JLF Western N.C. Blog

Subsidize Mediocrity

I’ve never been a fan of “shop local” programs. I grew up in Detroit, where there was a big push to buy American cars, and I did not put much thought into what I wanted for my first vehicle. It was a Japanese product that was bottom-of-the-line in price, low-maintenance, and capable of 60 mpg.

One of my mechanical engineering instructors encouraged us to read Rivethead, a book on how American auto workers would either lay out or show up for work stoned, making those who were fit for work have to pull too much weight. In the same course, we learned about which vehicles (Honda and Toyota) had the least manufacaturer defects and the longest lives. Young and naive, I couldn’t understsand how using my purchasing power to encourage the production of overpriced junk was good for the economy.

Years later, Ross Perot was faulted for contracting with a Canadian firm after complaining about the “giant sucking sound.” Would he have been nobler to contract with an American company and proverbially pass the higher cost for shoddy workmanship on to his customers? I also recall hearing propaganda about how backward China became behind its Great Wall. But then, as always, what do I know?

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