The American Experience has been defined by our unprecedented combination of brain and brawn.

Our predecessors, dreaming dreams of Manifest Destiny, tamed a wild land, giving up blood, sweat and lives to make a better world for their children and their children’s children. From those seeds of the American Dream, great metropolises sprung up like forests of concrete and steel, fitted with impressive architecture and ever-evolving factories that gave housing and goods to our burgeoning population. Those modern marvels and what they wrought have continued to develop over the years and helped make America the most powerful economic engine that the world has ever seen.

The path that got us to that level, one that took our nation from nothing to everything, was paved by ingenuity and work ethic that was without peer. The infrastructure, technology, science and products that provided the riches of the past and present were once but thoughts, then fully developed and ultimately realized by some of the keenest minds ever, made real by some of the hardest-working hands and backs ever.

Historically, it is important that we never forget that.

But, today, tomorrow and next year, it is important that we re-emphasize that foundation.

Our economy is in tatters with consumer and entrepreneur confidence at record lows and the stock markets a daily roller coaster of misery. Literally tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs in the past two months. Many more live in fear that they, too, might become jobless this year or next.

How do we stave off this monster and the economic and mental depression that comes with it?

How do we reignite the fire within our markets?

How do we keep people employed and give them the confidence to buy?

Those questions have been asked time and time again amidst every recession we’ve faced. Businessmen, civic leaders and regular folk alike, all deeply affect by this tragedy, want answers, answers that will pan out in the end and put America on the fast-track to recovery. They’ve all thrown around ideas in this latest crisis, imposing some while debating many, from bailouts to rebates to nationalization to stimulus packages to public service programs.

Despite all those fanciful expenditures, realize that our economy doesn’t start with Uncle Sam. It begins at home. It’s we as consumers in a free marketplace who save, invest and spend our money on products and services.

Realize, though, that it begins at home in more ways than one.

The very best stimulus that our economy could ever have is from our consumers focusing on buying American and buying local. That is what made our country great and that’s what will bring us out of this significant mess. Americans building and selling things to Americans creates prosperity and the quality of life we previously appreciated. History proves that.

We’ve lost sight of that importance.

In decades gone by we did not fully rely on foreign production as we do now. We did not toss away American workers and decent products for inferior, foreign-made goods to save a few dollars here and there.

We did not buy all of our products from cold, calculating multinational online retailers. We didn’t threaten our national security and health by going all-in with overseas factories.

No, in the past, we as a people made what we bought, and we bought those goods in stores owned and run by our neighbors. We looked out for one another by basing our buying decisions on pride of workmanship, quality, and Country.

We need to get back to those roots, now more than ever.

When the states’ various economies reopen we must frequent the mom and pop stores, the locally-owned franchises and roadside stands, putting the global corporate conglomerates at a distant second. We must analyze the labels of everything we buy, from food to clothes to durables to cars, ensuring that they were made, whole or in part, on America soil by American hands and American minds.

As buyers become tighter with their dollars and buy less of many yet more of quality they’ll find that American products will make the best investment of their spending dollar, not only in terms of a better-made product, but also to the bigger picture of investing in our national well-being. It is such a simple and effective stimulant: if we buy goods that are made in America we employ American workers, managers, designers and farmers all who extract American resources and turn them into the goods we need and want.

So, please buy what they make, keep money in America and ensure that they - our friends, families, and fellow citizens – are all gainfully employed. The payback of buying patriotically can be an economic, emotional, and national victory.

Bob Confer is a Daily News columnist and president of Confer Plastics. He can be reached at bobconfer@juno.com. You can follow him on Twitter @bobconfer.

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