How Do You Define “American-Made”?

Mark Perry poses the question about how you define “American-made” cars.  Does it depend on where the car was assembled?  Where the corporate headquarters is?  What percentage of the parts are made in the US? 

Indeed, even my Dad, a mechanic who despises “cotton-picking foreign junk” (though he has equally disparaging remarks about Ford and Chrysler, and pretty much anything made after 1970), has come to realize that the lines are blurred.  Many Toyota and Honda cars are as much “American made”today, in terms of where the assembly happens and parts come from, as are GM and Ford.

Of course, the same principles come into play when we are talking about leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a “foreign company“.  What is the defintion of “foreign” – where the investors live, where the employees work, or where the corporate headquarters is? 

Abertis – the lead partner in Pennsylvania Transportation Partners – is headquartered in Spain (though Citi Group, with a 40% stake is NY based).  Would those who oppose “foreign ownership” change their views if Abertis moved its offices to New York or Philadelphia? 

Abertis is a publicly traded company, with investors from all over the world.  The $12.8 billion upfront payment for the Turnpike lease will be partly financed by US lenders.

And the new subsidiary, Pennsylvania Transportation Partners, will be operating solely in Pennsylvania – hiring Pennsylvania workers (including all current Turnpike employees under collective bargaining), contracting with PA construction firms, and paying Pennsylvania taxes.