.S. origins for its products, when in fact (the agency alleged), the company’s water filtration systems were imported and composed mostly of foreign-made components.

In the second case, Texas-based Block Division Inc., which sold pulley block systems, was accused of claiming their products had been made in the USA, and even had metal plates stamped “Made in USA” imported from overseas. The company’s products, the FTC alleged, included “significant imported parts that are essential to their function.”

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll. the vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the USA.” Wochit

It’s sometimes difficult to say where all the parts to something were made. Even some products that look deceptively simple are not. For example, a simple, painted wooden toy might seem easy to examine; the wood components can probably be easily traced, but what about the paint? The fasteners? And for electronic products, the issues multiply exponentially. For example, a typical computer might have parts from dozens of countries.

 Because the “origin” question can lead to one rabbit hole after another (making it exceedingly difficult to say exactly where a product was made), the standard for evaluating “Made in the USA” claims requires that “all or virtually all the product” has been made in the U.S. All “significant” parts, processing and labor that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That guideline would apply to any product being sold with a “Made in USA” label or claim (other than automobiles, textiles and wool products, which have their own specific standards.)
So, if you’re looking to buy American, here are a few things you might want to consider (from various sources, including www.themadeinamericamovement.com):
  • Read the labels carefully. Keep in mind that “Made in America” does not necessarily mean “Made in the USA.” Some products may contain this wording, while the products actually could come from Canada or Mexico.
  • Know the difference between “made” vs. “assembled.” Some products may say honestly that they were assembled in the U.S. instead of being manufactured here.
  • Be careful of flags. Patriotic Americans might buy a product that had an American flag on the label, and marketers know that. It could be a ruse to get you to think the product was made domestically. Look for a “Made in USA” label in addition to the flag.
  • Shop wisely. There are many websites that list companies making products in the United States. That’s fine, but such lists may be inaccurate, out of date or deceptive. Dealing with local merchants you trust is often a good hedge against deception.

To find out more about “Made in the USA” guidelines, visit https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/tools-consumers/made-usa.

Displaying Old Glory — do’s and don’ts

American Flag

Stock Photo

via Moak: Displaying Old Glory — do’s and don’ts, clarionledger.com

As we celebrate our nation’s 240th birthday in the next few days, many American households will be getting out their U.S. flags and displaying them. Like many Americans, seeing a sea of red, white and blue brings a lump in my throat and stirs deep emotions. But many people aren’t aware there are official rules on how the flag is to be displayed and respected. In addition, there are a lot of myths that have grown up around the flag and its display.

The U.S. Flag Code gives a general set of rules for how to display the flag. Congress publishes a document entitled “Our Flag,” the latest of which was published in 2007, after a 2006 Senate Resolution. (The resolution was submitted by former Sen. Trent Lott, who at the time led the Joint Committee on Printing.) This document (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-109sdoc18/pdf/CDOC-109sdoc18.pdf) gives a history of the flag, as well as advice on flying it.

There are several rules governing how, when and where to fly the flag. In general, the flag should be flown with its union (the field of blue with the 50 stars) at the highest point and positioned so the union is at the top left. It should be free to fly without touching anything underneath it. In general, the flag should fly outside from sunrise to sunset. If displaying it after dark, it needs to be illuminated. Only all-weather flags should be flown in rain or inclement weather. (The law allows flags to fly 24 hours a day at several specific locations, such as Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the National Anthem.)

The flag should never be used for “wearing apparel, bedding or drapery,” and although it’s commonly believed if a flag touches the ground, it has to be burned, that is a myth. If a flag becomes tattered and/or faded significantly, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.

Many myths abound about the U.S. flag. Here are a few myths, from the American Legion and other sources:

Myth: A flag that has been used to cover a casket cannot be used for any other proper display purpose.

Fact: A flag that was previously used to cover a casket can be used for any normal display use. However, such flags are often folded with great ceremony (yes, there are right and wrong ways to fold the flag) and presented to survivors of the person being honored.

Myth: The Flag Code prohibits the display of a United States flag of less than 50 stars.

Fact: Once a flag has become officially approved, it never becomes obsolete. Therefore, historical versions of official U.S. flags may be flown as the official flag of the United States.

Myth: The Flag Code prohibits the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag.

Fact: The Flag Code is mute on this subject, so it’s generally held that flags can be washed or dry-cleaned.

Myth: The stars stand for specific states.

Fact: Although the stars do in fact represent the states, no star is associated with any particular state. The last change occurred on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state in August, 1959. (New stars are added on the next July 4 after a new state joins the union.)

Myth: The colors in the flag have specific meanings.

Fact: When the U.S. flag was officially adopted in 1777, its colors had no specific meanings attached. Many historians hold that the colors were used because they were in the British Union Jack, which — even though we had just been through a bloody war of Independence from Great Britain — was a familiar symbol of our Mother Country. Through the years, many people have associated the colors with qualities of the human spirit which characterize the best of America. For example, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan noted, “The colors of our flag signify the qualities of the human spirit we Americans cherish. Red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice.”

Myth: When it’s no longer fit for display, destroying a flag by burning must be done in private.

Fact: Not only is the phrase “in private” not in the Flag Code, holding a respectful public ceremony to retire flags by burning in a dignified and respectful way is encouraged. For example, groups such a Boy Scouts traditionally collect flags for disposal, and have created stirring patriotic ceremonies to honor and retire the flag with dignity.

In general, although there are many rules and customs surrounding the flag, most of them have to do with proper respect. The flag is not just a piece of cloth; it’s a highly symbolic representation of our nation, with its features symbolizing important characteristics that make this country great, and under which generations of Americans have fought and died so we can enjoy the blessings of freedom. Happy Independence Day!