September 6, 2007
Now you can be a patriot AND an elitist
Remember when campaigns trying to get people to Buy American were mostly Wal-Mart territory and made you think of eagle-emblazoned sweatshirts and visors with flags on them?
Today, the NY Times tells us that the fashionable liberal elite has embraced Made in USA products. The local food movement, the high carbon footprint generated by buying European bottled water, and toxic Chinese toys have all inspired the urban cognoscenti to start supporting some domestic companies, particularly when their products are more expensive than foreign ones.
Price seems to be the determining factor when wealthy people decide it's cool to buy American; as the Times says, "It is hard to imagine, say, that people who tote reusable cotton bags to Whole Foods will ditch their beloved Saabs for an American-made Chevrolet Cobalt." But $1,250 custom-made bikes, designer t-shirts with flags on the tags, or top of the line New Balance sneakers with big USA logos? Sold! Conspicuous consumers are suddenly turning into a bunch of flag-waving patriots.
But this is still a pretty recent demographic shift for the Buy American market. Many products that proudly display their Americanness might be a little too patriotic for those who are really just "people wanting to have guilt-free affluence,” as Alex Steffen, editor of a sustainability website, calls them.
Yes, the less prestigious side of "Made in USA" is still with us--it's not all hand-painted sustainably-harvested wooden toy trucks. You can still be outrageously tacky while spending an assload of money on showing the world that your purchases are not just more mass-market knockoffs from China:
Flag iPod case:
America, fuck yeah!
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