Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Rumination: Of Appliances and Politics

So the politically correct “high”-efficiency top-loading Samsung is now history, replaced by a new inefficient, water-guzzling, irresponsible right-wing-crazy Made-in-America Speed Queen agitator-driven washer.

Just took the first load out. The Speed Queen took exactly 30 minutes to run a medium-sized load on a cycle that took the hateful Samsung an hour and ten minutes to complete. The clothes look clean. They actually got wet, if you can imagine, without my having to pour a pailful of water in on top of them. And they did not come out in a wad or in a braid.

That is to say, the inefficient, water-guzzling, irresponsible right-wing-crazy Made-in-America Speed Queen agitator-driven washer works the way a washer is supposed to work: it washes your clothes, gets them clean, and does it in a reasonable amount of time.

Yesterday while I was sitting here waiting for the repairman to show up to fix the oven (again!), so that it can be turned off (again!) at the breaker switch and left that way permanently, so that if and when I want to sell this house or I croak over and my son decides to sell, the house will have a working double oven and will not require a $2,500 replacement before the place can be put on the market, it occurred to me that Americans have pretty good reason, overall, to be mad enough to sweep out the old, endlessly politically correct regime, even if the new regime is led by a narcissistic bigot who has no clue what he’s doing.

The choice is bad; the reasoning is….not altogether unreasonable.

There I was, after all, sitting in an (expensively) paid-off house that had no functioning oven and no believably functioning clothes washer. Stumbling across a brand of washer that is made in America with American-made parts felt like some kind of freaking miracle. Discovering rave consumer reviews of the things made me feel a) beside myself with joy that I may(!) have found a washing machine that works and b) mad as hell that I got suckered into buying the useless (exploding) high-(in)efficiency Samsung.

And I thought…god damn it! Here I am in the (supposedly) greatest country in the world, sliding into Third-World conditions. If I want to bake a loaf of bread, I’ll have to do it outside over an open fire in the grill. To get my clothes clean, I have to wash them by hand — all of them, including jeans and T-shirts. I might as well be washing the damn things in the Ganges. And for the privilege, I’ve paid through the wazoo. What’s next?

Much as I believe Donald Trump is not the man to do the job, nevertheless I could in theory buy into the idea that it’s past time for a change of direction.

We have politically correct foreign-made wash machines that take almost two hours to not get our clothes clean;
we have household appliances with, across the board, life expectancy of seven years (if you’re lucky);
we’ve seen toilets that don’t flush and faucets that take half your lifetime to dispense a potful of water and showers that don’t shower, all in the name of environmental correctness;
we have health insurance that costs a king’s ransom and covers nothing;
we have Gloria Vanderbilt jeans made in African countries with pants-leg lengths that don’t match;
we have bras made in China whose Dixie-cup design fits no one (and NO OTHER CHOICES in any store you can find);
we have clothing made in China that falls apart within a few weeks or months;
we have trade agreements that have allowed greedy, socially and environmentally uncaring US corporations to send jobs and production overseas to countries that have no safety regulations and no quality control, where a skilled carpenter thinks he’s lucky to earn $7.50 a day;
we have copper plumbing that comes from the seller with pinhole leaks in it, made in China;
we’ve had dog food that poisoned our pets, no matter what the cost and purported quality, because all brands are made in the same few Chinese factories;
we’ve had toothpaste that poisoned its users, made in China;
we have high-end, brain-bangingly expensive air conditioners that work no better and last no longer than the cheapest model, because they’re all made in the same place, China…

Don’t worry, be happy, we’re told: Americans whose highest and best skills qualified them to work on assembly lines can land great jobs in IT and medical care!

Right.

