Just Say No To NoKo
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- BuyAmerican.com - American-made products & services
BuyAmerican.com - American-made products
- Tom Whitworth on HubPages
I was born in Moundsville, WV on 9/11/1946. I still live in Moundsville. I am retired do to a disability from nerve damage caused by shingles. I am...
Americans do love their jeans
Neil Diamond once sang that money was great, but if he couldn't have a woman, he'd rather stay in blue jeans forever. Money or not, or even woman or not, Americans love their jeans as much as perhaps they love hot apple pie, or tossing around a Frisbee on the beach on a hot summer day. And when you think of it, blue jeans really are as American as things come. Levi Strauss of course invented them sometime around 1853—though at first he thought the material would be used to make tents and wagon covers, not pants.
Levi's are of course not made in America anymore. But then, neither are other popular jeans brands like L.L. Bean or the GAP. Even a company like FUBU, that also has a line of jeans, which claimed to have started up primarily because they saw companies like Nike making profits from New York street fashion, yet giving little back to the community, has most of its products made overseas as well. You'd think that part of that 'giving back to the community,' especially in the urban community in which FUBU sought to target specifically at its inception, would include some good paying manufacturing jobs many people in the inner cities badly need.
The reality is that, these days, finding anything that's made in America is sort of like playing that Where's Waldo game. You know that American made products are out there, but you've really got to do some searching in order to find them. Interestingly, like the colors on the American flag, the elusive Waldo's colors are also red, white and blue.
When most of us shop we look at price. We look at the name on the label. We hardly ever stop to take a look at where something is made.
Who's making our stuff?
What's troubling is that the majority of these items are made in countries who are not friendly to us. Immediately I can think of China, of course—I mean, they're not exactly unfriendly, but let's face it. Our relationship with China is really just a house of cards. I strongly suspect that if things really got down to the brass tacks, and the Chinese had to choose, they would all but spit on us in a flash.
Beyond China, we buy oil from guys like Hugo Chavez and those other folks over in the Middle East who invariably hate our guts. And recently I've been noticing more and more items that are made in Pakistan. True, Pakistan may be considered one of our allys, but that relationship too is but a house of cards.
Now, a Swedish firm started in 2007 by Tor Rauden Kallstigen, along with his associates Jacob Astrom and Jakob Ohlsson are making a line of designer jeans in North Korea, of all places. The company is called NoKo. Granted, labor is cheap there, and it's a largely untapped market and I understand that bodes well for a start-up company like Swedish NoKo Jeans.
Still, we have to keep in mind that North Korea is a very dangerous place. It's as communist as a country can be. The country is also easily one of the most isolated places in the world. The government, led by crazy dictator, Kim Jong Il, controls nearly every aspect of its citizen's lives. Top that off with a long list of very troubling human rights issues, and direct threats aimed at the United States in particular...
Quite honestly, North Korea makes China look downright paradisial by all accounts.
With good intentions, still...
The question comes to mind, why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to do business with a country like this even if the labor is cheap? It's true the Swedes aren't doing a lot of business here in the U.S. with their NoKo jeans, and to be fair NoKo has had some difficulty with some American retail chains because of where they are made. But NoKo is not the only company with interests in North Korea. And now that doors that were once tightly closed are slowly beginning to open, it's possible that even American companies might eventually have an interest in taking a closer look at North Korea as a viable place to obtain cheap labor if the idea of doing business there begins to lose some of its stigma.
According to the three Swedish entrepeneurs, who are among a handful of foreign manufacturers in North Korea, they have this idea that by opening up trade between other countries with North Korea, and certainly with the U.S., it might help to quell ages-old tensions. Better trade lines could begin the process of gnawing away at the country's deep isolation. For the most part I can agree with that way of thinking. In many ways it does make sense to me. Certainly North Koreans could enjoy more prosperity and freedom with access to jobs. The country could expand its GDP beyond just the military.
But so long as the country is communist, and so long as the government therefore has full control over the expansion of the economy and outside influences, no foreign business, heedless of their best intentions, can truly help the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea—North Korea's official name—to lift themselves up into a better life. Supporting products made in North Korea will not help the citizens of that country. The money will go directly into the government coiffures, and invariably help to build North Korea's military presense stronger, thereby increasing Kim Jon Il's control over the people, as well as the threat to neighboring nations like China, Russia, and South Korea.
Beyond North Korea, America needs a change in attitude
That notwithstanding, the bottom line is that it's not just about NoKo, really. It's not just about our jeans. It's not just about our relationship with the North Korean's, or any other country for that matter. It's about American manufacturing, and it's about American jobs, and it's about American's being very aware that saying no to NoKo is just one piece of the whole pie.
Right now Americans are suffering the worst economic recession in history, and certainly the worst unemployment and economic hardship since the Great Depression during the 1930's. The fact is that Americans need jobs. Not only do Americans need jobs, they need well benefited, good paying jobs. Mostly those kinds of jobs come from the manufacturing sector. That's been true for a very long time. The average annual earnings for factory workers are around $54,000.
Granted, when we're talking about jeans, we're talking about the textile industry, never known to necessarily be among the higher paying manufacturing jobs. Those are more related to heavy industrial. Still, many textile mills offer fair wages and benefits that you can support a family on.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, it is estimated that there were still around 500,000 people employed by textile mills across the states. Cut and sew apparel manufacturing dominates the industry with the most employees, accounting for nearly 200,000 of all textile jobs in the U.S. The industry has experienced a small, but needed boost due to laws that require American military and Transportation Security Administration officers uniforms to all be made in America.
Perhaps this law should be extended to include, as well, the uniforms of our police officers and firefighters. There's no reason an American flag should not be required to be produced here as well, but that's for another day.
In the meantime I say we just say no to NoKo, and yes to American made whenever we can.
Places To Find American Made Jeans
- All American Clothing Co.
When you choose a pair of All American brand jeans you own something special, something more than a pair of jeans. You own a guarantee of comfort and quality that can only be found in a USA made product.
- Diamond Gusset Jeans | Official Web Store
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- Pointer Brand Overalls and Jeans: Home Page
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- Buddys Jeans - The Best Jeans Made in the USA
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- Western Wear|Schaefer Ranchwear
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- Longhorn Jeans
Our products are made in the USA. We use USA denim, labor, and trimmings. We are proud to provide a product that exemplifies the long standing tradition of American Made Quality.