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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's good for General Bullmoose is good for the U.S.A.

General Bulllmoose

General Bullmoose was real... in a manner of speaking. He was the creation of cartoonist, satirist Al Capp, creator of Li'l Abner. Daisy Mae, Mammy Yokum and a host of others way back in the 1950s.

And for all you who say "Huh?", you're probably a millennial or newer. But there is relevance here because General Bullmoose is rather like someone we all know who acts a lot like him... someone new to the political scene in a very big way.

Capp created Bashington T. Bullmoose as the epitome of a mercenary, cold-blooded capitalist tyrant tycoon. His bombastic motto, "What's good for General Bullmoose is good for the U.S.A," was taken from the former head of General Motors, then America's largest corporation. Bullmoose had a boyhood dream: to posses all the money in the world and he--or General Motors--
Kim Novak a.k.a. Bim Bovak
nearly did. Bullmoose industries seemed to own or ontrol everything. He had a milksop of a son named Weakfish and was sometimes accompanied by is electable 'secretary," Bim Bovak (think Kim Novak). Li'l Abner became embroiled in many globetrotting adventure with the ruthless, reactionary billionaire.

America was the icon of the universe... the most powerful of the superpowers, the one all others looked to when something... anything was needed. We were the export kings... the breadbasket... the shining example of what everyone else wanted, as we still are, in some of the same and many new ways. Our capitalistic bent said supply and demand was the rule... we were the supply... and everything American was in demand. So what was good for General Bullmoose was good for the USA--more in truth than many were willing to admit.

Ah... it's good to be king.

But that was then. This is today.... America remains, as always, the tallest of the tall and still greatly admired by most.  But if you have read Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat, you have an interesting history of how things have changed... and they have. That's evolution for you. Things change, we adapt.

Supply and demand have changed. Best single example: Walmart. Most products are not made in America but we buy them-- making Walmart the world's largest retailer... for now--because we find stuff there that we want/need, and it is usually competively priced, having been made--here and everywhere in the world-- and delivered to their shelves at a most competitive price point. We create our demand, the flat world supplies it.

Today, we are consumers, by 2/3 to 1/3 over what we export.

Made in America is still a great thing... but far from the only thing. Made in China, made in Japan, made in Taiwan, Germany, Portugal, etc. is so today. Picture the world as (forgive me) one big Walmart. General Bullmoose is dead (and so is Al Capp, in 1979).

Think I'm kidding? One look through your closet... your garage... your house, will tell you I'm not. But there is more:

San Francisco just rebuilt its Bay Bridge, the link between 'The City' and Oakland. And that rebuilt bridge, honest, was built in China. Two dozen giant sections-- each as big as half-a-football field-- were built there and shipped 6,500 miles to Oakland for assembly. California says it saved hundreds of millions of dollars and obviously, believes the quality will serve its citizens well.

China, reports the New York Times, is also 'building' copper mines in the Congo, high-speed rail lines in Brazil and huge apartment complexes in Saudi Arabia. China also builds your iPad, toys, jetliners and lots and lots of other products. Want to have a look at what we import and from where? Check this out. Pretty interesting.

Yes, we still make stuff. Yes we still innovate. Yes we are still really good at lots and lots. But our product mix has changed and the world is larger, smarter, flatter... and much more productive. Has to be. World population has grown from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 6.1 billion in 2000 and will be around 9.3 billion by 2050! Prolific little buggers, aren't we?

General Bullmoose is dead... we are not. But we sure are different.

The pendulum swings. Lately, some American companies are bringing production back to our shores. Hopefully today's General Bullmoose (guess who) will be successful to find the perfect balance. But capitalism's rules (and we are capitalist) mandate that where it's made, how good it is made and how much it costs will always be changing variables that make products more or less attractive.

It's kind of like the old, and still true, maxim: You can buy it cheap and/or you can get it fast and/or it can be of the top quality... but the paradox: you can't have all three at the same time. No country--America included --can be all. So the perfect balance must be struck. Our most fortunate position; we are blessed with an abundance of so many things to make this balance work better... more than most other countries who also must find their perfect place in this world.

Note: Wikipedia helped with the General Bullmoose description.

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