Then we have the nanny-state effect:

wherein we can’t buy a package of Sudafed without signing for it, lest we decide to turn it into meth (does it occur to any of our Governmental Parents that maybe people who choose to consume meth deserve what they get?);
we can’t buy a bottle of cough medicine lest we decide to drink it and get high;
we can’t get a bottle of anything, from cough drops to cleanser, that doesn’t have caps that are impossible to open, so that we end up having to leave most household products sitting in our cabinets with no lids on, or else transferring everything to other containers;
we can’t open the lid on a running washing machine lest we stupidly stick our hands into the spinning tub and mangle our arms;
we can’t start a car without our seatbelts on, unless we wish to be bonged at nonstop;
we can’t order a steak at a restaurant without being told eating rare meat could make us sick;
we surely can’t order a plate of sushi without hearing or reading the same dire warning;
we can’t buy a bottle of wine without being told the risk to a pregnant woman’s fetus is so dire she probably should go to jail for even thinking about swilling a glass of Beaujolais with dinner;
and speaking of fetuses, children are no longer allowed to walk to school or play in the neighborhood park lest they be kidnapped by bogeymen; dare to let yours do so and you’ll be arrested for neglect and child abuse…

And then we have the oppressive political correctness, in which Those Who Are Our Betters tell us what we are and what we are not allowed to say, since we’re such ill-mannered troglodytes we don’t know how to function in polite society.

You know, I consider myself a civil grown-up, and so I have no objection to welcoming people of all genetic and ethnic persuasions into the human race; I do not go around calling homosexuals and lesbians nasty names (nor do I concern myself with their bedroom life); I do not care what your religious calling is, as long as you don’t foist it on me. And so most of the politically correct bullshit doesn’t apply here.

But…there are moments.

The moment when I lost patience with political correctness came some years ago, when I was teaching full-time at the Great Desert University’s westside campus. This was before I migrated to the main campus to found and operate an editorial office.

It was coming on to Christmastime when a memo came down from the Dean of Liberal (heh) Arts, informing us that we were not to utter the words “Merry Christmas” when exchanging holiday greetings in the office. We could say “Happy Holidays.” We could say “Happy Kwanzaa.” We could even say “Happy Chanukka.” But we were not, absolutely positively NOT to say “Merry Christmas.”

Furthermore, we were not to exchange greeting cards that had any kind of religious imagery on them. No babies dozing in mangers. No angels singing. No old guys traipsing across the desert following a star. No haloes. None of that. And of course, no “Merry Christmas” emblazoned upon any such greeting card. Acceptable: peace doves, wintry landscapes, and the “Happy Holidays” slogan.

You think I exaggerate?

No.

Academia can get ridiculous. But this took the cake.

Eventually the oven repair guy showed up. He’s an independent contractor, has his own business…not an employee of Sears. He turned on the breaker and discovered…lo! the control panel was working. I explained that it was showing the F7 error, which Sears had twice told me meant the control panel was shot and had to be replaced, to the tune of $500.

Quoth he: not quite so. It also can indicate loose wiring somewhere. Wiring can work loose, he said, through expansion and contraction caused by the heating and cooling inside the oven.

He took the panel apart, tightened all the wiring, pulled the oven out of the wall and checked to see that the fan was working (if not, he suggested, the heat could be damaging the control panel), found the fan was working fine, put the thing back together, and charged me $81.

He did agree that the control panel on these ovens has a limited life expectancy, and he confirmed that the part is no longer made. And he did suggest that if I didn’t want to buy a new oven ($2000+) in the near future, I shouldn’t use it at all.

No wonder Sears is going out of business, hm?

So the oven is returned to its best and highest use: holding pots, pans, and cutting boards. But at least now I have a washer that works. For the time being.

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Author: funny

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19 Comments

  1. Well Funny…..It seems you have learned, as I have, it’s the “little things” that make us happy. After all you have been thru to be able to put clothes in a washer…turn it on….and actually have the clothes clean and semi-dry in under 2 hours….PRICELESS. What great news about the stove! Aaaand I share your “angst” that the stuff we have to buy is so poorly constructed. And when we say something…we are met with indifference.
    As for the thought that sending those jobs to Mexico, China and India allows our workers to work on cool projects in IT and medical. What a bunch of BS. Tis a matter of time before these IT jobs and medical field jobs are outsourced as well with indifference to follow. It was just announced Boeing is closing two plants in Virginia and Texas and laying off over 2K workers. These are GOOD jobs with benefits and many of those jobs would be considered IT. I seem to remember them opening plants in other countries where labor is cheap and tax breaks abundant. Pretty sure that’s where Texas and Virginia’s work will be performed.I’m with ya…..It’s time for a change….

