Thursday, February 9, 2012

The McIntosh Model Industry

In 1968, I bought a new stereo system, soon after arriving back in America after four years living in India. For that system, I went to the very best on the market—a McIntosh power amplifier and a McIntosh stereo receiver, both made by the legendary McIntosh Labs in Binghamton, in upstate New York State.  It is important to note that McIntosh Labs has nothing to do with Apple. Apple was not yet a gleam in Steve Jobs’ mom’s eye when our system was purchased. We bought a McIntosh MC 2505 power amplifier, and a McIntosh MX 512 tuner-preamplifier, the first fully solid state equipment the McIntosh Labs had developed.  In the old days, when dinosaurs still roamed freely, McIntosh equipment employed very large vacuum tubes. These new units left all that behind in the dust.

Now, guess what? These units continue to work their magic today. Yes, 43 years later. The McIntosh equipment continues to function and function beautifully. It makes me wonder how many of Apple’s I-Pads/Pods/phones will still be functioning in 2055. Oh, but to be fair, the Apple stuff is made in China.
In 1969, I purchased a Rolex “Oyster Perpetual Date” wrist watch—remember wrist watches of old??? It is a self-winding watch that, guess what, still self-winds and still keeps accurate time.  The same can be said for my Rolex gold pocket watch, one of the Cellini collection, purchased in 1966. It is an old fashioned wind-up watch. But, it still keeps accurate time. But, again, to be fair, neither of these watches were made in China.
So, what’s the point of this discussion? Well, I have been thinking for some time about Crap—made in China—and quality, mostly made elsewhere.  And I’m tired of all the crap.  So, I have been wondering whether anybody else in America is tired of all the crap, made in China, foisted off on us by pseudo-American companies who make believe they actually make things, but mostly import them from China.  It really does seem to be the case that we have no industrial capacity to make much of anything (aside, I guess, from nuclear bombs) any longer. Once US industrialists (we will really have to come up with a different term for these guys) discovered that cheap was the sole criterion of interest and that cheap meant high profits to them, even if it also meant no jobs for the middle class, it was “Katy bar the door.” I guess American industry has been moving to other shores for decades now, but it seems to have been accelerating in these early decades of the new century. It seems almost impossible to buy anything now that is not made in China. And what about all these goodies made in China? Well, my take is that they are mostly all just crap. China now is the world’s largest producer of crap—merchandise made expressly to fill land dumps.  Not too long ago, I was shopping at Sears, looking for a leaf blower. I asked a salesman whether he could help me find a leaf blower not made in China. His response? “Sorry sir, I can’t help you there.”
So, now, I’m thinking of a new department in, say, Home Depot (pick your own store). It would be called, “Not Made in China”. They would have tools and other products that are high quality, reliable (remember those characteristics?)  AND NOT made in China.  And after Home Depot proves the marketing success of such a venture, I can see stores springing up all over America, many featuring quality, reliable products actually made in the good old US of A.
Now almost assuredly, these quality, reliable products would cost more than the crap made in China. Such products always did cost more. So, the profit margins might not be as high per unit as the crap made in China. But those products might begin to recreate the American middle class, and we might once again have pride in Made in America.  Doesn’t that sound good??
I should note that this idea should probably await the end of the great Gong Show known affectionately as the Republican Presidential Primaries, since anything that might be good for America would be dismissed by the Republican candidates as Obama’s Folly.
Just a thought.
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