Author Topic: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?  (Read 1760 times)

nereo

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"Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« on: November 11, 2017, 01:50:40 PM »
This is a subject that I haven't fully settled on one side or the other.  Hoping for some civil commentary from all sides (... one can hope, anyway).

Recently I was reading reviews for some tools online and was struck by the number of 1-star reviews which read simply: "Not made in USA! Don't buy!!"  These sorts of reviews are ubiquitous, and rarely comment about the actual quality of the product, just that its manufacturing origin should somehow result in a poor review.
I've had a hard time understanding the mentality that we should only buy products made in the USA even though several in my family follow its doctrine.  At the same time I try to avoid items which come from countries with poor labor laws, and g  ravitate towards items with stamps like "fair trade" or from smaller family buisnesses (and even here I'm not certain how much is simply slick marketing).  We buy and support local (community) businesses when we can, but that certainly can't apply to everything (or even most things) these days.

On the pro side of the Buy USA crowd is this:
Supports US Jobs, keeps money inside the US economy.
Ensures products are made by people with basic worker rights in place (though see below)
Idea that US goods are somehow "better" than other countries

On the "meh" side (those that don't follow the 'BUY USA' mantra):
It's a global economy - complex items (e.g. cars) often have parts shared from all over the world even if they are assembled in teh USA
US labor laws are not the best (poor healthcare options, maternity/paternity leave, etc)
Buying goods from other nations ultimately raises their standard of living
"free-market principles" dictates that marketplace competition ultimately leads to the best products
The most HQ goods often come from other countries.

How do you see things?
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Gin1984

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 02:11:21 PM »
Personally I prefer to buy local above most else because it keeps money in my community.  That said, I expect the same level of quality, if not more.  I will pay more for quality and occasionally for local but not by much for locality.  For buying in the US, it is similar.  I will pay more for US brands if they have the same quality of internationally made products but I won't pay more or equal if it is not the same quality. 

Travis

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 02:56:22 PM »
You have to look real close at that particular item you're buying.  "Made in the USA" may simply mean "assembled from foreign parts on US soil" or "Corporate HQ in US, manufacture and assembly in foreign country."  As was pointed out recently with President Trump's somewhat erroneous remarks to the Japanese government, there are foreign cars made on US soil with US labor, but the corporation is based in Japan.  Now ask again what "Made in the USA" really means to you.   

We have a habit of talking up the "free market" until we happen to be the ones coming down on the losing side of it.  There are some industries where I think protectionism or paying a little more at the register is strategically necessary (rare earth metals, military equipment), but generally speaking global competition is a good thing.  My biggest caveat to that is it being a fair market as well.  A less-developed country getting some global economy love is great as long as they adhere to the same labor and environmental regulations as everyone else.
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surfhb

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 03:10:37 PM »
I would but There’s not a single item I buy that is made in the US.   Maybe New Balance shoes?   Love their comfort

nereo

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 03:24:47 PM »
  My biggest caveat to that is it being a fair market as well.  A less-developed country getting some global economy love is great as long as they adhere to the same labor and environmental regulations as everyone else.
free-market/fair market is an interesting point.  Certainly at present US low-skilled workers are better off than those from, say, Sri Lanka, but then we seem to be far behind many of the other G8 countries in terms of medical coverage, child-care/family-leave and federal pensions.  So how do we fairly evaluate that?  Then there's the enviornmental concerns, with the US the lone country on the globe not participating in the Paris accord.

I would but There’s not a single item I buy that is made in the US.   Maybe New Balance shoes?   Love their comfort
Nothing?!  Do you live int he US?  Fruits and veggies?

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maizeman

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2017, 03:40:27 PM »
Idea that US goods are somehow "better" than other countries ... The most HQ goods often come from other countries.

I think the issue here is that "other countries" is capturing too much variation.

When a USA-based company sends manufacturing out of the country, it will tend to go to Mexico, China, or somewhere in Southeast Asia. Often the shift is accompanied by a decrease in quality control as a result of new language barriers and physical distance between management and the actual factory/workforce.

So buying a product from a US company manufacturing overseas < US company manufacturing in the US == overseas company manufacturing overseas.
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Johnez

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 03:50:41 PM »
I'm fine with buying foreign goods (except food, will not purchase Chinese produce or dog food), the world is an open marketplace after all.  If American companies are forced to think of better and more efficient ways of making things-I'm all for it, who benefits in the long run there after all? 

The problems of course come about when considering working conditions.  Factories burning up or falling down in 3rd world countries just to make some $5 shirt at Walmart shouldn't happen.  I guess this is where corporate responsibility comes in, and consumer choices often dictates whether these companies will let things like this happen.  I don't think the choices made in the free marketplace provide enough of a natural push to ensure decent working conditions for the workers that produce our cheap goods though though.  How many plastic trinket makers and clothes factories are still here in the USA after all?  There's hardly a way to "vote with your wallet" when picking out a cell phone.  I think this is where legislation comes in, not buying in the USA.