  2. LOL! Paragraph 1: ain’t THAT the truth!

    Well…Boeing used to lay people off occasionally long before we had globalization. I can remember even back when I was in high school (that would be the Early Middle Ages), friends were laid off jobs in aero…whatever it was called then. We didn’t exactly have “space” as an industry yet, but we sure as hell had airlines and we sure as hell had the Cold War with a vengeance.

    Here’s the thing: If you’re good at, say, assembly line work (or any number of other formerly decent-paying jobs), chances are it’s because you have a cast of mind that makes being physically active most of the day OK and sitting around not moving all day long, concentrating on a computer screen or piles of paper, NOT so OK. A lot of people…that’s a LOT of people…fit into the first category. That characteristic is useful and valuable. Jobs that work for active people should not be allowed to be sent offshore. Period.

    Yet that’s what we’re doing. Not everyone can stand the tedium of IT. Not everyone has the attention to detail or the desire to understand chemistry and biology required for medical careers. There’s work enough to go around to everyone in this country…but not if we send half of it offshore.

  3. You would think that the engineers that designed these ovens would put some sort of a heat shield between the part that gets hot and the things that need to work to make it hot. That’d be like finding out the house is freezing cold, to go downstairs only to find that the furnace has melted itself into a blob, because ya know, those things get hot!

    • Hee heee! Yeah, a lot like that!

      Whirpool was the subject at least one class action suit over the control panel issue (believe it was more than one but just now am too lazy to look it up).

      Apparently quality control is no longer much of an issue with household appliances…especially since they’re engineered to crap out in 7 years anyway.

  4. Last month I bought a couple tunic shirts at Target. I wore one of them twice, then washed it. As I hung it up to dry I noticed the seams were already coming apart. !! Luckily Target took both the worn/washed one and the other one back without any problems.

    BUT I have a *rave review* of a US-made low-flow showerhead. I bought the handheld version with cut-off switch shortly after I moved to CA. I love this showerhead! It produces a very strong shower stream, and I like how I can cut off the water briefly (or just slow it down to a trickle) when I’m shampooing or soaping. http://www.highsierrashowerheads.com/low-flow-shower-heads.html

    • Hot dang! Now if we could just find some clothing made in the US…not by our mothers…

      Seriously: we should start a web page that lists USEFUL things made in the US. Last time I looked for products made in the USA, the only things sites offered were kitsch. We should have a team of spies going around to service providers and product sellers, inquiring after which products they like that are made in America. Then maybe each person could look her/his find up, check reviews, include a link.

      So far I’ve had pretty good luck with Target products. Have never tried to return, because they have such a bad reputation for resisting returns. Glad you got them to take them both back!!

  5. Congrats on the new washer and the reasonable charge for oven repair. I will have to remember the Speed Queen brand although I’m happy with the Haier I bought four years ago when I was still working full time.
    As for clothes falling apart, don’t get me started! I bought packs of Hanes panties for a couple decades and was perfectly content with them. Now that they’re made in China, Hanes no longer gets my money. The cotton is so cheap, thin and uncomfortable and the damn things just don’t fit! These days, I buy panties at Dillards, a high-end department store, because I have no other options for decent underwear.
    Whenever I must buy some Chinese-made clothing, I hardly ever put it in the dryer. I wash nearly everything in cold water and air dry. That seems to help it last longer and look better, just wish I didn’t HAVE to do it.

  6. Thanks so much for this Speed Queen tip! I had never given that brand a thought either. My current washer (an old Kenmore) is about 20 years old and I’ve been dreading the thought of replacing it. Now I’m looking forward to it!

