Here’s my own elevator-pitch paraphrase of an idea that I owe to Garrett M. Ziegler. I don’t know him, but I was reading his Telegram channel regularly this spring. (I’ve since fallen behind, there’s just too much to keep up with!) Anyway, he’d be the right person to contact about this and quite possibly lead it, just in case some funder/backer/investor type’s interest is piqued here.
“Made In USA” is a claim that distinguishes products, but it’s not backed by much beyond the FTC standard, enforced only on a per-complaint basis, and is easily fudged. What if there were an independent organization that certified and graded these products, much like organic and GMO-free foods? (Organic food and fiber certification predates the USDA label, which in essence co-opted it, but that’s another story.) Other examples include “fair trade” labels (quite a mixed bag), kosher foods, and a wide variety of other product certifications, both legally required certificates and distinguishing third-party endorsements.
Such an organization could not only enhance consumer awareness of and trust in American-made products, they could promote registered businesses in various ways. An online directory of US-made alternatives for ubiquitous globalized products, indexed by company values is a good first step. This isn’t too far off from where the New Founding ALIGN newsletter seems headed already. But imagine a mobile app that scanned product UPC codes and gave trusted third-party ratings, allowing consumers to ask and answer in real time: who owns this brand? who’s the parent company? who are they lobbying, and for what? who’s in their supply chain? etc.
In an age where basically everything seems made in China under inhumane conditions and marketed through a shell game of facade brands on Amazon, this could perhaps help cut through consumer cynicism and help us regain some economic independence and national pride.