Saturday, March 9, 2013

Made in the USA

    I grew up in a very small town and in that town were several industries including two foundries, a friction materials manufacturer and the usual assortment of shoe stores, department stores, restaurants and one fast food establishment.

    In my youth, I spent much time in the industrial part of town meeting workmen, railroaders, merchants and other townspeople. In those years, Made in the USA meant something actually manufactured in my own backyard almost.

    Back then, there were four railroad tracks in the town’s railroad yard, one main line, one passing siding and two manufacturer’s sidings. The railroad served 8 or 10 businesses. Today, there is only one main track and one siding serving one customer.

    That was a lifetime ago. In the past twenty years as a truck driver, I’ve witnessed this devolution toward impotence and have finally concluded that this country’s primary product is no longer a product but a process — Planned Obsolescence!

    We don’t make, build or manufacture much of anything anymore. We import stuff, transport stuff and warehouse stuff but don’t expect to see a “Made in the USA” label.

    And as far as so-called Durable Goods are concerned, it seems if it lasts a year, it’s durable. Automobiles assembled in Mexico from parts made in China to specifications written by Japanese designers could be considered “durable” but they’re still not “Made in the USA” regardless of any American logo.

    It’s sad that it has become cheaper to throw away and replace than to repair. The day may come when we and our money are spurned by those who build stuff for us and cut us off. Will we have anyone with the know-how to build the things we’ve forgotten how to make?

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