  7. I was packing boxes today when I ran across a book – Who Moved my Cheese? – that I hadn’t read since the start of my career. I sat down and re-read the book, and this particular line stuck with me. “’I don’t think I would like New Cheese. It’s not what I’m used to. I want my own Cheese back and I’m not going to change until I get what I want.’”

    The world is ever evolving and as people, companies, cities, states, a country we have to grow and adapt with it. We cannot sit by wringing our hands, refusing to change because we are more comfortable with the past that we know than the unknown change. The world doesn’t stop evolving just because we want to be stuck in our ways. The longer we wait to change, the further behind we get, and the larger the incremental change required to catch up becomes. No matter how nostalgic we may be for the past, we cannot go back. The world of the past does not exist today. To not adapt is to fail.

    We are in the midst of a revolution that will change dramatically many aspects of our lives. With the change comes many new opportunities for areas that have been left behind to evolve and recapture a piece of the pie. But to do that we have to stop wishing for old cheese and be willing to try the new cheese.

    • {sigh} You have such wonderful common sense, MD. You wouldn’t happen to be Young Dr. Kildare who practices in Maryvale, would you? 😉

      Where the washing machines are concerned, I’m afraid the old cheese is objectively superior to the new version, as (back in my misspent youth) real cheddar cheese was superior to Kraft slices. And we surely can go back: that’s exactly what Speed Queen does.

      Do I want to go back to scrubbing my clothes with rocks by the side of the river? Not so much…but that’s essentially the way we’re going, with appliances that last 5 years and work no better than rocks by the riverside even when they’re new.

      Now, as for our political choices: eeek. That’s about all I can say: eee-holyshit-eeeeekkkk! The guy with the orange hair isn’t going to take us back, no matter what he pretends to promise. At least if we were headed that way, we’d know where the he!! we were going. He’s going to take us forward into some unknowable and very possibly horrifying future.

      Or not.

      We shall see.

      If you have money, you may get a piece of the pie. If not…it remains to be seen. Them that’s got, though, tend to get…

      • You would not want me as your doctor. My brother (an internist) probably, but anatomy is not my specialty. Much of my career has been built on helping teams/companies develop their forecasting abilities and adapt their processes to move from old to new cheese.

        At a microeconomic level, we know we can manufacture items in the US because we manufacture items in the US. We also need to consider that many items (at least at the consumer level) that are manufactured in the US are at a more premium price-point compared to their imported counterparts. Speed Queen, a major player in commercial laundry machines (their old cheese) saw that business slowing, but saw an open niche in consumer laundry machines (their new cheese). So yes, they make consumer machines now but a quick Google search found them to be approximately 50% more expensive than imported machines with comparable features (for you it sounds like that premium is worth it). I do not know their manufacturing process, but I would hazard to guess the company’s process is more automated now than it was in 1908 – that’s also a form of moving from old cheese to new cheese.

        What works at the microeconomic level does not necessarily scale to the macroeconomic level. Many people have this conception that we’re just going to begin manufacturing a plethora of items in the US using the labor-intensive processes used previously and at wages equivalent in today’s currency to what they were previously, but with retail prices we are currently used to paying. From a supply-demand perspective, that simply does not work. Suppliers will be unwilling to produce and sell large quantities at low prices if they have high production costs (labor-intensive with high wages). Consumers will be unwilling to purchase as much at higher prices. Ultimately which of those competing forces will win depends largely on how elastic demand is for the product. The concept people have been sold also does not take into account that manufacturing processes have in general become more automated. Automation both requires fewer people to make a given quantity of items, and requires those people that remain to have more skills. The problem is not that we want to manufacture items in the US, it’s that we’re expecting to do it the old cheese way when the world has moved to a new cheese way.

