Buy American! (Or, maybe not)

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I get very weary of constant complaints about the quality of foreign goods versus American goods, even though sometimes I’m the one complaining.

We can whine till the cows come home about crummy Chinese tools and plywood (and I admit to whining about the latter), but goods and services are going to become more foreign-based in the future, not less. Get used to it. All the whining you and I do will not change it. Period.

The fact of the matter is that if you want tools and materials that meet your idea of living up to American standards – whatever that is – you can still get it. But, you must do your homework and seek out tools and materials that meet those standards. You can buy a sheet of crummy Chinese plywood from a Big Box store, but you know what that quality is going to be before you buy it. So if you buy it anyway, you have two choices: a) whine, or b) shut up and work around whatever issues that sheet of plywood has. Those are the only choices you have if you buy it anyway. However, you don’t have to buy it. You can, instead, get better plywood from a better supplier than your local Big Box.

Same thing with tools. You can’t buy a cheap tool made in China, and then complain about that tool’s cheapness and low quality. You especially can’t complain that it doesn’t meet your view of living up to American standards because, well, there’s not much that’s American about it.

A lot of Americans buy things that aren’t American because they’re cheaper and they want to save money. Hey, nothing wrong there. But you can’t complain afterward that no one has American standards anymore. In truth, there are tools and materials made in America, but those cost more. There are also tools made overseas for American-branded companies, but made with very strict American quality control. They cost more, too. So, either save money and buy junk and deal with it, or spend more money and buy quality. The choice is yours.

And it’s not a new choice, either; that’s always been the choice. Go back 60 years, and the choice was exactly the same, no matter where the goods were made – pay more for good stuff, pay less for junk. The only difference is that 60 years ago you could go to whatever supplier you frequented and make both a higher-priced quality purchase and a lower-priced, less-quality purchase at the same place. Today, you have to use more effort for that higher-priced quality purchase.

But it’s still there, if you want it. And it’s not always made in America.

A.J.

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