International trade has been the key to successful nations for hundreds of years. Trading is more than just about making money. Trade has allowed nations to export surplus of goods, has helped establish treaties, create a balanced market and allow less prosperous nations to advance technologically. So what happened to America?
America happened to America. In the 1800’s to early 1900’s America prospered and experienced one of our countries biggest economic booms in history. People bought what they needed and they paid good money for a good product. Merchants and manufacturers made and sold quality goods. There were not an abundance because Americans preferred quality over quantity. Then along came Henry Ford.
Henry Ford revolutionized America, not only with his automobile, but with the introduction of the assembly line. American industry was born, jobs were created and people were spending.
Now that we had money to spend, the government decided against regulating businesses too much, so production was up and so was cutting corners. They encouraged free trade and why not, we get products we don’t have and we can impose tariffs.
The 50’s saw the reinvention of the good ol’ quality American product. Of course people were not interested in quality anymore. We wanted more for less and foreign companies were not only exporting goods we needed, but goods we already had. The American-made widgets could handle the abuse of daily wear and tear, they were more detailed and were a product of the proud American Laborer. But Japan’s widget looked the same, they had the same shiny paint and were half the cost. Who cares if it falls apart, it is cheap enough we will buy another. Almost anything you buy anymore has that little gold sticker on the bottom that says China. We are now a disposable society. And American industry has now followed suit. We crave mercantilism, but who will act on our behalf?
America complains that our jobs are shipped overseas. We complain that free trade has eroded our economy and that we are being replaced by illegal immigrant workers. We have done this to ourselves. Flip America over and you will probably find a gold sticker.