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
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