Carry a Big Chopstick

Last week, I spent $290.87 on school supplies at a local “supercenter” that shall remain unnamed. Suffice it to say that the “rollback” in prices still wasn’t enough to put a “smiley” on my face.

I lugged the bags from my car into the house, and dumped the lot out onto the living room floor. I stared at the pile of pencils, paper, folders, notebooks, highlighters, binders, rulers, index cards, and two $88 graphing calculators and thought to myself:

Good Lord, almost three hundred dollars for this stuff. Whose idea was it to have three kids anyway? [The unnamed supercenter] must be making a killing, well, along with the manufacturers I guess . . . hu? Wait! Let me see here . . . oh no! Made in China? What have I done?!

With our economy in peril and so many Americans out of work, how could I have so carelessly handed hundreds of dollars over to China? I contemplated returning all the supplies to [the unnamed supercenter] and telling the kids to just use the free bank pens, hotel note pads, and the crayon nubs left over from last year.

Knowing I did not have the courage to return the school supplies I had just spent the last three hours procuring, I slumped down next to the pile of foreign manufactured goods and hung my head in shame.

A minute or two later, a Chinese lantern blinked on in my head.

Hey, wait a minute, I thought, the Chinese have been making the stuff Americans buy for decades, right? Well, why don’t we do exactly the same thing?

US citizens make up about 4.5% of the world’s population, but China accounts for almost 20%. They figured out long ago that they could manufacture products that Americans want and sell them to us at a hefty profit. Why don’t we make the products the Chinese can’t live without and sell them to China – a market four times larger than the US?

My mind raced with the endless possibilities of my brilliant scheme.

Rice. Rice is the staple food and most important ingredient in Chinese cooking. Why not flood the banks of the Mississippi and Lake Superior to cultivate some rice paddies?  

Chopsticks. With the US furniture industry losing market share to Asian imports for the last few decades, why not put our laid off furniture makers to work manufacturing chopsticks?  China uses 63 billion disposable chopsticks a year, or 25 million full grown trees annually, and the US has both the lumber and workers to fill the Chinese need for their beloved wooden utensils.

But I can’t take credit for this idea. A company called Georgia Chopsticks is currently churning out 2 million pairs of sweet gum and poplar chopsticks a day, selling them to supermarket chains in China. That’s what I’m talking about.

After we tackle the basics, why not open up a soy sauce plant in South Dakota? A Peking duck farm in Delaware? Woks in Wisconsin? Pea pods in Pennsylvania? Mandarin oranges in Mississippi?

 And, there’s no need to stop at the dinner table. Let’s ask the various yard ornament manufacturers in the United States to stop making gnomes, pink flamingoes, and gazing balls, and start churning out Budda statues? And I’m sure Parker Brothers would be willing to put Monopoly production on hold long enough to produce a few million Chinese Checkers and Mahjongg sets.

Hollywood has been particularly fond of superhero movies such as Captain America, Batman and the Green Hornet. What about a Chinese Superhero? Let’s commission Hanna-Barbera to get cracking on a cutting edge remake of Hong Kong Phooey and market it to Chinese movie goers. I could totally see Jackie Chan in the part of Penry, with sultry little Rosemary played by Angelina Jolie and Tommy Lee Jones as Sergeant Flint. Can’t you just see the lines at the box office?

Imagine, with the US exporting goods to 1.3 billion Chinese consumers a year, we’ll be rolling in the wonton wrappers before you know it. Put that in your fortune cookie and eat it.

My faith in living the American Dream restored, I sorted through the little mountain of foreign made school supplies without guilt and tried to think of what to cook for dinner. All the thoughts of China had left me with a hankering for Asian cuisine, so I hopped on the phone to Hop Shings for some egg rolls, kung pao chicken, and chow mein.

All made in America, of course.

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Comments: 4

  1. Maz September 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm Reply

    This is almost too funny to be true and too true to be funny!

  2. energywriter August 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm Reply

    Funny and thought provoking. Good job, Lisa. I imagine Wisconsin is producing woks. West Bend pans are made there. The question is, do they export to China?

  3. zmanowner August 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm Reply

    I think its sad that so much stuff is made outside the US…especially when its for our children and their education….we have prisons that can make stuff or what about all the charities that we give to what are they making….dont know…at least we make our own flags thats a start…zman sends

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