Monday, December 13, 2010
12/13/10 BUYING AMERICAN
Monday, 8:30 AM. 4.5 degrees, wind W, very light. A few snow flakes are falling, the sky is overcast and the barometer predicts snow, which we only got about six inches or so of from the last storm. There is heavy fog over the channel. It was cold enough to numb my fingers while shoveling and walking this morning.
I know I am not the first to make this or a similar proposal, but I make it again because we really ought to do it. Have a national “Buy American” day, maybe once each month, so everyone fully realizes how little is actually “Made in America” these days, and the extent of our collective buying power. Once we, manufacturers, retailers and yes, politicians are fully aware of the economic clout of the American consumer, we could say “Buy American” and mean it.
I am sick of buying things that don’t work, don’t fit, are shoddy and have to be replaced long before their time. Like the toaster ovens that I replace every year because they work for a month and for the next eleven months I have to turn the bread over so it is toasted on both sides, all the while worrying that it will burn the house down if I turn my back and reluctant to admit I have been cheated once again. I finally get sick of the process and throw each out in turn and buy another foreign made piece of junk because toaster ovens are not made here anymore. I am tired of stove burners that burn out (My mother’s electric stove worked flawlessly for thirty plus years) sick of light bulbs that last two months, of clothes that don’t fit, of boots that don’t last the winter, of pet food laced with PCBs and children’s toys infused with lead. I am tired of American workers competing with slave labor and military conscripts.
We are never going to solve the unemployment problem in this country if there are no jobs for average people to be employed at, and we may look at ten percent or greater unemployment forever if we don’t start manufacturing everyday items here again. Crazy old Ross Perot was right about the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America, they just didn’t stop in Mexico. There are millions of people…young people without basic work skills, retirees who need a second income, and many, many people who will never have the capacity to do high tech or theoretical work…but can perform basic manufacturing tasks, and who will be on the public dole forever if we don’t provide them with employment opportunities.
I for one would gladly pledge to pay more for better products “Made In America.” That said, I do not believe that foreign labor, no mater how cheap, can actually make up for the economic and environmental cost of shipping raw materials halfway around the world only to have the finished products shipped halfway around the world back again. There is no way those numbers can actually add up if truthful accounting is practiced. We have been sold a dishonest bill of goods and we have to admit that we are suckers. The politicians have sold us out, corporate America has sold us out, the educational system has sold us out, and the unions have sold us out with their outrageous wage demands and destructive work rules. But, even the present game will soon be over, because people that don’t have jobs can’t buy things, no matter how cheap.
The world’s largest economy will fail if we continue to be brain dead consumers. Let’s demonstrate our power, and one day a month buy American, or let it stay on the shelf! Then maybe honest entrepreneurs will start making things here again that we can buy with confidence. I really hate that toaster oven.