Monday
Aug092004

« Cheap Shit »

Oh man. Kelli just dragged me in to Party City for some small nicknacks for the wedding. The whole time I was in there, I was thinking "goddamn, not one thing in this place is made in America." Party City owes its existence to the good (overworked & underpaid) people of China. And Vietnam. Apparently the consolation prize for destroying their country is to give them our cast-off jobs, and apparently the added insult to Americans, after having lost the war (and leaving with their tails between their legs), is that they have a country that sells out her own citizens by participating in this "free trade." Globalization. You gotta love it. It must be the single most celebrated way to fuck up everything that the world has ever known. It is the finest way to put Americans out of work while providing them with the cheap good and services they really want. And need, now that there are fewer and fewer decent paying jobs. Of course, we all need the cheapest of the cheap party favors. My god, what a horrible place that was!

I hope Americans realize the slap in the face that is just about everything around us. Our demand for cheap shit has really done a number on us. The way I see it is that there was once a time when people didn't buy what they didn't need, and the things they did need they bought, and there was a good chance whatever they did buy was built with some longevity in mind. But get to the 20th century, and some people get the idea that it would just be easier to manufacture cheap stuff that you can use and throw away. Well, there is the genesis of a whole host of problems we now face. Plastic became a key factor in disposable culture. And, you know, plastic is made from petroleum. What sort of stuff do we take for granted that is plastic, but maybe, in its earlier incarnation was made of wood, metal, or stone? Of course, if things are built with longevity in mind, people don't need to buy more of it. And if people don't need to buy more of it, the chances for a growth economy are weaker than if people are constantly buying new stuff to replace yesterday's purchases.

It's hard to do much of anything without spending money on this cheap shit. As for myself, I just try to make myself aware of where things are coming from, and if possible, seek out something that perhaps has a less controversial background. This is somewhat new to me. Alternatives are harder to find, and more expensive, but that is sort of the task ahead. I don't buy as much stuff as some do, so in some regards, I can afford to pay a little more for the stuff that I do need. I am keeping my eyes open for a supplier for shoes and general daily clothing. I hope I can get into some stuff that isn't from Old Navy or any other company that sells cheap clothing. Kelli and I are already trying to shop at Costco, which at least treats their employees like humans, and we also shop at Henry's for general food needs. I have all but stopped shopping at Vons, rarely shopped at Albertson's, never shopped at Ralph's. Food 4 Less is a tossup; they don't play the obvious chain role, but they are indeed owned by Kroger, a major name in supermarkets.

I'm as guilty as anyone for getting cheap goods, but the task ahead is to know about this stuff and allow it to influence decision making. For now, voting with the dollars is about all anyone can do.

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