Do you guys play Risk? The board game for power-hungry nerds? I had the best apartment in college. Somehow my roommates and I found this two-story, new-seeming apartment a mile from campus for like $120 in rent. Sure, it was all drywall and hard carpet, but it was new and impressed us, kind of like the Olive Garden and people in ties. In case you've never lived in a place where sirens pull up for nightly domestic disputes, where the lawns are littered with cigarette butts, you may not be familiar with the classy part of town.
This was in the triangular inner space behind a cash advance loan place/liquor store strip mall, train tracks and the highway. It was Indiana to begin with, but making this location extra special were my neighbors who ambled past as we played Risk on the porch.
One day, the game board was all set up and whoever occupied China was about to clean up. I think it was me. Yes, for purposes of this story I'll be the victor, okay? [Wavy flashback sequence] I was about to start a path of destruction through Mongolia, own the Americas and stamp out Europe when my neighbor Kevin stumbled over and asked what we were doing.
"Oh, it's this board game where you try to dominate the world. China is ruling."
"Well shit fire, boy! That damn China, look out! Muthafuckers got more able-bodied dudes than we got everybody in this U.S. Gonna dominate no matter damn what." And he was gone, the waft of his Marlboro Red forming a smoke ghost behind him. But he had a point. About the real China.
Seven Deadly Sins: The Series
Teppi Jacobsen: Gluttony
Jenna Myers Karvunidis: Greed
Lyletta Robinson: Anger
Patrick O'Hara: Envy
Evan Moore: Pride
Sheila Quirke: Sloth
Crystal Alperin: Lust
Andy Frye: The Eighth Sin: Rebellion
At the time, though, the real China was a big, underdeveloped land just coming out of the Asian financial crisis. Chinese infrastructure wasn't much and their exports were still, for the most part, considered junk. The idea of China posing a threat to the globally-dominating, pre-911 United States was laughable. Oh, that Kevin. Such a townie.
Now? We have a problem with China, people. The U.S. government owes China money and for any kid whose ever owed anything to a bigger kid, street logic will tell you this isn't going to end well. China owns us and unless we pay them back, they're going to come get their toys. What I'm trying to say is . . . we might be vulnerable to Chinese import interruption at some point or at the very least, get smacked in the face by rapidly rising prices due to the strengthening Chinese economy, so it makes sense to beef up our economy at home. Let's get off, China, people!
Gratuitous picture of me in China you've seen like 12 times.
So what can we do? How are we responsible? For starters, let's get ahold of our personal greed. We just don't need as much stuff as we have, especially when the amassing of such stuff is selling out our economy to overseas markets. 70% of the merchandise sold at Walmart is made in China. Every time we make a purchase from a retailer that sends our dollars to China, we are weakening our U.S. economy. Buying American is a choice we can make. Shopping guide: Spanx for Men are made in the US and are sure to make you popular in your home.
American labor is expensive. This means you can only afford to have a few outfits in your wardrobe, not 25. Have you ever looked at an old house and seen the closets are only big enough for each person to have a few things to wear? Really old houses sometimes don't even have closets in all the bedrooms. You were supposed to have a small piece of furniture that held your five outfits because that's all the clothing you could afford. Guess what? It's still all the clothing you can afford unless you want to send all your money to China where things are made in sweatshops that suck business out of the U.S. economy. (A smidgen of news in the right direction are companies reengineering products with shorter production time and moving manufacturing jobs home. Yay General Electric!)
Somehow in the last generation, home sizes, car sizes and the sheer amount of stuff Americans have has ballooned. Think about it. Would a show like Hoarders have even existed 50 years ago? No, because no one could afford that much stuff. If we weren't so dependent on China for getting our fix of plastic party favors, we might not be in the pickle we're in right now. Fun fact: The sales of artificial Christmas trees are up this year. They come from China. I used to be against cutting down trees because I'm earthy and shit, but hell no. This year, I bought a real, American christmas tree grown on Wisconsin soil and supported an American business. And when my husband trimmed the top branch? There was a smiley face made of sap inside. Heartwarming!
Think of your ole Uncle Sam as you do your Christmas shopping this year. It's impossible these days to completely avoid Chinese manufacturing, but if given some control over what you buy, try to choose American. Support local businesses. Buy handmade. Have less. Do more. I don't mean to give the wrong impression like I'm some kind of beacon of How To Be, I have Chinese crap in my house too. We all do, it's unavoidable. But call me a liberal communist hippy, but I believe in American union workers and American made products (as well as good, free public education and access to affordable college loans. Pass the reefer!) Let's just try to make an effort to buy local, okay peeps?
Sure, free trade is a beautiful thing (and minor conundrum: WalMart is the largest employer in 25 states) but if we can choose to keep as much of our business at home as we can, we're investing in our neighbors and reducing possible dependence on China.
Besides, we can always satisfy our greed for foreign products with flatulence filtering underwear from the UK.
Filed under: Grinch the season