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I read an article this week about the products that are still made in America.

I was shocked.  Having spent my life in non-manufacturing jobs, education, and the car business, I really paid little attention to where things are made.  With of course, the exception of the “made in China” label, which I do my best not to buy.

Now, don’t go thinking I’m anti-Chinese.  Because I’m not.  I’m anti-slavery, and most people who make things in China don’t have a choice of jobs, they go where they are told.  That’s my big beef about China. 

But, that’s not what this is about.

The items listed were:  bowling balls, sparklers, compact discs, pianos, socks, ironing boards, pencils, electric relays, chopsticks, and sneakers.

Yes, chopsticks.  IRONY!

My fist thought was, “That’s it?”

And apparently, it is.

There is only one bowling ball company, Ebonite, left.  It’s in Kentucky, the rest of them have fled the shores to cheaper work forces, and since bowling has declined, (down from 7,000 bowling centers to 5,800 in the past decade) ball sales are down.  But the Kentucky gang keeps rolling along.  And, I’m so proud, after a quick ball check, both of mine are Ebonites!

As to sparklers, who doesn’t love them?  Birthday cakes and the 4th of July just wouldn’t be the same.  But really very few sparklers are made in the US.  Youngstown, Ohio has a company which is barely holding on, and then only because of tariffs.

1312 people in Terre Haute, Indiana have jobs because we buy CDs.  So, keep downloading stuff, keep America, or at least Terre Haute working.

There’s one piano company left in the US.  Steinway, and frankly, there’s no comparison when it comes to sound, quality, and production.  It’s the gold standard of pianos, and other products love to refer themselves as the “Steinway of this or that”.  Of course it takes a year and 450 people to make one,  and, raise your hand if you have a Steinway.  Mine’s not UP!  They’re a tad pricey.

Socks are still made in Ft. Payne, Alabama, but probably not for much longer.  And if it wasn’t for the 157% tariff on ironing boards, yours would most definitley be made in China.  The 53% tariff on pencils keeps the Chinese from flooding the US market, and the relay company in South Carolina makes specialized relays. 

Georgia Chopsticks in Americus, GA, owned by Korean born Jae Lee took advantage of the Chinese building boom that is deforesting that nation, and the ample supply of good but messy Georgia pines (and BTW Jae, I have several you can come and get) and started a company that is actually exporting chopsticks to China that say “Made in the USA”!

As to sneakers, as we called them, New Balance is it for American athletic shoes, they are made in Maine.  Yep, your Air Jordans, Nike, Adidas, et. al. come from elsewhere.  And New Balance is hanging on by a shoestring.  The ENTIRE US shoe industry employs 12,000 people.  That’s it, and that’s a 50% drop in 10 years. 

The second shoe could drop if the Free Trade agreement with Viet Nam is approved.  The tariff on imported shoes is about 20%, and Reebok and Nike, who make their shoes overseas, don’t think it’s right that the American public should have to pay a “shoe tax” to buy their product. 

At this point, I’d like to say many things, but I’ll just add that it distresses me not a little that we are looking into free trade with a nation that killed 58,000 of our soldiers.  And, please do not say, “What about Japan.”  I’m not over that yet either. 

But I will say, I have an embarrassing number of pairs of “sneakers”, and all of them are New Balance!  There’s a reason for that.

Made in America

* New Balance has not compensated me for this post, has not provided product, and I seriously doubt they know about Redneck Latte Ravings, which is a cryin’ shame, and I’m quite sure they never will, since they don’t know about me, and no-one sends me swag!  But, just in case, 8 medium here!

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