News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blue suits and the decline of the dollar

My blue wool suit is missing. I have no idea what happened to it. The only thing I can figure is that 2007 was a year when I rushed around the country attending family funerals and other momentous events, and I suppose it didn't make it into my suit bag during one of those hectic return trips and was left hanging in a closet somewhere.

That leads to the shocking confrontation I had with the American dollar. As I have some social and professional engagements to fulfill that require the wearing of a sedate, formal looking suit, and a navy blue suit is to a man a what a black dress is to a woman, I thought I'd better replace old blue. So I looked for a replacement at a prominent men's wear store and got hit between the eyes. The blue wool suit that looked similar to the one I wanted to replace had a price tag of $1,895,

It was made of Italian wool and was sewn together in China.

La Spouse said if I bought a suit that expensive, I'd better really like it, because I was going to wear it for eternity. We'd have to take out a second mortgage to buy the suit or cash in on the death benefit of my insurance policy.

At the present time, I still do not have a wool blue suit. I am still pondering the price of that suit. Made of Italian wool and assembled in China.

Perhaps, if the suit-making company starts making them in America again, I can afford one.

When I complained about the price of blue wool suits to a friend who dabbles in the stock and futures market, he said the price tag probably reflected the declining U.S. dollar. That made me think about the last time I recall the dollar sliding down the tube. I think it was in the 70s. Gold prices soared. So did petroleum prices. Communities were sponsoring low-interest rate mortgages so that people could buy houses that were glutting the market.

People started telling government officials that the dollar should return to the gold standard. The officials replied that American productivity is what would bolster the dollar. The efficiency with which workers produced quality goods and services would boost the dollar to be competitive with other currencies. That is the way things worked out during that dollar slump.

The problem this time is that all those jobs that produced goods for the inernational market have been shipped out of the country. The skills and production systems and even the know how to make things have been sent off to lands where the labor is cheaper. But now with the shrinking dollar, that labor is getting pricey.

During the 2006 election campaign, there were groups warning that the outsourcing of jobs was accompanied by an outsourcing of job skills and production facilities that were making America dependent on foreign countries for its manufacturing. They warned that American's basic economy was at issue.

I also hear that Warren Buffet is investing in foreign currencies. So he can afford a b lue suit or two, I presume.

I am not an economist. However, I am not very confident that people who call themselves economists have any better an understanding of the implications of outsourcing and the weakening of the dollar than those of us who get hit with economic surprises. What I do understand is that if I want to replace my missing blue suit, I'd better hope I can find one in the "pre-worn" clothing shops. Or perhaps I should just stay home.

This is one subject that has not had much mention in the current the political debate. Along with fuel, health care, and food, blue suits are getting so that you can't afford them anymore. And that is one item of fashion wear I can't find in our local farm and fleet store. However, most of the stuff it sells in made in China, so I expect it will get pricey, too.

I need cheering up. I guess I had better visit South Dakota Politics and read how great the American economy is one more time.

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