What 'Made in USA' used to mean

Soon after arriving in a South American country to work in 1978, after some years in South Asia, I was talking with a local mechanic about a used car I was trying to get fixed.  The fact that it was a Chevy seemed to excite the mechanic, and he commented on the vehicle's overall quality by saying it was "mah-dey en oo-saw."  When I responded that I had no idea what he had just said, he looked at me with absolute perplexity and said in Spanish, "You are a Yankee.  You should know what 'mah-dey en oo-saw' means!"  It finally dawned on me that he was transliterating "made in USA," pronouncing the English words with Spanish sounds rather than translating them, which would have been "Fabricado en Estados Unidos de América," something I would have caught immediately.

It used to be that "mah-dey en oo-saw" had all kinds of local pronunciations around the world, and they all signaled that something had been well made and was a solid product.  It's been a long time since the 1970s and a very long time since North America topped the list in the world's opinion for turning out quality products, with the possible exception of German manufacturing.

Now with China producing most of our consumer, medical, and electronic products, it's only old guys like me who remember what a solid American product looked like and how it actually functioned.  And with the COVID-19 crisis and China's predatory marketing as well as financial bullying, we are looking at the empty hulks of our former factories and longing for the good ole days.

At a "Made in the USA" event in 2019, Trump touted new U.S.-based factory jobs and American-made products and plans another at the White House this October 5.  Joe Biden has been trying to play catch-up with his "America First" campaign, while accusing Trump of actually continuing to close plants and ship jobs overseas.  Whether Trump or anyone else will be able to bring home the factory jobs and whether we can realistically rebuild our supply lines from within the country are legitimate questions that can only be answered by the formation of a broad coalition of entrepreneurs and financiers as well as the crafting of regulations (or de-regulations) that will again give oo-saw sustainable conditions for profitable industry.

In the meantime, we can continue to say with somewhat reduced pride that many good products are presently "dey-seeg-ned en oo-saw" (designed in USA) or at least "cone-soom-ed en oo-saw" (consumed in USA).

Soon after arriving in a South American country to work in 1978, after some years in South Asia, I was talking with a local mechanic about a used car I was trying to get fixed.  The fact that it was a Chevy seemed to excite the mechanic, and he commented on the vehicle's overall quality by saying it was "mah-dey en oo-saw."  When I responded that I had no idea what he had just said, he looked at me with absolute perplexity and said in Spanish, "You are a Yankee.  You should know what 'mah-dey en oo-saw' means!"  It finally dawned on me that he was transliterating "made in USA," pronouncing the English words with Spanish sounds rather than translating them, which would have been "Fabricado en Estados Unidos de América," something I would have caught immediately.

It used to be that "mah-dey en oo-saw" had all kinds of local pronunciations around the world, and they all signaled that something had been well made and was a solid product.  It's been a long time since the 1970s and a very long time since North America topped the list in the world's opinion for turning out quality products, with the possible exception of German manufacturing.

Now with China producing most of our consumer, medical, and electronic products, it's only old guys like me who remember what a solid American product looked like and how it actually functioned.  And with the COVID-19 crisis and China's predatory marketing as well as financial bullying, we are looking at the empty hulks of our former factories and longing for the good ole days.

At a "Made in the USA" event in 2019, Trump touted new U.S.-based factory jobs and American-made products and plans another at the White House this October 5.  Joe Biden has been trying to play catch-up with his "America First" campaign, while accusing Trump of actually continuing to close plants and ship jobs overseas.  Whether Trump or anyone else will be able to bring home the factory jobs and whether we can realistically rebuild our supply lines from within the country are legitimate questions that can only be answered by the formation of a broad coalition of entrepreneurs and financiers as well as the crafting of regulations (or de-regulations) that will again give oo-saw sustainable conditions for profitable industry.

In the meantime, we can continue to say with somewhat reduced pride that many good products are presently "dey-seeg-ned en oo-saw" (designed in USA) or at least "cone-soom-ed en oo-saw" (consumed in USA).