That’s right. I’ve sold sand to Saudi Arabia. Don’t they have enough sand? Yes, but they don’t have the right type of sand. Years ago, I worked under a salesperson whose sales territory included Saudi Arabia, and one day we got an inquiry for sand from a company in Saudi Arabia. People in our company laughed and congratulated us when we managed to lock in a sale for thousands and thousands of tons of sand the country known for its sand. It was specialized sand used in those reflective tiles on roads that help us stay in our lanes at night.
That brings me to my topic today. What does it say about a country where it is cheaper to ship our raw minerals to other countries, have them manufacture the items and then ship them back as finished products for Americans to buy at lower prices than if they had been manufactured here?
Think about it. That same company I worked for also sold raw materials to Korea and Taiwan for products that were manufactured there and shipped back here for sale. Think about what went into those products. The raw materials came from places like the United States, Australia and South America. Then companies paid for those minerals to be mined and shipped via truck, rail and ocean to countries such as Taiwan and Korea. Then the workers in those countries worked in factories and built those products – cars, ovens, china, paint, lawnmowers, and so much more. Those products were put back on ships and brought here to the United States and dispersed to stores throughout our country via rail and truck. All that moving around, and those products are cheaper with that long manufacturing and distribution chain than if they had been made here.
I liked working for that company because I learned so much about raw materials and freight, and I also was exposed to so many people in this country and in so many other countries, but I often thought about the implications since I knew that many of those products produced overseas would be back on our store shelves. Someone said something the other day, and I thought about our sand sale.
I would like to see the United States build up a manufacturing base again. I think one of the things our economy needs is a balance among all kinds of industries, and we have lost so much in terms of manufacturing here. But I don’t have any good answers. I myself am a consumer rather than a producer. I offer services rather than goods. One thing I can try to do is buy American when I can, but it’s not the easiest thing to do especially with a tight budget and so few things produced here.
What can we do to make American manufacturing more competitive? There has to be a way to compete with goods that travel so many more miles and are touched by so many companies than our own made goods.