Travis

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2017, 04:26:25 PM »
  My biggest caveat to that is it being a fair market as well.  A less-developed country getting some global economy love is great as long as they adhere to the same labor and environmental regulations as everyone else.
free-market/fair market is an interesting point.  Certainly at present US low-skilled workers are better off than those from, say, Sri Lanka, but then we seem to be far behind many of the other G8 countries in terms of medical coverage, child-care/family-leave and federal pensions.  So how do we fairly evaluate that?  Then there's the enviornmental concerns, with the US the lone country on the globe not participating in the Paris accord.
We didn't sign the Paris agreement, but we still have an EPA, OSHA, Clean Water Act, various labor laws, etc.  I expect a lot of our developing-nation producers don't.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 09:32:07 PM by Travis »
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nereo

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2017, 07:21:56 AM »
  My biggest caveat to that is it being a fair market as well.  A less-developed country getting some global economy love is great as long as they adhere to the same labor and environmental regulations as everyone else.
free-market/fair market is an interesting point.  Certainly at present US low-skilled workers are better off than those from, say, Sri Lanka, but then we seem to be far behind many of the other G8 countries in terms of medical coverage, child-care/family-leave and federal pensions.  So how do we fairly evaluate that?  Then there's the enviornmental concerns, with the US the lone country on the globe not participating in the Paris accord.
We didn't sign the Paris agreement, but we still have an EPA, OSHA, Clean Water Act, various labor laws, etc.  I expect a lot of our developing-nation producers don't.
All true, but who are we comparing to? Consider the  environmental and worker protections and practices for, say, Germany and compare them to the Untied States.  How does that factor into the equation?  This "Buy USA" campaign doesn't seem to distinguish between us and developing-nations. 
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Chesleygirl

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2017, 08:07:21 AM »
I prefer to buy made in USA, except for cars. American made cars seem to be poor quality.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2017, 09:39:05 AM »
I don't buy Made in USA or Made Local movements. Economies of scale and comparative advantage are important to our standard of living, to the extent that we'd all be poor, miserable brutes without them. The best way thing to do with your money is to buy the best product, which will hopefully reward the best companies and get them to build even better products in the future. Poorer performing companies will go out of business and their capital and labor will flow to better companies that will produce superior products.

I do consider "Made in USA" a badge of quality for at least some products, but that's only in comparison to developing nations. So, like, I'd buy a US product over a Chinese product if I want it to perform and last, but I feel quite fine buying a Japanese or German product over an American product. 

There's probably some adjustments to be made for environmental impacts, but I doubt the variation between the nations is enough to offset the cost advantage. The relevant price factor isn't that Beijing has shitty air, it's that trace particulate matter or whatever somehow finds itself back to California. That does us no favors...but even then, I'd guess it's better than producing the same stuff here, because then we'd just be relocating all those pollutants back to the US.

I'm not concerned about the trade deficit. Trade deficits are always balanced by capital inflows or foreign reserve accumulation. Capital inflow means the US gov't can borrow more cheaply and I can buy a house more cheaply. Foreign reserve accumulation means we sent China little scraps of money in exchange for goods that can actually be used.

bobechs

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2017, 10:01:55 AM »
  My biggest caveat to that is it being a fair market as well.  A less-developed country getting some global economy love is great as long as they adhere to the same labor and environmental regulations as everyone else.
free-market/fair market is an interesting point.  Certainly at present US low-skilled workers are better off than those from, say, Sri Lanka, but then we seem to be far behind many of the other G8 countries in terms of medical coverage, child-care/family-leave and federal pensions.  So how do we fairly evaluate that?  Then there's the enviornmental concerns, with the US the lone country on the globe not participating in the Paris accord.



I would but There’s not a single item I buy that is made in the US.   Maybe New Balance shoes?   Love their comfort
Nothing?!  Do you live int he US?  Fruits and veggies?


A lot of unionized tradesmen (electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, etc.) like to display their nativist prejudices by paying whatever the price for American-made brands.

So, if you want a tool you can show off and don't mind an exhorbitant price, a belt full of eg., Klein drivers, pliers and pounders will soothe that sore spot.  Many of the brand owners are tricky and slip some foreign sourced stuf into the line.  Online forums dedicated to outing them exist, if you want to make a hobbyof, or even go semi-pro at, exposing the sources.

sokoloff

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2017, 10:11:16 AM »
I don't buy Made in USA or Made Local movements. Economies of scale and comparative advantage are important to our standard of living, to the extent that we'd all be poor, miserable brutes without them. The best way thing to do with your money is to buy the best product, which will hopefully reward the best companies and get them to build even better products in the future. Poorer performing companies will go out of business and their capital and labor will flow to better companies that will produce superior products.

I do consider "Made in USA" a badge of quality for at least some products, but that's only in comparison to developing nations. So, like, I'd buy a US product over a Chinese product if I want it to perform and last, but I feel quite fine buying a Japanese or German product over an American product.
Pretty much exactly this (both paragraphs) is how I feel.

