As reported in the above-linked article, Walmart announced a new “buy American” push in which it plans to boost its purchases of American-made products by $50 billion over the next ten years. Sounds great. It conjures up images of American factories adding shifts and hiring more workers. That’s the American spirit, Walmart! Man, this is a great American company! Let’s all go shopping at Walmart today!
Not so fast. This is just another example of a trend that has swept the government and corporate America – creating an illusion of supporting American manufacturing in cynical attempts at political or commercial gain. In this case, Walmart is trying to break its image of selling cheap Chinese junk at the expense of American workers. In actuality, as the above-linked article points out, the majority of products sold at Walmart are already “made in America.” That’s hard to believe until you remember that Walmart is a major grocery retailer – products that are heavily sourced locally.
“Last year, 55 percent of Walmart U.S. sales came from groceries like food and drinks as well as other products that are typically sourced locally.”
Walmart coud easily meet this goal of boosting its sales of American-made goods by simply running sales on grocery items and cannibalizing sales from Krogers and Winn-Dixie. The impact on American jobs? Zip.
So don’t be fooled. Here’s how you can tell when a company is sincerely interested in promoting made-in-America manufactured goods: when they begin lobbying Congress to change our trade policy, abandon the World Trade Organization and begin slapping tariffs on imported goods. Anything short of this is nothing more than an image-polishing gimmick.