Back in the 1990s there was a brief surge of interest in "buying American." This trend in patriotic consumerism seems strongest during recessions, when citizens suddenly care who is getting paid to make the things they buy. This does not stop them from chiseling the retailer mercilessly, by the way.
"Buy American" is back. The 21st Century version is more potent, the same as all the partial solutions rigidly demanded as complete philosophies in society and politics during the last few years.
When I posted a comment on someone's Facebook link pointing out that buying only American items would eliminate the vast majority of bicycles and their parts and accessories, he replied with a link to American bicycle products that contained few surprises. Least surprising is the fact that Buy American consumers are perfectly happy to buy a frame made in America, festooned with parts from all over Asia.
Even many American cars are stuffed with foreign parts. My Dodge van had a Mitsubishi engine. The Pontiac Vibe was a joint venture between GM and Toyota. And Toyotas (to name but one foreign brand) are made in several of the United States.
While it is true that customers putting money into American companies on American soil will keep that money in somewhat tighter circulation in the domestic economy, it does not assure that American products will meet every need or be the best in their category. If the primary attraction is an American flag on it, that lowers the bar considerably. Look at how long the Big Three bike makers -- Huffy, Murray and Columbia -- pumped out truly reprehensible crap in their American factories until finally moving offshore before the turn of the century.
Matters get more complicated when the American worker, wages eroded by decades of pressure from other economic factors, has to flock to places like Wal Mart to find products they can afford. Consumers want to consume. If the goal of life is to make as much money as possible and get as much crap as possible for it, price is a factor. In fact, if you simply need to outfit yourself with clothes and appliances on a very tight budget, price is a factor.
Value is not the same as price. Whenever possible I buy a better-made item because it will work better and last longer than a flimsy, cheap one. I appreciate being able to shop from a world-wide selection. When the American product is the better choice I will choose it. The economic anomalies that have made it cheaper to ship things all the way across the Pacific Ocean to this country will continue to give a pricing advantage to certain items. That decision is controlled at the top management level. Company owners send jobs overseas. Take it up with them in strong language.
In olden times one might argue that you got better product support from a company that wasn't spread out across half the globe. These days, product support is a bad joke in nearly every industry. You call a support number or send an email assuming you will spend a long time in a telephone labyrinth or get a reply email from someone who signs the name Chad or Cynthia, but whose use of English betrays that it is not their first language.
The bicycle is a world traveler and a world citizen. It knows no boundaries any more than birds and animals do. It is a human creation shaped by contributors from many lands.
To consumers I say, "Insist on good stuff." To manufacturers I say, "Make good stuff." The rest will take care of itself.