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Dear Mitch,

A couple of weeks ago, I watched the Republican Convention and the Democratic convention on TV.  Barack Obama And Mitt Romney talked about their plans to fix the economy, and of course they're different.  If you're so good in math, then can you please tell me (and anybody else who might be reading this) what you would suggest the government should do to get our economy to bounce back?

Looking forward to hearing your solution, 

Martin B. 


Dear Martin,

Oh, that's an easy one.  In fact, we (the people) don't even have to bother getting the government to do a thing for us, as it's such an easy thing to do, getting the economy to bounce back, that we could do it ourselves.  Here's how:

All that anyone in this country has to do is follow one simple rule:  Assuming you are an adult, the next time you buy (or lease) a car, choose an American car. That's it.  Choose whichever car you like, as long as it's made here in the United States of America.  If, however, you find that you don't like any of the hundreds of American cars available and would prefer a European automobile, it's time for you to grow up and adjust your taste.  After all, in the category of American cars, there's plenty for you to choose from.  If you think. . . 'Well, I've been in a German luxury car, and I work so hard that I deserve to ride in comfort... ', try sitting for a moment in one of the top-off-the-line Chryslers, with its Bentley-like back and upscale interior, and test-drive it.  As it happens, I grew up in Mercedes, long before most people in this country knew how to pronounce the name, and the upscale American cars now are AT LEAST as comfy.  If you like a 4x4, try the Ford Explorer with all the options.  A sports car?  A Corvette should do it. Convertibles, plenty of choices.  If you feel you need a BMW, examine why you feel that way.  It's to impress people and make you feel good about yourself. There really is no other reason, despite the almost-convincing reasons so many people claim they like such cars. However, true thinkers never fell for these silly stories, and, one can only hope, they never will.  Why not impress intelligent, non-shallow people by showing that you actually care enough about others to consider the fact that for each American car purchased (either by you or the local dealership that leases to you) you are employing an American worker for one year.  And, by employing that worker, you are feeding his or her children.  That impresses me and others who I respect, and it should make you feel good about yourself.  After all... 'high performance'?  Really?  I mean, seriously...  On average, ninety-percent of your driving is local, according to one recent study, and ninety-five percent is on relatively flat ground and under fifty-five miles per hour.  And it doesn't require anyone to have to rely on the government to cut their taxes.  It simply involves people having the knowledge and the character to make the switch from one kind of thinking to another when purchasing or leasing their next vehicle. And, as changes go, we're not exactly talking here about anything that is a defining feature of a thinking person's life.  I'm quite confident that the car a person drives is hardly as important to him or her in determining the overall picture of his life as who he marries (or pairs up with), where he lives, whom he befriends, whether or not he has children, which field he chooses to for his career, etc.  After all, on average, the American driver changes cars 10-30 times in his life, but changes his home far fewer times, and, typically, makes far fewer changes in spouses.   Yet the economic impact of a car switch is immense, even if only for a few years (if it turns out to be such a hardship for a person that he can do it for only one season of leasing or a single purchase). In terms of numbers (the 'math') this change is the fastest, most efficient, and most effective way to light a spark under the economy's ass.  

But HOW (you might be asking)???  Exactly how would going for American cars over foreign competitors do anything for anyone other than automakers and their employees?

Here's how:  Trickle up.  That's what I call it.  Surely you've heard politicians speak of the economic theory of 'trickle down', which is the big theory used by Republicans to justify the peculiar notion of reducing taxes on those who have so much expendable income that, for the most part, they wouldn't notice even notice the reduction.  Well, unlike trickle down, my trickle-up actually works.  How????

Starting in Detroit, yes, the economy would spring to life.  First in the auto industry, obviously, and then in the toy stores and restaurants and bowling alleys and movie theaters, as the strengthened jobs and careers of the automakers enrich their families and allow them to buy more toys for their children, eat out more in restaurants, as, perhaps every other Friday payday parents give themselves a break and head for the nearest KFC, an/or go bowling as they join the leagues they had previously felt too guilty to enjoy, or see an occasional movie on the big screen with authentic movie theater popcorn rather than always wait until it comes to their living room...

And there's the housing market (bringing with it construction and plumbers and furniture stores to accommodate and finish the newly plumbed houses with their empty rooms... ) And then there's the local catering halls, as weddings expand from backyards to events that include everyone both sides dreamed of including. And don't forget about entertainers -- as birthday parties return to their former state of flash with magicians and clowns, instead of a rented film.  And somewhere along the way there's an awakening of dentists, as people decide to treat themselves to the cosmetic repairs they had been putting off in favor of buying food...

