American Industry & Global Economy

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by arnoldschnitzer, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Here are some of the reasons almost no one is building quality affordable instruments in the U.S.:

    1) Our litigeous society requires you insure against every possible risk, otherwise lawyers will soon own you. Insurance is an expensive waste of money.

    2) Cost of payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, etc. In the Northeast, this can run 25% or so over salary paid out.

    3) Lack of a skilled workforce of craftspeople. To most young people in the U.S., "work" means sitting behind a computer screen pushing e-mails for $75,000 starting salary.

    4) Cost of buying or leasing space in this Real Estate bubble.

    5) Cost of adhering to OSHA regulations.

    6) General lack of work ethic in the U.S. There are certainly exceptions here...

    7) Trying to compete with foreign countries who dump product in the U.S. for about the wholesale cost of materials alone.

    8) Dealing with a public infected with "WalMart" mentality: "Why pay for home-spun quality and keep my American brethren working when I can buy it cheaper?"

    9) Cost of Health insurance. Employees rightfully want coverage, meanwhile employers' premiums go up 12-20% a year. In this area it costs between $1000 and $1500 a month to insure a family!

    10) The "buy American" mentality is out the window. Even the old war vets are driving around in Camrys nowadays. Of course, if the U.S. car companies invested as much in Quality control as they do in marketing...

    Sorry for the rant. Did I miss anything?...
  2. Peter Dalla

    Peter Dalla

    Feb 2, 2004
    Which is the "American" car, the Dodge made in Mexico City or the Toyota made in Louisville KY?

    Play many, many basses. Buy the one that sounds like the one you want to hear every time you pick it up.
  3. Yeah:

    11) Overzealous environmentalists.

    12) Big labour unions and the mentality they often breed.

    Pretty much any manufacturing operation of any size in the US or Canada has to deal with all or most of these things on a daily basis. That's why so much manufacturing has gone to the Pacific rim. And so much of the stuff they produce over there is such crap...
  4. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    ...which is why I also disagree with Paul.

    Much of what reaches our shores from Chinese factories IS crap, at least in the double bass realm. There are obvious exceptions, Christophers, Shens, Eastmans, etc.

    Engelhardt clearly does NOT produce instruments to be placed in the category occupied by CCBs, BSOs, or whatever other clever acronym is in style at the moment for referring to crappy basses.

    Engelhardt does, however, produce affordable instruments. We're talkin' $900 for an M-1. Granted, it *will* take another 2-300 bones to get it in top form, that's still an affordable sum for a decent instrument in most players' eyes.

    Are Engelhardts the best basses out there? Certainly, no. Should they be subject to a qualified generalization referring to them as pieces of s**t?? Absolutely not. Like Chasarms, I'd be interested in hearing of other $1000 basses that deliver what Engels do.
  5. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Sorry for hijacking this thread but, buying USA when I can IS important - to me. I just can't buy one of the NAStandards - as bad as I want one. I paid $992 for an EM1 delivered to my door. I put on $125 Thomastic Spirocores (are they American?), sawed off the rattling end of the end pin, tuned it up and played a $100 gig with it. I don't play chamber music. I could have bought a $10,000 bass by now with what I've put into different instruments but, I have 4 years worth of effort to show that I wouldn't have if I'd saved. I wouldn't take a $10,000 instrument into the environments that I play in. Plus I've made a few thousand in those four years with englehardts. I'd recommend one to anyone who wanted to start playing upright. Might not recommend buying one off the 'net but, I'm a gambler. We're all different (wouldn't it be boring if we were all like me :smug: ).
  6. Well said, bottom line: Cheaper. Then we wonder why there are no jobs in this country.
  7. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    More simply, it's because the high productivity of US industry has pushed up pay scales everywhere. Today's autoworker can build cars ten times as fast as his predecessors and is paid a premium over what they were paid. Today's auto mechanic isn't much more productive than the 1920s mechanic, but gets a premium becasue of the demand.

    Obviously there's no way for a single lutheir to feed him or herself in this country making $1,000 basses. And that's okay, since there are people in other countries who can supply those instruments. We send them things we make (relatively) more efficently, and they send us cheap basses.

