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Old 05-30-2008, 07:02 PM   #61
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The likelihood that my grandkids will be working in any kind of manufacturing effort is approximately nil. Nor are they terribly likely to be flipping burgers or stocking shelves. Like most Merkins of their day, they will very likely have advanced degrees and specialized skills that will be used to participate in whatever passes for the service economy at that date.

Here's what I don't get about the "Buy Merkin - its your patriotic duty" adttitude: do these people not understand that most manufacturing jobs are relatively low value-added and relatively open to competition around the globe? We shouldn't want to protect inefficient industries or encourage our labor force to cling to low value-added jobs. We should be encouraging growth of our most productive, most competitive industries and helping our labor force constantly upgrade its skills to stay at the peak of the competition in high value added industries.

If you slip into the protectionist cesspool, the protected companies do the same thing they always do: change little if at all, pump up executive compensation, and focus on milking the protection for excess profits and lobbying against efforts to take the protection away. Instead, the best thing to do is open these industries to competition, since it forces the domestic firms to become efficient/productive, or they close and the resources thus employed become freed up to for use in more productive sectors of the economy.

Merkin? what a condescending way to refer to the hardworking men and women of this country- many of whom are out of work because " I don't worry about where the things I buy come from"

I am glad you can postulate around the concept that all your grandkids will have advanced degrees- the fact is most of the people in this country will not, and will need to be able to provide for their families, too.

What a load of elitist rubbish. Our country now has more people employd in the public sector than in manufacturing- and look where that has gotten us.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:23 PM   #62
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Merkin? what a condescending way to refer to the hardworking men and women of this country- many of whom are out of work because " I don't worry about where the things I buy come from"

I am glad you can postulate around the concept that all your grandkids will have advanced degrees- the fact is most of the people in this country will not, and will need to be able to provide for their families, too.

What a load of elitist rubbish. Our country now has more people employd in the public sector than in manufacturing- and look where that has gotten us.
Yup, Merkin. That's about what most of us are, like it or not.

You seem not to have paid a lot of attention to history. A couple generations ago, most people wouldn't have even thought about going to college for an associate's or bachelor's degree. It was generaly not necessary to make a decent living (in manufacturing) and it was frankly out of reach for the bulk of the population. Now look around: a large proportion of the workforce has some sort of post secondary degree, and a significant fraction have an advanced degree of some sort. There are lots of reasons why this happened (GI Bill, etc.), but the net result is that more Merkins are doing more high value-added work that generally is not manufacturing something. There is more competition in low value added manufacturing from countries all over the globe, so the US economy has migrated up the value chain, which requires a more educated labor force. I see little chance of this trend not continuing, unless the US economy sinks into the muck completely (which is not the case thus far).

We have more people employed in the public sector than manufacturing because a lot of those crappy factory jobs went offshore and were replaced by better jobs - less dangerous, higher wage, higher value added. Naturally transitions like this created winners (the more educated) and losers (the less educated). What does this tell you? The lumpenproletariat needs to go back to school. And lots of people, including many displaced workers, have done exactly that.

None of these trends will be changed by short-sighted appeals to a strange flavor of patriotism. The invisible hand is alive and well and it is very effective at prodding economies and societies along. And we should (in aggregate) be happy about that because it furnishes us with an ever-icreasing standard of living (in aggregate).

I understand you are upset about the losers in the game. I lived in the industrial Midwest and have quite a few relatives there. But economics is about as warm and cuddly as a statue of Margaret Thatcher carved out of ice, so there is not a lot of point in crying over spilt milk. Better to get on with life as best we can and extend a helping hand (via retraining, etc.) to those who were left without a seat when the music stopped.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:28 PM   #63
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I'd be happy to buy a car built by Americans working for an American-owned company. But the Japanese companies have demonstrated for over thirty years that they care about quality--that their cars are designed well, that the subcomponents are high quality, and that the machines are well put together. Detroit spent the last thirty years showing us all something very different.
So, I'll buy an "American car" (whatever that means) when they have a track record of proven quality. I won't buy it based on what Road and Track says. It won't be the folks in GM marketing who bring me to their showroom. It will be the engineers, the component suppliers, and the folks putting the cars together. And it won't be the folks building today's cars--it will be the ones who built them at least 5 years ago--I want to see a record. I've seen too many bits of plastic gingerbread falling off 5 year old Pontiacs, too many faded paint jobs on 5 year old Chevy's and I've rented too many POS Dodges to count.

