This is a bit deeper than my random thoughts posts. My musings is a view into the thoughts that I ponder, the questions that keep me up at night. What I imagine swishing a fine wine in your mouth and letting it linger for the apple peel aftertaste is what these thoughts are to my brain.
I was in Addis Ababa a few months ago. I was in a store looking at a shirt. The store owner was putting her best sell job on me, and I liked the shirt. A checkerboard button down with alternating light and dark pink shades. She wanted 800 birr ($40). I wouldn’t pay that in America, let alone Ethiopia (Marshalls for life). She emphasized it was imported from Indonesia. My thought was I didn’t give a flying f— where it was from. At the time I didn’t buy the shirt, she wouldn’t come down, and I moved on. Recently, I have begun to think about the charismatic women who kept emphasizing the location of where the shirt was manufactured. To her this was a valuable import. From Indonesia to Ethiopia isn’t a strong trade market. She held this shirt in a high regard because of its origin. Indonesia signifies a quality that doesn’t exist in Ethiopia textile manufacturing. To me I didn’t care. My closet looks as if the domino theory of the 1960’s came true. Vietnam, Indonesia, India and of course China. My favorite is an American flag shirt with a massive bald eagle, made in….. you guessed it, China. To me an import from Indonesia means nothing. My Levi jeans tell me they are “American tradition, symbolizing the vitality of the West to people all over the world.” But they are made in Mexico and owned by a conglomerate in Belgium.
My generation is unique. For the first time in the history of the world I don’t care where something is from. It means nothing to me. Some companies flaunt made in the USA but in reality I couldn’t tell a pair of jeans made in Mexico vs a pair made in America. I can’t help but think of American politics. Of bringing jobs back to America. Why? As human being we want the best quality products for the cheapest price. In 2017 that means exporting manufacturing to other countries. Isn’t our nation founded on capitalism? Isn’t it against the very foundation of our principles to threaten tariffs because products abroad are too cheap. Didn’t we just win in a war boasting the wonders of capitalism and its superiority over the bellicose communism. Americans are used to getting gargantuan oranges year round and 3 packs of undershirts for $5. It’s because capitalism is working. It’s why I scoffed at being offered a higher price for a shirt that was imported. Why are Americans clamoring for jobs their system exported. I’m part of the first generation that is used to the diversity of countries producing literally everything we use. Any room in an American house is littered with dozens of countries. It makes me wonder what will happen in 10 more generations? I don’t know but it’s fascinating to think about. In the short term it will follow the cheapest labor. That leads me to believe Africa is the next logical destination. China thinks so too. The sheer amount of Chinese money and influence in Ethiopia alone is astounding. They build roads then ship all kinds of goods to rural Ethiopia ranging from hot plates to bug spray. They even own the bus services that traverse the roads. Will humanity reach a point when we can manufacture everything with little to no human help. We may be 2 or so generations away from that. What happens then? Where will our goods come from?