Dear Santa, the other day I went shopping for Christmas. Isn't that what our president told us to do a few years ago to help our economy? So I went to Westfield Promenade, Fallbrook Mall and Westfield Topanga. I wanted to shop on one of the biggest sale days of the year.

But Santa, what did I find? Everything that I looked at from dress pants and shirts for my husband at Macy's, to UGG boots for me at Nordstrom, to Isotoner gloves for me at Mervyns - all were made in China.

I went to Coldwater Creek and other stores in the mall. It seemed like about 95 percent of the merchandise was from China. So I chose not to buy many, many things that I would have otherwise. I was very selective. I looked for products not made in China. I don't think I found one thing all day "Made in the USA."

Why was I doing this? I have decided to boycott China. We are at a place in our economy where there is a trade deficit with China of about $200 billion. The dollar is declining. The Chinese are buying our debts. Exporting jobs to China has cost the United States about 2 million jobs.

This year we have seen everything from toothpaste to dog food, chicken and fish feed, to children's toys that have been imported from China contaminated. Pets have died. Alarm signals have been sounded. But we are a nation that easily forgets.

Charity groups like the Salvation Army are being forced to check every toy that is donated against a recall list. They are forced to throw away thousands of dollars of donated toys. Once again, it is our children who are being hurt. And you, Santa, can't bring them the toys that they want because many are on the recall list from Mattel and others.

Geri Gereffi of the Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness says that American consumers are to blame. Until we stop buying products made in China, until we tell the companies - not just Wal-Mart, Target and Mervyns, but upscale stores like Macy's and Nordstrom, that we are not willing to buy products from China, we will not be given a choice.

So Santa, what I want next year is a new president. I want one who will bring jobs back to the United States. I want one who will protect the farmers by not importing food that is so cheap that our local family farmers cannot compete. I want a president who will protect the public health; one who will have enough employees in the government to inspect the toys before they are all imported. I don't want my tires imported from China where the steel is inferior.

I want a government that is responsible to the citizens of America first and to the world second in terms of jobs and safety.

While we are one world - where what each person does influences everyone else - we have a responsibility to the American people first. It's a responsibility to protect our physical health, our environmental health and our jobs.

We have a responsibility to the world, as Al Gore tells us, to stop global warming. But there is so much more to this issue.

The manufacturing jobs in China are produced in coal-fired plants. The toxic manufacturing materials are discharged into the rivers and streams, making them contaminated. Electronics that are recycled in the United States are shipped abroad to be disassembled. The uneducated people who disassemble them do so without physical protection. Those workers are getting cancer and other illnesses from exposure to high levels of toxic materials found in those electronic components. And worst of all, child labor is still exploited.

So Santa, please bring me a new president and a new Congress that will represent the American people and not big business.

Thank you, Santa.

Chris Rowe is a public and environmental health advocate who has lived in West Hills for 30 years. Write to her by e-mail at .