Patriotism? Get off your high horse. One of the groups that helped ruin our auto industry were the consumers who kept buying the terrible American cars despite their poor quality. Rewarding sloth and mediocrity can be expected to breed more of the same. The lesson Detroit is learning now (or maybe not) could have been learned in the days of the Pinto, the Vega, and the Dart if people had voted with their wallets. Instead, Toyota is now the number one auto maker. Guess why.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:32 PM   #64
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I'd be happy to buy a car built by Americans working for an American-owned company. But the Japanese companies have demonstrated for over thirty years that they care about quality--that their cars are designed well, that the subcomponents are high quality, and that the machines are well put together. Detroit spent the last thirty years showing us all something very different.
Your comment about subcomponents is telling. Having a stake in some auto suppliers personally and via my employer has made it very clear what the OEMs care most about when it comes to their suppliers. It isn't quality.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:39 PM   #65
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Global supply and demand has spoken.........folks are NOT willing to pay 30-40% more for a US product........
As energy costs rise, and with the dollar "weak", it could be that this differential will correct. Or not...
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:55 PM   #66
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I'm surprised that so many cars need new brake pads, new transmission filter, etc. before 100k miles. I read my car's owner's manual, and the only that's recommended at 75k are new spark plugs.
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:03 PM   #67
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I'm surprised that so many cars need new brake pads, new transmission filter, etc. before 100k miles. I read my car's owner's manual, and the only that's recommended at 75k are new spark plugs.
Brakes depend a lot on how the car is driven. Stop and go traffic wears em out much faster than highway cruising.

As for the other stuff, OEMs write service recommendations to make cars easy to sell, dealers suggest maintenance schedules to rack up the service charges. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:40 PM   #68
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....The lesson Detroit is learning now (or maybe not) could have been learned in the days of the Pinto, the Vega, and the Dart if people had voted with their wallets. Instead, Toyota is now the number one auto maker. Guess why.
My first and last big-3 made car was the GM Vega. It actually got a very good review in Consumer Reports the year I bought it. But at around 40k miles the cars starting showing the problems due to the aluminum engine block. I got some good use out of it nonetheless and GM paid for a free engine replacement after a coolant leak led to scored cylinders. Eventually gave it to Salvation Army -- another contribution to the US economy.

My next car was a Toyota Celica and since have stuck with Toyota's.

How is this different from buying both US and foreign stocks? I still buy plenty of US made goods and services. My guess is that I have a much larger spending allocation to US good/services then foreign.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:02 PM   #69
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bigwonderfulwyoming, do you sew your own clothes? I assume so since one can't really find any clothes from here any more. Do you ensure that the loomers for the cloth are based in the US? How about the cotton that the loomers use? And the chemicals that the cotton plantations use on the crops? And the laborers that pick the cotton.

I'd think food is just as tough. Some rice is easy to make sure comes from here, but some not so much. My grocery store offers 15 different olive oils... between figuring out if I feel like extra virgin or virgin, and organic or not (not to mention making sure it's expeller-pressed), it's tough enough without muddling through to see if it was bottled here or not with olives from here or not. Don't even get me started on packaged foods!

Seems like it'd be tiring being so patriotic... mostly because I assume you're walking everywhere since you can't buy gas (that could come from places that like to kill us and I can't imagine you can verify country of origin at the pump).

I bought an Olds Intrigue. It had all of the problems that consumer reports said it would. I now have an Accord. It's had no problems. My next car will be a pluggable hybrid. Whoever gets there first with the best product wins (one would think Toyota has the lead, but if GM can get around to that Volt then we'll see!).

