In response to Eric Frederick’s column, Signs Point to Textile Supply Issues, Price Increases, it wasn’t too long ago he addressed the lack of domestic production to satisfy the needs of the healthcare market. In so doing, he astutely emphasized the importance of purchasing items from a quality-conscious dealer that guarantees deliveries.
At that time, I commented on the practice, based on the eruptive environment in the Asian market that could radically affect availability. It now seems my “prophecy” may be upon us.
But there are three things that Eric fails to discuss:
1. The reasons that forced the mills, including the long-standing Cannon Mills, to shut their doors.
2. The effect that the purchase of offshore products has had on our healthcare delivery system.
3. The political rhetoric of bringing jobs back to our shores.
Whatever caused the first mill to move its manufacturing capability to Asia to take advantage of the lower production costs, it obviously did so to increase its share of the market. Because of their being able to lower their prices, and the competitive nature of the market, others had no choice other than to follow suit.
In the interim, the large suppliers and dealers with the financial ability to underwrite an investment negotiated contracts with the producers on a direct basis. The net result? Despite its noble “Made in America” campaign, its demise was inevitable.
The costs of our healthcare system have been escalating dramatically and rapidly. Of course, this increased cost of a hospital stay is reflected in the increase in health insurance premiums. What has yet to be addressed is the fact that whatever monies are paid to offshore suppliers, there is no way that that money will ever be redeposited in the system. In effect, not only are the employed in those facilities a drain on the monies available to run the system, the possibility of their replenishing that drain is nil.
Assuming for the moment that the “rhetorical” plans to bring jobs back to our shores becomes a reality, how long will it take for the domestic weavers to get back into full production? Not any different than offshore drilling being a short-term answer to our being subjected to whims of offshore sources.
On a personal basis, suffice it to say that every time I’ve been hospitalized, I've been given a patient gown carrying a label that reads, “Made in the Philippines,” or patient “linen” that indicates it has come from one of a number of offshore sources.
If the money saved by purchasing those items comes from their being made offshore, you wouldn’t know it from the charges on my bill for “bed and board.”
Nathan L. Belkin, Ph.D.
Founder, American Reusable Textile Association