The Answer Man

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Q: What is our country's trade deficit?

A: $364, billion

The January 12, 2010 edition of the Daily Dunklin Democrat had an AP story about our country's trade deficit of $364,billion. It was on page 15.

This is not to scold our local newspaper for minimizing such a deficit, because 24/7 television news only has this in a shadow below the pervasive health bill, which no one understands, illegal immigration, and various sex scandals.

There was a time when the United States was the largest exporter in the world.

We manufactured goods, and shipped them all over the world. No more because we have lost so many of our manufacturing companies to cheap labor out-sourcing.

We get goods cheap now from the third world. This comes in the loss of tangible products made here, and the jobs it took to produce them.

There were many of us who had to travel in this country extensively to make a living. This included cities, and small towns. It goes back 20 to 25 years ago.

We watched the end of many manufacturing companies. You would be in a town where a plant was producing products; and an outlet store to provide buyer opportunities. No more. They are gone, long gone.

Primarily an agricultural region, Southeast Missouri has never been a mecca for industry. But anyone over the age 50 remembers when there were several manufacturing operations here that are now part of our past.

The loss of a single manufacturing facility means much more than just a direct hit on that concern. It effects anyone who provided supplies for them, as in paper products, office supplies, machinery and machinery parts, janitorial supplies, and many others.

It is strange that with 10% unemployment - and maybe another half million they don't bother to count anymore - that this story is for the most point relegated to the back pages. It does seem a little more important than Tiger Wood's lurid sex life.

Q: With Tiger Woods off the tour for a while, how much will this effect the attendance at tournaments, and interest in golf as a whole?

A: Quite a bit, for a while.

Some of the blogs you read say that Tiger off the tour is a terrible blow to golf.

This has some validity, but only for a short period.

The absence of any great sports star out of a lineup will effect ticket sales for a while - until another one comes along to take his place. The emergence of new stars makes us quickly forget the past.

Today's sports announcers are giving Tiger far too much credit for new interest in golf. In doing so they are forgetting a fellow named Arnold Palmer. He is the guy who took the game out of the country club set.

Remember Arnie's Army? When Palmer emerged on the scene his charisma and blue collar persona attracted people to the game that had never paid any attention to it before. For years after Palmer had passed his prime, tour players gave him credit for the huge increase in tournament paychecks.

Tiger Woods is the greatest player in the world today; and has done much for even more interest in the game. He will undoubtedly come back and probably be as good as he ever was. But if for some reason he did not make a comeback it would only be a few years until some other bright star achieved center stage.

That's the nature of the star system in all sports.

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