Made In The U.S.A.

By way of some sort of explanation, I present this email exchange.

In Adventures on November 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

Subject: Your blog
From: Chris
Seriously you’re only buying American this year? Why?

Subject: Re: Your blog
From: Me
It’s been an adventure.It started on Christmas day, 2008, when I opened two gifts from my mother: one was a woven basket. I noticed it was made in Indonesia. The second was a shirt, from the Gap, and I also noticed it was made in Indonesia. It seemed strange that two such unnecessary things traveled halfway around the world for me to buy them. Or my mother. You know what I mean.
So then I thought, you know what, I wonder how hard it is to buy only American-made stuff? I’m gonna try it this year. I was terrified, because I thought it would be impossible. It’s not. It’s limiting, but not impossible. I dress poorly. And I don’t buy crap, which has actually been liberating. And I buy a certain amount of used stuff, which is economical and seems environmentally friendly. So really, it’s been a learning experience all around. You should start at day 1 and read up until today to get caught up.
What’s most interesting is the context. Typically, “buy American” is a loaded political statement. Even more this year. But it’s interesting to learn all of the reasons it’s good for the country, and all of the reasons it’s bad for the country. The idea of “save jobs, buy American” makes rudimentary sense, but it’s just not that simple. And if you tell people you’re buying American, they sort of assume you’re a little bit nuts.
Mostly, it’s turned into a way to be aware of my consumption. My mindless consumerism, which I think all of us have to a certain extent, now has a watchman.

Subject: Re: Re: Your blog
From: Chris
I like it. I’ve never been part of the Buy American movement because I’ve always felt that at its core, it represented the subsidizing of a doomed system. It creates artificial demand unless you can point to a tangible reason in which case there’s a real demand. I bought an American truck because I wanted the combination of power and space at the price. The Tahoe fit my needs, but the Sequoia et al did not. I didn’t buy it to save jobs or help the US economy. Of course, that would have been a fool’s errand anyway since the auto industry is so globalized.
Anyway, what I find most compelling about what you’re doing is the fact that it’s placed a watchman, as you’ve called it, on your consumerism. I find myself being a wasteful consumer at times and I have to put my own checks on it. I like yours. It’s not that too many of us buy things we don’t need, it’s that we buy things we don’t even want.


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