Thursday, October 14, 2010

Heritage Tools? Not Any More

           I remember when I was growing up that my best friend’s dad was a machinist who worked in middle management of a big machine tool company.  He had a beautiful wooden chest on his workbench in the basement at home with fine measuring instruments in it – calipers, gauges, and fascinating special tools.  These were tools that would last several lifetimes and became family heirlooms, of sorts.  They were made of the finest metals and were relatively expensive.

            Most boys eventually put together a set of tools, and later build on that to sometimes fill a toolbox that they use as adults.  I’ve got a Craftsman® multi-drawer tool chest on rollers that holds a collection of various tools I accumulated over the years.  I always tried to get tools in the mid-price range that would last and serve me well.  Sears was always the place to go, but local hardware stores also carried a variety of well-known American tools like Stanley®, Estwing®, Channellock®, Vise-Grip®, and others.

            One day in the 1980s I broke a metric socket while working on a car.  I was in a hurry to get the job done, so I went to a new store that carried all kinds of tools.  Many carried the brand name Buffalo®, and that sounded like a good American company, and the price for a whole set of metric sockets was really cheap, so I bought it.  The original socket held up for decades before it succumbed to my overpowering abuse.  The new one lasted a month, and then I looked more closely to discover the “Made in China” imprint.  This was a new wave of throw-away tools that truly aren’t made to last, but will get the job done.  And if it breaks, it won’t cost much to buy another.  Of course, this keeps production going on the other end of the chain, too.

            Once these tools became entrenched in our retail landscape, the superior-quality American tool sales slipped and slid downward.  These great companies, like Black & Decker®, Skil®, Briggs & Stratton®, began looking for ways to lower their costs to become more competitive.  No way, said the unions.  Our state and federal governments also made more rules, regulations, restrictions, fees, taxes, etc. that simply increased the cost of production, which must be passed on to the consumer.  Their only recourse was to build factories where these problems don’t exist.  So now, when you look for those American brands that you grew up with, be sure to look at the packaging to see where the product is made now.  You shouldn’t be surprised.  Here’s a list:

            Channellock®                      USA
            Crescent®                            USA
            Wiss®                                   USA
            Nicholson®                           USA
            Estwing®                              USA (Rockford, IL, my hometown)
            Johnson®                             USA & China
            Vise-Grip®                           China
            Weller®                                 Mexico
            Irwin®                                    China
            Plumb®                                 China
            Porter-Cable®                      China & Mexico
            Great Neck®                         China
            DeWalt®                                Mexico
            Milwaukee®                          China
            Ridgid®                                 China
            Vermont American®            China !!
            So, if you want to buy someone a gift of a tool this Christmas, birthday, or for whatever reason, get them something that’s still made in this country, regardless of how nice the packaging and tool itself looks.  Check the back of the package and see where it is made. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Campaign of Deception

            Throughout his campaign for Congress, Bill Johnson has been deceptive.  All of 2009 he campaigned and raised money in the 17th District, where he lives.  Then in January 2010 he decided that the challenge to beat Tim Ryan was too great, so he became a carpetbagger and jumped down to the 6th, angering a lot of his campaign donors and county chairmen.  Didn’t matter to him, he wants to win.

            Before the primary ballot, he told all of the 6th’s Republican chairmen that he had raised over $106.000.00, making him the only “qualified” candidate.  His Federal Election Commission report states that he raised $96,000.00.  He stretches the truth for his benefit.

            He doesn’t say who he works for.  His campaign literature and website states, “a global manufacturer of highly electronic components for the transportation industry.”  What’s the reason for not saying who he works for?  What’s the deception there?  (He works for Stonebridge

            According to Vote Smart, “Bill Johnson refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.”

            Hard to tell what his political affiliation is.  He doesn’t like to use the word “Republican” in any of his campaign material.  Who’s he trying to fool?  He told the editorial board of the Youngstown Vindicator that it would take $2 million to defeat Charlie Wilson and that he could raise it.  Really?