We are in a global economy and like it or not, if a good can be made halfway around the world, shipped to you, and be better application-dependent performance-for-price ratio than a US-made good, then the US made good is economically inferior and should not be purchased. "Chinese made" can mean so many things. China is every bit capable of manufacturing precision or high-quality finished goods (witness the iPhone), but can also make made to a price point cheap injection molded plastic crap. "US made" has a similar range, except the very lowest end of the curve has been competed away from global competition.

If you accept that we're in a global economy, the stronger signals we can send and the faster we can adapt to that reality, the better off people will be. It doesn't do much good to pretend that we're in a 1800s isolationist economy and try to have US jobs die as slow and painful a death as possible.

simonsez

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2017, 10:26:43 AM »
Nereo, just curious why did you single out Sri Lanka for your example of something being certain? Their overall LE from birth is 75 and the wealth disparities are much less than in the US.  Thus when you break it out by SES low skilled workers are likely to be closer to nat'l median than in US.  Also Sri Lanka seems to score decently on the personal happiness metrics.  Again I don't know about if you parse out by labor skill or SES but it I am not sure how certain I would say low skilled labor in the US is better off than similar Sri Lankan labor forces.  You are probably correct but closer than we might realize.

Costco is great but it does bother me with the cheap produce that comes from South America.  Comparative advantage can only go so far for me before the carbon footprint alarm starts going off in my head.

BlueHouse

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2017, 10:37:20 AM »
I prefer to buy made in USA, except for cars. American made cars seem to be poor quality.
+1
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somers515

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2017, 10:48:46 AM »
The best way thing to do with your money is to buy the best product, which will hopefully reward the best companies and get them to build even better products in the future. . .

Pretty much exactly this (both paragraphs) is how I feel.


Interesting discussion but I'm going to disagree with this sentence if taken to mean that all you factor into your decision-making when purchasing an item is the quality of the item and price.  I'll take an extreme example to make my point.  Let's say product A is made by slave labor in some foreign country and product B is made by well-treated workers in a different country.  If known by you, this should factor into your decision making so you aren't supporting a company that operates with slave labor.

Or another example, let's say you can get your electric power using all renewables or all your power from fossil fuels and it's within pennies difference in cost to you, I know which one I'm picking.
 
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sokoloff

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2017, 11:05:40 AM »
The best way thing to do with your money is to buy the best product, which will hopefully reward the best companies and get them to build even better products in the future. . .
Pretty much exactly this (both paragraphs) is how I feel.
Interesting discussion but I'm going to disagree with this sentence if taken to mean that all you factor into your decision-making when purchasing an item is the quality of the item and price.  I'll take an extreme example to make my point.  Let's say product A is made by slave labor in some foreign country and product B is made by well-treated workers in a different country.  If known by you, this should factor into your decision making so you aren't supporting a company that operates with slave labor.
I agree with this specific, extreme example, but I don't extend it to "these factory workers are made to work 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, for only $1.50/hr", provided that's a free choice they've made and that that choice represents a better option than their next-best alternative. Literal slave labor I don't support. What some people hyperbolically call slave labor [free people making their best economic decision which differs from what the speaker would choose in America] I view as helping not harming. (By definition, someone making a free choice to elect option A is harmed if option A is taken away from them.)
Or another example, let's say you can get your electric power using all renewables or all your power from fossil fuels and it's within pennies difference in cost to you, I know which one I'm picking.
The electrons don't know the difference and the electrons that power my house are the same as yours. The marketing of renewable energy as an option to consumers is a very interesting case. On a dark, wind-free night, your house has power just like mine. Where are those specific kilowatt hours being generated? Not wind. Not solar.

Now, I admit that it does tie the utilities hands (in a beneficial way) if they ever ran the risk of selling more renewable energy than they can show they purchased in the market. I'm a big fan of PV (though my house doesn't lend itself to an installation), but I think that at the current level of sales of renewables, the utility is just pocketing an extra couple pennies per kWh from consumers who opt to purchase "only renewable" energy [because they aren't, moment-to-monent, only purchasing renewables].

TheWifeHalf

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2017, 11:32:06 AM »
When we buy something, the first requirement is quality. Then we buy US made if it is of similar quality, we try not to lower our standards.
2 5 instances I can think of:
1. When we bought our 1915 house the original plan was to work on it ourselves. We knew it would be slow but we wanted the satisfaction we did it ourselves, and we knew the quality.  10 years ago I was in a car accident and received some money.  It has been 10 years with no major health problem, my husband had cancer 8 years ago and we just decided to hire a cabinet maker for our last room to remodel the kitchen to get it finished.

If the houses weren't across the street I could see the shop of a cabinet maker I never thought we could hire. He has an outstanding reputation, as did his Dad before him, in fact real estate ads mention the cabinets made by him as a plus. We hired him to do the kitchen and a few other cabinets in the family room. They buy the wood and actually custom make the cabinets, they are like furniture. I remember when we first talked to him I told him I was really picky and asked if he can work with that. He said he could and I don't regret for a second that we hired him. He has 30 employees, 7 are relatives.  They did as we requested and complemented the stairs my husband built.
It satisfied our wanting to buy quality, stay local and a plus that it's a family business.
He had 3 levels of making them, we chose custom and paid him $45,000 (Our house when we bought it was $45,000 but that was 37 years ago).

