Most interesting conversation with an American on vacation.
I was having lunch on the main street in Waterton under a blooming flower basket and found myself talking with a couple who were wearing interesting hats. Soon I discovered that the person talking was an American visitor employed by a company that manufactures the hats. Surprise to me since I believed that this kind of goods was all made in China these days, but it wasn’t.
Yes, he said, this factory did move to China at some point, but it came back some time ago. He is optimistic that more and more corporations will do the same sooner or later. The price, he said, is no longer everything, and there is a new feeling of loyalty developing. The American public is willing to spend a little more to support “made in America.” Maybe people already have too much stuff and now they are beginning to consider the well being of their nation ahead of savings. That to me he said, is what America First is all about.
The fellow was the most eloquent hat maker I ever met, but then, I never met a hat maker before. He said that people are buying things off the internet and they favor fast delivery times. If you make it here, you can ship it to them almost as soon as they sign the bill. Also, his much less talkative wife chimed in, we have a lot of things cheaply from China, but we see our towns and cities becoming poor places as we used to see overseas. We are now employed, and we can spend money and afford a holiday like this one.
The hat maker was not concerned about the situation with NAFTA being renegotiated at all. It is a big concern in Canada this days. As far as I am concerned, he said, if we all start to place tariffs on each other’s products, everything will become more expensive and we will all be in the same boat. It will be hard for a while until we adjust. Probably NAFTA was not the best for most of you Canadians in the first place. He leaned closer and said, you and I remember life before NAFTA, and it wasn’t all that bad. Only the big exporters and importers make more money on those deals but us little guys just work for a living. If I buy my things for a higher price, but my neighbor makes the extra buck, he will probably buy my things, and we will both be OK. Now that we are working again and may even have some pension, we can afford a little more.
I am not an economist, but I lived in Canada through the time before the Free Trade deal and right through it. From my narrow point of view, I saw the decimation of little businesses and farms, and people moved towards big industries such as steel. Now we are held hostage and forced to move our factories next door to provide more jobs over the border and less here. If we wish to keep jobs here, we are told to give up the livelihood of most of our farmers and become fully dependent on the US for our food production. The hat maker made more sense than the political leaders.
I was glad that I had the opportunity to talk with this American couple, even without knowing their names or even which State they live in. He left with his wife, both wearing hats such as I have never seen before, but I may try to buy one, free trade or not. What an opportunity to hear the real people’s opinions on a regular Waterton day.