But I digress: The 176 Pound Tumor

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By The Staff

Amanda called out to her husband, “Honey, come take a look at it.  It’s gotten a little bigger.”  

Jeff walked into the room as his wife gently poked the growth hanging off her body and asked her, “So, how much does it weigh today?”   Amanda poked it again and said, “Just over 80 pounds.  What do you think?  Should I have a doctor take a look at it?”  

Jeff replied, “Naw, let’s see if it hits 100 pounds first.  So, what do you want to do for dinner?”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been pushing for stronger economic ties with China, saying that he would like a closer working relationship, much like that we have with European economic powers. His attempt to smooth over relations with China has little to do with smiling faces and handshakes and more to do with the near-trillion dollars of U.S. Treasury securities that China now holds.

Remember that old song on commercials for American made products – “Look for the Union label?”  Well, the tune is all that remains of the clothing industry in America.  Currently, over half the non-quota textile apparel sold in the U.S. is manufactured in China.

We used to joke that foreign manufacturers made our Barbie dolls for U.S. It was a tribute to America’s greatness: they made our toys and we made cars and TV sets.  Oh, how times have changed!  

As American jobs continue to vanish, China’s toy manufacturing market is now around $15 billion a year and growing at a rate of 40 percent annually.  Still think Barbie dolls and soccer balls are a joke?

GM’s Pontiac division and the Chrysler company are just another two in a long line of classic American brand names branded as defunct.  “Made in America” has no meaning in today’s market. Job by job, product by product, our government has sat for decades watching the tumor of unemployment and outsourcing slowly consume our economy and our future.  How big does it have to get before they do something?

Remember Lincoln Logs? Uh, how does one say Lincoln in Chinese?  How about American quality at its best, Craftsman tools?  Nope ... made in China!  

And is anything more American than Revere cookware? Well Paul, get on your horse and shout out the warning – “The Chinese are coming!  Uh, nix that.  The Chinese are here!”  Hey honey, that tumor is way more than 100 pounds now.

The true measure of China’s economic assault can be felt by strolling the aisles of Wal-Mart. Just try to find something made in America there. It’s a tough sell. But is Wal-Mart to blame for America’s economic implosion?  

This tumor has been growing for some time now. In 1985, our trade deficit with China was $6,000,000.  Last year it was $266,000,000,000.  Do the math.

So what is made in China today?  Toothpaste, vitamins, steel pipes, drywall, vegetables, fruit juices, brand name sports shoes, sunglasses, seafood, meat, electronics, kitchen items, carpeting, building supplies, cleaning supplies, dinnerware, fabrics, dried fruit, mushrooms, garlic, pet food, mineral additives to food, poultry, batteries, dietary supplements, cosmetics, garden equipment, plastics, artificial sweeteners, rolled aluminum, candies, pickles, crackers, shellfish, prescription drugs, tires, ceramics, electric fans, candles, bike frames, shop tools ... this column is limited not by what China imports to the U.S. but by how much space I’m allocated to write about it.

China even makes Panama hats and Persian rugs!  Is nothing sacred?

But fear not!  Our government did take “positive stern action” against Chinese trade practices, making it clear to China that the U.S. “would not tolerate market disruptions.” In late 2004, President Bush imposed a temporary 90-day quota on sock imports which “limited the increase” of Chinese sock imports to 7.5 percent.  

This was a “smaller increase than the Chinese had wanted.” Yeah! We sure showed them who’s boss!

There was in fact a woman who had a 176-pound tumor. I don’t know the whole story but I’ve often wondered why it took her so long to have it removed.  

Maybe she worked in the U.S. Foreign Trade Department and was simply used to waiting for the problem to go away? Well, tumors have a tendency to keep growing. China isn’t going away.

OK, I’m not guiltless.  I drive a Japanese car.  My computer was probably made in India.  If American products were the only flammable products in the world, my house would be virtually fireproof. But these days, finding an American-made product is like searching for a needle in a haystack.  I did, however, see a great sale on Chinese metal detectors!

So what’s the solution?  Is there a solution? Maybe Chinese consumers will find their own costs rising and export jobs back to America.

Hey, anyone interested in making some Barbie dolls?