Can’t Americans Do Anything?

June 15, 2009
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A couple of months ago I was in a LaRosa’s Pizza with my two young daughters. We were waiting in the lobby for a table. Of course, in the lobby, those quarter-sucking machines stood dazzling my children with their offerings of miniature plastic figurines, bouncing balls, bracelets, and other delights trapped inside those clear plastic globes. Quarter Vending Machines

My kids had snuck some quarters into their pockets and before I knew it, each had spent $1.25 on the machines. I convinced myself it wasn’t too bad of a waste, since they had spent it on toys and not germ-ridden candy or gum that had been sitting there for months.

The hostess called us and the girls somehow managed to carry six globes each to our table. I was somewhat excited to see what they had gotten and reflected on the amount of luck involved. It sent me into a brief daydream about a website that offered products, but instead of selecting what you want and paying for it, you would simply put $20 in first and spin a virtual handle and receive an item by pure chance – maybe a shirt, a hat, a handbag. Hmm.

So my oldest, Micaela, cracked open the first globe, a rubber pink ninja warrior. Clearly, this sad figure had found a


A couple of months ago I was in a LaRosa’s Pizza with my two young daughters. We were waiting in the lobby for a table. Of course, in the lobby, those quarter-sucking machines stood dazzling my children with their offerings of miniature plastic figurines, bouncing balls, bracelets, and other delights trapped inside those clear plastic globes. Quarter Vending Machines

My kids had snuck some quarters into their pockets and before I knew it, each had spent $1.25 on the machines. I convinced myself it wasn’t too bad of a waste, since they had spent it on toys and not germ-ridden candy or gum that had been sitting there for months.

The hostess called us and the girls somehow managed to carry six globes each to our table. I was somewhat excited to see what they had gotten and reflected on the amount of luck involved. It sent me into a brief daydream about a website that offered products, but instead of selecting what you want and paying for it, you would simply put $20 in first and spin a virtual handle and receive an item by pure chance – maybe a shirt, a hat, a handbag. Hmm.

So my oldest, Micaela, cracked open the first globe, a rubber pink ninja warrior. Clearly, this sad figure had found a home in the LaRosa’s lobby quarter-sucking machine given the dubious popularity of a pink assassin. I lifted the lonely warrior to take a closer look. I flipped it over. On the bottom, embossed in pink: “CHINA.” Indeed, everything they had purchased was from “CHINA.” I thought, “Can’t we make pink ninjas here?”

I purchased Kit Kittredge, an expensive doll, from the American Girl Doll store in Chicago while I was there in March with my kids. For her birthday, I bought my youngest daughter, Lily, the accessory scooter and puppy dog, both tiny and both expensive. After she opened the gifts, I inspected. The tag, permanently attached to the microscopic plush puppy (which I eyed closely, attempting to recognize the fine craftsmanship which warranted the interest I would pay on the credit card), read “Made In China For American Girl Dolls.” Good grief.

Yesterday, I was at Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits. I sat down with my sandwich and Cajun fries. A tiny, fake potted plant sat on the table accompanying the salt and pepper shakers. I was with two friends remarking to them about how Americans don’t make anything in America anymore, and to prove my point, I lifted the plant up to read the bottom: “Made in China.” Desperate, I also inspected the salt & pepper shakers. Thank goodness, “Savannah GA.”

My Logitech wireless mouse, keyboard and USB receiver, “Made in China.” The Phillips lamp on my girlfriend’s nightstand, both the supportive stand and the light bulb connection are inscribed “CHINA.” Her Timex alarm clock, “Made in China.” A small cat figurine, an orange tabby in stretch position barely 5 inches long, from China.

As the G8 ministers meet to discuss issues and attribute the world economic crisis to “excessive risk taking” and work toward “strengthening our commitment to standards of propriety, integrity and transparency,” I can’t help but note the irony that China has been about as transparent when it comes to owning just about everything in America as the little globes the pink ninjas and other plastic uselessness come in. Nothing against China, of course, because if there’s a willing buyer, why not sell something and make a buck?

Optimistic, I decided to Google “Made in America” and found this great website, http://www.stillmadeinusa.com/. But then, when I Google “Made in China,” I get http://www.made-in-china.com/. No “still” necessary in the title. http://www.madeinusa.com/ is there, but “debuting” on July 4th. I certainly hope they have some success. Because right now, all we’re good for, now that most of our wonderful car manufacturing is dwindling, is salt and pepper shakers.