Of course, the country losing the most manufacturing jobs these days is China...
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:18 PM   #70
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I have been gritting my teeth reading thru the responses to this post. Never have I seen such a Nippon love-fest. We do still have a domestic auto industry folks, and they are turning out a decent product. Donít just take my word for it- go look !
The location of a corporate headquarters office rarely indicates where the manufacturing jobs are.

Ford to Build Fiesta in Mexico
Ford to Build Fiesta in Mexico

GM - Global Operations - Mexico

1 Millionth Chrysler PT Cruiser Built at Toluca Plant

daimlerchrysler canada corporate - about us - manufacturing - brampton
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:26 PM   #71
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I haven't had any mysterious repairs on the domestic cars I have owned, either. Just routine maintenance. And there is no doubt the Americans are producing better quality cars than they were a few years ago.


Better ISN'T AS GOOD..............still a gap, although not as wide as before. And I will WAIT to see the FIVE-YEAR reliability studies on the Fusion and Malibu before I can consider domestic cars again.........

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Interesting opinion, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think that most American companies perceive their customers as stupid people. I don't know what the anticipated replacement lifecycle is in the auto industry , but I bet it is a lot longer than 3 years.


I guess my uncle who worked at GM in management for 25 years was lying to me, then. He told me GM made projections based on Americans buying new cars every 3 years.........

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I am in a "high tolerance, highly complicated" specialty machinery manufacturing business- and we are starting to see imports from Asia coming into this country- with absolutely no respect for intellectual property, finished part quality, or service- just knockoffs at lower prices. In some case they are offering completed products for less money than I can purchase the raw materials. Sure looks like the proverbial turtle on a fencepost to me
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.


I am sure you have heard of Joy Global, the mining equipment company? They have seen record sales from CHINA and RUSSIA for their mining equipment, WHY? Because the cheap "knock-off" crap they bought broke at the mines the FIRST day they were used. How do I know? One of my clients is retired from being a CFO there...........

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I would respectfully ask those retired UAW workers on this board to answer that question. Also, anyone on this board have any idea what kind of lucrative retirement programs the foreign manufacturers who are building cars here in the US are offering American workers? Surely they are exactly the same as the Big Three, or the UAW and American public would be outraged
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...


Honda, Toyota, and Nissan DON'T offer such lucrative programs to their workers..........


I don't know how many folks on here are retired UAW workers, but it is an unbelievable benefit plan that is unsustainable. With benefits, the average UAW worker makes $43 a hour. Nice work if you can get it, as long as they keep selling cars and their margins aren't eroded by stupid managerial decisions....oops.....too late for that..........

Keep in mind that UAW workers work at those "Nippon" plants........I venture to guess that most of them drive those very "Nippon" cars you hate, so what's your take on them
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:57 PM   #72
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I agree with the consensus on a new tranny for the OP's bomb: Basically, don't waste any money on the old heap, drive it until it croaks. I've been on both sides of the equation, and it's a toss-up at best putting big repairs into an old bomb. While fuel economy is nice, was it a criterion for the OP? I drove a gas-sucking V8 ('73 Plymouth Fury) 20+ years ago, when gas was relatively cheap. Even at $4/gal or more, if you're only driving a few thousand miles a year (not unusual for an old fart -- I had a great uncle who did about 2000 miles/year in his dotage), even a 10 MPG behemoth is fuel economical.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:46 PM   #73
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bigwonderfulwyoming, do you sew your own clothes? I assume so since one can't really find any clothes from here any more. Do you ensure that the loomers for the cloth are based in the US? How about the cotton that the loomers use? And the chemicals that the cotton plantations use on the crops? And the laborers that pick the cotton.



I'd think food is just as tough. Some rice is easy to make sure comes from here, but some not so much. My grocery store offers 15 different olive oils... between figuring out if I feel like extra virgin or virgin, and organic or not (not to mention making sure it's expeller-pressed), it's tough enough without muddling through to see if it was bottled here or not with olives from here or not. Don't even get me started on packaged foods!

Seems like it'd be tiring being so patriotic... mostly because I assume you're walking everywhere since you can't buy gas (that could come from places that like to kill us and I can't imagine you can verify country of origin at the pump).

