‘Disenado tecnicamente en los Estados Unidos’

For her birthday I bought the brunette a cat door.

I realize that on the list of great romantic gifts — the one with “surprise getaway to Tahiti” and “romantic cruise down the Seine” near the top — this entry ranks somewhere down near “cordless electric drill.” But if you’d spent months having to get up twice a night to let various feline companions in or out of the sliding glass door as they bugled their urgent need to go hunt moths in the moonlight, or whatever the heck it is they do out there, you might be a little less hasty to condemn.

Not that the gift actually did any good. As it turns out, the Fur People — both the normally intelligent female and the one generally referred to as “the dork” — are clearly convinced this little swinging plastic door is some kind of demonic Kitty Guillotine. They draw away from it, hissing and cowering, and now insist on being let out the (conventional) door at the far end of the living room, instead. No good deed goes unpunished.

But meantime, at the home improvement warehouse, I asked the saleskid if the panels above the actual cat port were opaque. He said they were. Once we got to looking at it, I realized they were transparent — either glass or some kind of laminate. We’ll get back to that.

On the box was an American flag. I didn’t pay much attention. I suppose it’s nice to “buy American,” but since American stockholders can buy interest in Asian factories just as easily as an Ohio tractor factory can be owned by someone in Osaka, I consider it a fairly fruitless pursuit.

When I got it home I found the packagers had been more creative than that. What the box actually said, next to the waving Stars & Stripes, was “Proudly Engineered in America.”

Immediately below that, for the benefit of shoppers who were not themselves proudly engineered in America, it said “Disenado tecnicamente y con orgullo en los Estados Unidos.” And, finally, over in the middle of the box: “made in Thailand.”

This is no longer shocking. We’ve exported most of our industrial jobs. The hard-working Thais probably manufactured this thing on computer-guided machine tools purchased at a recent American bankruptcy auction, carefully taken apart, and shipped to Bangkok. If they can figure out how to manufacture the thing so inexpensively that they can undersell any American competitor even after paying to ship it 10,000 miles, that’s capitalism, that’s division of labor, fine with me.

Except we do have to realize one thing. The notion that the American saleskid who sold me the cat door — the one who pretty clearly didn’t understand he definition of the word “opaque” — has a legitimate long-term expectation of making more than the hourly worker who ran the machine that milled that aluminum window frame, just because he’s “American,” is doomed.

Yes, the door was “engineered” in America. Because it has to fit our sliding glass patio doors (duh.) Engineered, I’m sure, by a graduate of a fine American graduate engineering school … who, in all likelihood, was born in Asia.

I’ll bet the supervisor of the Thai factory where that door was made knows the definition of the word “opaque.” Competition is real, and now worldwide. Are we ready?

# # #

I was perusing the Net while taking a few days off recently, when I encountered the following news dispatch, posted with an impressive color photo of the U.S. House of Representatives in session:

“WASHINGTON — After months of committee meetings and hundreds of hours of heated debate, the United States Congress remained deadlocked this week over the best possible way to deny Americans health care.

“ ‘Both parties understand that the current system is broken,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. ‘But what we can’t seem to agree upon is how to best keep it broken, while still ensuring that no elected official takes any political risk whatsoever. It’s a very complicated issue.’

“ ‘Ultimately, though, it’s our responsibility as lawmakers to put these differences aside and focus on refusing Americans the health care they deserve,’ Pelosi added.”

The story was a joke, originally posted at www.theonion.com/content/news/congress_deadlocked_over_how_to

But the real joke is that it’s not far off the mark. If anyone really wanted to make health care more “affordable” (a more worthwhile goal might be to make it more lucrative and less of a bookkeeping headache for doctors, so the best ones would stay at it) the answer would almost certainly start with 1) eliminating the 25 percent of medical tests which are unneeded but now performed just as “insurance” by installing a “loser pays” tort system to limit frivolous “pain and suffering” lawsuits; 2) repeal Medicare and Medicaid entirely, getting the federal government of the health care business, except that 3) a law or Constitutional amendment may be required, barring the states from using their “licensing” monopoly to artificially limit entry into the profession (why shouldn’t we have the same price competition between hospitals as we have between cell phone providers — with the same expectation of ever-better service at ever-lower prices?) and further preventing the states from restricting the sale of REAL health insurance policies within their borders — policies free to offer risk-pooling for medical catastrophes only, without jacking up costs by mandating specific “coverages.”

The state of Massachusetts, for example, now mandates 52 separate coverages, including in vitro fertilization, a service used by only a tiny percentage of Bay Staters, while this politically “mandated coverage” costs every one of their neighbors an extra $1,000 per year in insurance premiums.

As Anne Coulter and others have correctly pointed out, what we have in this country today is not true “health insurance,” but rather “pre-paid medical care.” Your car insurance doesn’t cover routine fill-ups and oil changes (if it did, we’d have a “car insurance affordability crisis”), so why should your “health insurance” have anything to do with paying part of your bill for visiting your doctor’s office? “Insurance” with a $2,000 deductible, designed to kick in only in the event of a rare medical catastrophe, would be a very different thing — and far more “affordable.”

Congress doesn’t want “affordability” — with those who still refuse to buy insurance learning some very tough lessons about personal responsibility. What the congresscritters want is to continue buying votes by promising to hand people “free stuff” — this time, medicines and medical services. When they’re told they can’t even print enough Monopoly money to make this work, they go to plan “B”: order someone ELSE to give the voters free stuff. If these “designated providers” object, point, scream and shout “They’re rich! They’re rich!”

This — complete with thugs to beat up dissenters — was tried in St. Petersburg in 1917. Anyone know how that’s working out?

3 Comments to “‘Disenado tecnicamente en los Estados Unidos’”

  1. jbrook Says:

    Vin, you need to have a discussion with your furry friends. Our cats love the plastic door and go in and out so often it’s almost a nuisance.

  2. Anton Sherwood Says:

    We taught our cats about the flap by pushing them through it a few times.

  3. William Miller Says:

    Put a little pile of tuna outside the flap.

    They’ll go get it sooner or later… 😉

    – pupista! (barking mad on the right)