Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Made in the USA? Not Anymore

Science, Technology, the Environment ---

--Made in China--
I do recall when I was in my teens my mother would send clothes for us from the United States where she lived as an immigrant seeking a better life for both herself and her children. It was the typical story of immigrant parents living in the United States, working hard while supporting their children in their home countries and hoping at some point to be reunited with them again under better circumstances. The thing about those clothes that mom sent was that on their labels they clearly said, "Made in the U.S.A." I wore them with pride, for after all, everything that was good came from the U.S.  At least that was what I thought at the time since, after all, we were bombarded with that notion through the movies, comic books, and everything else. Then, after a while I began to notice a strange phenomenon. The labels on the clothes started to read, "Made in China" or indicated made in other Asian countries. I thought to myself, "Why would mom buy clothes from China when she was living in the U.S?" That trend continued, and rapidly so, not only in the clothing industry but in technology also.  

So here I am today, far removed from that time as a teenager, and imagine my surprise when I took a look at the back of my recently acquired new I-phone, and what do I see? "Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China" I am like, "No way!!!"  Then I decided to check all the major appliances/equipment in our apartment: 52" Samsung HDTV, three lap-top computers (Angie, do we need three?), I-pad, discarded Blackberry Curve, Krups cappuccino-maker, Oster toaster oven, Omega Juice Extractor (my baby - a gift from AP), Hamilton Beach Drink to Go (a portable smoothie-maker), Westinghouse microwave, two Samsung cable boxes, Philips DVD player (Philips!!!!), Vizio HDTV, Panasonic telephone instrument, 4 Remote controls, Frigidaire AC, dishwasher, and stove, Whirlpool refrigerator, light bulbs, two digital SLR high-end Canon cameras, one PowerShot Canon camera, high-end Canon lenses, Olympus tape recorder, Motorola Droid X mobile phone, and Vernado fan. I also checked clothes (Aeropostale, Calvin Klein, among others) and footwear (Nike and others). Not one of them was made in the USA!!! Unbelievable!!! Most were made in China. A few were made in Mexico, and the others (especially clothing/footwear) were variously made in Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Mauritius.

I shared this information with AP, and she told me that there was one item that was made in the USA. It was a bag made by one of her friends who has a small bag-making business. She makes some really great looking bags at that. Anyway, the above says a lot, doesn't it? That big businesses, in the interest of profit and cutting costs, take their businesses elsewhere where the labor is cheap. Made in the USA? No! But made by American companies in China and elsewhere outside the U.S. using cheap labor. As far as the owners of these companies are concerned, profit trumps patriotism.

[Photographic Art by Ric Couchman]