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founding

I think I speak for all of us when I say you speak for all of us Walter. So much truth. I feel the same way about our leaders.

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I just went through this when I got tricked into buying an automatic can opener. The damn thing wouldn’t work with certain lids or if the lid had a small defect. I went back to my great grandmother’s 1888 opener. I now appreciate the old relics I got from my great grandparents or grandparents because what I have from them was meant to last. Lesson learned new, shiny product does not mean works better or built to last.

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I had the very same problem with the most highly rated automatic can opener on amazon. I sent it back and ordered a manual opener from OXO. It works perfectly.

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Walter - our toaster recently died. It took me a good deal of investigation and investment to find one not manufactured in China. Our new Dualit carries a superb pride in craftsmanship sticker underneath that reads “Hand Built in Great Britain by Liam. This toaster is fully repairable & fitted with a safety cut-out stat which can be reset by a qualified Electrician.” Happily we will be passing it down to our daughter some day.

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

THIS!! This subject is my Achilles heel in my life. It is a total affront to my sense of humanity.

Your sentence “the quality of material objects reflects and affects the quality of society, even of the spirit.” encapsulates everything I feel about what is happening to the quality and INTEGRITY of products manufactured today. And to your point - the same is happening to our lives.

The list of things I could rant about is way too long to list. I will share my tactics.

EBAY - since everyone is well aware of this ginormous issue, you can find many products in very good to excellent quality on the site. I recently bought a percolating coffee pot from from the 1970s that is in perfect condition and works great. Cost less than new.

MADE IN USA. It’s still true, what is still made here, is still made well. One caveat. Must be a company at least 30+ years old. I recently bought my husband a trimmer made in the USA. Best trimmer we’ve had in years. Price was competitive. Same with bakeware made in USA. Price is competitive and in some cases, cheaper

EUROPE. The UK makes many wonderful clothing items. Far superior quality. Gloves? England, Ireland, Scotland. Sometimes I’ve bought Canadian clothing goods and they were also quite good. One note. The item will cost more, but it will last.

I believe this quality issue started in the late 1990s when our US corporations were ALLOWED to export our manufacturing and jobs overseas. Then the marketers stepped in and provided the mantra “cheap is better. You can can buy more stuff (junk). Now that EVERYTHING is a piece of junk, the marketers are stepping in and providing the new mantra “you’ll own nothing (because it’s crap) and you’ll be happy” IMO the biggest fraud our American companies have ever created.

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Yes. The quality of today's clothing has nosedived in the 21st century. But I buy stylish, barely used, high quality clothing and accessories on ebay at great prices -- yoga pants from Canada's Lululemon, 100% cashmere wraps, discontinued shoes, vintage handbags, sterling silver necklaces from Tiffany. And I sew my own tops and sweatshirts with designer "deadstock" fabrics imported from Italy and France.

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Wow. All great suggestions.

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Glad to help. I search for the things I truly love and try to buy them for reasonable prices. I hunt, and I and hunt, and my treasure hunting sometimes pays off.

A few days ago, I bought my all leather. vintage Gucci bag for just $200 as a buy it now because the inexperience seller who was obviously unfamiliar with selling designer accessories had written the heading as "Gucci Hand Bag Black Small." Because of the way ebay is set up, noone who searched for "Gucci Jackie bag" or "Gucci Hobo bag" would never see the beautiful bag I ended up with.

If the heading had been better, and if the bag had been cleaned and stuffed by the seller before it was photographed, it could have sold for $800 or more, which is the price I remember that bag originally sold for at Saks and Neiman's back in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Poshmark has some great finds, too. But I prefer to deal with ebay because if you have a problem with a big (or smaller) purchase, ebay's customer service phone reps will get things straightened out. And Poshmark has more obvious designer fakes that are listed as being "authentic." If someone is selling a brand new Gucci bag, one that costs $3,000 on the Gucci website, but the seller is asking for only $300, it's a fake.

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You know, I’m actually not a designer follower. I am an QUALITY and COMFORT “connoisseur”. I do love classic wear with a twist. A surprise. I appreciate the beautiful artistry of incredible designer wear. I even take snapshots of it for painting inspiration. Color, texture. While I am an artist (Creative Director, designer) I am a practical person. In addition, I’m German and Scottish. Try dressing that figure. Lol.

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How interesting. I love timelessly elegant and comfortable clothes that flatter my small frame. Right now I'm sitting in the kitchen trying to keep warm with one of my cashmere wraps that I bought used on ebay. I'm also wearing a small cashmere neck warmer that I knitted. I'm retired and my hobbies include garment and home dec sewing, painting abstracts, and interior decorating.

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Nice. You sound like you have good taste.

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I know this started much earlier (or maybe was planned earlier) because I was in college in the 70’s and “built-in obsolescence” was a descriptor that showed up in many textbooks, paperbacks, and was spouted out of professors’ mouths. I guess we were being weaned away from our happy childhoods with the 50 year old dryers that were used when we got them and even shoes that lasted year after year. It’s probably why we never threw anything away because ‘ya never know’ until we started to understand built in obsolescence. You always know. Throw it out.

