Traveling on vacation used to be a lot of fun
The more our habits change as Americans, the more we are falling into an abyss controlled by the Chinese government and their financial grip on our spending habits and retail industry. The price to make it stop may be painful, but we have to do it. China is a brutal Communist regime, a relic from the 1950s that remains one of America’s and Democracy’s greatest threats and we can’t let our guard down or allow China to “own” our country through loans, mortgages and investments.
By Ray Hanania
Every year I try to take one cruise with the family. This year the cruise stopped in Aruba, Curacao, the increasingly dangerous Dominican Republic, and to the slum-side of the Turks & Caicos islands, Grand Turk Island.
I used to enjoy spending a week at a beach resort, but these days good beach resorts are getting really expensive. The cruise option is the best spending bet. A cruise is like being in a giant floating hotel where you get to eat like a pig – which isn’t a good thing of course and everything suddenly becomes “comfort food.” When I get home, I take a weight-loss vacation.
Regardless, though, going on vacation is an American tradition my family started when I was a kid. Back in the 1950s, we’d get into our car and drive across America.
Vacations back then were all about “family.” Nothing was more family than getting in your own car and being with the family for hours on end. We’d spend the night at little motels along the way and have breakfast together in the morning. We actually talked to each other during the road trips. No cell phones, iPads or Internet.
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We also shopped together buying souvenirs to remind us of where we traveled. My mom would tell us that buying something helped the locals, especially the Native Americans. We bought stickers from each state that we put on the side of the car. We’d stop in the gift shop and it was like another travel experience enjoying the local culture.
I don’t recall ever looking to see where the souvenirs were made. I took it for granted it was all American. When we bought Navajo items from the Navajo during our treks out West, we assumed they were made by the Navajo and that the profits went to the Navajo.
It was a good feeling, helping the locals.
Somewhere along the way, however the American vacation experience changed. We stopped enjoying America, dumped the car and flew to foreign resorts where we spent our money. At first, flights were cheap. The Flight Attendants were focused on service, and they served real meals. The food was great.
Now, flying is an ugly hassle. People drag huge luggage onto the plane and fight to stuff them into the overhead bin. Seats are like sardine cans, 17 inches across. All that eating doesn’t help, so the airlines stopped feeding us. They toss a tiny pretzel bag on your germ-covered tray. Your elbows are knocking the people next to you as you tear through the non-recyclable packaging.
The first thing I do on an airline flight is pull out the sanitizers and wipe down everything.
The absolute worst part of traveling is how the whole enjoyment of buying a souvenir has changed. What used to be meaningful purchases today are just commercialized junk. Garbage wrapped up in a false vacation experience.
In Curacao I wanted to buy a carving of a turtle. I like turtles. I turned it over only to discover a label that screamed “Made in China.” I checked the rest of the souvenir junk in that store and dozens of other stores, and everything was “Made in China.”
Even when I was in Dubai a few months back, the souvenirs were “Made in China.”
It made me sick to think of little children sitting in sweatshops working 18 hours every day for one dollar carving up the little souvenirs that are shipped around the world. It made me even sicker thinking about how we were mortgaging America to the Chinese, a Communist, repressive regime or totalitarianism that is anything but American!
Half the crap we buy in America is “Made in China.” Nearly 80 percent of the products at Walmart, one of the country s largest retailers, are “Made in China.” It’s like that in every major retailer.
But it’s not Walmart or the other stores. It’s us. We allowed this to happen. We got lazy. We let the airlines dictate the sardine-can experience. We let Walmart sell us the “Made in China” crap without even a whimper.
We have to make it stop. And it’s not going to be easy. Our economy will suffer. But getting back to those days when American fun and American souvenirs were “American Made” is worth it to me and it should be to you.
No more “Made in China” for me. The money I lose in the “trade war” the media is whining about that President Trump started with China will be made up by the money I save not spending it on “Made in China” junk.
Getting back to America means ending our “Made in China” culture.
(This column was originally published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group Sept. 5, 2019.)
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