No. 558



Joe Smith started his day early, having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN) for 6 a.m. While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG). He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA). After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA), he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO) to see how much he could spend today.
After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) to the radio (MADE IN INDIA) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN job. At the end of another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA) É. and then wondered why he couldn't find a good paying job in America.
A friend sent this piece to me sometime back, but a few weeks ago I experienced some of the same feelings Joe Smith had when I went to a local department store to buy some clothes. After trying on several suits, slacks, shirts, underwear, socks, neckties and a belt, I began to look at the labels of where the different items were manufactured. It did not take but a few minutes until I felt like I had traveled all over the globe. I said to Viola, who usually goes with me because she has much better taste than I do, that you could just pick your country. Sadly, I did not find one garment or accessory that had the label "Made in America."
It had been several months since I had been shopping for clothes, and while I had noticed the Made in China and Korea labels in the discount stores, I had not noticed it so much before when I had shopped in the major department stores. Over the past few months and years I have been writing and speaking about our nation's trade imbalance and the fact we are importing about $500 billion a year more than we are exporting, but the reality of this fact did not really hit me until I saw all those labels that said "made in some other country".
Now granted, I am not an economist, but I do have some common sense and, like you, I know those labels saying "made in some other country" means a loss of jobs here in America. That's a given, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why this is true? Why has our nation lost millions of jobs to other countries over the past 10 to 20 years? You can beat around the bush forever, but the answer is cheap labor. You really can't blame a manufacturer who is trying to compete in the world marketplace for going overseas to produce a product where they can make a profit.
We used to hear a lot about the "Union Label" and "Buy American Made," but we don't hear much about that anymore. The nail in the coffin came some time back when both General Motors and Ford announced they were each laying off 25,000 to 30,000 employees over the coming months. No one likes to lose his or her job and the only reason these companies have taken such drastic action is to survive. You know you have problems when the eight top selling automobiles in America were all made in Japan.
The important question that I would at least like for you to think about is this: Why have we, as a nation, lost our manufacturing base? From my perspective, we are victims of our own prosperity. When unions bargain for $20 to $30 per hour, which drastically increases the price of the product, American companies cannot compete. What happened to the Union Label?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")