2 posts categorized "capitalism"

12/31/2009

My $380 shoes and why American manufacturing may not be dead


 

 

 

Recently, seemingly against all logic and reason, I purchased a pair of $380 shoes.  I had a gift certificate which helped a little, and I purchased them in tax free New Hampshire which helped a little more.  But the brunt of this purchase was taken by yours truly.  Now here’s the sentence you didn’t expect: these shoes were a tremendous value.

 

Those of you who know me personally know I have no fashion sense whatsoever.  I cannot recognize which brand names are in or out and I am usually a decade away from whatever is hip.  So why such a purchase?  One word:  quality.

 

I realize you think the shoe salesman took old Pete for a Kansas City Shuffle, tricking me into buying the priciest shoe in the store.  (It was actually the third priciest shoe in the store BTW.)  But truly, this brand of shoes will literally last me ten years.  (And since I am always a decade behind in fashion anyway this is the ideal fit for me.)  They’re real leather, hand stitched and most important to the point of this blog, made in the USA. 

 

Less than a year ago at the same store I purchased a pair of $85 shoes made in another country.  (I won’t say which but you can guess.)  And these “cheaper” shoes are already falling apart.  So you tell me, if I have to buy a new pair of these cheap sleds every year, which pair is really the better deal?

 

I’ve bought Wal-mart screw drivers and literally bent the metal on them.  Not bent the metal Uri Gellar style, I mean bent the metal trying to turn a screw.  The “price” of the screwdriver was terrific.  But was there any real value when it cannot do the job it was made for?  Ever bought a $65 DVD player that breaks after a 6 months?

 

America is not going to win in the cheap sandals price war.  But if manufactures can convince consumers that high quality and high price is actually a bargain, American manufacturing has a chance.  It’s not easy, but I hope this blog will help. 

08/04/2009

Where does socialism start and capitalism end? And where does capitalism end and socialism start?

The other day I was listing to talk radio. Just as the show’s topic drifted to Obama’s health care plan, my car passed through the I-93 Boston Tunnel, notoriously known as the Big Dig. The tunnel swallowed the radio’s reception and I was left with a few quiet minutes to reflect.


No doubt you have heard that many are nervous about Obama’s plan; specifically that the quality of medical care will decline and that there won’t be any money to pay for it. Critics often site the Big Dig, with its cost overruns and flawed construction as a concrete example (no pun intended) of the dangers of letting the government run the show. An interesting question, is where to draw the line between capitalism and socialism.


John Stewart asked this question when he had Bill O’Reilly on the Daily Show. Forgive the paraphrase, but Stewart asked O’Reilly at which tax bracket do we cross into socialism? Is 30% a capitalist tax rate but 32% socialist? Or 34%?

Or consider this. Many hard core capitalists argue we shouldn’t subsidize wind or solar power, when nuclear is already a profitable venture (and a carbon cutter too.) But ‘twas it not the government that financed the original research for nuclear power? If the government funds the first X billion of a capitalist project, is that socialism or capitalism?

How about the Panama Canal? There’s a huge government project that has boosted capitalism by making oceanic trade easier. Hasn’t Eisenhower’s highway system, another mammoth government project, allowed millions of businesses to flourish? Or even a small business that receives a government loan. Is that capitalism or socialism?

This is not an argument for capitalism. Nor is it an argument for socialism. It isn’t even an argument at all. It’s a question:

Where does one draw the line? Send me your thoughts.