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October 04, 2010

A tribute to American-made brands … in 1,000-word poem form

By Robert Klara on Mon Oct 4 2010


We love our brands here at BrandFreak, but this week's e-mail bag contained a tribute to them that put us to shame. Sure, we've worked hard on the hundreds of blog items and thousands (millions?) of words in service to branding, but never have those words been sculpted into verse. That's right: It's a poem about brands. Robert Barrows, a California-based PR guy who has also run for Congress, was gracious enough to give us permission to publish his work in full. It's posted after the jump. Here's a snippet:

They used to make flags in America
Hooray for the red white and blue
Now the flags come from China,
And our dog food and toothpaste comes
From there, too

  We presume Barrows wasn't writing to get the attention of the Paris Review (or sound like Bruce Springsteen, come to think of it), but his motivation is serious enough. After all, this is American Manufacturing Week (Oct. 2-9), a rather sobering period during which we're not asked to cheer for brands made in the U.S.A., but to contemplate the ones that aren't—and that's most of them, from Rawlings baseballs (made in Costa Rica) to Radio Flyer wagons (made in China).
  Here's one of those instances when being branding's house organ gets a little hard. Foreign manufacture keeps those profit margins looking nice, but few Americans will be able to afford to buy brands at all if they don't have jobs—and this country has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs since 1998, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Well, thanks for the poem, Mr. Barrows. It's too bad you had to write it in the first place.   Click through for the whole poem.

It Used to be Made in America
By Robert M. Barrows

It used to be made in America
It used to be made in my town
It used to be made just down the street
Now they've shut that factory down

It used to be made in America
It used to be made by my friends
Now it's made for twelve cents an hour
How are you going to compete with them?

It once had a union label
It said AFL-CIO
Now it's made someplace, who knows where?
And we watched all those good jobs go.

It used to be made in America
It used to be made right here
Now you can buy it for half the price
If you've got any income to spend

It used to be paid in America
The billing was done by my friends
Now they bill it over the internet
In rupees and yuan and yen

It used to be made in America
By hard working women and men
Now we've outsourced it to who knows where
So what if it's made by children and kids again

There used to be great schools in America
There used to be schools in this town
There used to be music and sports and art
Now they've shut all those programs down

They once had good jobs in America
The land of opportunity so they said
Now you'd better start looking elsewhere
The big firms are just cutting their overhead

They used to make flags in America
Hooray for the red white and blue
Now the flags come from China,
And our dog food and toothpaste come
From there, too

There used to be jobs in the cities
Now they're done overseas
It doesn't matter how good you are
It only matters how cheap

They used to make goods in America
Things like Cameras, TVs and Jeans
Those industries are long since gone
So now all we make are rockets
And planes and bombs

We still grow good food in America
Potatoes and grain and corn
But don't look for the local farmer
Those jobs are long since gone

We still raise beef in America
At least for a while we still do
But the drive for profits will drive those jobs overseas
And our cowboys will go there, too

There used to be jobs in America
On Wall Street and Main Street
And in all of the cities and towns
Now those opportunities are dwindling away
As we outsource our future around

One day we'll realize there ain't much left
We outsourced it all overseas
Is that what society needs?

It used to be made in America
Someday it will be made here again
The world goes in cycles of up and down
And maybe we'll make it here again

The solution to all this economy
Usually ends in a war
Tariffs and trade and protectionism
Is that what we're working for?

It used to be made in America
Don't worry, we'll still find you something
to do.
For now, you'd better study real hard
Because you may have to create something new

There'll always be jobs in America
It takes work to farm it out overseas
We're in the global economy now
I hope you've got what you need!

You're on your own in America
It's always been that way
It's nothing new to worry about
And complaining won't send it away
But if you've got any voice in the matter
If you've got a choice when you can
Try to keep it made in America
You'll hold your head a lot higher if you can

It used to be made in America
It used to be made with care
Now they make it wherever they can
Try to compete if you dare

The deals overseas are way too tempting
The savings are way too dear
But the real cost we pay is far greater
It's a cost we pay for in fear

It used to be made in America
In the good old U.S. of A
But when it takes so many jobs away
It's a price I'm not willing to pay

So before I buy things I look at the label
Let's find a way to bring those jobs back
We really don't need all that junk they make overseas
Let's build our economy on the things we need

It used to be made in America
We can bring those jobs back if we try
But we can't just do it by talking
The important question is Why

The answer is really quite simple
Where there's work there's honor and pride!
It used to be made in America
We can bring it back if we try
We can bring those jobs back if we want to
We can create a new world based on hope
But the people have to want to
And the government has to act

It's time to create new programs
To develop new jobs and careers
It's time we sat down with labor
It's time we sat down with our peers
It's time to get the government going
To create new incentives for making it here
It's time for us to look at the label and
Smile because we know they're making it here!

It used to be made in America
It used to be made by my friends
Now it's time to plan for the future
And build our economy strong once again

We can do it by keeping the workforce right here
We can do it right here if we want to
But it starts with a reason to do it
And the reason to do it is clear

We live here we work here we die here
We have friends and family who care
We need the jobs here to achieve our goals
Without it, we give up our souls

So here's to the future we know how to build
We can do it if we desire
The way to compete is to find ways to
build it better
So we can say it's made right here
in America, Amen!


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