I bought an Olds Intrigue. It had all of the problems that consumer reports said it would. I now have an Accord. It's had no problems. My next car will be a pluggable hybrid. Whoever gets there first with the best product wins (one would think Toyota has the lead, but if GM can get around to that Volt then we'll see!).

Of course, the country losing the most manufacturing jobs these days is China...
Don't be ridiculous- My point was that, given a choice I would prefer to buy products and services that are US-branded. I realize that this is not possible 100% of the time. So, I do what I can, knowing it is a drop in the ocean. I don't patronize Citgo, rent Asian cars or buy French wines, for example. I'll pay a few $ more for US- branded products. I'll give US manufacturers an edge in my purchasing decisions. Sorry if my interpretation of patriotism has gone out of style- but rest assured, I am not tired of it.

From the responses to this post, I would venture to say that many of you have never worked in a competitive business environment and experienced market erosion due to customers "not worrying about where the products they buy come from" You probably never tried to sell your products into markets with 100% import duties, and then see products from those countries being dumped here in the US below your manufacturing cost. Maybe some of you more intellectually enlightened freelance economists out there can explain how ignoring our GDP and trade imbalances HELPS the bulk of the working class ( I belive they have now been classed as "lumpenproletariat" by the hyper-educated) here in the USA. Explain to me how outsourcing our skilled customer service jobs to India, high-tech aerospace production to China, and automotive manufacturing to Mexico helps the US workforce. I'm not buying it. We are facing an unprecedented affordability gap in housing (ie mortgage meltdown) and standards of living, in my mind due to a lot of former middle-income manufacturing jobs moving offshore or south of the border. What concerns me the most is that many members of the FIREd commmunity are probably retired on $ earned working for US companies who relied on US consumers for their livelihoods, and to fund the retirement programs that make it possible to spend all day posting on this board. But, hey I got mine, right?

I understand the need for education and better-trained workers, and support that notion whole-heartedly. But better-trained and fully employed go hand-in hand. USA Today had an interesting article today on real unemployment numbers, but no one bothered to quote that article; probably too busy gloating about the article two columns away on Ford making the Festiva in Mexico... wonder how many US workers were displaced by that decision? PS- stilll waiting to hear from the UAW contingent on that pesky legacy pension cost question....

As for China losing the most manufacturing jobs, they are probably as concerned about that as we should be.
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:39 PM   #74
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Have not been in this thread for awhile.... but I will throw in a few thoughts...

This past weekend I went test driving some cars... I was very impressed with the Hyundai.... these were crap cars a few years ago... but they saw the benefit of making a quality product like Japan.... so they changed and now are close to the top of best cars...

I have NOT seen much movement from the Fords or GMs and especially Chrysler to improve their cars any more than needed to get them out the door... yes, todays domestic is much better than the POS Cougar I bought in 85.... but are not close enough yet to the top cars... and I did look at my friends consumer report and they had a graph on how they 'age'.... so the domestics age a lot worse than the Japan and Korea cars... and what is even worse is the European cars....

To me, Ford is not for me (but I do have to admit that I bought my BILs after he died from my sister... but will not keep it for long... more of a family thing).... I might buy GM if they do improve... my 95 Monte Carlo has not been to bad over the 13 years I have had it... but it has not been as good as I would have liked....
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:41 AM   #75
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Don't be ridiculous- My point was that, given a choice I would prefer to buy products and services that are US-branded. I realize that this is not possible 100% of the time. So, I do what I can, knowing it is a drop in the ocean. I don't patronize Citgo, rent Asian cars or buy French wines, for example. I'll pay a few $ more for US- branded products. I'll give US manufacturers an edge in my purchasing decisions. Sorry if my interpretation of patriotism has gone out of style- but rest assured, I am not tired of it.
I'm still confused. My uncle drives a Toyota truck that was built here. My neighbor drives a domestic that wasn't. Lord knows if either of us know where the subcomponents came from. Who's more patriotic? The Toyota buyer kept more jobs in the US by buying a foreign brand but the Ford buyer kept the net profits in the US.

