I had a discussion recently with my Aunt Vera, a wonderful lady in her 80’s who still lives in the house she and my father grew up in San Francisco. She, like many of her era were raised to believe that unions and union jobs were the way to achieve middle-class lifestyles, and that companies owed lifetime employment to their workers.
As my kids were running around and making more noise in the house than she is used to, she mentioned to me between sips of tea just how horrible it is that all the jobs are being outsourced to India and Mexico, and that there are no good jobs left for hard working Americans.
I asked her what she meant, and she went on to say that all the factory jobs and the jobs that made the Bay Area and our country strong were being sent to places where labor was so cheap. I knew where she was going but I wanted to hear it from her, since if I were in her shoes I’d likely feel the same way. My goodness, MADE IN THE U.S.A. used to mean something is what she was trying to say.
Levi’s 501 Jeans Are Made in Haiti
My dad used to drive cool Thunderbirds and even had a 1965 Firebird. I had an RCA TV in the house growing up, and my Levi’s 501 jeans were made in America, now they are made in Haiti. American cars were cool, pre-Pinto, Vega and Pacer, then the 1970’s happened when Detroit got lazy and Toyota and Datsun took their lunch money.
Levis 501 Jeans Made in Haiti
I started talking a bit about progress, and how technology moves things along for the betterment of not only our society, but also the global economy by allowing workers in countries that do manufacturing to earn good livings so they can buy our Nike sneakers, watch Disney movies and have a Coke with a smile.
Then I asked her how, when she was a kid, she made a phone call. “Didn’t you pick up the ear piece and crank the handle on the side of the box to alert the operator who then asked for the number?” She nodded and I jokingly said, “But those poor operators – they’re all out of work!” She chuckled.
Then I commented on her new TV in the living room, a nice model that was about 32”. I then mentioned the number of TV’s manufactured in the United States was right around zero, and hers’ was likely made in China. (Vizio, a company headquartered in Irvine, California, led by Taiwan-born William (not his given name) Wang, claims to be America’s #1 LCD HDTV Company. Their televisions are made in China.)
Then I quickly jumped in and said, “Just think, 20 years ago a 19” Sony TV cost about $500, and today you are getting a 32” TV for the same price that gives you a better picture.”
Made In China Is A Good Thing
As the chat progressed, she got the fact that because some things are made in places like China where the cost of living and the corresponding wages are significantly less, more American people can enjoy things that used to be considered luxury items – like an LCD TV. To really put the matter of TV prices into perspective and why “Made in China” is not a bad thing, chomp on this: A Sony 42” Plasma TV had a MSRP of $7999.00 in 2002. Yes, EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS for a 42” TV, seven short years ago. Today I can buy a 52” Sony TV with a free Blu-Ray DVD Player for about $1500.00, and Costco is selling an off-brand ProScan 40” LCD set for a ridiculously low $499.00!
I would love to buy American-made products, but I am not willing to support the unions that seemingly ruin a good thing whenever they can, in the “best interests” of their rank and file. In other words, I am not willing to pay a large premium to buy goods made in this country, when I know the Sony TV made across the Pacific Ocean is of better quality and price than any comparable set that could be made here.