Death of a Tradesman

Note: For all my friends who do not live in the United States of America, I’d like to know if you have the same problems.

Preface: I am about to stand upon my soapbox, but I do have a point to make at the end.

For years and years, I listened to National Public Radio (NPR) all day long, then a couple of years ago, I just could not take the constant bad news and predictions of gloom and doom. I sincerely believe that the press is one of the main culprits of our poor economy. They pick people to foretell doom and gloom and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus it was by chance that I was driving home and flipping channels on the radio, that I fell upon “Market Place” on NPR, and I heard an interesting story.

The story was an interview with the owner of the McGinnis Wood Products, in Cuba Missouri. (The mention of wood naturally piqued my interest) The company makes high quality white oak wine and whiskey barrels which they ship all over the world. The owner of the company was talking about how they have no debt. They buy when they have the cash to afford what they need. (The Bar Am Household operates on this economic model too). Slow steady grow is their business plan, and it has paid off during these hard economic times. In the past ten years, they have expanded the business and doubled the number of their employees. At the end of the story, the analyst made a statement that should be shouted from the highest roof tops here in the United States. The U.S. needs to make and sell products not just offer services! Amen brother!

Time and time again, I have seen textile companies ship manufacturing overseas, but does the price of my white shirt ever go down? No. Why? Because the top management keeps the profits for themselves. We have shot ourselves in the economic foot and lost thousands of American jobs. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The United States ranks third in the world for the highest income gap between the rich and the poor. A good friend of mine obtained an MBA from a very prestigious university, and he told me there is only one mantra in American big business; “Share holder value.” My college degree is in Accounting and I can see and understand what companies are doing here. They layoff people at the end of the year to make the bottom line look good for “share holder value.” Companies are so short-term oriented for the benefit of the shareholders, that they can’t see that laid off Americans have no money to buy things, thus the economy goes down.

So what do we do about this? Buy American, buy from a small business, buy from your friends, buy from your neighbor down the street! I am willing to pay more for a Lie-Nielsen product because it is a high quality American made product. I support my friends’ businesses if I need their services. Cheap crap furniture from virtual Chinese slave labor is also killing American small businesses. Buy local, buy homemade, buy handmade!

Yaakov has now descended from his soap box. I promise the next blog will be about woodworking.

Any comments from the crowd?


About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in Crafts in America and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Death of a Tradesman

  1. bongotastic says:

    Corporate interests are very much about raping the land just to look good at the end of the quarter. Jared Diamond makes a good point with this in the book “Collapse”. The issue is not so much about buying American, but doing business with commerces and outfits with a vested interest in the long term. Since it is unlikely that we’ll deal with non-corporate interests that aren’t local, then buying American is an OK rule of thumb (In my case, let’s say buying Canadian…).

    And of course, furniture should come from our own garage/basement/woodshop 😉

  2. bob says:

    You hit the nail on the head.

  3. On target, fire for effect! I’ve seen this trend developing in business for years. The financial pages are full of “stock drops on failure to meet projections” type news. Who on earth does better every month or quarter? It is now truly all about the numbers, and not about the product or customer. Sad but true.

  4. ann (mom) says:

    Right on! I could not agree more or state it better. A friend sent me some American name brand, 1980’s, wool bermuda shorts that had belonged to her mother in hopes they would fit me. The first thing I noticed was the quality of the garments and the details you like to see in tailored goods. What a difference in the products sold with the same designer labels now, but which have been made outside the USA. I certainly agree with Yaakov that we should all boycott anything that is not made in America and press our Government to no longer grant incentives to those manufacturers whose products are not made in this country. We should also encourage cottage industries.

  5. We have a similar situation in the UK – far too much of a reliance on imported goods for just about everything, now. VAT (tax) has just been increased by 2.5% as well so, things are looking very gloomy, over here… 😦

    I’m not against people coming in from other countries to work, particularly where there is a skills shortage… But, I cannot for the life of me understand why we have welcomed so many workers to do the unskilled jobs that any existing British citizen could do; particularly now, at a time where we supposedly have as many as three-million people not working…!

    I totally agree with your thoughts on the media – as a species, human-beings are very easily manipulated and power of suggestion is a dangerous tool within the arsenal of all forms of media around the world. Sad thing is that, things are unlikely to change…

    On a more positive note, where the prices of imported timber and raw materials has risen in recent years, our native species have remained fixed around consistent rate, which does make locally-grown materials a viable option for many woodworkers and furniture makers and, in turn, it should also help to encourage the management, sustainability and growth of our forests and woodland… Well, that’s the way I like to think it could work, anyway.


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