You’re not going to believe what I’ve been going through these past weeks. Have a seat, grab a cup of coffee and give me some love.
My wife asked me not to mention her name in this column, so I promised that I wouldn’t. But her request raises this question: Since she’s a major player in this story, how do I proceed without implicating her? I know! I’ll refer to her as “Beatrice.” I never break a promise.
So, Beatrice issues an edict that we need a new barbecue. My view: Just because our current barbecue is infested with cobwebs, is rusty, and has a gas leak is no reason to purchase another. I figure I can fix that.
No dice. Beatrice and I began this journey intent on buying a barbecue that has been made in America. However, after scouring Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, Orchard, and Do it Center, we found only barbecues that were made in China. I searched for even the slightest hint of having been made in America.
“Where’s this made?” I’d ask. The salesperson would reply, “It’s outsourced.”
That’s the new buzzword used in the world of consumerism. We were told the same thing everywhere: “It’s made in China … cheap labor … that’s what the consumer wants.”
Quality, the hallmark of American-made goods, was nowhere to be found.
Beatrice emphatically asserted, “We’re not budging on this,” so our quest to find an American-made barbecue continues. To have principles, you can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk.
What are we doing to ourselves? Why do we continue to buy cheap Chinese products in stores like Home Goods, Walmart and T.J.Maxx? Will American manufacturing and craftsmanship become extinct because we clamor for the cheap goods sold at the aforementioned businesses?
North Face and Kelty products that I once relied upon no longer are made in America. I’ve given up searching for American-made products on Sport Chalet’s shelves. I continue to repair old, tattered gear.
Due to the invasion of cheap foreign products, many of our nation’s small-town main streets are deserted. We’ve lost millions of manufacturing jobs. Insecurity, self-worth and hope erode a once proud labor force. The complexity of such change sends cataclysmic effects into the very fiber of American culture.
We’re sending our dollars to China, the largest single holder of our debt. The Chinese are using their surplus to expand a military to a degree far greater than is needed for self-defense. We’ve become enablers of their human rights violations and their shoddy manufacturing.
The quest for “American Made” is not new to Beatrice. When we got married, we received enough dinnerware to satisfy the fetishes of Maria Antoinette. Since this was an Armenian wedding, there must have been 30,000 guests, and of course everyone brought something. I had three people on my side of the church, but that’s another story. The china we received did not bear the stamp, “Made in America.” You know what’s coming next, right? Shortly after our wedding, Beatrice delicately packed everything up and shipped it back to Robinson’s to exchange for pieces made in America.
How will we teach our children about quality when the base of the expectancy of quality has been so diminished? The pursuit of excellence is not an intellectual diatribe. Excellence is sought, it is created, and ultimately it is paid for.
The great powers of the world have imploded from within. What kind of country will our children inherit when we sentence ourselves to slavery for the sake of cheap products?
The complexity of this issue has us bogged down. Dealing with complexity is inefficient and unnecessary. There is never any justification for things being complex when the solution could be as simple as buying American-made products.
JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.