Dr. Kenneth Samuel: Made in America?

1 Samuel 13:19-20 

"There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days.  The Philistines wouldn't allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews.  So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes or sickles, they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith." (New Living Translation)

Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel

Is it just me, or does it seem that the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs only becomes a prominent issue during elections?  If American jobs are the number one priority of American voters, then one of the biggest challenges facing us today is the steady erosion of our domestic manufacturing base.  What, if anything, is made in America anymore?  We buy tons of foreign goods then wonder why we are lacking jobs.  We import most of our goods, which has resulted in huge trade deficits and even further job losses.

With the advent of globalization, there is no easy way out of this quagmire.  Apple, one of our most lucrative companies, employs approximately 700,000 workers overseas and approximately 20,000 workers in the U.S.  Cheap labor abroad and high taxes at home are contributing factors to our crisis.  But they don't explain why Germany, which has higher wages, stronger unions and stricter labor laws than the U.S. has not suffered the job losses in manufacturing that we have. 

Too complex an issue to address in a devotional?  Probably.  But here's the point.  When the manual labor of blacksmithing was outsourced from Israel to Philistia (Israel's hostile neighbor to the south in ancient Palestine), it placed Israel's economy and security in serious jeopardy.  The Philistines knew that, and that's why they put the outsourcing in place.  The outsourcing of Israel's labor force was mandated by a foreign entity.  The outsourcing of American jobs is largely done by Americans.  The truth is that patriotism is no match for profits, in the minds of most American corporate executives.

After the Philistine threat was over, the Israelites were faced with the challenge of rebuilding their nation.  Part of that rebuilding was the recovering of their blacksmiths.  Likewise, a huge part of America's economic recovery is a definite, detailed strategy to regain our manufacturing base and incentivize corporations and businesses to employ American workers.  That's a strategy that can't be imported.  It must be made right here in America. 


Dear God, give us the knowledge, the understanding and the resolve to protect and strengthen the valuable resources that you have provided for our economic vitality.  Make us good stewards of our labor force.  Amen.

Taken with permission from UCC's StillSpeaking Devotional