“I am not political, I’m not. I do love my country. I take for granted the luxury and privilege I have, I do. I lived in Canada in the 1980s for five years. Canadian leather boots costs $20 less than American-made leather boots — tariffs. I bought Canadian.”
— From “Possumhaw” published March 31, 2014
The jean jacket label said Bangladesh. Prairie skirts made in the U.S.A. Old Navy jacket made in China, as was the Longleaf camo jacket, as was the Ralph Lauren skirt. Really? Ralph Lauren made in China? Ann Taylor, Hong Kong; MSU baseball hat, Taiwan R.O.C. Shoes were a mix of Brazil, Mexico and China.
“Our Year Without Made in China,” by author Sara Bongiorni, prompted my checking fury. Bongiorni is a journalist whose “beat” included international trade and its impact on local economies. She convinced her husband, Kevin, to embark on a year without goods made in China. Kevin, aka the “weakest link,” reluctantly agreed. Children Wes and Sofie had no choice but were soon to realize the prospects of a summer without a kiddie pool, Elmer’s glue or Mr. Potato Head.
The only shoes Sara could find for an ever-growing Wes were wooden clogs to which “weakest link” said absolutely not, or the $68 shoes from a catalog. She bought the catalog shoes two sizes too big.
I noticed Sara’s book was published in the U.S.A., as expected. I checked local author Deborah Johnson’s book “The Secret of Magic,” and Michael Farris Smith’s “Rivers.” Both were printed in the U.S.A. “Stepping Heavenward,” by Barbour Publishing Inc., was published in China. The Chinese are sending us boatloads of books.
Families trying alternative lifestyles of recycling, abstaining, sacrificing, simple living and so on fascinate me. I like the idea of competing with myself, so I bought Sara’s book at the library book sale.
I don’t begin to understand global economics, but I do understand that products from China have allowed many of us to live better than we could have, even if it weren’t for $9 shoes from Walmart. I don’t personally shop Walmart because I find it too big and scary and, for the most part, I buy thrift because I like it, thus the Ralph Lauren skirt. On the other hand, my kitchen touts ceramic bowls, cups and dishware all from China. I confess to finding a can of strawberries from … China. Revere Ware cookware, founded by patriot Paul Revere, is now manufactured offshore.
Sara ordered an advertised “Made in U.S.A.” lamp only to find a component in the box printed “Made in China.” She called the manufacturer.
He told her, “There were hundreds of American lamp makers just a decade ago, including 40 or more in southern California alone. Today maybe four or five exist in the county.” He said his family business survived by making large lamps that don’t travel well in containers. He explained the Chinese component: “Light switches are no longer made in the U.S.A. at all.”
I can honestly say I haven’t looked at the “Made in” labels, evidenced by the strawberries, but I’m starting to. If I have a choice then I’ll chose the “Made in the U.S.A.,” because the makers are my neighbors. If I don’t have a choice I’ll buy because it gives the salesperson a job. On occasion, I’ll consider if I need the purchase anyway.