Quality is not quantity.

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Do you remember when you could go to the store or mall and buy quality products made mostly in the US and you could afford them without thinking very much about the cost? Those days are long past, but I still remember them fondly. I don’t know when those days disappeared, but I suspect they slipped away unnoticed by the vast majority of us until one day they were gone.

What produced this bit of nostalgia was sitting down to put on an old pair of shoes that I use around the house as work shoes. At the same bench, I keep a pair of newer shoes from the same manufacturer that look identical and bear the same model number. The newer shoes were made in China; I don’t know where the older shoes were manufactured. The older shoes are at least one decade and possibly two old, while the newer shoes were purchased only two or three years ago.

The shoes made in China looked identical to the older shoes, but they started to split and crack after only a few months use. The shoes look the same as what I purchased before, but the quality is lacking. Why are we buying shoes, clothing and other products of such low quality? It is because they are what is available in the stores, and low quality products are all that many of us can afford. During the past 30 years, American productivity has continued to grow unabated, but wages have not kept pace.

Now some in Congress want to reduce future cost of living increases in wages and pensions including Social Security by introducing the concept of chained CPI. The theory is that as prices increase, consumers will substitute cheaper goods for more expensive goods to stretch the family income. What are we supposed to do when there are no more lower quality goods to switch down to? Do without entirely?

Please see Globalization 101 | Where have all the good jobs gone