3. I would have been happy with laminate counters but my husband wanted granite or quartz. I knew I didn't want granite because of the maintenance and I was reading some things about treatment of workers I didn't like. There was one quartz supplier in the US, they adhered to OSHA rules for their workers and that was who the cabinetmaker suggested.
Again, a quality product, US made. It might have cost a little more but the good fortune that took care of me in the accident I thought should be shared with US companies.

3. I already told about our Wisconsin built Speed Queen dryer purchase - US made, union made so you know OSHA rules are adhered to. It cost a bit more than other brands but has a 3 yr warranty where the others only had 1.

4. For the stairs, the wood that we bought came from another family owned business across town. They sell more exotic lumbers (we just bought red oak) and do woodworking services. We bought our stair treads, risers, handrails and 5 newel posts and the wood needed for the balusters and finish pieces in the kitchen. Again local business, great quality. Price? I don't know if they are more than anyone else or not, it is the only place we've gone to over the years.

5. Our family room and master bedroom all have furniture from the Amish in eastern Ohio. They are of the quality we expect from a handmade product. Again, US (Ohio) made.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 07:13:46 PM by TheWifeHalf »

TheWifeHalf

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2017, 11:43:39 AM »
I prefer to buy made in USA, except for cars. American made cars seem to be poor quality.
+1

TheHusbandHalf has only bought Fords, pickups to be exact. We have been married 37 years and he is on his 4th.
He was ok with buying me an AMC Eagle wagon years ago though, many many years ago. The last time I saw one on the road was 3 years ago and knew the last year they were built was 1987. We traded ours in in 1988 because we had a third child (whose middle name should have been 'oops') and my husband has long legs and likes to put the driver's seat way back.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2017, 01:13:13 PM »
From what I understand, the American companies make decent quality trucks. It's where their profit margins come from, so that's where they plow dollars. For entry-level cars, small-size SUVs, and sedans, Japanese is where you get the most bang for your buck.

Reddit had a lot of positive things to say about Mazda recently.

Cadman

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2017, 03:28:02 PM »
I'm surprised the old trope of American cars being lesser quality still lives on, but I suppose it makes sense in this community where many of us still seek out vehicles from the 80's and 90's. It's tough to beat an old Honda.

DW has been very happy with her late model Sonic, and I wouldn't trade my 30 year old Oldsmobile for anything. In 2017, you're really looking at internationally designed, sourced and assembled vehicles no matter the badge. Just be sure you're not riding around with Takata airbags.

nereo

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2017, 03:37:30 PM »
Nereo, just curious why did you single out Sri Lanka for your example of something being certain? Their overall LE from birth is 75 and the wealth disparities are much less than in the US.  ...
I suppose I should have researched a bit more.  I randomly chose Sri Lanka as a country which makes textiles that often compete with US manufacturers.  I admit I know less than I should about it and have never been there myself.  Thanks for the information.
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A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2017, 07:38:20 AM »
I'm surprised the old trope of American cars being lesser quality still lives on, but I suppose it makes sense in this community where many of us still seek out vehicles from the 80's and 90's. It's tough to beat an old Honda.

DW has been very happy with her late model Sonic, and I wouldn't trade my 30 year old Oldsmobile for anything. In 2017, you're really looking at internationally designed, sourced and assembled vehicles no matter the badge. Just be sure you're not riding around with Takata airbags.

There is a thread for common misconceptions if you want to share your thoughts. :)

Just Joe

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2017, 07:55:27 AM »
I think the gap in quality between the imports and the domestics may be a perception gap rather than a real gap.

We sure have had good service out of our nearly two decade domestic sedan.

I've often wondered if much of the domestic vehicle quality perception was due to being the cheaper option (sometimes) attracting cheaper owners that scrimp on repairs - either delaying them or using the cheapest repair parts they can find. Then add in a 2nd and 3rd owner where the car's value really drops and the behavior to go cheap gets even more pronounced.

ncornilsen

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2017, 08:09:07 AM »
I think the gap in quality between the imports and the domestics may be a perception gap rather than a real gap.

We sure have had good service out of our nearly two decade domestic sedan.

I've often wondered if much of the domestic vehicle quality perception was due to being the cheaper option (sometimes) attracting cheaper owners that scrimp on repairs - either delaying them or using the cheapest repair parts they can find. Then add in a 2nd and 3rd owner where the car's value really drops and the behavior to go cheap gets even more pronounced.

No, the perception comes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In the 60s/70s, the cars were absolute garbage... but when someone got mad a Chevy, they went to Ford... about the same time someone got mad and changed from Ford to Chevy. So quality didn't matter because nobody really had a choice, nor did they know better. (I do own a classic car, and love it for what it is... but when the old timers say "They don't make 'em like the used to" I say "Thank god!!)