        The government (local, state, and federal) on all sides of the aisle has, in general, done a very poor job helping areas adapt. Our politicians talk about cyclical unemployment and blame other countries for job losses, but no one talks about structural unemployment. We, as a country at this point, need to figure out how to go forward. We have let certain areas of the country wait for their old cheese for so long that they no longer have the resources to get the new cheese themselves. Would anyone really care about NAFTA or other trade agreements if we had addressed and adapted to the structural unemployment – chased new cheese? The way I look at it the underlying problem is not the trade agreements or manufacturing, but how we address structural unemployment. But that’s a conversation no one is having. We may be looking at Asia now as having taken jobs, but the technologies that are in the pipeline will be disruptive across a wide number of industries and no amount of nationalism can protect those. Bank branches are closing in favor of mobile apps and more sophisticated ATMs. Autonomous vehicles are on their way. Robo-advisors are still early but have the potential to significantly disrupt the investment advisory industry. The list goes on and on. The sooner we begin discussing the real issue and figuring out how to find new cheese the better off we will be as a country.

        [It’s nearly 1am as I am typing this. I’m sure I will look back at this in the morning with horror at some incoherent or incomplete argument.]

      • This is great… Copying & pasting a few passages in here so as to keep them in mind:

        “The problem is not that we want to manufacture items in the US, it’s that we’re expecting to do it the old cheese way when the world has moved to a new cheese way. ”

        Hmmm… Could be, at least among more naive populations. I don’t know that’s what everyone really expects: it would be crazy to expect “revived” American manufacturers to go back to 1950s manufacturing processes. Yes, computerized factories and strategies like “just-in-time” production would require fewer employees. But a FEW more jobs for people with high-school diplomas or GEDs improves on NO jobs for them. Some people are just not college material. Some people are but can’t afford to shoulder tens of thousands of dollars of debt for a degree that may not get them into jobs that will make it possible to pay off that debt. Our economy surely would not be harmed if we brought enough manufacturing back to hire some portion of our people who are best suited for that kind of work. And paid them decently.

        ***

        “Many people have this conception that we’re just going to begin manufacturing a plethora of items in the US using the labor-intensive processes used previously and at wages equivalent in today’s currency to what they were previously, but with retail prices we are currently used to paying.”

        You’re undoubtedly right that we of the older generation forget that we used to pay a great deal more (relative to the actual value of the dollar and actual income) for clothing, televisions, radios, appliances…you name it. And that people born in the 70s or later have NO CLUE what we used to pay for products made in America. That’s likely to be a rude shock, should manufacturing actually return to this country big-time and trade tariffs be reinstated in an effective way.

        But you know…if pricier products are all that’s available, that’s what people will buy. As a practical matter, we did not buy racksful of cheap clothing specifically designed to fall apart; throw it away within a few weeks or months; and buy another closetful of cheap throw-away clothing. We bought clothing designed to last, and we did pay more for it: but we bought less of it. And we enjoyed it more because most things fit properly and because we felt we were wearing quality products. I don’t recall feeling deprived about that.

        We didn’t have a TV set in every room. We didn’t have noise-making devices to tote with us everywhere we went. We didn’t have phones that we could carry in our pockets. And y’know what? In many ways life was better for that: less gestalt, less nuisancey, less isolating, less distracting, less flimsy.

        ***

        “So yes, they make consumer machines now but a quick Google search found them to be approximately 50% more expensive than imported machines with comparable features (for you it sounds like that premium is worth it).”

        Well…I hafta admit: I did NOT bestir myself to do some actual research on the cost issue. B-a-a-d human!! However, my son had to replace his Samsung. He paid $500 for a new washer, and (without advice from his cranky old muther) he also replaced his with an old-fashioned agitator washer that actually gets a load of laundry wet. (This is a Bernie voter we’re talkin’ about here!) His was a different brand, probably made overseas. I paid $800 for my made-in-America version. So…I suppose that IS upwards of 50% higher.

        However, for $800 I got a machine with a TWENTY-YEAR WARRANTY. Think of that. Chances are this machine will outlast me: in 20 years I’ll be 91 years old. Or else my son will have inherited the damn thing. The guy at B&B said the life expectancy of these machines is 25 years.

        My son had his wondrous water-saving energy-wasting Samsung for about three years before it crapped out. Mine was still running, but I hated it so much I was willing to take an $800 bath to replace it. And appliance repairmen invariably tell us that all household appliances — stoves, ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers — are now engineered to give out in 7 years.

        So if it costs me $500 to buy a cheaper import and I have to replace it every 7 years (this calculation ignores the likelihood that prices will rise), then over the 25-year lifetime of the $800 Speed Queen I will have spent $1500 on cheaper imported washers (i.e., one every 7 years means three purchases in 21 years). That strikes me as penny-wise and pound-foolish.

        Plus that Samsung was NOT a cheap piece of equipment. 😀 I don’t recall what I paid for it — I got it at the Sears scratched-&-dented outlet, so didn’t pay full price, but just now Sears is showing the largest model — the one that will hold a comforter — as retailing at $1249, which is what I think the regular price was when I bought the mine. So I paid a lot more to get a machine that just plain didn’t do the job.

        The new cheese, that is, had a pretty bad taste.

        At any rate, let’s assume the proposed resuscitated American factories retool along the Chinese model (vast amounts of research have been done on Chinese manufacturing and production…I seem to be editing about every third academic paper on the subject). We know a LOT about building and operating factories more efficiently and more cost-effectively, thanks to Chinese entrepreneurship. What goes overseas and gets transformed can come back: there’s no reason we can’t engage more efficient manufacturing processes, employ American workers, and yeah: charge more but sell better products.

        Will quality necessarily rise, as you question in your most recent comment? Quite possibly not; especially not if we ape present Chinese manufacturing processes. But let’s suppose a Chinese-made washer costs $800 and a washer made in Wisconsin costs $800. If the Chinese washer works as well as the US washer, then it surely can compete here and very well may beat out the American washer with better design or some elements that are more attractive to consumers. If tariffs rise so that washers that crap out in five to seven years can’t significantly underprice washers that last for 15 or 20 years, then most consumers will buy the washer that doesn’t have to be replaced every time they turn around.

        But what if the imagined US manufacturers come back with real quality, rather than as junk producers? Remember that in the 50s and 60s, people WERE willing to pay more — sometimes a LOT more — for Swiss- and German-made products, because they were perceived as higher quality than US and Japanese-made items. We could find ourselves with a world market for higher-end products, which would NOT be your father’s Oldsmobile…

        It’s not outside the realm of possibility that a revived US industry might emphasize quality rather than quantity. That’s the sales pitch for the Speed Queen: NOT a piece of junk.

        It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out…especially since a large number of American consumers have the perception — whether it’s reality or not — that US-made products are superior. About that, we shall see…but it is something that manufacturers could exploit.

        ***

        “The government (local, state, and federal) on all sides of the aisle has, in general, done a very poor job helping areas adapt. Our politicians talk about cyclical unemployment and blame other countries for job losses, but no one talks about structural unemployment. We, as a country at this point, need to figure out how to go forward. We have let certain areas of the country wait for their old cheese for so long that they no longer have the resources to get the new cheese themselves. Would anyone really care about NAFTA or other trade agreements if we had addressed and adapted to the structural unemployment – chased new cheese? ”

        Boyoboy, you’ve got THAT right in spades! It’s been true through both Democratic and Republican administrations. Because the Democrats have held sway most recently, it’s easier to blame them. But as a practical matter, our entire polity has dropped the ball.

        Hmm… Speaking of bank branches, alas I must get off my tuchus and run up to the credit union. And so…away!

        Thanks for the thoughtful and interesting comments!!

  8. Well MD….we can go back. IMHO it’s really a question of common sense and one’s own preference. Back when “dinos” roamed the earth DW and I bought a new electric dryer….it was a GE built in the US and if memory serves was built in Kentucky. That dryer lasted over 20 years….A dryer say from Samsung….if it does not catch on fire…will last maybe 7. This carries over to many other items that we buy…cars….clothing….appliances. And the truly maddening thing is when one complains about the “new cheese”…we the consumer are met with indifference. And it is explained that “7 years is the life of a dryer” or that’s just what “cheese” taste like now. It is basically all bottom line and business is ALWAYS chasing the cheap labor. China now is looking over it’s shoulder as Viet Nam is becoming the new “darling”. Nike has a huge factory there….BUT their shoes are still $100 here….
    As consumers, the only at we get a “vote” is to vote with “our feet and our purse”. Which is what Funny did with Samsung…and now Speed Queen is her washer company and the business is theirs to lose. Change for the sake of change is never good. A good example of this is in the documentary “WindFall”….which documents a community coping with an offer of wind mills in their community. What’s not to like…it’s green…right? Wrong and the film addresses issues one would never have imagined….and highlights the greed and convoluted financials from Goldman Sachs….

