Issue 264 — The Paregien Journal — November 3, 2012
Made in the USA
by Stan Paregien Sr.
Tell me something, have you ever seen ol’ money-bags Donald Trump at a complete loss of words? I did, once.
It happened just a few days ago when Mr. Trump (the bird-nest-on-the-head guy) appeared on the David Letterman late night TV show. He was berating President Obama for being too submissive to the government of China. China, you know, the country to whom we and our grandchildren owe stacks of money, give or take a trillion or so in loans. And ol’ Donald waxed eloquent about the Chinese government has tilted the economic playing field in their favor and are still underpricing merchandise and, thereby, taking jobs from American workers.
That was a grand and glorious speech, full of truth and presented with vigor.
The topic of discussion, though, quickly turned to Mr. Trump’s new line of men’s clothing. He got all excited about his new creations and how innovative and beautiful they are and how well made they are.
Well, TV host Letterman picked up another rich-looking, colorful tie and showed it to the camera and the TV audience. Very nice. But he also asked this question as he searched for the label. “Donald, where are your new line of clothes made?”
Trump flippantly tossed back, “Oh, I don’t know. Out there somewhere.”
About that time Letterman found the label and said, “Donald, . . . the label says this tie was made in China!” and stared at Trump in disbelief.
Trump, like the fox caught in the chicken house, did not say a word. He rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders and changed the subject.
Sadly, the rest of us really aren’t a whole lot different from Donald Trump, are we? I mean, other than fact he has fame and fortune and every luxury known to man. Other than those items, we also talk a good game about doing business in America so we can grow jobs in America and we and our friends can have secure jobs for the future. Aw, yes, those are grand and glorious principles.
The truth is, when we “common” Americans actually go shopping we want a decent product at the cheapest price and hang the place it made.
What brought all this home to me, after Trump’s flop in front of Letterman, was when I began looking for a replacement for the nifty, colorful University of Oklahoma calendar book which I keep right on my desk. I needed one for 2013, but I couldn’t remember where I bought this one and haven’t seen any in the stores I usually frequent. So, being the logical type (sometimes), I decided the . . . uh, . . . logical thing was to look for the manufacturer’s name on the book so I could write or call them about the 2013 version.
You see, I am a big OU fan. Right now I’m over 200 pounds. But what really I mean is that I spent about three years working on my PhD at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. I like their football team and Coach Bob Stoops, though all of ’em–like your’s truly–have warts and faults. Yes siree, I am a BIG OU fan. Well, let me be honest, I am a big OU fan from a distance. I’ve been to three, maybe four, of their football games in my life. Period. But I am the BIGGEST OU long-distant fan on my block, . . . or at least specifically here at 1304 Pepperdine in Edmond, Oklahoma. Why, get a load of this devotion: I often sport an OU ball cap and an OU sweatshirt. You can’t be too supportive, you know. I’ve said all that to simply point out I like their merchandise, too.
So I really wanted another OU calendar book, . . . yeah, because I am a B-I-G fan. So I turned over my beloved OU calendar book and saw impressive product was officially licensed by the University of Oklahoma. That’s so cool. And the company that distributes it operates out of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Heck, it’s not out of Wapanucka, Oklahoma (where I was born), but Wisconsin is pretty good, too. But, sports fans, I was soon gasping for my breath as I read those damned blasphemous words, “MADE IN CHINA.”
My heart kept pounding out, “Say it isn’t so! The University of Oklahoma certainly could not be in cahoots with the Bandits of Beijing! But they are. For they are not limiting the production of this book with their really big and beautiful logo to companies based in our own United States. Shame on them.Of course, maybe like Donald Trump they didn’t realize what they were doing. Well, folks, if you believe that one I would like to see you the bridge spanning gigantic Lake Wapanucka (sorry, the Brooklyn Bridge is under contract).
So I dropped the idea of buying that OU calendar book ever again. It may put some 8-year-old Chinese kid out of work, but so be it. And I went out looking for one made in America.
Well, do you remember Walmart’s famous promotion some 20 or 25 years ago about how every time they could do so they chose products made in American. Yes, MADE IN THE USA.
However, that was then and this is now. I did go to my local Walmart and went through their entire selection of business-type address books. Not a “MADE IN THE USA” calendar book in the bunch. Hey, as the late comedian Jerry Clower (whom I got to interview one time years ago) used to say, “If I’m lying, I’m dying!” Sad, but true.
So I wandered through another store or two and still came up empty-handed.
That’s when I went inside my local Staples store (business supplies, computers, etc., etc.). You may recall that Mitt Romney and his associates established this highly successful chain way back before he created Obamacare in Massachusetts.
Anyhow, I began looking at the calendar books at Staples. And, again, waded through several “MADE IN CHINA” books before it happened. Gosh, there before my very eyes was an honest-to-God “MADE IN THE USA” calendar book. The first one I saw was actually made in the United States specifically for Staples and carried their name and logo. Yahoo, success!!
Except that it wasn’t quite what I wanted; it didn’t have the layout that I prefer. So I kept looking and, “Eureka!” I found a nice calendar book in the layout I like. It carried the label of the “DayMinder” brand and it was actually “MADE IN TH USA”. Well, sorta the USA. Them thar Yankees up in some place called Sidney, up in NEW YORK slapped the thing together. Down here in the southwest we know–and are often reminded in commercials–that real chili doesn’t come from N-E-W Y-O-R-K. But this was a calendar book, not chili, and it was good enough for this ol’ country boy.
Now, as luck would have it, I had an opportunity to announce the point of my purchase. No, they didn’t put me on the store public address system. It just so happened that the manager of this Staples, a nice guy about half-my age (true for most people I meet these days), was temporarily manning the cash register. I placed my lovely new calendar book on the counter. I was proud of my fantastic find. I said to him, “I just want you to know why I chose to buy this particular calendar book. It is MADE IN THE USA and most of the others back there are MADE IN CHINA.”
“Oh, I see,” he said as he hurriedly checked me out and turned to the next customer.
Hmmm. Maybe he personally does not get the concept. Or doesn’t give a flip.
Well, sometimes it just takes more than your voice to make a point. It takes looking for and spending money (even if the price is a little higher) for products MADE IN THE USA.
Okay, end of sermon. Let’s all stand and sing . . . “God Bless America.”
There you have it, the free story of my hunt for a product MADE IN THE USA. Now I’m going to preach the invitation while the ushers pass the collection plates so we can separate the Believers from the Pretenders.
What about you, dear friend? Do you deliberately look for that label or designation “MADE IN THE USA” before you take an item to the cash register. My wife does it a lot in the grocery store, carefully choosing products by the farmers and cattle and sheep producers in the USA rather than those from overseas.
I’ll close with a variation of that famous Wolf brand chili commercial and thought-provoking question: “When’s the last time you really, truly looked for a product MADE IN THE USA? Well, friend, . . . that’s been too long.”