We bought $200 worth of fabric today. We bought from a small business here in the US. The business bought the bolts from a designer in the US. The designer uses a manufacturer headquartered in Europe but the manufacturer's looms are in China. Since everyone in the chain can do business globally, am I doing good by keeping the high-value jobs in the US or am I doing bad by giving business to a European company with operations in China?

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From the responses to this post, I would venture to say that many of you have never worked in a competitive business environment
I'm currently training Mital to do my job. Guess what, she's not American and the work won't be done in America. Nor, frankly, do I care.

Anyway, enough with sending this thread off-topic. I'll buy GM when I need a car again if they finally have something that doesn't suck by then (ie, keep on their current path instead of shooting themselves in the foot).
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:35 AM   #76
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I'm still confused. My uncle drives a Toyota truck that was built here. My neighbor drives a domestic that wasn't. Lord knows if either of us know where the subcomponents came from. Who's more patriotic? The Toyota buyer kept more jobs in the US by buying a foreign brand but the Ford buyer kept the net profits in the US.

We bought $200 worth of fabric today. We bought from a small business here in the US. The business bought the bolts from a designer in the US. The designer uses a manufacturer headquartered in Europe but the manufacturer's looms are in China. Since everyone in the chain can do business globally, am I doing good by keeping the high-value jobs in the US or am I doing bad by giving business to a European company with operations in China?
Depends: how many of these people had "Freedom Fries" with lunch?
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:06 AM   #77
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From the responses to this post, I would venture to say that many of you have never worked in a competitive business environment and experienced market erosion due to customers "not worrying about where the products they buy come from" You probably never tried to sell your products into markets with 100% import duties, and then see products from those countries being dumped here in the US below your manufacturing cost. Maybe some of you more intellectually enlightened freelance economists out there can explain how ignoring our GDP and trade imbalances HELPS the bulk of the working class ( I belive they have now been classed as "lumpenproletariat" by the hyper-educated) here in the USA. Explain to me how outsourcing our skilled customer service jobs to India, high-tech aerospace production to China, and automotive manufacturing to Mexico helps the US workforce. I'm not buying it. We are facing an unprecedented affordability gap in housing (ie mortgage meltdown) and standards of living, in my mind due to a lot of former middle-income manufacturing jobs moving offshore or south of the border. What concerns me the most is that many members of the FIREd commmunity are probably retired on $ earned working for US companies who relied on US consumers for their livelihoods, and to fund the retirement programs that make it possible to spend all day posting on this board. But, hey I got mine, right?

I understand the need for education and better-trained workers, and support that notion whole-heartedly. But better-trained and fully employed go hand-in hand. USA Today had an interesting article today on real unemployment numbers, but no one bothered to quote that article; probably too busy gloating about the article two columns away on Ford making the Festiva in Mexico... wonder how many US workers were displaced by that decision? PS- stilll waiting to hear from the UAW contingent on that pesky legacy pension cost question....
Wow, I think you need a visit from the big, burly guy who wields the clue bat. A few whacks and things might finally start getting through to you.

