Monday, March 7, 2011

Made in 'merica

I've lived in the South most of my life.  We can't pronounce shit correctly here.  In fact, we can't pronounce the word "shit" properly.  We say "sheeeit" and usually follow it up with something cerebral like "f-ing A" or "dang rat" (that's "dang right" with a special twang on it).

The news here, and probably in many localities (since they're owned by larger corporate interests, and often cross-load their content to save wasted effort and extra thinking), has been gradually ramping up a series of "news reports" on "Made in America".  The basic aim is to go into a typical house (or trailer, "if yuze from round heeah buoy!") and identify what items are made in America.  I love how the word "news" has become synonymous with running your mouth on TV while wearing a suit in front of a green screen.

This effort is both falsely constructed and stupid as shit in its aim.  Let me explain why.

First off, what is "made"?  Does that mean the rare Earth minerals, timber, gasses and fossil fuels are mined or extracted here?  In a bonafide "state" or a protectorate?  Or does it mean the raw materials are imported (most likely, since U.S. mining is in a state of near comatose stupor now) and are then processed into wholesale commodities for downstream manufacturing?  Or does it mean the wholesale materials are imported and the final products are assembled here?  Is it the diamond coat paint, or the pigment and vehicle in the can or the can itself?  Does that include the paper label?  What about the brushes, handles and fibers?  How about the air brush kit, the compressor, the electric motor, the conductors, brushes, bearings and windings?

Yes.  It's "D" or "All the above".

Retarded, I know.  But that's what they call "fine print" reading.  That covers the falsely constructed aspect I mentioned above.  If you do some research, you will find that the current state of raw mineral mining in the continental United States is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970's.  As of 2010 and into 2011, the vast majority of many raw materials like Copper, Iron, Zinc, Paladium, Tin and Nickel are imported from countries with abundant supplies and vastly cheaper labor.  When I say "vastly" I mean "VASTLY" cheaper. 

A representative from Rio Tinto, one of the largest, if not THE largest of, mining companies on Earth said recently that it would take the United States roughly five years to restore mining output to what it was in the 1970's and the net result would be materials that cost five or ten times as much as they do now.  Have you priced Copper lately?  Are you familiar with what a spool of 200 feet of Copper wire cost in 2000 and what it costs today?  Imagine that increasing again by 5x or 10x.  Not a very practical goal.  Sound familiar?  Ever heard oil company executives talk about domestic drilling costs? (no, I don't count politicians talking shit about it. I only count the official sources).

I haven't lost you yet, have I?  Good.  Stay with me…

So, this "Made in America" crap is dangerously misleading.  It's a twisted, fine-print riddled mess designed to spin up the emotions (and viewer ratings) of people who think NASCAR and competitive eating should be awarded Nobel prizes.  But that's not all.  Now on to the stupid as shit in its aim aspect…

If you can add numbers, just basic numbers, you should be able to pull up some official numbers from government and industry web sites and add them up and realize, eventually, that if we only bought domestically produced products, it would make things worse.  Why?  Because we, as Americans, cannot consume enough goods to keep all our current factories running.  We have to sell some of our goods to other customers: Translation = foreign consumers.  That's right: we do in fact, regardless of what you've been told, still export things for sale in other countries.  Amazing.  I know.

Without the ability to spread our sales across America, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, a lot of our manufacturing would simply die out.  Any Economics 101 student knows this, but if you don't believe school is any good I suppose that's a meaningless claim.

The story from here on gets more and more complicated obviously.  In order to convince another country to sell your products, they also want an agreement that you sell theirs in your country.  Then it progresses from this to the trend of establishing manufacturing and distribution channels around the world to improve distribution and delivery to all customers, so you build factories and warehouses in other countries, and they build in yours.  That's why there are Toyota and Honda plants in America and we have Nike, Ford and GM plants in Germany and China.

So, when you decide to only buy American products, you may feel good.  But if everyone does that, sales of foreign goods drop in America and foreign trade partners cancel agreements and then American products don't sell outside of America.  Guess who bought most Harley-Davidson motorcycles last year?  Guess who buys most Levi denims and Apple iPad devices?  Here's a hint: "taint 'merica!"

Conclusion

Instead of buying something because it has a label, buy it because of its quality.  Buy the best made products and force the competition to step up.  Pandering to sub-standard shit only keeps them making, and you paying for, shit.  Don't reward shit.

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