Recently, while shopping at my local COSTCO, I noticed a glossy over-sized picture book of The Civil War by the Smithsonian Institution that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the start of that conflict.
Having a keen interest in the Civil War, I could not resist purchasing the book.
Once I started reading, I was stunned to discover that the book was bound and printed in Singapore, a nation as far away from Washington D.C. as you can possibly get and still be on the planet.
To think the Smithsonian Institution is outsourcing its Visual History of the Civil War to Singapore, is bizarre. Does this mean that throughout the fruited plain from sea to shining sea, there is no bookbinder and printer that compares to those found in Singapore?
This is a sad commentary on the state of our nation’s manufacturing base.
Ironically, as the book beautifully documents, one of the reasons why the South lost the Civil War was because the North at that time had an overwhelming advantage in industrial and manufacturing capability.
The Smithsonian outsourcing a history book to Singapore, is just a very small example of a much larger problem — that 150 years after the Civil War something has gone terribly wrong with our nation’s ability to “make things,” making us dependent on other nations to make things for us while the world becomes increasingly dangerous.
The United States still tops the list of the world’s top 10 industrial producers, but the trends are not encouraging. Even our intelligence community fears our manufacturing decline has extremely negative national security implications.
Which begs the question, in the 21st century is the United States slowly turning into the “Old South” while the “New North” is China, Germany, and Japan?
However, even if it was printed and bound in Singapore, I highly recommend this magnificent book The Civil War, A Visual History by that great American institution, the Smithsonian, on sale at that other great American institution COSTCO, where most of the durable goods and electronics are made in China.