45. Stamped Again

The Founding Generation was a generation of improvisers. The world they lived in was not one in which you could afford to not pay attention to what was going on. The Stamp Act was passed by Parliament in March 1765. It required a tax to be paid on all printed products (newspapers, playing cards, diplomas, legal documents, wills, bills of sale). The tax was scheduled to begin November 1st, but there was resistance to it, as this tax was designed to raise revenue as opposed to regulating trade as with previous taxes. Some of the resistance was violent: in Boston a new building, owned by the newly appointed stamp agent, Andrew Oliver, reportedly containing the new stamps was torn down (though no stamps were found) and two weeks later the home of Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Hutchinson, Oliver's brother-in-law (see #33) was ransacked and everything in the house was destroyed (Allison, Robert J. The American Revolution. 8). Soon afterwards every stamp agent in every colony but Georgia resigned (Allison 8). However much of the resistance wasn't violent. Peaceful protests began, such as people signing non-importation agreements and shortly before the Stamp Act was to begin 200 merchants in New York (merchants in Philadelphia and Boston followed suit) vowed to not import anything from Great Britain until the Stamp Act was repealed (Morgan, Edmund S. and Helen M. Morgan. The Stamp Act Crisis. 274). Along with the non-importation of foreign goods, people began manufacturing products locally to help reduce the need for foreign goods. The end result of these boycotts, as we would call them today, was not a single stamp was sold. These boycotts put pressure on those in Britain--the merchants and the manufacturers--as merchants and manufacturers from over twenty cities in Britain petitioned Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act, which they did in February 1766 to much rejoicing throughout both Britain and the colonies (Morgan 275 and 291).

The Stamp Act was a failure, which Parliament admitted by its repeal. The colonists would again protest and fight to protect their livelihoods in 1773 by preventing a mismanaged company, East India Company, from displacing local workers to the benefit of a select few. The colonists did not expect to exist in a state of complete security, as we do. They had to be vigilant and they knew it. This was before modern medicine and before social safety nets were in place, so people didn't have a false sense of security. They knew they had to rely on one another. They knew they had to trust one another. They knew they had to learn things from one another and if they were wrong, they knew they would learn the hard way--by mistakes, by failing and by having to pay a high price for those failures, because failure, whether through corruption or incompetence, is and always will be--failure.

Have you noticed in our society: for some, there is no price to pay for failure. How can that be? Companies that are too-big-to-fail, fail and the U.S. tax payer bails them out; no one loses a job; no one is banned from ever running a too-big-to-fail company ever again--the Boards-of-Directors of those failed companies actually received unconscionably large bonuses from the bailout money--some failure! The Founding Generation would have begun by tarring-and-feathering the members of the failed Boards-of-Directors. However, not every company that was too-big-to-fail, did fail. Was there much talk about how these failed companies betrayed the public-trust they were entrusted with? Did anyone talk about breaking up those companies that did fail, into smaller entities, so it wouldn’t or couldn’t happen again? Has there been any genuine legislation put in place to prevent these failures from happening again? Has any one person been put in jail, been convicted or even prosecuted for the failure of these companies? So it seems, for some, there is no price to pay for failure. Time has passed and we are told things on Wall Street are better, but if we look at Main Street we know things are worse and our economy is still in deep trouble, as our trade deficit is still growing.

Failure seems to be expected in our society. Our elected officials know the trade deficit is a massive problem, but as long as they can put off any problems until after the next election, they seem to be fine with things-going-along-as-they-are. Pretty soon we'll hit another debt ceiling and it will be crisis time again on Capital Hill; they'll go through all sorts of contortions and expostulations about how bad things are and how can this be happening again--until they miraculously come up with yet another last-minute compromise to prevent a total government shutdown by once again raising the debt ceiling.

If one person from the Founding Generation were alive he or she no doubt would be doing something to reduce the trade deficit. However our elected officials are not doing anything about the trade deficit; our elected officials are not even talking about trying to reduce the trade deficit. So who do we blame for this failure? We can blame the politicians, both Republican and Democrat, for betraying the American voters or we can look in the mirror and realize we-the-people are supporting foreign economies with our daily purchases of foreign made goods. What we-the-people should be doing is boycotting those foreign made goods, which are made from outsourced jobs. What we-the-people need to do is what the colonists did during their resistance to the Stamp Act: stop buying foreign made goods and support local jobs by buying American made products and support our own economy.

Note: Manufacturers are not the only people to profit from cheap and slave labor practices--retailers too profit more from slave made goods because there is more money to be made when you exploit cheap and slave labor. However, the internet makes it easier than ever to buy American made goods. Simply do an internet search for "made in America" or "made in USA."

Here are three of my favorite sources for buying American made goods:

All USA Clothing
Made in USA Forever
Norton's USA
originally posted July 2015
reposted March 2018

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