Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is Anything Made In America Anymore?

Is there really much of anything that we consume that is still being made in America? Very little, I assure you. If you don't believe me, then go check out the labels on the majority of your clothing. China. India. Thailand. Mexico. Canada. Indonesia.

I was recently surprised to find that the potato flakes and potato powder we consume in this country is 90% from foreign countries like China and India. What? I thought it just couldn't be true. What the Hell is wrong with this country and those who make such decisions? Are we incapable of sustaining ourselves? When I think about China and all of its injustices, it makes me want to puke. Seriously. And yet, I cannot seem to get away from anything made by them.

Has our country really come to this? I spent a couple of days going around the house trying to find something made in America. Of the few items I found, I discovered the majority of those companies are now defunct. Yes. How sad is that?  They couldn't pay their taxes was the most common reason, along with bankruptcy for various reasons. Am I the only one confused by this?

We have a higher unemployment rate nationally than ever and yet, nearly everything we consume is made elsewhere. Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture?

There are plenty who will disagree and say that it's mainly decorative items that come from other countries. I beg to differ. Many of the packaged foods and spices we eat are from China as well. I bought a large container of peeled garlic for making my chow-chow and hot sauce and was shocked to see the Made In China sticker on the container. As are most of the toys your children play with. How about batteries that we use every day? China, mostly. My Olympus digital camera? Indonesia. I realize that this country must do a certain amount of trade, but it seems to me that it's gotten out of hand.

Yes, there are many things still made in America, but they don't come cheap. So, the upshot of this whole deal is that as Americans we want to pay less for more. Unless you don't worry about the price you pay for something, you'll probably have mostly made in China items. As consumers, I believe that we are the ones who ultimately brought this whole thing to be. Since we wanted better prices for basically everything, companies have sought workers in other countries because they are willing to work for less than the average American on minimum wage pay.

So, if America's minimum wage workers want to work for less, perhaps there is a light for them at the end of the tunnel. However, I highly doubt those companies will come back to the U.S. because they know they can't get workers for so cheap. Sooooo... would you rather be out of work making nothing or would you rather work at a lower rate? Those are the choices.

Today we pay as much for a car as a huge custom built home cost when I was young. Everything in this country has risen in cost and it's going to end up costing us a lot more than just our hard earned dollars. If we don't learn how to live on less, it will soon be so out of control that only the very elite will be able to afford anything actually made in America. And if you really want to live cheaply, then you might want to consider moving to another country...


Beth Dunn said...

You know its funny that you are writing about this. Husband is a huge buy local person. So we do. I've been inventing everything possible with pears, tomatoes and pears this week cause I got them at the local farm. I'm with you snoots. xoxo


Patricia Hannigan said...

This is so, so pertinent. Sometimes it seems we're all trying to avoid the topic because, as you say, any solution is going to require sacrifice.

Would it ever be possible to manufacture in the US again? Not long ago the CEO of GE said that the US should aim to have manufacturing jobs make up no less than 20% of total employment which is about twice what it is today. Most don't feel this is realistic but it's encouraging to see consciousness of the problem... particularly from a company like GE that in recent years has outsourced everything but the kitchen sink. Actually they probably outsourced that too.

I think one crucial component of re-growing a manufacturing base in the US is that very controversial component: health care.

And the thing is, employer-based health care is absolutely and totally wrong. Period. No other country has it, for good reason. It's what brought the US Auto Industry to it's knees and it's what makes our products too expensive to compete in a global market place... or even on the shelves of our local Wal*Mart.

I'm going to stop here because I don't want to get all political here on the awesome Snooty Primadona Blog. But I do urge folks to find out as much as they can about the actual dynamics of our employer/employee-based Health Care system. So that those who choose to lobby in some way... for change, or against it... actually understand what they're lobbying for. This informative article provides a pretty objective and informative overview.

I would love to be able to see our country being able to produce more of the products (and services) it consumes. I'd love to see more "made in America" because to me... who grew up in the last century... it still stands for quality and value.

Thanks Snooty for such a thought-provoking post.

