Beat this USA!
The US economy has been in the news plenty lately. We read federal, state, and local budgets are squeezed to the max with spending cuts going on seemingly everywhere... and it isn't only government, many big businesses have pulled back with record profits but little job creation. Revenues are down, expenses are up, and there is no end in sight it seems.
Recent hi-tech news has Cisco Systems, the information routing technology company, set to cut back about 9% of their workforce or somewhere around 6500 jobs... the reason stated is fierce competition.
We in the US of A have been led to believe that you get what you pay for. When I was a kid, a "Made In Japan" sticker meant cheap junk that was destined for the scrap heap in short order. "Made In China" wasn't even on the radar that I recall in the mid 50's beyond fireworks and finger "handcuffs".
We all have a pretty good idea how our economy woes all came about, but today I want to offer an example to bring it more to life.
I was recently in the market for a digital voltmeter. When I started my search for a new meter, I looked into what I already knew something about. When I worked at the phone company, we used Fluke brand test equipment when the item wasn't made by Western Electric itself. Fluke (made in USA) meters were tough and seemed nearly indestructible. I dropped mine more than once from the top of a phone pole and it never missed a beat.
So off to the source of all earthly information, the Internet to start my search for the type meter I need for my amateur radio hobby. First off, I'll admit that the meter I'm looking for is a bit more feature rich than most, so of course the price is gonna be commensurate right? I don't want junk, but value is important.
To make a long search story a whole lot shorter, the meter I needed from Fluke, and I admit they are supposed to have industrial strength and durability, costs well over $400. YIKES I'm thinking... that's a lot of green for a hobby meter that I only use occasionally, and could use on other stuff around the ham radio station I'm assembling. I'm thinking I'll shop around.
That's when it hits you... US companies don't seem to have a clue apparently. A review of Fluke (A USA company) products finds that my previous favorite choice of "Made In USA" meters has many of their products made in China now. As a matter of fact, try and find an affordable US made digital multi-meter and you will quickly find one segment of US jobs moved overseas. Walmart sells one made in China for about $20, and it might be fine for many applications, but not for the use I have... feature rich remember? A similar model to Walmarts offering with the Fluke name on it costs well over $100... made in China as well. Value added by Fluke? I doubt it. As a matter of fact, Fluke branded meters were recalled as you could get killed... http://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarchive/Safety-HTML/HTML/Recall-of-Fluke-Multime...
Anyway, I ended up finding the perfect meter online through an Ebay store. Now get this. It cost me $.99. Yep, I could have got one at the dollar store if they had 'em there. OK, so by the time I got it to my door, it cost $11.98 insured air shipping from China. Took a week to get here, and the dang thing works. It has passed the 6 foot drop test onto concrete so it's pretty tough too.
Hey US companies are you listening... I would have paid 5 times the amount I paid for the delivered Chinese product if you made it in the US of A. If the Chinese can make a meter of this quality and sell it for 12 bucks delivered to my door in Cambridge, I'd think US workers and manufacturers would wake up and smell the Chinese coffee and do something about it.
Just my $.02, which apparently would buy a lot in China. I hate it when I try to buy "Made In USA", and discover that buying "Made in USA" doesn't make sense for common consumer products... we're screwed.
Value added? You decide.