I’m all for free trade and a robust international economy, but I’ve begun to see a rather alarming trend in American industry of late. We can’t seem to do anything for ourselves anymore.Try purchasing an American-made shirt, frying pan, ballpoint pen or ball peen hammer. Or an American-grown bell pepper. Chances are you’re going to have a tough time. It seems as if every other product to be found in your local hardware store, supermarket, auto parts outlet or electronics emporium these days is made in China – with an occasional contribution from India, Sri Lanka or Chile.
Has America forgotten how to sew a pair of boxer shorts or cobble a decent pair of shoes?
If China quit exporting goods to the United States for as little as one week, we’d undoubtedly find ourselves in the midst of a national panic not seen since the Great Depression. People would be wearing potato sacks (made in Guatemala) for shirts and muskrat skins (imported from Canada) for shoes.
I was reminded of this alarming trend just last week after wandering through the side streets of strategically ambiguous Sonoma and discovering a small shop that sold, among other arcane items, “Grow Your Own Redneck” kits.
“Whoa!” I thought. “I don’t have any of those. Better get a half dozen…”
(This is an example of good ol’ American impulse buying. It makes life better for all of us).
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Grow Your Own” phenomenon, it involves little bitty plastic dinosaurs and lobsters and body parts that you can drop into a bowl of water and have big old honkin’ plastic dinosaurs, lobsters and body parts in 24 to 48 hours.
Hey, it doesn’t get any better than that, amigos…
At only $3.49 apiece, my “Grow Your Own Redneck” kits were a solid bargain and, best of all, they had to be American-made because they were, like, rednecks. What could be more American than rednecks?
Sad as it may seem, I was wrong. The “Grow Your Own Redneck” kits in question were, in fact, made in China.
Is nothing sacred?
Admittedly, China manufactures some fine products, but rednecks?
I thought America’s southernmost states and portions of San Joaquin County had an inviolable patent on the manufacture and distribution of rednecks – even little bitty ones that swell up in water.
I’m no xenophobe, but this has got to stop right here and now.
The United States has few enough of its own icons left and one of them is the American redneck, whether he swells up in water or swells up in beer.
Join me in writing the White House, the Secretary of Commerce and state legislatures from Texas to West Virginia to protest this infuriating international encroachment upon a fine American tradition.
“Rednecks and America: They’re a beautiful team!”
Say it loud and say it proud, amigos…
(Originally published May 16, 2006)