Snooty Primadona said...

I'm with you Patricia. I didn't want to go too deeply into the reasons because it's mind boggling and overwhelming to most of us, which induces a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. I wish there was an easy solution, but there isn't.

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

You go, girl.

And thanks for the offer of chicken noodle soup. You're so sweet!

I will get better soon. I will get better soon. (The Janie Mantra)

much love

Rian said...

It's sad. Unemployment is up in the US and 99% of everything on the shelves at Wal-Mart is made in China. In addition to the health care issue Patricia mentioned, another reason is unions. You may be willing to work for less pay, but the union would step in on your behalf and prevent it. And you, as an employee, have no choice but to pay hefty dues to these union fat cats to decide for you. Unions have outlived their usefulness; we have labor laws now.

Another aspect of this subject that bears mentioning is the pollution that is being generated in China and India et al. They do not have any regulations and the pollution there is worse than terrible.

Anonymous said...

I think it'll all come back here, just a matter of time. My reason for thinking this is the havoc it costs, environmentally speaking, to outsource anything anymore. Just watch, it'll come back.

BTW, I don't mind buying anything that says "Made in Canada". They're too close to home, in many ways.

Rob said...

There are plenty of reasons to oppose buying goods from China, not the least of which their occupation and continual pillaging of Tibet.

I prefer to buy local or regional when possible, even if it means spending a bit more. But then I read just yesterday that Chrysler, who cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration & Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money, has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring 3 electric models to market.

Sorta makes me proud to be a Honda owner. Oh sure, the money is going to trickle upstream to an Asian "suit" at some point, but my appropriately-sized, fuel-efficient, reliable vehicle was built in Ohio by Americans - Americans employed by a company that didn't just hoodwink our government into donating massive wads of our tax dollars to keep it afloat.

The Incredible Woody said...

My husband used to work for Stanley Tool, a company that used to pride itself in being American made. While working there, he learned that a great many things that Stanley touts as being "Made in America" are not. The handles and shafts for screwdrivers would arrive from a plant in China. An American worker would place the shaft into the handle and slap on the "Made in America" seal!!

My Metabolic Rate is Stuck said...

WOW! GREAT POST with GREAT comments! Wish we could put it in all the newspapers! But, really would the government even pay attention? I SO WISH they would listen and look to the people, instead of their wallets!

Rob said...

One thing I've long since wondered is - given that we're going to outsource the manufacture and then purchase goods produced by other countries for the sake of much lower labor costs - why aren't we at least tapping in Mexico for that? Face it, America is already supporting a significant portion of Mexico anyway, so why not formally invest in our next-door neighbor rather than Asian countries?

Of course, that sorta runs contrary to my other notion - that the U.S. needs to simply take Mexico.

Mental P Mama said...

Amen, Snooty, amen.

Daryl said...

Brava, Mrs S!

Anonymous said...

What a stupid notion, Rob. It's people like you who give our country a bad reputation. Just go ahead a take Mexico, take Canada too while you're at it. I bet you're the type of kid who hogged the whole sandbox. This world is not about you, Rob. Learn to get along, respect that others have different ways of life and are entitled to their own. Then go away.

Rob said...

Ah, no Anonymous, you have me all wrong. I'm not advocating that we take Mexico because I'm a bully or because I lack respect for cultural differences.

I'm advocating that we take Mexico because we cannot stem the never-ending influx of illegal immigrants. So why not make the best of a bad situation?

Anonymous said...

I have a few friends who *like* living in Mexico. I have a particular Mexican friend who never went to the US. Imagine that. It's not everyone who wants to jump the ship, unlike what you and many Americans believe. The world does not revolve around...the US.

Anonymous said...

Dear Snooty,

Why did you think about restraining yourself from deleting my comments? What was wrong with my opinion?

imom said...

This is one of my husband's biggest pet peeves. We will spend more to purchase made in USA items. When I grocery shop I try very hard to only buy local, it's not always possible, but sometimes I go without because I don't want spinich grown in Mexico... Call me weird, but that's how I roll.


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