Re: “Maine sees steady drop in business ‘dynamism’ “ (May 27):

I had to read this article twice to make sure I didn’t miss the key variable that was not referred to in comparing these two periods: globalization.

In 1975 I arrived at L.L. Bean as merchandise manager, and my job was to forecast every time in the catalog (which was also almost every item in the one store) and sign every purchase order.

Every purchase order that I signed was for products that were made in the United States (with the occasional exception of international items like Icelandic sweaters). We purchased in the U.S. because it was the right thing to do and because products, especially from Asia, were correctly perceived by consumers to be of inferior quality.

American companies employed American workers, as did entrepreneurs who were starting businesses either to sell to companies like L.L. Bean directly or to great American manufacturers, like the Maine companies Bass and Hathaway shirts.

I remember the day I went to Leon Gorman’s office and painfully shared with him the first product that we could not buy in this country (I will give you the answer at the end).

That was the beginning of the mass exodus of American consumer product manufacturing. Primary companies left, and the entrepreneurs could no longer develop products to sell to them and often also had to go overseas to compete.

What distresses me most is that the loss of these working-class jobs is something from which we have never recovered, is the root cause of many of our social problems and is rarely discussed in the enthusiasm for entrepreneurial dynamism.

P.S. The first imported item: waders.

Mac McCabe


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