Personally, I am tired of trying to teach a pig to sing, so I will leave you to await the arrival of the big guy.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:30 AM   #78
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From the responses to this post, I would venture to say that many of you have never worked in a competitive business environment and experienced market erosion due to customers "not worrying about where the products they buy come from"
Actually, I would venture to say that most people on this board "worked in a competitive business environment," and most didnt need to rely on consumers who were willing to overpay (ie. pay extra) based on the country the product was produced.
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You probably never tried to sell your products into markets with 100% import duties, and then see products from those countries being dumped here in the US below your manufacturing cost.
I agree, that would certainly suck. I havent followed much of the latest trade developments and agreements, but there are antidumping laws where it is illegal to dump goods at below cost. When this happens, and you get a favorable judgment, years have usually passed. Enforcement is slow. However, there would be no need for antidumping laws if there was free trade. Companies would not see price differentials (beyond shipping costs) between foreign and domestic markets without distortionary tariffs, and thus "dumping" wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that industries protected by high tariffs would come under pressure from foreign producers.
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Maybe some of you more intellectually enlightened freelance economists out there can explain how ignoring our GDP and trade imbalances HELPS the bulk of the working class ( I belive they have now been classed as "lumpenproletariat" by the hyper-educated) here in the USA. Explain to me how outsourcing our skilled customer service jobs to India, high-tech aerospace production to China, and automotive manufacturing to Mexico helps the US workforce. I'm not buying it. We are facing an unprecedented affordability gap in housing (ie mortgage meltdown) and standards of living, in my mind due to a lot of former middle-income manufacturing jobs moving offshore or south of the border. What concerns me the most is that many members of the FIREd commmunity are probably retired on $ earned working for US companies who relied on US consumers for their livelihoods, and to fund the retirement programs that make it possible to spend all day posting on this board. But, hey I got mine, right?
The middle class (and all classes for that matter) can buy cheaper goods. You can choose to pay extra for domestic brands in non-competitive american industries, but most people don't make that decision. I'm sure you also don't shop at Walmart for their aggressive pricing and negotiation with suppliers, but it's a similar issue. Most consumers pay for quality and price, and don't look at labels. Are you trying to tell people just getting by that they shouldn't compare prices?

Outsourcing doesn't help "the US workforce." It helps the US consumer market, which coincidently, is made of the same people. Of course, it's bad for you if your job (and its salary) is no longer competitive as markets are becoming increasingly global. But what's the solution? Emotional appeals to buy American? Forcibly prevent companies from expanding abroad? You think this will save jobs and improve the workforce? No, these are not "solutions" to an evolving reality. All you are doing is listing the ways in which the US economy is changing, but you fail to provide an alternative that does not make us worse off. People like buying cheap tshirts and affordable cars. People like not having to pay a large customer service fee when they need help with my computer crashing.

Why does it "concern you" that US companies may have (over)paid for the retirements of some people of this board? Good for them! On the one hand, these people probably do continue to support their old businesses out of loyalty. But I do not derive benefits from their decisions (I dont even know anyone on this board in real life). On the other hand, if even ex-GM workers dont buy GM vehicles, what does that say about the quality of the cars?
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:14 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by bobbee25 View Post
You should let Honda know, they appear to be past the development stage and have started limited production. I guess their engineers aren't too sharp.
Don't blame the engineers. I'm certain that they are fully capable of calculating the losses in the energy chain of source to wheel with a fuel cell the car, and that they have done the math. And I'm certain those numbers show it to be a losing situation.

Just like ethanol. The technical people were aware that it took a lot of energy to produce it. Many estimates said it was more energy in than out, the most generous I've seen indicate 15% more out than in. IOW, if we could flip a magic switch, and every vehicle ran on 100% ethanol tomorrow, and every station had only 100% ethanol at the pumps.... we would STILL be using at least 85% of the petroleum that we used (for transportation) yesterday. But of course, we can't swtich to 100% ethaonal for many reasons (one being that we'd need to cut down an awful lot of rainforest to grow that much feedstock).

But, ethanol got 'sold' despite that. Politicians saw votes, lobbyists saw opportunities for their industries, farmers liked it, an unaware public liked the sound of 'energy independence', and 'grow your fuel'. It is only recently that the real ills of bio-fuels are coming into the public eye, but technical people have known this for many years. Hydrogen fuel cells are in the same boat, only worse.

Don't buy the 'green' line again w/o the facts. Fool me once.....

samclem's link is good, so I'll post it again:

The New Atlantis Ľ The Hydrogen Hoax

-ERD50
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:13 AM   #80
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Wow, I think you need a visit from the big, burly guy who wields the clue bat. A few whacks and things might finally start getting through to you.

Personally, I am tired of trying to teach a pig to sing, so I will leave you to await the arrival of the big guy.

Ah, the ramblings of the hyper-educated... too bad you missed the semester when they taught cause and effect.

Don't need any singing lessons from you my friend. Your version of the National Anthem would be way off-key, anyway.
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