In the 80s and into the 90s, Japanese manufacturers ate the Big 3's lunch.

By the mid 90s, the quality gap was basically closed, but the perception still lingers.

Back on topic:

I  buy the item that meets my quality and price criteria, without regard to where it was made. If the price is equal and the quality is too, I might give a passing thought to where it was made and buy US, but I won't dwell on it.


nereo

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2017, 08:20:31 AM »
I think the gap in quality between the imports and the domestics may be a perception gap rather than a real gap.
...
Well we could always bring actual DATA into the discussion:


tl/dr: It's a bit more nuanced than simply "foreign cars are more reliably than US cars."  The top most reliable brands are all non-US, but some US brands are at or around the average with a large spread.  And some foreign brands (Fiat, for one) are much less reliable.
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ketchup

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2017, 08:54:27 AM »
I'll buy USA made if it actually means the product is better. 

Cars are a weird example, of course.  Your Toyota might be more "American" than your friend's Ford.  A car isn't like buying a coffee mug.  It's thousands of parts all smashed together.

That data seems to match my perceptions pretty closely.  Main surprises: I'd expect Audi to have been lower, Infiniti to have been higher, and Ford to not have such a wacky range. 

Cars are an example though of something that actually have in general gotten absurdly better (more reliable, longer lasting, lower maintenance, way safer) over the years, and even if you're not buying new, that trickles down to you too.

lizzzi

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2017, 09:47:03 AM »
I support the local economy as much as I can, assuming the products are good quality...and that philosophy extends to supporting the U.S.A. businesses as much as I can. I mean, why not? I'm an American citizen, and, all other things being equal, I like to keep my shopping close to home. My stainless is from Liberty Tabletop, in Sherrill, NY, my sofa throw is from Faribault Woolen Mills in Minnesota, my dining table was made in Vermont or Massachusetts (can't remember which) and purchased through Room and Board Furniture. And so it goes. I have a Made in America can opener as discussed on another thread, and it is hands-down the best can opener I've had in years. I have an alpaca hat made in Vermont, and a little card that came with it showing the two alpacas that were shorn to make the fibers in my hat. I live close to a big Amish community, and pick up Amish cheese and butter when I see it. My Nativity Set was hand-made by a guy in western NY. My harp is a Dusty Strings FH36S from Seattle, Washington.

But of course I have a house full of stuff that comes from all corners of the world, especially China, where they seem to manufacture everything you could ever think of.  I drive a Toyota. I play a K. Kawai piano. Most of the kitchenware is made offshore. I'm as globally minded as anyone and look for the best deal I can find, no matter where it comes from...but if it comes from the States, that would be my first choice. No offense intended.

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2017, 10:26:25 AM »
The best way thing to do with your money is to buy the best product, which will hopefully reward the best companies and get them to build even better products in the future. . .

Pretty much exactly this (both paragraphs) is how I feel.


Interesting discussion but I'm going to disagree with this sentence if taken to mean that all you factor into your decision-making when purchasing an item is the quality of the item and price.  I'll take an extreme example to make my point.  Let's say product A is made by slave labor in some foreign country and product B is made by well-treated workers in a different country.  If known by you, this should factor into your decision making so you aren't supporting a company that operates with slave labor.

Or another example, let's say you can get your electric power using all renewables or all your power from fossil fuels and it's within pennies difference in cost to you, I know which one I'm picking.
 
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Apple devices are made by slave labour in Asia.  How popular are iPhones?  Where was your television made?

I don't believe that where something was made factors into most people's decision making when purchasing something.

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2017, 10:30:48 AM »
I try to limit the amount of Chinese slave-made shit that I bring into my life. I screwed up with the phone, and good luck finding clothes made in the USA (whatever, I'll just shop second hand and keep it all out of the landfill.), and art, because when I visit a place I want to bring back cool art that reminds me of the place. But I don't like supporting slave-wages, and I don't like shipping manufacturing jobs overseas because of the almighty dollar. Buy local, buy American.

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #30 on: November 13, 2017, 10:40:33 AM »
Country of origin is not a primary (or even secondary) consideration when I purchase...pretty much anything. I do have a preference for local retailers. This is partly due to a measure of loyalty to my local community, it's also practical because I live in a rural town 20 minutes from any major retailers. I will pay a $1 premium for construction adhesive at my local hardware store if it saves me from driving half an hour to Lowe's.

My personal hierarchy of consideration would look something like this:

Top tier: Price/quality (depending on the item, price or quality may be ranked higher, but they are invariably 1a and 1b)

Middle tier: Ease of acquisition (can I just order it on Amazon, or pick it up on a normal grocery run? Does a small local store have it, or do I need to go out of my way to get it? I tend to put off purchases, even necessary ones, that cannot be made with minimal effort).

Lower tier: Everything else, including country of origin.
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #31 on: November 13, 2017, 11:27:32 AM »
I'm having difficulty interpreting the bar graph. What is it supposed to convey?
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #32 on: November 13, 2017, 12:08:46 PM »
I'm having difficulty interpreting the bar graph. What is it supposed to convey?
Average reliability of each manufacturer's cars based on extensive survey data conducted by CR.

