Independence Day?

July 2, 2010

The U.S. used to be the “go to” nation for innovation. We pretty much invented the middle class. We could do anything in “our” day.

Then greed overwhelmed the forces holding it in check. Yes, greed has always been with us. The early wealth of the nation was built with slavery and where not slavery, labor abuse. We abused in the mines and on the railroads and in the factories.

But there was a time, a brief, when we paid a decent wage for work and the nation prospered. The workers bought homes and appliances and cars. They bought the very products they produced.

There was a time when we scoffed at “Made in Japan” before that became a mark of quality. Then it was Taiwan.

This week I bought a washer and dryer made by Samsung of Korea. All the appliance dealers told me that Samsung was the best on the market. (I can’t afford Viking)

My Maytag dishwasher, a year old, is under recall and Maytag’s website won’t accept my information to arrange for repair. I’ve been trying to contact Maytag for a month and can’t get through. I think the Maytag guy who never used to have anything to do is now over-booked. Because of the terrible service from Maytag, I canceled my order for new Maytag appliances and bought Samsung. An unfortunate coincidence of timing for Maytag.

Maytag can argue that labor costs are higher in the U.S. but they can’t argue that they have no responsibility to their customers. I have an expensive Maytag dishwasher that is one year old. I have been instructed to unplug and not use it as it could cause a fire. Maytag will schedule an in-home repair (at their convenience) or give me a $150 coupon toward another Maytag $750 dishwasher.

Since Maytag doesn’t think it’s important enough to fix their website or answer their phone, my next dishwasher will be a Samsung. Too bad, I’d like to buy American.

Greed. Maytag’s greed will kill their business and they will blame unions and the workers. It’s greed.

I recently bought a butter dish on Ebay. New in box. A stick of butter would not fit under the cover. It wasn’t even close. I asked for a refund. “It’s not my fault” was the seller’s reply. After pressure, this “Mom supporting her family from Ebay sales” offered to refund the purchase price but not the $10.83 shipping and I must return the $9.00 item at my expense. Greed.

Greed has reached the selling moms of Ebay. Greed is infectious.

What happened to doing the right thing? It was consumed by greed.

The U.S. is suffering from foreclosures, low wages and high unemployment and yet I cannot find a butter dish, appliance, shirt, tire or paperclip made in the U.S.A.

Let me wrap this up before my point is lost. I’m not saying “Buy American!” On the contrary. I say you should buy what you need at the best price and quality you can afford.

But I am also saying that I wish American products of quality and comparable value were available for me to buy. But our companies have been infected with greed. Even a mom selling on Ebay thinks it’s okay for me to pay a penalty because her product is defective. Greed.

BP cut corners and people died. BP cut corners and we’re facing a devastating environmental catastrophe. Obama and BP have pledged “to make it right”. People are dead. How do you make that right? Greed.

This July 4th marks the end of independence. We may never see another true Independence Day in the U.S. We are dependent on oil which funds our enemies. We are dependent on cheap labor which takes our jobs. We are dependent on foreign capital which funds our debt. We are dependent on illegal immigrants to produce our food, clean our hotel rooms and do our yard-work.

If we really want Independence Day in this country, we’d better start fighting greed. Greed is creating some very terrible, possibly inescapable dependencies.

Chris Reich
TeachU

Chris Reich

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