Ten years ago, I wrote a fictional tale wherein I had a school teacher instruct students to look in stores at twenty manufactured items of interest to them, excluding big ticket items, record where the item was made, and report their findings to the class. I played the role of students, randomly selecting twenty manufactured items that I thought might be of interest to a boy and twenty that might be of interest to a girl. I searched in a wide variety of retail stores. When I had selected 40 items, I had not found a single item manufactured in the United States. To make the fictional story plausible, I kept searching until I found one item made in the U.S. The following is what I found as reported by the fictional students.
Jenny, share with the class the twenty items you looked at; tell us which country each item was made in, and tell us how many of the 20 items were made in the United States.
I looked at a tea kettle, Thailand; coffee thermos, China; silverware, China; glassware, Brazil; bed sheets, Turkey; bathroom scale, China; towels, India; sweater, Hong Kong; paint brushes (art), China; water color pencils, USA; optical mouse, China; scientific calculator, China; wrist radio, China; cat food, Thailand; emery boards, China; hair dryer, China; lipstick, Taiwan; sunglasses, China; stuffed toy, China; sweatshirt with school name, Mexico. One item was made in the United States.
Good work. Samuel, give us your report, please.
Camouflage pants, Bangladesh; NASCAR cap, China; jeans, Honduras; fishing reel, China; camp stove, China; soccer ball, China; basketball, China; shirt, Cambodia; digital camera, China; CD player, China; toothbrush, Mexico; printer ink-cartridge, Ireland; blank CD-RWs, Taiwan; sneakers, China; spiral-bound notebook, China; belt, Spain; cell phone battery, Korea; flashlight, Malaysia; TV channel selector, Malaysia; and a bicycle, Japan. Nothing was manufactured in the United States.
I was surprised by my finding. Consequently, during the past 10 years, I have flipped the tags on manufactured items, excluding large big ticket items, in retail stores of every variety and in various places in the United States. I have only very rarely found items manufactured in the U.S.
It has customarily been reported that five or six million U.S. jobs were outsourced during the past three or four decades. Recently, reports state that only 10 percent of those disappearing jobs were outsourced, and the others were captured by automation. My response is a question: Where in the United States can I find those automated machines that make the “Made in China” tags?
In a somewhat related issue, it is reported that China has now surpassed the United States as the leading producer of atmospheric pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. But, in a sense, the pollution required to produce all of the manufactured merchandise sent to the U.S. is a carbon charge attributable to the U.S.
Jack Stevenson is retired, served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and writes commentary for community newspapers.