The vertical black line is the average reliability across all brands

With each band, the blue (horizontal) bars are the range of reliability for all models.  A very wide blue bar means that particular manufacturer produces cars which have a wide range of reliability (e.g. Ford) whereas a small blue bar means that each model in that brand is fairly comparable maintenance-wise (e.g. Lexus).

The yellow circle inside each horizontal bar is the mean reliability of the entire brand (across all its models)

The x axis is how much "worse/better" the repair history is, relative to the mean.  For example, if a brand's mean is at -50% it means that brand needs repairs 50% more often than the average.

The numbers next to the brand name on the y axis denote how many models are depicted in the data.  For example there are 7 Lexus models and 12 Toyota models (written:" Lexus(7)" and "Toyta(12)"). Note that each model may have multiple "trim" lines (e.g. Honda Civic comes in 6 "trim" lines: DX, LX, EX, EX-T, Touring and Si)
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2017, 12:48:41 PM »
I'm having difficulty interpreting the bar graph. What is it supposed to convey?
Average reliability of each manufacturer's cars based on extensive survey data conducted by CR.

The vertical black line is the average reliability across all brands

With each band, the blue (horizontal) bars are the range of reliability for all models.  A very wide blue bar means that particular manufacturer produces cars which have a wide range of reliability (e.g. Ford) whereas a small blue bar means that each model in that brand is fairly comparable maintenance-wise (e.g. Lexus).

The yellow circle inside each horizontal bar is the mean reliability of the entire brand (across all its models)

The x axis is how much "worse/better" the repair history is, relative to the mean.  For example, if a brand's mean is at -50% it means that brand needs repairs 50% more often than the average.

The numbers next to the brand name on the y axis denote how many models are depicted in the data.  For example there are 7 Lexus models and 12 Toyota models (written:" Lexus(7)" and "Toyta(12)"). Note that each model may have multiple "trim" lines (e.g. Honda Civic comes in 6 "trim" lines: DX, LX, EX, EX-T, Touring and Si)

Kinda damning chart really.  The best vehicles that Ford makes are on par with the worst made by Toyota.  The worst vehicles Ford makes are some of the worst you can buy.

Just Joe

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2017, 12:57:57 PM »
Kind odd that Acura is Honda's lux brand and has less reliability than Honda's bread and butter products. More lux = more gadgets to go wrong?

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #35 on: November 13, 2017, 12:59:40 PM »
Kinda damning chart really.  The best vehicles that Ford makes are on par with the worst made by Toyota.  The worst vehicles Ford makes are some of the worst you can buy.

Guess it's all about perspective.  Ford has made some unreliable vehicles lately relative to everyone else, but when I buy a car Im not buying 'all fords'.  I just buy one car.  What surprised me is that the better Fords (reliability wise) are more reliable than most Subarus, Volkswagens and Volvos. To me one of the greatest assets in buying used cars is it allows you to know a great deal about a model's reliability.

Also worth noting that car longevity has steadily improved across all brands. A circa 2010 car will run more miles with less fuel and more hp than similar models from the 1980s or 90s.
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #36 on: November 13, 2017, 01:21:27 PM »
I know how much anecdotes are worth, but it's interesting that my personal experience aligns perfectly with the chart. Best car I've owned - and it's not even close - is a 2007 Toyota Prius. 200K miles and still going strong. We have 70K miles on a 2012 Mazda5, with no serious problems to report. I've had a Ford F150, a Ford Ranger, and a Ford Explorer that all sucked varying degrees of balls. But none of them compare to the hellish experience that was my 2003 Dodge Ram. I replaced the heater core in that truck, at $500 a pop, three times in a single year, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It finally spontaneously combusted (shit you not) in my front yard at 5 AM in September 2010. I took the insurance money and bought a Prius, and I ain't buying another Dodge no matter what future reliability studies may say. Screw Dodge.
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #37 on: November 13, 2017, 02:07:33 PM »
I'm having difficulty interpreting the bar graph. What is it supposed to convey?
Average reliability of each manufacturer's cars based on extensive survey data conducted by CR.

The vertical black line is the average reliability across all brands

With each band, the blue (horizontal) bars are the range of reliability for all models.  A very wide blue bar means that particular manufacturer produces cars which have a wide range of reliability (e.g. Ford) whereas a small blue bar means that each model in that brand is fairly comparable maintenance-wise (e.g. Lexus).

The yellow circle inside each horizontal bar is the mean reliability of the entire brand (across all its models)

The x axis is how much "worse/better" the repair history is, relative to the mean.  For example, if a brand's mean is at -50% it means that brand needs repairs 50% more often than the average.

