Tonight, while shopping with my wife at a Bed, Bath & Beyond (don't laugh, they donated 93% to Democrats), I noticed a large display of "Support Our Troops" magnets near one of the check-out lanes.
I made my way towards the display to have a closer look, while my wife shopped in -- not the bed or bath sections, but in the mysterious "beyond" department into which customers must pass via a transdimensional vortex.
The magnets' price was marked on a sign as $1.99, however, the sign went on to say that $1 from each magnet would be donated to the USO. On the surface, admirable enough. The legendary USO is great for troop morale and organizes visits from celebrities like Tom Green and Wayne Newton who appear at military bases to entertain the troops. An important thing, considering the impending 30% rate of mental illness amongst American soldiers.
But when I grabbed a magnet from the display, I read something shocking and more than a little confusing...
This past week, we discussed Bush's flippant solution to the growing trade deficit. His great idear:
There's a trade deficit. That's easy to resolve: People can buy more United States products if they're worried about the trade deficit.
How confused and conflicted millions of sloganeering consumers must feel when they notice that their precious imperative-tensed magnets are MADE IN TAIWAN. In fact, that was the only text to appear on the packaging.What do we do? Support the USO but harm the trade deficit? It's like the post-9/11 conundrum: do we fear terrorist strikes or get out and spend money at Disney World? Beg or sit?Back to our blue friends at Bed, Bath & Beyond. According to one of many yellow ribbon magnet wholesale sites (link), if a company like BB&B purchases 2,500 magnets, the cost per unit is only 2 CENTS for the smaller magnets and 5 CENTS for the larger, more common magnets.I hate to disparage a blue retailer, but this is asinine. If we consider the 5 cent per unit wholesale price as a standard, and factor in the 50% donation to the USO, BB&B is still making a profit of 95 cents per unit. Plus, a portion of that 5 cents goes to Taiwan (not sure if there's a patriotic middle-man). Not a single American factory worker benefits, and neither does our spastic economy. So their donation percentage is just about equal to their profit margin. We could probably figure some more ridiculous numbers since a major retailer like this one probably buys more than 2,500 units in order to supply its 600 nationwide locations.Overall, the donation angle sounds like a huge stinky, yellow, profiteering scam. And I seriously doubt Bed, Bath & Beyond is donating caches of decorative soap pumps and Shark vacuums to the boys in the Sunni Triangle to make up for this egregious disparity.Previous Yellow Magnet Rants:Part III: Yellow magnets: 'Your ad here'Part II: Crown SizingPart I: Yellow magnets and homeless vets