The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were. - David Brinkley
ABC News, in the states, recently ran a feature story over the course of a week, where they reported the outcome of a little test they conducted. They cited Moody's Economy.com, as having postulated that if every American spent an extra $3.33 on U.S. made goods every year, it would create nearly 10,000 new jobs.
They persuaded a couple (Anna and Jon Usry, who have two kids) in Dallas to let their people (Reporters, including David Muir) go into the family's home, and remove everything by way of furniture, fixtures, and appliances that was not made in America. The first result was that, as reported on Tuesday, everything in the house was removed, except the kitchen sink, which reportedly was the only item made in America. Incidentally, the shot showing that sink also included the faucet. The family was then shown to be eating PB&J sandwiches the night of the removal, and sleeping on the floors, in sleeping bags (likely made in China, but nobody said).
Watching the first night of this coverage, I thought that this was a good idea, and may actually help Americans to figure out how to help themselves. So, I eagerly tuned in the next night. By the end of the second night, my eagerness had turned to mere curiousity, and by the end of the week, I was beginning to wonder why they started this thing in the first place.
To say the least, there are a few parts of this entire story that bother me. First, while a family of four may well be a typical American family, this particular family has a stay-at-home mom. That just strikes me as being way out of the norm. Secondly, I really thought that most brand name appliances are still American (Kenmore, Amana, Maytag, etc.?). Next, I think I should mention that the street these people reportedly live on is a short distance from where we most recently lived in the Dallas area. This has to be what I would call an upper middle class area, marked by homes valued significantly above the norm. So, that is another thing that troubles me about this story – the simple fact that these folks are above the mean, rather than being truly typical.
OK, back to the story: The next morning, the lady and at least one of the reporters began calling and searching online to find American made replacements for all of the items that were gone. The report showed that it took them over an hour just to locate an American made coffee pot (or, maybe it was a coffee maker)! [Editor's Note: a follow-up the next night reported that the search for an American made coffee maker was not successful, as the closest they could come was a device that was only partially made in America.] However, they persevered, and the second night of this ongoing story showed that the producers were able to find enough products to refurnish the Usury's home. There were some items that could not be replaced, and the story as told by ABC News almost seems to pass over them very lightly. First, it was reported that the flat screen Panasonic TV has been replaced with a painting by a local Dallas artist. Then, it was mentioned, almost as if in passing, that the house would be dark, if an exception had not been made. That is because nobody is making light bulbs in the U. S. any more. So much for GE and Sylvania, huh?
That second night of the story also revealed that the only kitchen appliances that could be found were high end products - Viking Brand and Sub-Zero and Wolf. The old appliances were reported as GE. Pricing information so far indicates that going All-American is significantly more expensive all around than using some imports, especially in the kitchen. The fridge, from Sub-Zero ran over $3,000.00, and the microwave (Wolf) ran around $500.00, and I think the stove was even higher.
They did not report on what alternatives might be out there for a family that wants a television, or a stereo, or anything else by way of entertainment, and ultimately, I cannot see that there is any alternative. Maybe Boze for sound, but I just don't see any American made video equipment. Ultimately, while I watched each night, I did not get a feeling that this story was carried out to any real end, and I now have more questions left unanswered. I will give them this. They did bring out an 'expert' on Friday, who stated that it is not necessary to actually follow this thing through to the exclusion of all products not made in America. After all, he said, "We now live in a global economy, so it is all right for some things (electronics, maybe?) to be made elsewhere." I don't know, but I was left with a feeling like maybe ABC News just copped out, when they discovered what any normal consumer could have told them before they started: You cannot hope to fully furnish a home in the U. S. today with only American made goods. Does anyone out there remember Ross Perot, and his 'giant sucking sound?' That sound has turned into silence, as we discover that what he warned about happened all too fast.