Where Are All Those Manufacturing Jobs?

Mike Weisser
3 min readNov 26, 2023

If there’s one type of food that’s more American than carbonated soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi, it has to be potato chips which, according to legend, were first cooked up by a free black who was a chef in Saratoga, N.Y. in 1853. All I know is that I can remember eating chips when I was four or five years old, and I still eat them almost every day.

So, yesterday I went into the local convenience store after buying gas (at $3.19 a gallon, btw) and bought a tube of Pringles which I took back to my car. But almost immediately I realized from the taste that these chips looked like Pringles, and they were packed in one of those tubes like Pringles, but they were some other brand.

This company selling these chips, according to the label, was located in Denver, CO. But the chips were actually made in — ready? — Malaysia! How in the fuck were potato chips being made in Malaysia?

As I was mulling that one over, I stopped to pick up a few items at the local Stop & Shop before going home. Right at the front door was a display of fresh blueberries so I bought some bloobs to take home.

Now I’m standing on the checkout line, and I look at the label on the blueberries and I notice that they were grown in Peru. Not Peru, Indiana, but fucking Peru south of the equator.

How in the fuck am I eating blueberries grown in Peru? What the Hell is going on? A little history and context, if you please, okay?

Thanks to a geography which contains more than a million square miles of accessible and arable land between the Allegheny Mountains and the West Coast, once the government built a transcontinental railroad which linked this territory to the developing, industrial centers of the East, the United States could create an Industrial Revolution at a fraction of what it cost every other country to do the same thing.

What the Midwest and West provided was foodstuffs to be consumed by a factory population no longer living on small farms and producing their own food, and raw materials like coal, iron ore and wood to be used as energy sources and raw materials for growing the Industrial Age.

Every other country which industrialized prior to World War I had to import at least some of those commodities from…