21. Reading History

I had no interest in history when I was in high school. I don't have much recollection of either the classes or the teachers, as they didn't open any doors for me. As an adult I'm drawn to the American Revolution and the Founding Generation, as they feed my interest in origins (see #17). On the 4th of July we blow off fireworks and wave flags at our hometown parades to celebrate our independence. I wonder how many people stop to think about what "our independence" really means and why it was important to the Founding Generation. If I've learned one thing from the Founding Generation it is: if you don't think for yourself, then you're allowing yourself to be controlled and maybe manipulated.

With today's push toward globalization, things don't seem much different. The politicians in the mother country saw the colonies as something to be exploited. Like all governments, they were interested in profits (profits for themselves and their cronies in particular). They saw the most profitable way to use the colonies was as a source of raw materials to support their manufacturing and then as a market for those same manufactured goods. To accomplish this they passed the Navigation Acts, which prohibited the colonists from manufacturing their own goods--can you imagine that! In the years preceding the American Revolution the colonists began to fight back with protests such as the Boston Tea Party and other more formal non-importation agreements--what we today would call boycotts.

Our current (the last 20 years or so) politicians are treating us in much the same way, by allowing our jobs to be outsourced. Now instead of manufacturing jobs that pay a living wage, we have service jobs that pay minimally. Unfortunately, most of the products we now choose to purchase (every dollar we spend, we choose how and when we spend it, do we not) are imports that exploit cheap and even slave labor markets--but these cheap products we buy we do get cheap--or do we? I guess what they say is true: "you get what you pay for." If we are not going to choose to pay a living wage to the people who make our products, why would we expect there to be jobs in our country that pay a living wage? We should disregard what the top-1%-owned-politicians and the top-1%-owned-media tells us about our economy and think for ourselves. We could raise awareness of this problem by making July "National Boycott of Foreign Made Goods Month" and then we could choose to support jobs here at home, not just in July, but with every single purchase we make every single day of the year.

originally posted July 2013
reposted March 2018

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