|Huffington Post photo|
"Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who have toiled in your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter."
-James 5:4-5 (NIV)
"America First" is a slogan we hear a lot these days, accompanied by calls to "Buy American" and to make America great again by buying more "Made in America" products.
Reality check. Relying on US-produced goods for our day-to-day consumption would leave most of us stripped of many of the garments, gadgets and gourmet meals we've become so dependent on.
Let's start with our over-ample food supply. While the US still produces megatons of corn, grain, meat and other food products for our tables and to export to the rest of the world, an increasing percentage of our daily diet comes from far off parts of the US (where many of the crops are harvested by immigrant labor) or from Central America, South America and from other places as far away as China, with field hands in all of those countries making a pittance each day.
Think pineapples--or bananas, or citrus fruits, or strawberries. Where do most of these varieties of delicacies come from, and who harvests them and ships them here? And why do bananas, imported from far south of our border, cost half as much per pound as locally grown apples? Or how can apples imported from China compete with what are grown right here in our Valley?
It's all about the cost of human labor.
Next, let's take a stroll through our walk-in closets. Check the tags: "Made in Vietnam", "Made in China... Bangladesh... South Korea... Indonesia", the list of foreign products goes on and on. Actual US textile mills and garment factories are so few and far between that we'd be threadbare within a decade without foreign imports. Or if we were to revive an American clothing industry massive enough to match consumer demand, the cost to keep us clad in the manner to which we've become accustomed would be prohibitive.
Again, it's all about the cost of labor.
Finally, there are our many tech toys. For lack of time (and a lack of expertise on the subject), I won't try to describe how much "hardship" we would endure without cheaply produced smart phones and other high tech products that foreign miners and other workers are turning out around the clock--all to satisfy our appetites for the latest gadgets.
The sobering fact is that most of our communities would be at a loss to know how to produce even a fraction of what we feel we need for our survival (let alone the need to hold on to the standard of living to which we've become accustomed). So in the meantime we're going to remain dependent on tons of "foreign aid" coming our way through the contributions of millions of overworked and underpaid international workers.
So let's call this what it is, foreign blood sweat and tears--billions of dollars worth of it pouring into our well stocked malls, supermarkets and homes every day.