OUR "MADE-IN-CHINA" CHRISTMAS

From Wal-Mart on up, America's big retail chains are once again tallying up disappointing Christmas profits, for the season's buying spree was not nearly as gleeful as they had hoped. If they wonder why, one clue can be found in the millions of Christmas lights, sparkling ornaments, artificial trees, and other glittering decorations that adorned their stores and our homes. Practically none of these were made in America.

From Wal-Mart on up, America’s big retail chains are once again tallying up disappointing Christmas profits, for the season’s buying spree was not nearly as gleeful as they had hoped. If they wonder why, one clue can be found in the millions of Christmas lights, sparkling ornaments, artificial trees, and other glittering decorations that adorned their stores and our homes. Practically none of these were made in America.

We don’t make much in America anymore – not even Christmas – and as our middle-class manufacturing jobs have been moved offshore, the workaday majority has seen its income knocked down, leaving folks less able to spend in the holiday season. Indeed, the very retailers now bemoaning the lack of consumer spending are the very ones who no longer “Buy American,” instead running to low-wage hell holes to get the merchandise that fills their stores.

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Seventy percent of the world’s Christmas decorations, for example, now come from one country: China. In fact, more than two-thirds of the world’s artificial Christmas trees are made in just one Chinese city, Shenzhen. Even George Bush has been a customer – in 2003, seven of the Christmas trees adorning the White House bore the “Made in China” label.

American retailers can get a six-foot high artificial tree from a Chinese factory for less than four dollars – then sell it to you for $140. Workers there who make the trees are paid only about $83 a month, and Christmas joy is not a part of their laborious lives. As a marketing executive with a Chinese exporter of Christmas paraphernalia put it, “Our workers are mostly middle-aged women who don’t need to know anything about Christmas.”

This is Jim Hightower saying… Chinese factories are so buoyed by their Christmas success that they’re branching out to dominate the market for Halloween, Easter, and our other holidays. Meanwhile, the wages of American workers no longer even keep up with inflation – and retailers wonder why no one’s buying their stuff.

Sources:
“Santa’s Chinese Elves,” www.truthout.org, December 23, 2005.

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