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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

American made is a thing of the past

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The other day I needed a small utensil for a barbecue grill so I ventured out in search. I wanted to avoid the crowd at the large box stores so I went to a smaller store where I knew I could find the item with minimal hassle. Sure enough, there it was - what I wanted at an attractive price.

The store clerk was busy with other customers and I was in no real hurry, so I browsed around the store aisle gawking at all of the gadgets and gizmos. And the more I looked, the more I learned.

I could not find one single item that was not made in China. Not one. And believe me, I looked.

I found myself on a mission. I turned over item after item and there stamped on the bottom was "Made in China." Absolutely every single item in the store.

I even found a gift set of Texas Barbecue Sauces - made in China. Appliances, items made of fabric, ashtrays, etc. Not one single domestically produced item.

I asked the clerk about my findings and she nodded in agreement. She pointed to one obscure appliance and, sure enough, it was made in Ohio. I almost bought it simply because of retail patriotism, though I had absolutely no need for a juicer. Even one made in America.

Now I realize it comes as no surprise that so many items are manufactured in China. That massive country of a billion or so people can apparently pay paltry wages and produce items much cheaper than American workers. There was once a time when a "Made in China" stamp meant inferior quality merchandise. That is no longer the case.

I know there remains a long list of items still made in the USA but there's a much longer list of items from China. Try checking out the labels from virtually any item at Wal-Mart and you'll get your eyes open. I don't blame Wal-Mart necessarily. I blame we consumers who blindly buy without any consideration to the country of origin for that item.

The world is changing not by bullets but by dollars. Most of us don't begin to understand the trade deficit even though it's right there in our shopping cart. Most of the goods we buy - except for groceries - are not the work of American hands any longer. Our dollars help to support a country that has vowed to end our way of life. And yet we spend.

Here's the real problem. I would gladly support a massive movement to buy only domestic products. But we've gone too far. Those days cannot and will not return.

None of this is new and none of this is surprising. But if you want a rude awakening, check the country of origin next time you make a purchase. And then imagine the world that will greet your grandchildren.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen