Economy of scale

Joy wrote:
The BusinessWeek article “Yuan poised to become Reserve Currency, Goldman’s O’Neill Says” shows we have to watch out for China. It has the power to do whatever it wants.

Robert Reynolds wrote:

Laura and I talk about this problem frequently.  There just isn’t anything left for people to do in this country, except education, health care, and various retailing and service jobs.  There doesn’t seem to be much point to it all.

That’s why we’re trying to do things around here that seem more meaningful, like planting orchards and building stuff.  That sounds good on a small scale, but I can’t help wondering what will eventually happen on a large scale.  What can you do if a country with 5 times our population decides that they don’t have to listen to the ruling-family elitists any more?  The Chinese could really wreak havoc if they want to.

Joy wrote:
Maybe you start small and scale up. Somebody has to be the one to start the manufacturing back up.

Robert Reynolds wrote:

One of the things I’d like to do is get a laser cutter. You can use those to make all kinds of parts and pieces. I think it would be great to make things for people who make bigger things. Not only that, but I could make all kinds of stuff for my own projects.

The irony of this plan is that the laser cutters themselves are made in China. In fact, if you want a lathe or milling machine, or just about any other fancy tools to make parts, they all come from China.

The parts for my amplifiers are mostly made elsewhere. The power transformers are from Canada, the output transformers are from Mexico, and all the volume controls, input jacks, resistors, capacitors, knobs, and cabinet hardware are from the far east. The speakers are from Italy. The only parts made here are the speaker cabinets and the metal amplifier chassis. It’s pretty neat that I’m making an amplifier here in the USA, but it would be even better if the parts were made here, too.

It’s kind of like an analog of the total economy. We have a service economy here, where we trade things made elsewhere. My amps are very similar. I’m making a value-added product, but it’s essentially a rearrangement of somebody else’s product.

Joy wrote:
We can’t go on doing the same things and expecting different results, can we? I’d like to see more products made in America.

To see Robbie’s amplifiers, take a look at Fat Dog Amps.

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