The numbers next to the brand name on the y axis denote how many models are depicted in the data.  For example there are 7 Lexus models and 12 Toyota models (written:" Lexus(7)" and "Toyta(12)"). Note that each model may have multiple "trim" lines (e.g. Honda Civic comes in 6 "trim" lines: DX, LX, EX, EX-T, Touring and Si)

Thanks for the break down.  Now I'm curious which models pulled the data points so far apart.  Is this for a single year or for multiple model-years?  This chart makes it appear that Toyota has a pretty tight shot group when it comes to their reliability, but if this includes several years Ford could claim a couple particular lemons in a particular year ruined the spread.

I haven't owned many vehicles, but my bad experience was with a '99 Ford Taurus. The transmission started to die on it in 2006 after a little less than 100,000 miles.  There were a couple other items starting to fail and I ended up repairing it and selling it for roughly the same amount (I was days from heading back to Iraq and just wanted to be rid of it at that point).
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #38 on: November 13, 2017, 02:51:31 PM »
I know how much anecdotes are worth, but it's interesting that my personal experience aligns perfectly with the chart. Best car I've owned - and it's not even close - is a 2007 Toyota Prius. 200K miles and still going strong. We have 70K miles on a 2012 Mazda5, with no serious problems to report. I've had a Ford F150, a Ford Ranger, and a Ford Explorer that all sucked varying degrees of balls. But none of them compare to the hellish experience that was my 2003 Dodge Ram. I replaced the heater core in that truck, at $500 a pop, three times in a single year, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It finally spontaneously combusted (shit you not) in my front yard at 5 AM in September 2010. I took the insurance money and bought a Prius, and I ain't buying another Dodge no matter what future reliability studies may say. Screw Dodge.

My parents hate Dodge so much they threatened my inheritance if I ever bought one. They were joking, but still...

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #39 on: November 13, 2017, 02:54:40 PM »
To the extend we can I try to buy made in a civilized "western" country. I've visited Chinese workshops, and purchased large amounts of industrial stuff from them... they do not treat people remotely up to our standards. Early in the thread it was said that the US doesn't have good worker protections and that may be true relative to Europe. I asked a Chinese shop how long the average welder worked there (standard question, we look for long continuity as an indicator of quality.)... the answer was after a few years their eyesight tended to be to bad to continue so the company got new welders.  Other shops hide it better, but by and large the workers are used up and spit out.  After the third or fourth place it was a bit uncomfortable to think about what my dollars and the company's dollars were supporting.  My second experience over there was better in that my company controlled what happened in our facility, so only our sub contractors abused their workers while ours were relatively well cared for.

There are things like fair trade coffee that are certainly an acceptable way around this.

As for USA tool quality, in general USA/European tools will be made of the advertised type/ grade of material, which is super important to the tool's longevity.  Sure if you use the tool infrequently and don't leave it in a puddle of salt water, the Chinese tool may be a better deal for you. 

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #40 on: November 13, 2017, 02:59:46 PM »
As for USA tool quality, in general USA/European tools will be made of the advertised type/ grade of material, which is super important to the tool's longevity.  Sure if you use the tool infrequently and don't leave it in a puddle of salt water, the Chinese tool may be a better deal for you.
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2017, 03:00:36 PM »
I know how much anecdotes are worth, but it's interesting that my personal experience aligns perfectly with the chart. Best car I've owned - and it's not even close - is a 2007 Toyota Prius. 200K miles and still going strong. We have 70K miles on a 2012 Mazda5, with no serious problems to report. I've had a Ford F150, a Ford Ranger, and a Ford Explorer that all sucked varying degrees of balls. But none of them compare to the hellish experience that was my 2003 Dodge Ram. I replaced the heater core in that truck, at $500 a pop, three times in a single year, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It finally spontaneously combusted (shit you not) in my front yard at 5 AM in September 2010. I took the insurance money and bought a Prius, and I ain't buying another Dodge no matter what future reliability studies may say. Screw Dodge.

My parents hate Dodge so much they threatened my inheritance if I ever bought one. They were joking, but still...
another fund Dodge story! 
My roommate in college had a Dodge, and we all parked our cars in a parking structure during the weekends because it was free.  One Sunday morning following a heavy saturday of drinking I was woken up at ~6am by pounding on our door.  Upon opening I discovered two uniformed police officers.  Gulp.  "Do you own a Dodge pickup truck?"  (phew, not me!) 
"um, no officer, but my roommate does.  Was it stolen? " 
"no, it's on fire.  We just thought he should know.  I'll tell the fire department.  Don't leave."
(door slam)
long story short - his truck "spontaneously combusted" and took out four other cars and the upper deck of the parking structure - roughly half a million in damages.  It took two years but his insurance and Dodge came to some sort of agreement.  Ultimate finding? faulty wiring circuit
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 03:02:27 PM by nereo »
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #42 on: November 13, 2017, 03:01:32 PM »
As for USA tool quality, in general USA/European tools will be made of the advertised type/ grade of material, which is super important to the tool's longevity.  Sure if you use the tool infrequently and don't leave it in a puddle of salt water, the Chinese tool may be a better deal for you.
"After a year, every Harbor Freight tool is a hammer..."

