Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company plans to build some Mac computers in the U.S. for the first time in about a decade, investing $100 million in 2013 in an effort that could serve as a high-profile test of American manufacturing competitiveness.

This is a brilliant move and it leads to a great idea on how to move our economic recovery into high gear.

Imagine the US government saying they will only purchase U.S.-made products. If the populace wants to buy computers, for example, made in Taiwan, that is fine, but when it comes to purchases made with our tax dollars, the name and U.S. location of the factory where the products are made needs to be on the first page of every bid. No U.S. factory results in automatic rejection of the bid, independent of price.

Now some might argue that making computers in the U.S. means they will cost more. Perhaps they will, and perhaps they won’t. But even if they do, the salaries are being paid to American workers who pay taxes and support our economy with their own purchases.

Of course, such a move might be hard to implement right away, so I’d suggest a three-year rollout that looks like this:

Year 1 – products must be assembled in the U.S.
Year 2 – at least 50% of all components used in the products must be made here as well.
Year 3 – everything, including all components, must be made in the U.S.

I can imagine the cries of outrage from those invested in making things outside the country, but we need to help our trading partners know we are going through hard times and need to protect and rebuild our own economy at this time. That shouldn’t be too hard to grasp.

Is there precedent for this? Sure. Look at Brazil (a country already undergoing strong economic growth) where the government is planning to use tablets in schools, a project which could require about 900,000 tablets by early 2013. President Dilma has made it clear that government-purchased tablets for schools need to be made in Brazil. This has resulted in a flurry of new manufacturing facilities being built, including those for Apple’s iPad.

While it is true that the U.S. does not have plans to purchase a million tablets in preparation for a true country-wide rollout in education (another topic for another time), the purchasing power of our government is still strong enough to have a tremendous impact.

If we want to kick-start a serious economic recovery in the U.S., we need to start by putting our workers first. What could be more American than that?

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