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Vote with your dollars 

Hey, it's the holiday season time to go out there and do your part for our American economy by buying tons of cheap stuff made in China!

Wait that doesn't make sense, does it? First, you'll notice that most of those "cheap" goods from China aren't really cheap by the time they're on the shelves of Wal-Mart, Neiman Marcus and other U.S. retailers. Yes, they're produced by cheap labor, but this savings is pocketed by the brand-name marketers who get their stuff made there.

Second, how does it help our economy to shift America's manufacturing to China? Notice that our middle-class jobs are disappearing and our country is falling deeper into debt, while China has the fastest-growing economy in the world and now owns a big chunk of our debt. Then there's the little matter of toxic products imported from China, including everything from food to toys.

Isn't there a better way to spend our consumer dollars?

Yes. Buy Made-in-the-USA products this holiday season ... and throughout the year! Do such products exist? Yes, again though you won't find many at your local MegaMart.

Your best bet is to try local stores and internet shops, where you can find a cornucopia of U.S.-made goods.

For example, a Web site called toysmadeinamerica.com lists dozens of Internet locations for all sorts of gifts you can buy for the tykes on your list dolls, doll houses, wooden trains, space-age action toys, playscapes, puppets, puzzles, banjos, books, board games, tutus, marbles, pogo sticks, skateboards, wiffle balls, play kitchens and so much more, made right here by Americans.

Also check out usmadetoys.com, shopforamerica.com and madeinusa.org to point you in the right direction.

We are not powerless consumers. We're sovereign citizens who can send a potent message to corporate profiteers by voting with our dollars. So ... do it!

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale now from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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