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Thread: Made in the USA vs elsewhere: some thoughts

  1. #1
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    Made in the USA vs elsewhere: some thoughts

    I have been meaning to write about this for a while and share some of my thoughts for what it is worth. It is something that has been bothering me for a while, and I thought I should write in about it.

    All of us here on the Forum often bring up the fact that TB bags are made in the USA, and sometimes, not always, that has come to imply that it therefore means it is automatically superior in build quality, materials, and in labor conditions. I humbly disagree. Not all things made in the US are as finely made as TB bags or Waterfield for that matter; nor do all companies run their outfits with the kind of labor conditions that we see at TB.
    The inverse is also true: not all things made outside of the US automatically suspect. Yes: there are sweatshops in India and Cambodia, but they are here in Texas and California and Detroit. There are excellent products made overseas that are made with integrity, and where folks are paid their due share. I know of several in India and I can only talk about those.

    While I can agree that the outsourcing has caused a lot of heartache and problems here, the actual truth is vastly more complex and inter-connected than simply that many of our consumer products are now made overseas. I wish it were that simple to explain the imbalances in our economies.

    I buy TB products cos they are extremely well made, cos of the materials they use, the great designs, and yes: cos they seem to have excellent working conditions. I would buy from them if they lived in Cambodia and I knew they had the same conditions as here--we just have no way to evaluate!

    Just my two cents; thank you for reading!

    shiva

  2. #2
    Registered User blackfungi's Avatar
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    some good points made here. i have these bags from this american company who charge a lot for their backpacks. i found little tiny holes near the molle webbing attachments to the bag. i thought it was only the one bag but no, the same thing was found on another model. i expect the material of bags to be without any holes whenever anything is being attached or sown on to the material of the bag. mabye the machine used to sow the molle webbing causes these holes to appear....i don't know, just guessing. maybe i am being anal but that is the way i am. with tom bihn bags, i try to look for any mistake, holes in the material but i can't find any. tom bihn has amazing quality control and the bags are priced very fairly. i forgot to mention that the bags i had been mentioning was not even made of 100% ballistic nylon, only the bottom, unlike tom bihn travel bags.
    Darcy likes this.
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  3. #3
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    All other things being equal, I prefer to support jobs for Americans, which are being eliminated in a global labor arbitrage to benefit our international criminal class.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmanedit View Post
    All other things being equal, I prefer to support jobs for Americans,...
    Ah, but they are not equal since there's no guarantee that the jobs are held by Americans... intended for them perhaps, but it doesn't seem to work that way in practice.

  5. #5
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    I like that Tom Bihn provides jobs locally (well, locally on a global scale; I'm in Illinois, myself). I also like that they're dedicated to providing a good work environment, and, as I understand it, a living wage. There's really not enough of that anymore. Additionally, having the company be in the same place as the founder-slash-mastermind ensures that said founder-slash-mastermind (in other words, Tom) is there to view the finished product. Not just on an occasional basis, mind you, but each and every day.

    But, really, it's the job providing and the work environment wage thing that makes me happy. While the political and economic reasons for and against outsourcing are doubtless complex, it's still nice to see a company that considers its community more important than the urge to make additional profit.
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  6. #6
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    My perspective is a bit different in that I enjoy buying American but also run a small manufacturing business and import some of the parts that I assemble into finished products. I appreciate all my suppliers and like to think that they put as much into crafting their products as I do mine. I love that TB products are made in American, but wouldn't have a problem if they were made elsewhere because I respect the company itself.
    "For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe." ~ Larry Eisenberg

  7. #7
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    Thanks folks for some of the feedback. I guess I don't want to be mis-understood....I do think it is important to support "local" economies and communities, but that seems like a dream long gone in a complex world. Undoubtedly, much of this globalization has to do with corporate greed rather than anything else, but still. Gmanedit; not sure what you mean by the "international criminal class," but if one thinks it is corporations who are making the profits, it is also we consumers who have wanted things to be cheaper and cheaper too.
    It used to be that we went to particular "places" to buy particular "goods" that were local to that place. You went somewhere to buy Hudson Bay blankets, or Navajo jewelry, or Shearling leather, or Kancheepuram silks (in south India) etc., You get my drift. That changed the minute we had mass production--and so now, you get most things all over; and few places are known for local products, not even "crafts" anymore it seems!!!
    I find myself looking for ways to buy from companies --products that are well made-and in a conscionable way no matter where that is; and more and more, I want to own less and less anyhow--and look for products that are well made and can serve several purposes and will last a long time. However, this whole way of thinking is counter-intuitive to our own consumption patterns; and it is a genuine question: if I bought less and less how would TB survive?! I find that I want to own two or three things that are multipurpose--so I like pouches that can be used for different things; a bag that can serve as a grocery bag, an overnight bag, and a carryon or as a school bag as needed! Patagonia used to have that philosophy and it went by the wayside. I hope TB will continue this strong American vein.
    Sometimes, I think, that I carry more for a "weekend" at a conference than my father possessed his entire lifetime. And somehow, that bothers me.

    Anyhow...do not mean to go on; just it has been something I have been thinking about a long while.
    Just likes this.


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