Better Cars, Not Slogans, Get Buyers
Typical Heavy Traffic Everywhere
Buy the Best
Since 1957 when I purchased my first car -- a used 1950 Dodge -- I guess I've owned at least a dozen different vehicles, including a couple of Fords, a Chevy, a Chrysler Imperial (tagged the "Gray Ghost" by friends.) I've also held title to a Mercury, Datsun, Buick and a Dodge Omni. (Obviously brand loyalty is not my thing.)
While I'm not a noted shopper and I tend to grab the first thing that approximates my need I do give some thought to my purchases. In buying a car, my thoughts turn to: 1) cost; 2) Does it run? 3) Does it have a good radio and tape recorder? and 4) Can I take it home now?
One thing I give little or no thought to is: Was this auto conceived, designed, built, promoted and sold by American labor? By Japanese labor? By German labor? By Italian labor? By Samoan labor?
Blame the Japanese?
Over the past several years as America's debt soared and its balance of trade became what economists refer to as "unfavorable" there has been an increasing tendency -- in no small way aggravated by former Chrysler Corporation Chairman Lee Iacocca -- to blame the Japanese and others for America's problem.
This jingoism has come to be known as the "Buy America" campaign. In other words look not at the quality of workmanship, the price tag, appearance, warranty or maintenance costs look rather for the "Made in America" sticker.
By jingo! That not only defies the intelligence of the American people, but does a disservice to American labor.
Many Americans have been snookered into believing that it is patriotic to buy a Chrysler, Ford or Chevy instead of one of those mean old foreign cars sold by those unfair, greedy capitalists overseas.
Don't pick the car you like best, the car that's more efficient and better looking, the car you feel will serve you better!
No, for the good of Chrysler, General Motors or Ford, buy the car that doesn't look as good, doesn't perform as well, isn't engineered as well, costs more!
Don't feel badly if your car isn't so great; remember, you're patriotic!
The truth is that when we Americans buy an inferior product we encourage inefficiency, we encourage poor engineering, we encourage poor design.
Why should the auto makers break their backs finding better products at lower prices when "patriotic" Americans will buy any piece of junk they produce -- and pay more for it to boot!
A Charitable Gesture?
Do the unions fare any better? Do they end up with better pay, better job security or more pride in their productivity by taking money from Americans who buy their product not because it's the best but rather as a charitable gesture? Not likely.
America must shun the jingoism of those who would sell them cheap, those who would appeal to their lesser instincts, those who would have us blame others for our own deficiencies.
We best serve our country, and ourselves, by making the best, buying the best, being the best.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaperof Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 16, 1993. Just look what's happened in the automobile industry since that time.