I awoke this morning and checked my Chinese bedside clock after sleeping on my Chinese sheets and pillow cases. I turned on my TV from Thailand for a moment and then shampooed with Energizing Citrus and washed with Lemon Grass-Grapefruit body wash made, as far as I could tell, in the USA. I used a washcloth made in Portugal with Egyptian cotton, and dried on a towel made in India. I shaved with a $1 cheapo can of shaving cream made in China purchased at the dollar store, using a razor blade made in the USA. I applied after-shave balm made in Germany, and applied Canadian deodorant. My dental floss, toothpaste, and hair gel all came from the USA. I dressed in a polo shirt made in Indonesia, put on pants made in the Dominican Republic and socks made from some country in South America that dumps a ton of lint into the toes. Finally, I put on my shoes made in Slovakia, sat down at my desk at my Chinese computer and began editing photos taken with my Japanese camera.
In economics terms, this scenario is the product of a massive cost-cutting movement toward free trade in the global economy. Since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff did its best to help demolish the US economy early in the last century by erecting trade barriers, free trade and economic protectionism have been emotional issues that look at the evidence of lost US jobs, closed factories, dead blue-collar towns, and dying industries. In their places have come the WalMarts and other big box stores, whose buying policies dictate costs and production contracts around the globe. The benefit we have received is low costs. The pain we have suffered is loss of jobs and industries. No matter how much we may long for the US economy of yesteryear, we will never see it again. Some policies may perhaps be altered to stop rewarding businesses for moving their production overseas, eliminate unfair trade practices, and other stopgap measures may be tried. In all likelihood, the trend toward globalization will be accelerated, not reversed. Such is one of the major benefits, or tragedies, depending on how you are affected from this enormous upheaval in global economics, of the burgeoning global economy.
In some ways, I long for the old subsistence economy we lived during the years of the Great Depression where almost nothing was "store bought" and where we improvised and got by with whatever we could produce and make ourselves. I don't know that I am any happier now than I was then.