My job literally involves taking tools and submerging them in salt water for extended periods of time.  Harbor Freight is great for those jobs...
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trollwithamustache

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #43 on: November 13, 2017, 03:15:52 PM »
As for USA tool quality, in general USA/European tools will be made of the advertised type/ grade of material, which is super important to the tool's longevity.  Sure if you use the tool infrequently and don't leave it in a puddle of salt water, the Chinese tool may be a better deal for you.
"After a year, every Harbor Freight tool is a hammer..."

Hey the hammer is the kids favorite tool. maybe I should shop at HF more!

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #44 on: November 13, 2017, 03:20:08 PM »
I don't think trying to buy ethically is usually very effective. Capitalism adjusts with ease. You won't buy South African diamonds? Okay, that means they drop the price a penny, and that means someone else will buy them Every once in a while someone pulls off a really effective boycott, and I'll participate in one of those. But buying just to make myself feel like I'm not implicated in the evils of the global economy?... nah. I am totally implicated anyway.

The only entities with enough power to stand against the global markets -- maybe, sometimes -- are national governments. I'm keenly interested in labor and environmental protections. But I have little interest in being a morally pure consumer. I don't think the bang is worth the buck.

(I wouldn't buy diamonds in any case, of course. I can find pretty sparkly things on the beach for free.)

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #45 on: November 13, 2017, 05:29:59 PM »
. Screw Dodge.

We had a Dodge Caravan and 3 different times, in 3 different parking lots, a guy came up to us and asked, "How many transmissions have you had?"

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #46 on: November 13, 2017, 05:32:09 PM »
I don't think trying to buy ethically is usually very effective. Capitalism adjusts with ease. You won't buy South African diamonds? Okay, that means they drop the price a penny, and that means someone else will buy them Every once in a while someone pulls off a really effective boycott, and I'll participate in one of those. But buying just to make myself feel like I'm not implicated in the evils of the global economy?... nah. I am totally implicated anyway.

The only entities with enough power to stand against the global markets -- maybe, sometimes -- are national governments. I'm keenly interested in labor and environmental protections. But I have little interest in being a morally pure consumer. I don't think the bang is worth the buck.

(I wouldn't buy diamonds in any case, of course. I can find pretty sparkly things on the beach for free.)

All you can control is your own behavior, certainly you can't stop the millions of others from buying the product you don't approve of.  But you are arguing to simply give up!

The goal isn't to exclude by ethnic group, its by "Political unit". (so yeah, check out Zara, their manufacturing sub contractor hasn't paid any of their north African workers in a while. Unfair example as I was never cool enough to shop there) I'll throw out there that Taiwan has a good reputation for metallurgical honesty and quality, so I'm OK with their products. (as do the Japanese and South Koreans) But I guess saying the Taiwanese are/aren't ethnically Chinese is a pretty hot Potato and as Americans I'm not sure our governments current official stance on this!

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #47 on: November 13, 2017, 05:50:41 PM »
I don't think trying to buy ethically is usually very effective. Capitalism adjusts with ease. You won't buy South African diamonds? Okay, that means they drop the price a penny, and that means someone else will buy them Every once in a while someone pulls off a really effective boycott, and I'll participate in one of those. But buying just to make myself feel like I'm not implicated in the evils of the global economy?... nah. I am totally implicated anyway.

The only entities with enough power to stand against the global markets -- maybe, sometimes -- are national governments. I'm keenly interested in labor and environmental protections. But I have little interest in being a morally pure consumer. I don't think the bang is worth the buck.

(I wouldn't buy diamonds in any case, of course. I can find pretty sparkly things on the beach for free.)

All you can control is your own behavior, certainly you can't stop the millions of others from buying the product you don't approve of.

This is true only if you believe that the free market is the best way to provide protections for workers.  Personally, I agree with koshtra that products sold for consumption so far removed from the conditions they're created in that the free market approach regarding ethical sourcing is always doomed to fail.[/quote]

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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #48 on: November 13, 2017, 05:57:42 PM »
My reasoning is that if anyone somewhere else in the world was buying a product or labor that I possibly contributed to, I would want them to buy that one if it was the best one for their needs. Not buy some local item and shut me out of the market. Similarly I extend them the same courtesy.

Let the best duke it out, for some definition of best

Regarding any ethical concerns with the labor that produced your consumer item, I try to address that by buying as few items as possible, and usually buying used (and because I'm cheap)
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Re: "Made in the USA" - where should we stand?
« Reply #49 on: November 14, 2017, 08:12:32 PM »
I prefer to buy made in USA, except for cars. American made cars seem to be poor quality.
+1

Fun fact: American made vehicles are produced EXACTLY to the standards prescribed to the workers by management. If the cars are not built to your standards, it is because they are poorly designed and engineered. Vehicles are poorly designed and engineered because management accepts poor quaility in order boost profits.

The easiest way to explain this is also the most depressing. German car manufacturers are run by career men who worked their way up the engineering dep't ladder. American car manufacturers are run by career men who worked their way up the finance/sales ladder.  Two different approaches, two different results.