And soon, once it's clear that people really seem to be purchasing and leasing the cars that Mommy and Daddy make at their job, it turns out that little Johnny can finally take some karate lessons, as he'd been fantasizing about for a year; and, in that case, his sister Gwendolyn will be able to up her ballet lessons from weekly to twice weekly, because otherwise it's so unfair.  Which is the same argument Johnny and Gwendolyn's mom makes when justifying to their father, who rejoined his bowling league and his fantasy football, that she can sign up for Weight Watchers in instead of continuing to try on her own to lose the fifteen pounds that crept up out of nowhere 

But what about outside the city of cars? Well, for one thing, when people experience an increase in expendable income, they tend to spend at least some of it away from their hometown.  On travel, for example, to Disney World in Florida, to California to see Universal Studio and take a scenic drive through the wine country, to Washington D.C. to show their children the White House and to experience it themselves. People go camping at Yosemite National Park, they visit the Grand Canyon, which is one of the eight natural wonders of the world.  Also, people seem to like to visit New York City to see the Empire State Building, Central Park, take in a couple of museums, and find the Dakota to feel what they can about the death of Jon Lennon.  They might visit Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, and the Brooklyn Bridge.  They might take the three-hour ferry ride for a different perspective.  Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc...

And, of course, in the process, the owners and employees of the hotels, motels, restaurants, clothing stores, taxi drivers and pretzel vendors find that in each of their tiny, seemingly isolated worlds, the economy seems to be picking up.  

As do domestic flights.  Of course, it wouldn't be such a bad thing for International flights to pick up as well (pardon the pun), because all international flights for Americans begin here, in one of our airports with its employed baggage handlers and pretzel vendors, or they end here (the return flight), where the baggage handlers and pretzel vendors will just as eagerly await their smiles (and their surplus expendable income for souvenirs and gratuities.  And let's not forget the DUTY FREE shops!

Speaking of not forgetting, let's not leave out the flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, and employees of the food service that performs the miraculous feat of mushing tasty concoctions into the correct sections of the beige, microwavable trays that fly with you.

*****Note:  I must concede that I, myself, was once young.  And I did, in fact, own a foreign car that I loved almost as much as life itself.  But those were different times, and things that may be a good idea in one era do not always travel well through time.  Also. please note:  I am not suggesting anyone get rid of his.  I am merely suggesting that one consider focusing his decision once the decision has been made to step into a vehicle.

By the way, it is also worth noting that some products are actually made here, in America, so that the local toy store owner and her employees are not the only ones who benefit from each 74-point articulated plastic superhero and villain that is sold; when a product purchased in America is made in America by people who then have to spend at least some of their money here in America, it is, of course, a doubly good situation.

But, you must be dying to ask me in a shouting voice, what about the world of America other than Michigan and the few places its citizens touch?  Well, guess what?  It turns out that cars made in the U.S. are not made in Michigan alone.  Not even close. As it happens, a huge portion of the American auto industry occurs in other states. Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri, in fact, are four states that contribute so heavily to the manufacture of cars that the industry is a significant part of their economy. So, take the example of the economic stream I outlined above and apply it to four other states simultaneously.  That brings us to five states, which is already 10% of the number of states that make up our entire country!  And you can start to imagine the impact when you add in all the states that border on these states, which include the places from which employees often commute and/or spend money, and you begin to get an idea of how widespread even the initial impact of increased activity would be.

So switch to an American Car.  Even if you prefer something else.  To the buyer, the difference is not a meaningful one in the course of a life, so get over it.  Think about it:  If you had a sister, and she happened to be a landscaper, would you really consider hiring a competing landscaper, just because there was something about that other landscaper's work that you thought you preferred? No, you wouldn't.  Not unless you happened to be a monkey.  Or had issues too deep to go into here...

So now, a question arises . . . what exactly does it mean for a car to be an American made car?  Well, now, this turns out to be a bit more complicated than most people might immediately guess, but it boils down to a couple of questions:  Where is most of the assembly of the vehicle performed?  And, Where are the majority of the vehicle's arts constructed?

Fortunately, while it can be a complex analysis, just about all the articles on the subject are in agreement.  Therefore, I can confidently give you a list of the ten "Most American built cars," some of which I think will surprise you. . . 

Here goes...

In reverse order (10th most American-made car to the 1st):


10. Buick Enclave/ Chevrolet Traverse

(% made in the U.S., Lansing, Michigan, 76%) 

9.  Jeep Liberty

(% made in the U.S., Toledo, OH, 76%) 

8. Chrysler 200 Convertibler

(% made in the U.S., Toledo, OH, 79%) 

7. Lincoln Navigator

(% made in the U.S., Louisville, KY, 80%) 

6. Ford Expedition

(% made in the U.S., Louisville, KY, 80%)

5. Honda Crosstour

(% made in the U.S., East Liberty, OH, 80%)

4. Honda Accord

(% made in the U.S., Marysville, OH, 80%)

3. Toyota Sienna,

(% made in the U.S., Princeton, Indiana 80%)

2. Chevrolet Express/ GMC Savanna

(% made in the U.S., 82%)

1. Toyota Avalon

(% made in the U.S., Georgetown, KY, 85%) 

I hope this helps!

Good luck,