    It is possible to make mass produced plywood instruments here and sell them at a profit, even with all the constraints Arnold mentions.
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Correct. That's what Engelhardt does. However, please tell me, in light of the $40 billion/month trade deficit, what we are exporting to China, other than raw materials and jobs...
  9. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Technology and capital- for a fee.

    Interestingly, manufacturing jobs are down *worldwide*- even China is losing manufacturing jobs- due to increased productivity. Yet worldwide wealth continues to grow. What we gain in exporting unskilled jobs is freeing US citizens to work in more productive areas. US employment is still much, much higher than in protectionist Western countries like France and Germany.

    This isn't a static world. As the Chinese get wealthier, they will demand more consumer good from the West and export their manufacturing to less developed areas, as Europe, Japan and Korea have done in succession. Remember when only junk came from Japan? Now the Japanese outsource to Taiwan, the Tawanese outsource to China and so forth.

    Protectionism is becoming fashionable again, despite the historical lessons that have shown us trade is *always* benificial for both parties. Look at 18th century Holland, or 21st century Baharain, two nations that exist(ed) almost entirely on trade, prioviding markets for other countries.

    Thus endeth the lesson ;-)
  10. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    The lesson endeth not without a brief reminder that all of us have an human obligation to work for the improvement of the human lot. "Free trade" does not automatically mean "sweatshop shifting." It's up to each of us to do what we can to support workers everywhere in their quests for working conditions that are safe and wages that are fair.

    Or you could just buy that $5.95 shirt at WalMart and not think about it.
  11. I might be painting a great big bullseye on my forehead by posting this, but here goes:

    On the subject of "fair wages"- Unfair doesn't only mean underpaid. I don't know first hand about the US, but certainly in Canada there is a huge disparity between similar unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in union and non-union shops. Not only are union wages far higher than non, but the benefit packages afforded union members are unbelievable in some cases. Equally unbelievable is the abuse that goes on sometimes, and the idea that "the company owes me a good living". I work in manufacturing myself in a design capacity, and I hear first hand stories from people I know who work for the local hydro or the auto manufacturers. I believe some union members are paid and benefitted out of all proportion to the job they do. The cost of these wages, benefits and various payroll taxes and deductions must be born by the employer and passed on to the consumer of the manufactured product. That's part of the reason a bare bones, basic transportation- type car now costs $15 G's or more.
  12. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I'm not a union man but, in my opinion, it takes at least the threat of unionization to keep companies paying fair wages. Just think how much less non-union wages would be if there were no unions.

    Companies don't move off shore to pay fair wages.
  13. The reason you(the us) and us(europe(netherlands)) have had an economic growth since the 1930's is because of the unions. They ensured that laborers could actually pay for what they made, if the laborers couldn't pay for it almost no-one could. Nowadays however China doesn't need their own laborers to buy their products' because they can easily ship them elsewhere, which we couldn't a century ago because there was no richer country.

    and it costs 10 times more to live in the us than to live in China, plus in a better way(more luxuries). What 10k means to us is the same as what 1k means in China.nThe reason 'homemade' products are expensive is because our living standards are so much better. and that's not a really bad thing I think.

    By the way, we are incredibly spoiled with the amount of products we can buy and use, and the quality of those products that you really shouldn't be complaining
  14. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    No one with any knowledge of economics whatsoever would make such a claim. Unions DO NOT create economic growth, they stifle it. The union members who benefit from the pay and benefits their organization coerced from their employer often become unemployed when the company moves or folds. The market for the products they make goes far beyond their own membership.

    You are right about being spoiled with available products; a result of capitalism and competition, not unions. Unions promote a socialistic type of economy that's been proven to be disasterous again and again.

    I agree with Tsolo, unions and the threat of unionization help keep companies honest. The have their place, but to give them credit for over 70 years of economic growth is a line only a union hack could love.
  15. I'm not saying unions will always help an economy, but it may help and has helped. In the current economical situation unians won't help economy wise, to that I agree, and to say that they'v been THE reason of economic growth the last 70 years is indeed false, but they are A reason. If a single company can increase their profits by reducing labour costs they will try to do so. If an economy is largely built on industry and not on service(excuse the poor Dutch to English translation, I hope you understand what I mean) and this industrial sector consists of relatively few companies, and if this economy hasn't got the ability to find another comsuming market, it CAN be fatal for the economy. Because when all companies reduce fees, but keep producing the same massive quantities, laborers won't be able to keep buyingc these products, leaving products unsold, which in turn brings less profit to the companies, with less profit they'll have to cut in costs or raise prices, both decisions will leave the laborer with less money. It is in this situation, that labor unions shall be responsible for economic growth, or more accuratly, decreasing economic stagnancy. For a single company, unions are frightening, for an economy they can be life saving

