Oldest Brother forwarded an e-mail this morning this morning urging everyone to boycott Chinese made products from 4 June to 4 July as a protest over dangerous and/or toxic products from Chinese manufacturers that have been so much in the news over the last year or so. The little blurb makes the point that we don't need the government to rescind China's trading privileges. All we have to do is refuse to buy the products. Good idea. But I see two problems. First, how much of the merchandise sold to us is made here in the U.S. any more? Or even in Europe?? I can go into my closet right now and, I would guess, not find more than a half dozen items NOT made in China. Second, Americans have become accustomed to getting what ever they want and as much as they want at a cheap price. I remember the syndrome, not very fondly, from when I worked at a party supply store. People (I won't call them customers) came in and complained loudly that our prices were too high. They could, they said, go to Wally World and get similar items for much less. We simply told them that they should go to Wally World then. Once upon a time Wal-Mart was known for supporting American manufacturers. That changed when Sam Walton died.
While I am very glad the captain of the American cargo ship has been freed, I am also concerned that the real root of the problem of piracy in the area will go both under-reported and unresolved. Only one national news story I have seen mentioned the fact that foreign fishing trawlers have systematically depleted the waters off Somalia destroying the livelihoods of Somali fishermen. Johann Hari at Alternet mentions that and also something that hasn't made the national news here: the illegal and immoral dumping of toxic and radioactive waste in the waters off Somalia. We should take a strong stand against piracy but shouldn't we also do something about the underlying problem? Or would it simply cost too much to make the situation right? (that last is a sarcastic comment in case anyone wondered) Or to quote the last paragraph of the article: "The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?"