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Race to the bottom.

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Could this be part of the plan to "own nothing"?

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My husband was wearing a new pair of sunglasses as we sat on a Lake Michigan beach when we heard a cracking sound. It was his sunglasses breaking, on his face. The Michigan sun is not that direct, even if it makes us squint, and it wasn't a particularly warm day. Potemkin glasses.

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People used to darn socks. You can't with the quality now.

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Between value engineering and advertising and marketing, our public, I fear, no longer understands aspiration or inspiration. Arete is a stranger. We don't know what future to want. Desire and imagination are constrained. Do we need another Willie Wonka film? The iconic Apple 1984 ad hinted at liberation but delivered a succession of shinies programmed to die so that the next shiny became an object of desire. Comfortable, having settled for less than we should, we seek to quell desire by doing what we're told. Maybe we start by desiring the right things, holding out for the good, the true, the beautiful. Go outside, look out, look up, then look within.

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Walter is so right. We should add to the list the useless call centers whenever we need help to fix a problem; that is to say, if you can reach an actual person. Everything seems to be so dysfunctional. Besides afflicting us all with adversities both unnecessary and stressful, this strongly suggests a worsening of conditons. Currently underway, some scientists argue, is the planet's sixth mass extinction. It's the first with humans on the scene, attendant with epochal revolutions in informational technology, personal data gathering, and artificial intelligence. Hmm. What could possibly go wrong?

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

Not even the rich are exempt from the downgrading of products. I'm not rich, but I admire classic designer handbags. The other day, I watched a youtube review of Chanel's expensive handbags. In recent years, the price has skyrocketed. And their basic handbag, which at the turn of this century went for the low four figures, now goes for five figures. The price of a decent used car.

https://www.chanel.com/us/fashion/p/A01113B14953NS838/small-classic-handbag-shiny-grained-calfskin-rainbow-metal/

That would shocking enough. But although the price has climbed astronomically, the once impeccable quality of Chanel handbags has plunged. The leather is inferior, the linings are made of plastic, the hardware is no longer plated in real gold, the stitches are uneven and can quickly unravel. When customers complain about their still new handbags falling apart, the snooty sales associates tell them Chanel handbags are not intended for daily wear. Apparently, you're just supposed to store them, encased in their flannel dust bags, inside your walk-in closet!

Last year, Bernard Arnault, the owner of the company that runs Chanel and dozens of other top luxury brands was briefly the richest man in the world until Elon Musk knocked him out of first place. Arnault raised prices dramatically and cut corners when it came to the materials and manufacturing techniques. Greed is good. Right?

And it's not just Chanel. The quality of top designer handbags by Gucci and Prada, to name just two, has also declined as their prices have risen. The medium size of Gucci's iconic Jackie 1961 hobo handbag now sells for a whopping $3,500, including tax. But as a Christmas present to myself I snagged an authentic, 20 year old, all leather, vintage version of the Jackie hobo handbag in great condition for just over $200 on ebay.

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/p1IAAOSw~wdlUPul/s-l1600.jpg

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

CONTINUED: I plan to rehab the bag with a bubble bath in my sink (as the pros recommend). Then I'll stuff it with clean rags, let it dry, coat it with Cadillac Boot & Shoe Cream, and buff it with a soft cloth. Good as new. Or should I say much better than what passes for new these days. And whenever I take my handbag out of the closet, I won't have to worry about it falling apart.

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Real assets are a good thing to buy during stagflation.

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Welcome to the third world. Watch your step when exiting the bus.

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More like a donkey cart.

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Sometimes.

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Potemkin pens. I buy them by the box -- it’s extremely frustrating how quickly they run out of ink. When the Nespresso machine stopped working, we went to a flea market, bought a percolator from the 1970s for $3, fashioned a filter top from a discarded soup can, got some Folgers and the universe was right again. Hard to say if that course of action would work for a washing machine.

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Entropy wins, ennui is just a waypoint

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Thank you Walter! That was a tonic for my soul. Your work is truly an antidote, a vaccine even, to the non stop gas lighting aimed at us by our betters.

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And all the “smart” products. I bought an oven that touted more functions than I’ll ever use, but some of the basic I could not access until I joined their app. Oh all the questions to get signed in. I was furious at them and more at myself for thinking I could out smart and oven.

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Never buy "smart" products. They feed all your usage information into the Brave New World algorithms that seek to sort and control you. Never use Google for searches. Use Duck Duck Go because it keeps your searches private.

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Enjoyed reading this in the Free Press last year after I opened up my "family sized" bag of Doritos to find 3 whole chips staring at me. This year I read after opening the same Doritos except I only found 1 chip. I guess they should change their name to Dorito or I'll have to downsize my family.

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