Trade Imbalance Feeds On Greed

   I am delighted to report I have solved yet another major problem that has hounded the American economy in recent years. This time I set my sights on the trade imbalance between the United States and the Far East.
   As many of you know, we import billions more than we export. The reason for this imbalance is simple Ė we can buy from Asia even cheaper than we can at Costco or The Price Club.
   I will readily admit that when I was young, foolish and selfish, I was an importer of goods from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. It began in 1987 when, blinded by greed, I decided that I could greatly increase my profit margin as a retailer by cutting out my faithful wholesale suppliers. I would buy direct from the manufacturer, carving out another level of income all to myself.
   When I told a couple of my loyal suppliers my devious plan, they were naturally a little perturbed. But there was nothing they could do. This was America, and I was free to act like a greedy backstabber any time I felt like it. And I felt like it.
   So off I flew to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. My initial intent was to only buy sunglasses and umbrellas, but when I saw the wealth of merchandise available and the piddling price that was being asked, my greed went into overdrive.
   I bought toys, I bought jewelry, I bought bags, I bought jackets, I bought novelties, I bought hats, I bought gloves. I bought, bought, bought, bought and bought.
   I couldnít help myself. The prices were almost hypnotic. My wholesalers and distributors had been making a fortune marking these things up and selling them to me. And I was being left out. But not any more. This was simple.
   Of course, there was a slight catch to the rock-bottom prices. Most items I purchased came in 100 dozen quantities. Thatís 1200 items per design. Thatís ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED pieces of each little article of greed that I couldnít pass up.
    No problem. With the ridiculously low cost, I could reduce the retail price slightly and blow the items out of the stores. And with my devoted suppliers thrashing in the gutter, out of business and destitute thanks to my greed, Iíd still be enjoying a higher profit margin.
   Oh, what a simple way to make money. I remember flying back from Asia after my shopping spree, tabulating the profits I had ingeniously concocted. And with the contacts I had made, it would be a piece of cake to place re-orders once the ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED pieces per style had sold.
   That was six years ago. Most of my contacts have surely croaked or retired while waiting for my re-order.
   There will be no re-orders.
   Many of those bargain-basement priced items are, and I kid you not, still sitting in our warehouse, taking up valuable space. I could liquidate the items but theyíve sort of become a running joke in my company; a monument to my purchasing prowess.
   I could blame the backlog of umbrellas on the timing of our five-year drought, but then how do I explain the thousands of sunglasses that I will be buried with? The sun did shine quite a bit over the last six years.
   Some items I bought did indeed sell out after a couple of years. Others went out of style either before I made the purchase or shortly thereafter. Some I gave to charity. Others I sold through a liquidator at prices that would make my Taiwanese, Korean and Hong Kong friends cringe. And the rest sits in our warehouse, gathering dust, reminding me that greed is a terrible thing.
   My suppliers were delighted at the complete failure of my importing career. They had seen other retailers make the same mistakes, had warned me, but I didnít listen. When I came crawling back to them, they graciously welcomed my return, choosing to ignore my unfaithfulness.
    They also chose to ignore my attempts to sell them any of my imported booty, even at prices below cost. I claim a conspiracy among my suppliers, and if so, I certainly understand.
   Anyway, getting back to my grandiose opening statement of solving the problem of the trade imbalance, I suppose my solution is fairly obvious.
   Given the pathetic story of my seemingly endless importing career, I propose swinging the trade imbalance pendulum back towards the side of America by nobly returning all goods and merchandise purchased from Asia in the last six years.
    For full credit, of course. Iíll go first.



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