Monday, December 22, 2008

Made in America?

I recently read a blog about the challenge of buying only made in America. So, I decided to "shop" in my own home - seeing as I seldom leave here - and see what I discovered!

Immediately I decided to ignore my pantry. Labels don't tell the whole truth about a product and the number of things "manufactured" by ConAgra is mind boggling, not to mention scary. And so, I inspected clothing, towels, bedding, books, appliances, picture frames, lamps, etc.

Nearly everything said China, Thailand, Mexico or Italy. Lots of items were not marked with a country of origin, like our Back to Basics apple corer. Out First Alert fire extinguisher said, "assembled in US of domestic and foreign components."

A few items we have are so old they may be entirely made in the US of A. For instance: our Premium saltine metal cracker canister is from 1958 and says made in USA; our antique clock was "manufactured in Mass." and our Red Wing bowls were made in Ohio and Wisconsin, I believe. Our Calphalon cookware is made in Toledo (though who knows where the material they're made of comes from); and the Griswold cast iron was made in Erie, PA.

Some bath towels are from Turkey, some from the USA, some from Mexico; the Playtex bras are from Mexico, the USA, and Taiwan; the Krups coffeemaker ($5 at Goodwill three years ago) is from Mexico; the toaster (another $5 at same Goodwill shopping trip) is from China; the DVD player, TV, remotes, and phones are all from China; of course, the computer and printer are from China; the dining table and chairs say they're from Ashville; the antique Lloyd's Wicker furniture was probably built here; the wood stove was made in Ohio; our fireplace tools say "Neverbreak" manufactured in Columbus, OH., patented Nov. 30, 1926; and my Charles Wysocki puzzles are made in the USA.

If you don't see a pattern here, you're blind.

The older items, which have far outlasted the modern junk, were made here and they've held up. Imagine how many hands have used those fireplace tools, the saltine cracker container, the Red Wing stoneware/yellow ware bowls, or the Griswold cookware?

They're all examples of hardy folks who made things to LAST a lifetime; nothing with built in obsolescence. And today they're all highly collectible which means I could make money on them!

If it were above freezing I'd venture out to the shed and inspect our tools, especially the rakes and shovels of which we have enough for three families. I'm betting there's one rake that wasn't made in the USA because I was given the damn thing three years ago and it's broke as many times.

If a person has money and some skill it would behoove them to start manufacturing something. I know the process is complicated and there are a zillion roadblocks thanks to our fed gov, but think for a moment what it will be like if the Baltic Dry Index tanks another 50%, let's say. God, can you imagine no ships coming to our shores with all those electronics, trinkets, foods, metals, clothing, not to mention legal drugs and medical equipment!!!!!

I'm wondering when we will see shortages of the basics. We have no capability to tool up quickly and start producing our own textiles let alone, medicines and food. Rest assured some bureaucrats would find a zillion more ways to tax and regulate any start ups right out of existence.

That's why we all need to invest in TANGIBLES. Acquire tools, linens, clothing, seed, medical supplies and other equipment now, while it's still available. And don't forget to stock spare parts or duplicates of items if you can afford to.

As an example, Sweetie has a collection of machinery belts that would rival the local small equipment dealer. ONCE in the three years I've known him, he's had to buy a NEW belt. His favorite place to find belts is at the local junkyard. He'll spend an afternoon there stripping belts, fuses and other gadgets off equipment. Why pay $10 for a fuse when you can find it at the junkyard for pennies? Of course, this is assuming you have machinery that's a few years old; not the latest and greatest of everything. It also assumes you live in an area where a junkyard is accessible. Not many of those around anymore.

Another thing that dovetails with having a supply of the essentials (not talking TV, I-pod, cellphone and Wii here) is teaching people basic skills like sewing, knitting, cooking, basic repairs, gardening, carpentry, first aid, and food preservation and brewing. When I think of those 12 people on my Christmas/New Year letter only four know beans about basic skills. And none of them know all of them. And when I think of their children, none of them know squat. They could run circles around me with all their electronic gadgets but it has cost them their ability to read simple sentences - CU ltr is not a sentence, by the way. They don't own a simple needle and thread, or do they know where food comes from, for God's sake. Like I think I've mentioned before, one of my granddaughters thought pancakes came from the freezer! And now I have a 3-year-old grandson who thinks food is produced in a machine because he just inserts a couple dollars and pushes a button!!! When I tried explaining that most food grows in the ground and has to be picked and cleaned, etc. he told his dad I was trying to scare him. My son thought it was funny until I lectured him about how dangerous that train of thought was. So now he's been sitting at the computer with his son showing him pictures of food growing in fields. Next step in to talk him into at least growing a tomato plant so the kid will have some idea of REALITY.

Well enough rant for today. I'm gonna go shovel snow to work off my frustration. Treesong


Mayberry said...

Yup, I love to find good old stuff at garage sales. 100 times better than new junk.... BTW, your debt clock keeps causing "can't open www.viewfromtreesongs..." to pop up every time it reloads.... Maybe it's just me?

treesong said...

Thanks for the heads up Mayberry.

I've had so many strange things happen online today, I just deleted the damn clock. We all know there's no end in sight to the national debt anyway.

Then I toyed around with adding to my blog list. That was another postier pain.

Ah well, time for another piece of my peach pie made with a wheat free crust. Not bad for a first attempt. Treesong

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, my wife and I were looking around in an antique store. Out of the clear blue sky, she commented "just think, all of this used to be made in America".

treesong said...

Yup, and that's about the only place you can find "Made in the USA" anymore!