reply to post by ProfEmeritus
Ask yourself- What happens when your color TV breaks?
If you are like most people, if it isn't under warranty, you probably toss it away(legally, of course) and go to Walmart and buy another Korean or
Ah, but this attitude goes back beyond even NAFTA, Prof. I used to fix my own appliances whenever possible (and for a very short time fixed
electronics for others). The newer appliances are nothing like the older ones. At some point in time, the concept of repairable products was thrown
out of the window in favor of a bottom line.
In my old Realistic 200W receiver, repair was easy. Boards could be removed and contained test points. The layout was of such high quality that one
had access to practically every component for removal and/or replacement. Now, if I take my children's stereos apart, I would bet good money that not
only are the circuit boards melted into the case with plastic pins, making their removal almost impossible, but the boards themselves are so cluttered
and poorly laid out that testing them would be a major undertaking. The difference in cost to manufacture the two different 'styles' is minimal. The
real difference lies in the forethought that goes in before the manufacturing process. At one time, an engineer took pride in his work, and was
willing to hold it up to public scrutiny. Today, far too many engineers take the easy way out and throw something together in cookbook fashion, with
no forethought as to what happens if there is a problem.
And I really can't place all the blame on them. Their employers aren't concerned with quality either. The idea of spending 1/2 cent on a larger
wattage resistor because it could overheat with regular usage is considered blasphemy. In the first place, they can pocket that 1/2 cent (times many
thousands or millions of units produced), and in the second place they can sell more units if the old one does break. It's a win-win solution for the
companies that produce the products, and a lose-lose situation for the workers who designed it and the people who buy it.
We have all fell into this trap of judging things on the basis of profit. And we have all fell into the further trap of judging life itself based on
profit. I shake my head every time I hear of someone sued for wrongful death. They get a judgment for... money! Now I don't know how well those
dollars fill the void in their lives, but green paper could never replace a loved one of mine. Ummm, yeah, I'm getting off topic here, sorry.
Cars as well have become basically throw-away. I can easily remember a time when all one needed was a good toolbox and some basic knowledge to do
routine maintenance or even minor repairs. Today, we have cars so sophisticated that it is nigh-impossible to change a spark plug without either
buying a special tool from the factory or literally lifting the engine out of the car. This is terrible news for those who buy the cars, but it
profits the companies who make them, because the customers have to pay extra for service.
Now we are at the point where auto manufacturers have slit their own throats. Foreign countries have taken more pride in their education and expertise
of their professionals than we have, and their products are now superior. Perhaps that is changing, but decades of poor quality products have left a
bad taste in the mouths of consumers, who are now looking toward foreign companies for their cars. It will take yeas, perhaps decades, for the concept
of 'made in America' to mean something again.
NAFTA was simply the icing on the cake. It exposed our own weaknesses by allowing superior products made with superior pride to enter the market with
no discrimination. And it ignored the regulations we place on our manufacturers, regulations which foreign countries do not recognize. There is no
minimum wage law in China. No one is concerned about the safety of their workers as OSHA is over here. Taxes are reversed; while we take and take from
our infrastructure, they give and give to theirs. Now we have inferior products made with inferior pride being imported as well, actually, in
preference to those which are well-made. And so we have become this throw-away society, always looking for the bauble and the bling from the latest
gadget. What will we do when there is no more money to buy things with?
In the end, at the risk of sounding 'un-American', we have done this to ourselves. We have coasted, living off the legacy that was left us by our
forefathers, and squandered that inheritance on selfish, lazy pursuits. Now, to quote the Rev. Wright out of context, "the chickens are coming home
I still love my country, don't misunderstand me on that. America is my home, and my pride. I simply wish we had more to be proud of, as we did in
days gone by.