Lately I have bought a few items for the home and for myself, including a couple of cheap antique furniture, gloves & scarves on sale, and a pair of winter boots on sale as well.
In reading on repair and maintenance of antiques, I learnt about the demise of the furniture manufacturing industry in Canada, mostly due to its inability to compete with cheap imports from China. One commenter noted that the demise was inevitable since the government did not provide enough time for our industry to retool in order to be competitive before allowing the cheap imports in. Very sad reading.
I made it a point when purchasing the gloves and scarves to pick those that were made in Canada. Indeed, the gloves and scarves I brought at the cashier’s all had a bright maple leaf label attached to them, with I believe something like ‘Proudly Canadian’ printed on them. Lo and behold, when I unpacked at home, I found out that they were all ‘Made in China’!
Today, I purchased a pair of winter boots made by Naturalizer. Canadian made, right? Nope! Boots are ‘Made in China’.
Which brings me to this column by David Sirota on the recent US/China summit where he writes about patriotism, jobs, ‘Buy America’, unemployment, and the lobbies, in particular The Chamber of Commerce:
In a country of “USA!”-chanting sports crowds, flag-waving rallies and saber-rattling political rhetoric, why haven’t our lawmakers passed muscular “Buy America” statutes that might compete with the “Buy China” policies?
Not surprisingly, it all goes back to the principle that patriotism may play well with voters on the campaign trail, but corporate cash ultimately rules the day in our nation’s capital.
As Bloomberg News reported during the stimulus negotiations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fiercely lobbied against the “Buy America” provisions when Congress debated them, just as the group lobbies against similar proposals today. That may seem strange coming from an organization whose name pays homage to this country. But don’t be fooled: The chamber is a front group for huge multinational firms whose first priority is not this nation’s economy, but a profit-maximizing business model based on exporting jobs and production facilities to low-wage countries abroad. Those firms, of course, make massive campaign contributions to both parties and such donations come with the expectation of legislative favors—like, say, killing initiatives to strengthen “Buy America” laws.
Thus, our current position of humiliating weakness. Here we are, supposedly the world’s most powerful country, begging the WTO to intervene on our behalf so as to prevent an economic competitor from making basic investments in its own economy. And we’re doing this all because our political system is too corrupt to permit a similarly competitive posture here at home.
Considering that sad reality, when Americans see the next wave of bad unemployment news and mass layoffs and want to know who is responsible, we shouldn’t shake our fists at communists in Beijing; we should look directly at our own leaders in Washington. – LINK
Where does our own Chamber of Commerce stand on that issue? It is a very complicated issue for sure. But it’s never too late to try and understand what is going on here … like, for example, why attach a ‘Proudly Canadian’ label to a product made in China … or elsewhere for that matter? Here, I guess, is as good a place as any to start: