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© 2013-2015 APB

Sold American

by Antone P. Braga

A few months ago an energy representative came to my door giving advice on energy and provided two very expensive new-age light bulbs, free. The local utility company "Edison," initially picked up the bill. However, the cost of the program is spread over higher rates for consumers in the interest of conserving energy I am told, although my bill hasn't seemed to change much one way or the other. At any rate, free light bulbs are nothing to complain about, albeit no such thing as a free lunch. I do have a concern though. I looked closely at the bulbs today for the first time and this is what I found printed on them: LIGHTS OF AMERICA - JAPAN.

I don't think so. If our authorities cannot enlist American produced light bulbs in their quest to re-light America, the least they can do is not flout the faux pas. It is especially disturbing, considering "Edison," an American, invented the light bulb. Because of our language and cultural differences, the Japanese are probably not aware of the inferred affront. I am sure it would become much clearer if we penetrated their market with: CAMERAS OF JAPAN - USA.

A major network news program on TV last night showed new evidence that China's large prison population produces many products sold in the United States. Slave labor of course produces products at much less cost than any American manufacturer could ever dream possible. Imagine: no wages, no insurance, no workers compensation, no social security, no taxes, etc., and the low producing worker is physically beaten to achieve higher production. Also, many countries' standards are naturally so low they are barely above the slave labor standard. So, it amounts to nearly the same lack of concern and lack of benefits for their workers, and, the same disastrous effect for our own workers. When an American worker with benefits, competes with this type of global labor, inevitably the benefits and wages are gutted, if there is survival of the job here at all. However, business has a very essential avenue available to protect its interest. Many companies are not negatively affected because they take advantage of the lowest labor costs. These days business pulls itself up by the boot straps of low paid labor, thanks in many respects to the global labor pool that finds a common denominator in lack of empathy for the worker. Workers have the trade and labor unions as their means of protection. But labor unions cannot protect a job lost to increasingly attractive foreign labor. This is what we buy into and what our workers compete against...not just a lower priced article for the consumer—American jobs lost, and a lower standard that we sink to as we partake. I do not suggest the light bulbs are made by slave labor. Only, that foreign infiltration is at an all time trade deficit high and it is often achieved by questionable and unfair practices, even at times with our own condonation.

There is much more to trade than meets the eye, although I just happened to see a very interesting definition in the Webster's Dictionary under "trade." Of course there is the usually thought of definition: "Act or business of exchanging commodities by barter or sale; commerce; traffic." Less known is another definition of "trade" listed there: "To profit by unethical, unfair, or venal dealings or by imposition;-with in or on; as, to trade on the credulity of a client." Maybe we should pay a little more attention to this latter definition in our rush to embrace the global economy. It is definitely paying more attention to us.

Slave labor is nothing new. At one time in this country society gave its full endorsement well across the land—from the highest office, through our institutions, and it was even espoused by our religious leaders. Eventually reason saw through the veil of expediency and expelled slavery. The immediate self-interest to profit from slave labor, or near slave labor, is once again just as ordinarily accepted; only this time we have remote middle-men to blame rather than ourselves, if we even care to do that. We are now one more step removed. We are clean and advanced. Hardly. More like tainted and regressed. "The Far Side" cartoon I once saw, hit the mark: two bosses are depicted overseeing a work-gang of chickens harnessed in labor. One boss says "Oh, yeah! They work real hard, all day long, seven days a week!. . .And here's the best part—for chicken feed!"

In the course of things to come we can watch as foreign and third world standards become more our own, and ours more theirs. If you haven't noticed, the transition is already well underway. I am reminded of an old convention with a new twist: the auctioneer rambles on with lightning speed that mesmerizes everyone within earshot, and climaxes with that all too familiar announcement of sale. . ."S O L D AMERICAN." We can only hope the "sale" is not final.

© 1994-2013 APB

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