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Friday, January 8, 2016


DEFINITELY MADE IN AMERICA(1940's Whirlpool "Hired Girl" model)

...MADE IN AMERICA (at least mostly)


Friday, 9:00 AM.  32 degrees F at the ferry dock, 30 degrees on the back porch.  Wind calm and variable. The sky is overcast and it is snowing, which we got another 3 or 4 inches of last night.  The humidity is 98% and the barometer is still dropping, now at 29.85".  We are headed into the freezer for the next week or more.
   Our electric range refused to work the other day, all the while displaying a perplexing bunch of numbers and letters. A service call determined it was a defective electronic control unit, very expensive and in any case unavailable.  So we checked out the stoves on sale in Ashland, and settled on an Amana, with an "America" sticker on it, advertising that it was made in the USA.  
   Always the skeptic, I questioned the fact on line, and it turns out it evidently was, probably in either Iowa, Indiana or Kentucky.  Probably,  because these claims are very lawyerly, with different qualifications, such as "with some imported parts, " or likely statement.  In any case, I was happy to see the tag, as I am sick and tired of Chinese and other stuff that is shipped halfway around the world, drop-kicked a number of times,  and still expected to work when it is plugged in.  So I will consider it "Made in America," and hope for the best.
   There was a time, within my own memory, when the term meant it was indeed the best.  Tractors made in my hometown of West Allis, Wisconsin could easily outlive a couple of owners.  US made autos were the best for the price until they were made automatically obsolescent back in the 1960's or so.  Striking unions didn't help tractors or autos, either.
   While at the appliance store I spotted a 1940's era wringer washer, a museum piece, exactly like that which my mother used for forty years; a Whirlpool "Hired Girl."  She would spend Mondays washing and Tuesdays hanging things out to dry in the sunshine.  In the winter the drying clothes took up the entire basement, which was strung with clothes line for the duration. When I was a little tike my tricycle came in the basement in the winter, and I would pedal furiously through the hanging sheets and long underwear.
    Joan's mother had the same machine and the same procedure, but with ten in the family it took her twice as long, even with Joan's help.  You can forget about hiring a "girl" nowadays, so the name of the washing machine model no longer means anything to anybody.  The  real "girls" are all at Harvard on scholarship studying to be rocket scientists and brain surgeons.  I hope they all find jobs after graduation.
   Fracking for natural gas is bringing a lot of manufacturing back to the US.  So are quality issues.  So should our economic policies, which have encouraged the use of cheap foreign labor, and companies keeping capital and profits offshore.  Let's hope we all get smart enough to insist we keep more of our money, ingenuity and industry Stateside.
   Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for what he says and how he says it, and most of the criticism is  probably justified.  But what he says about corporations moving jobs out of the US resonates with me: "Sure, they can move manufacturing out of the country.  But when they try to bring things back to sell them, it'll cost them 30% in import duties."  
   Sounds good to me.

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