            If you want to vote for the candidate who most agrees with your beliefs, try going to and click on their “vote easy” button.  It’s a great interactive questionnaire that shows who you should support, if what you believe in is truly important to you.  If not, just vote D or R like you’ve always done and expect different results (see Albert Einstein’s quote on insanity).

Biggest Friend of Chinese Workers

            What American company is responsible for more jobs shipped to China than any other?  Wal-Mart!  Yes, this corporation has grown so huge, and has become so greedy that it has dictated the prices it will pay for products for many years.  If an American manufacturer wouldn’t reduce its wholesale prices to meet Wal-Mart’s demands, Wal-Mart would tell them to start manufacturing in China, so that production costs would come down and they could meet their prices.  Or, sell their products through someone else.

            Needless to say, as the biggest retail chain in the world, nearly everyone did as Wal-Mart told them to do.  American factories shut down and production moved to the sweat shops over there.  No more EPA or OSHA to worry about, no more restrictions, rules, unions, fees, permits, fines, inspections, worker’s compensation, Social Security, retirement plans, paid vacations, sick days, insurance, and other perks and benefits paid to American workers.

            So, yes, you are able to buy things cheaply at Wal-Mart.  But what is the real cost to all of us and our country?  Spread your purchasing to other companies, like Target, K-Mart, Sears, Penney’s, and others.  Don’t do all your shopping at a store that has become un-American.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Berries In Your Cereal!

Berries In Your Cereal – From Where?

By Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM

            I’m a raspberry-aholic.  I admit it.  There is nothing finer in life to eat than raspberries, unless it is raspberries with dark chocolate.  So, imagine my delight when I saw breakfast cereals with “more berries” and more varieties, like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  But, wait, with today’s food crises occurring more often, I wondered where these freeze-dried berries were coming from.  Are they from the USA, Mexico, or South America?  Guess again.

            My first call was to Kellogg’s, and I asked if they were buying their freeze-dried strawberries from China.  The answer was, “We do not buy any finished product from China.”  Hmmm.  What does “finished product” mean?  Is it not “finished” until it is in the box, ready to be sold?  A follow-up e-mail stated, “Kellogg sources vitamins from a number of countries, including a small amount from China. Because of the Quality Assurance programs we have in place, we are confident of the safety of these ingredients.”  Did you know that the PRC forbids foreign inspection of farms?

I contacted Post also and got a denial that they were buying ingredients from China.  “Please be assured that none of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of Post General are from China.”

            Next I contacted the biggest strawberry producer in Florida and asked about freeze-dried strawberries.  The CEO answered, saying that no freeze-drying was performed in Florida, but that he believed freeze-drying was being done in California.  Finally I e-mailed the California Strawberry Commission and here’s their answer:  Thank you for contacting the California Strawberry Commission with your question.  The origin of the freeze-dried strawberries used as ingredients in many cereals is difficult to determine.  There is no public source of information regarding origin, imports, exports and usage of freeze-dried strawberries as an ingredient. Our industry does not directly manufacture freeze-dried strawberries, but frozen strawberries from California are often used to manufacture freeze-dried strawberries.  Much of the world’s freeze-drying production capacity is in China and in some cases frozen strawberries produced in California are shipped to China, dried, and then returned to the US for ingredient use.  However, production of strawberries in China has increased over the last few years and may now exceed US strawberry production, so it is likely that much of their domestic production is used to manufacture frozen and freeze-dried strawberry ingredients.”

            Thank you, Congress, for first allowing more and more food products and ingredients from China and other “developing” countries, and secondly for allowing US companies to hide that fact from the public.  This is just one more negative effect of moving toward a “one world” or “global economy.”  I guess I’ll just have to buy my fruits and vegetables locally, or raise them myself.


Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM
4501 Market St.
Youngstown, OH 44512
330 727-4240 cell
330 782-7333 off