    as I said, it is in this situation only, this situation is quite a while ago so your or mine opinions about unions nowadays don't come in to the argument

    also these types of socialistic economies and governements work well in europe, if we look at the amount of countries that failed with either system they seem to be on par. Pure capitalism didn't do ANY of Afrika any good

    but that's off-topic, and I certainly don't think socialism is perfect, I just think that the pure free market capitalistic system isn't perfect either, and given the right circumstances both can succeed
  16. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Eric, we've got a world here where CEOs and board members are pulling down tens of millions of dollars a year and you're hanging things on unionized workers?

    If Mr. Capitalist could make the labour portion of his production zero, what exactly do you think he's going to do? He's going to zero, don't kid yourself about anything else.

    If he could not heat the production floor, if he could set the hours of work to 12 hours (two shifts cheaper than 3), if he could ban bathroom trips, if he could do any kind of cheap-ass thing to get his labour component to zero, he's going to do it.

    The only reason you or your family don't have direct experience of these things is because of the efforts of trade unions and labour laws.

    Get your head out of the ideological clouds. We don't need to start dumping on wage-earning people just so others can get their SUVs and Big Macs a little cheaper.

    BTW, I've worked at a large unionized electrical utility for almost 15 years. I work at a fairly high level in human resources. I'm a management guy who belongs to no union. I've worked on lots of co-op things with our bargaining units, and I've seen lots of good-willed, intelligent people representing the interests of their group as well as the company's. That's the norm in my country (CANADA, God Save the Queen.) Where we have problems is where we have cheapskate, ideological ownership that wants to make as much as they can for as little input as they can manage.
  17. Damon, perhaps things are different in our sister nation to the North, but in the US the percentage of workers belonging to labor unions has been dropping year after year for decades. Many people, like myself, belong to labor unions simply because of the political ties labor unions have that got laws passed that in effect made it a choice of belonging to the union or not being able to find work in your chosen field. I will grant you that in the early days of the twentieth century unions served a very usefull purpose, but as we as a group have become better educated that need has diminished.

    In my other life as a computer programmer/analyst I designed and wrote programs for Personnel/Human Resources for one of the largest truck lines in the world. I will never forget the day I was told that a driver gets paid $xxx for going from point A to point B, but that same driver gets $yyy for going from point B to point A. Union rules! Those guys at the top deserve all they can get when they have to battle things like that.
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I hear you, Bob. I can dig up instances of stupidity, greed and malfeasance on either side of the table: labour or management. There's no shortage of those things to go around. That's why I get a bit testy when someone decides that it's one side or t'other that's sending us all to Hell.

    Up here in Canada, we just had it confirmed the other day that our previous group of federal political leaders (Chretien and his cronies) illegally stuffed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of their little advertising agency bum buddies in Quebec. Locally, we've got a scandal involving government bureaucrats and an Indian reservation that similarly ate, drank or otherwise illegally flushed down the toilet millions of taxpayer dollars. And there are some union-driven evils, too. They're not coming to mind quite as quickly, but they are there.

    I say a pox on the houses of all elites who establish themselves in comfy positions and work behind the scenes and against rules and against decency to enrich themselves. You can smell the stench anywhere people aren't accountable to anyone. Left, right, labour, management, up, down, whatever. Power corrupts: watch all of 'em as close as you can because almost all of 'em will go bad on you.

    As for not needing the unions anymore, let's see how things are a few decades from now. I'm sure the guys up at the smelter in Flin Flon (a northern outpost in my province of Manitoba) -- the one that blew up and maimed and killed workers when they performed a shut down according to management's new "stripped down" instructions -- are happy they still have theirs.

    There's plenty of bad to go around without needlessly assigning blame.
  19. Perhaps the voters of Manitoba should be knocking at the doors of their representatives about safety rather than depending on the questionable motives and ethics of organized labor to do it for them.
  20. Shornick

    Shornick Scot Hornick

    Dec 18, 2001
    Who is John Galt?