Friday, December 07, 2007

Made in the USA - Perspectives of a Mom, Teacher and Entrepreneur

There seems to be three specific categories of people directly affected by this 2007 ’Outrage of the Lead Locators.’

There are the moms controling most of the family’s discretionary buying power who, when faced with screaming children and end-caps galore this holiday season,will surely succumb to the wails which imply there is no caring of the country of origin (just buy it!!!).

Then there are the teachers. You know them. The ones who continually use their own money to buy trinkets and treasures for our little ones as forms of reward in their classrooms. These are the same people who should be making more than that wide receiver or first baseman yet who continue to give their all day-in-and-day-out because of their passion for teaching.

Then there are the entrepreneurs, the dreamers, the ’I live in the best country for starting my own business, and I am darn proud of it’ people. Surely this China lead thing has got all of these out-sourcing inventors shaking in their bootstrapping boots as they laid their pretty pennies down for many a Made in China products. Let’s explore the psyches of America’s finest, shall we?

Meet me, mom of three and shopper of the family’s upcoming holiday fun. Did I say fun? What I meant to say was upcoming holiday follow-the-list-or-else mission. Seriously, does anyone recall the true meaning of this season or has it simply become want, want, want and need, need, need? And now that this Made in China alert has crept into the picture, my holiday shopping sprees are far from easily sprung.

I have caught myself checking the labels and tags of things in Target’s Dollar Area (knowing full well and good that I would see the "C" word and if not that the "T" word). Now, don’t get me wrong friends and fellow shoppers, I have always been the first to say, "Well, if our country can’t get it right to provide cost effective items to compete with China, then so be it. I need to keep my family’s economy front and center."

Thing of it is, I now have more of a conscience about it all. I have read more than ever before (goodness knows how, since I barely get a shower in during the course of a week much less read anything other than the back of the baby formula or the kids’ cereal box to clip the Box Top for Education off prior to pitching in the garbage!) about China, its ways of production and the pollution that overwhelms this area of our world. How can I possibly send more money into that bank account of global misuse?

Meet me, teacher of hundreds and hundreds of children. In fact, I counted just the other day that in more than 27 years of teaching I have impacted the lives of more than 600 children, and that is not counting the tutoring I did under the table (sssshhh! Don’t tell Uncle Sam. He never agreed to pay me what I am worth so I really had to do it to survive, the tutoring I mean!).

I so love what I do for this United States of America and feel outraged now that this whole China thing has surfaced. I mean, come on, most of that Oriental Trading Catalog I shop from is Made in China, and that is how I have been able to afford the Treasure Box Treats year in and year out. You think I just skim off an extra $100 per paycheck and put it aside for high-quality, Made in the USA products to bestow as gifts to the children of the same people who vote against raising my pay and who put more money on a football game than they do in their contributions to their child’s elementary school classroom?

I have not been asleep for years you know. I have been well awake and well aware of this nation’s turning of the educational tide, and unless we get some great James and the Giant Peach happenings going on then I best hope those Lead Locators find the source, hunt it down, kill it, behead it and throw it out to sea for drowning purposes because I do not see our USA labels coming down in price across the board to make affordable the things I need to do my job and make it a win/win for all. How do I possibly think I can afford Made in the USA even though I have taught many of those manufacturers during their early years?

Meet me, entrepreneur, energetic and enthusiastic to a fault. I wish for nothing more than to make my dream come true as I provide you and yours with my product or my service. Outsource? Who me? Well, just that one component, just that one call center, just that one print job . . . but hey! It was almost three times cheaper in China. The vendor told me (in his very broken English which is why I bought a Mandarin language CD just last month!) that we never find no deal no close to his ever in this U.S. of A. or he beat price by $500! I told him he had a deal (and there was no Howie Mandell standing by my side with a silver case and some amazing Made in the USA money!).

I have had pangs of guilt. Even nightmares about my own family coming after me in a boat while I steered a clear path away from them in a ship full of my foreign-born puppets. I know those puppets were stitched and sewn with love in sweat factories, I mean, factories where people are treated kindly and paid well. Never have I with an awake mind knowingly contributed to the horrible work conditions nor to the disgusting planetary conditions I have only read about (oh, but that one deal I did agree to was made waking up from the middle of a deep sleep if I recall!). How can I conceivably run a profitable business using only Made in the USA products and services?

It’s true. There are many perspectives, many takes on this whole issue, and I hope it all has helped us wake up to the fact that we need to become more dependent upon our own country for products and services. We need to support, demand, look for, request, assist, encourage, contribute to, organize, mentor, donate to and so forth American businesses, Made in the USA products, entrepreneurs from our United States and those who look to help our country grow in its autonomy. We seem to be giving it away, piece-by-piece and chunk-by-chunk to countries that should not be in charge.

I am a mom. I am a teacher. I am an entrepreneur. The above-stories are part fiction and part non-fiction. But the point is clear. It is real. It is time to stop the madness and pull together to make this country the great country that it always has been and has the potential to continue to be for centuries to come.

Take a stand. Buy less from other countries and more from our good ol’ USA. E-mail your congressman, your senator, your president, your school district, your mayor, your mom!!! Make it a viral campaign to save our country, our freedom and our earth. Your child will thank you.


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