    • In 1972 a 20 cu ft refrigerator cost $705 (http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/70selectrical.html), which is the equivalent of $4,027 in 2016 (http://www.in2013dollars.com/1972-dollars-in-2016?amount=705). When I do an online search for what 20 cu ft refrigerators are selling for today, I get results ranging from $500 – $1500 – far below $4,000. For that to happen some combination of three things happened – changed profit margin, manufacturing cost (labor cost), and/or performance/lifespan (quality/material cost). While production location does impact the labor cost, it does not directly impact quality. Therefore, moving production to the US does not necessarily mean quality will rise.

      • In 1972 I was using a refrigerator that came with the house; it was already about 4 years old. It ran another 12 years.

        New refrigerators are designed to die in 7 years. So a top-of-the-line fridge (as this one was…ohhhh! DOUBLE DOORS…what WOULD they think of next?) would cost you $4,000 (2016 dollah) to run for 16 years. A comparable one purchased today, then, would presumably have to be repurchased after 7 years: it would cost you $3,000 to own one 16 years (assuming the things die in year 7 and in year 14).

        Okay…you ARE ahead $1,000. But you’ve probably invested $1,000 worth of aggravation in dealing with two refrigerator konk-outs, two cabinetsful of spoiled food, two rounds of shopping for new fridges, two days of taking off work to wait for an installer to show up. 😀

  9. I did a little more digging to see if I could find some US made options to replace our 1972 fridge and I found a couple contenders.

    First up we present this lovely option from Viking Ranges : http://www.vikingrange.com/consumer/product/products/refrigeration/freestanding-refrigeration/viking-freestanding-refrigerator-freezers/36–refrigerator-freezers/36–french-door-bottom-freezer—rvrf336#product-overview
    It costs $3,500 but includes a 12 year warranty.

    Next we have option from Kitchenaid:
    http://www.kitchenaid.com/shop/-%5BKRMF606ESS%5D-408587/KRMF606ESS/
    It’s a little larger capacity than the 1972 model, but as a nation many of us are a little larger capacity as well compared to the ’70s.
    This one costs $3,600 and has a 10 year warranty.

    Both options above would be considered fairly high end products. Some other US made brands, like Thermador and Sub-zero, knocked themselves out of contention by blowing our $4,000 target out of the water. While others, like Maytag and GE, utilize both US and foreign production lines so were excluded. Other brands, like Amana, make products in the US but at a lower price point and shorter lifespan (judging by warranty length) and were excluded. It would seem many consumers have voted with their wallets in favor of quantity over quality given the relative proliferation of lower end models and scarcity of upper level models. Only time will tell if a renewed US manufacturing would try to price compete with imports (a la Amana-style) or attempt to push consumers back toward more expensive products (Kitchenaid).

  10. Just a “side-bar”….If I hear the words….”bad motherboard” one more time I’ll die…. The new appliance MAY be less expensive BUT they do not endure and they 9 times out of 10 can not be fixed….Been there done that many times. I have had the “pleasure” working on many appliances. A couple of years back I bought a Maytag washer and dryer set, for a rental unit, that was 20 years old, on craigslist…for $60… for both. Things went fine for about 4 years then the dryer had “challenges”…after some research I bought all the parts to rebuild the caster system AND a new belt…for $40. I did the work myself….because….I’m cheap….Anyway that was about 5 years ago and the tenants LOVE that set….That were built in the USA….about 30 years ago. Today’s appliances won’t last like this…..