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My own stimulus: Buying made-in-U.S. products

We keep hearing that investors have "little confidence" in the U.S. economic stimulus plan, but if each of us bought more American-made products, the economy would improve.

Steve Guttenberg

Our economy is in a shambles. We all know there's a lot of blame to go around, but the fact is that most of the products we buy are made offshore. It's going to take some time to see if the stimulus plan's billions of dollars are going to turn the economy around, but each of us can do our part by buying American right now.

Our troubled domestic auto industry is at least still building cars here, which is more than you can say about electronics, computer, video, and camera vendors. Even clothing and shoes are mostly made elsewhere. It's not just the loss of blue-collar manufacturing gigs; design and engineering jobs are increasingly outsourced.

When shopping, do you look at the label or box to see where the product you're about to buy is made? If you had a choice of an American-made product and an imported one, would the country of origin play a part in your buying decision? If the American product was 10 percent pricier, would you buy it, even if you judged quality of the two to be about the same?

I just bought a new couch (for a great price), and it was made in North Carolina. That's my personal stimulus plan.

Sure, quality matters, but if we go on exporting jobs, how will we maintain our standard of living? I could make the same case for buying online versus shopping in your city or town. Those local shops employ your family, friends, and neighbors; would you pay extra to keep the dollars in your community?

High-end audio products, like the three I mentioned in Thursday's post, the Benchmark DAC1 USB and Woo Audio WA3 headphone amplifiers, as well as the Grado GS-1000 headphones, are all made in New York. My speaker of the year, the Magnepan 3.6R, is made in Minnesota, Vandersteen speakers are made in California, and Thiel speakers come from Kentucky.

Would that tempt you to buy American hi-fi? Sure, a lot of American hi-fi is expensive, but there's affordable gear made in the United States. The Woo Audio WA3 headphone amp, selling for $470, is handmade in New York.

What do you buy that's made in the States?