There’s nothing enjoyable about being unable to go to dinner at a restaurant, attend a baseball game, go to the movies, listen to a symphony performance in person or see live theater.
But there is something useful.
The lack of such diversions has focused the attention of millions of us on things in need of doing around the house. Such focus has occasioned my now multiple visits to Home Depot.
On one visit, I needed wood screws. In looking at the packages for sizing I saw the three magic words – “Made in China.” In light of everything, seeing those words got me thinking and I set about browsing other aisles at the Home Depot. And, whaddaya know? A whole bunch of what you buy at the Home Depot is made in China.
So, I have a new drinking game. Go to your local Home Depot – (or Lowe’s or Target or Wal-Mart, it really doesn’t matter) – and bring with you a good-sized container of your favorite adult beverage. Start down the aisles of the store taking boxes and packages off the shelf and turning them over. Every time you see the words, “Made in China,” take a swig. I promise, you won’t be walking the aisles long. You’ll be too hammered to walk.
Do you remember the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973? From that moment forward, politicians of every stripe jabbered about “energy independence.” For most of the past five decades, we were dependent upon a small cabal of Middle Eastern petro-tyrants for our basic energy needs. At long last, thanks largely to the entrepreneurial genius of the American oil & gas industry, that dependency is mostly over.
But we’re not “pharmaceuticals independent.” China produces 97 percent of the antibiotics we use in this country. They produce half of the surgical masks. And, judging by what I saw at the Home Depot, they produce 100 percent of the wood screws.
Imagine what would happen (read: will happen, given enough time) if geopolitical circumstances produce a “Chinese Pharmaceuticals Embargo.” Or a “Chinese Wood Screws Embargo.” Or a “Chinese Most-of-What-They-Sell-at-Wal-Mart Embargo.”
For 30 years, presidents and political leaders of both parties have led us around the fence on the subject of China. The reassuring intonations of men named Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama notwithstanding, China is not our friend. China cannot be trusted. China’s leaders have no aspirations toward freedom and democracy. If they think they can hurt us and get away with it, they will.
Self-sufficiency is a virtue. I’ve tried to teach it to my two daughters. What is applicable to the children you love is equally applicable to the country you love. Being dependent upon a despotic, totalitarian, malfeasant regime for the things we need in order to be safe, healthy and prosperous is unbecoming of a great nation.
Some good comes from every bad experience. If a national re-examination of our dependence on China comes from this awful COVID-19 experience, it might actually have been worth it.