It came as amazing news to me, but via Clayton Cramer I learned something interesting:

we are still making stuff in America (besides worthless mortgages). I lost the circular level that I use for manufacturing ScopeRoller caster assemblies, so I had to buy a new one. I found a Empire Bullseye Circular Level at Home Depot for a bit under $3.
Made in USA by
EMPIRE LEVEL MFG. CORP.
Mukwonago, WI 53149
www.empirelevel.com
I needed some round, 1″ dies to use with my lathe. I went to McMaster-Carr to order them–and I discovered that American made dies were only a few dollars more than imports. Just to be sure, when they arrived, I checked each of them. The packaging says Greenfield, and the dies are stamped USA. I’ve previously mentioned my surprise and pleasure at the number of items that I have bought, assuming that they were made somewhere else–and they were made in USA.
American manufacturing isn’t dead. Labor union American manufacturing may be dying, but that’s not the same thing.

That is incredibly cool. I can’t tell you how many times in my recent 3 month remodeling job in California I bought defective junk from China. It seems that nearly everything now is made in China, which wouldn’t be so bad except when the things aren’t made well.
The worst thing is when public safety is involved. While I was in the San Francisco Bay Area, I read that the construction of the replacement portion of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span is being farmed out to China. Apparently, it no longer makes sense to have the pieces fabricated here; I could live with that, but what annoyed me to no end was to read this detailed report that an American engineering company discovered defective welds in the replacement bridge sections “as many as 65 percent of the more than 30 welded panel sections .. examined” were defective.
Instead of sending them back or demanding additional testing, Caltrans got rid of the engineering company.

(01-25) 16:51 PST — Construction of the tower portion of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span is running months behind schedule, amid questions over whether key portions being made at a Chinese steel plant are defective.
Inspectors hired by Caltrans to monitor the fabrication of steel girders that will support the tower’s roadway reported finding cracked welds last year, Caltrans records show.
The discovery has raised the question whether Bay Area taxpayers are getting a substandard product that could wear out prematurely and require costly repairs in a decade or two.
Caltrans and others in charge of the bridge construction say the welds are safe and that fixes have been made – but also say the inspectors interpreted the welding standards too rigidly.
Meanwhile, the inspection outfit that sounded the alarm has since been replaced.
“I can understand people being worked up about safety and quality with the welds,” said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and part of a three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee overseeing the $6.3 billion bridge construction. “But we’re concerned about being on schedule because we are racing against the next earthquake.”

Hey wait a second. The Bay Bridge was built in 1937, and yes, a section did fall down in the 1989 quake, and had to be replaced. (I was on the bridge during the whole ordeal, and considered myself lucky to get off of it.) But earthquakes do not occur according to schedules you can look up on a timetable. To be hurried into ignoring a known potential danger right now because of an uncertain future danger strikes me as questionable logic. (And how far does the logic go? Because there’s a big hurry, will just any old replacement do? Not that I’d expect logic from lefties who on the one hand scream about saving jobs for Americans, while on the other implementing policies which make it impossible for American companies to compete with China. Or “animal rights” activists who applied so much pressure to American drug and cosmetic companies that they stopped all domestic animal testing and farmed most of it out to a country which has zero concern about animal cruelty.
I’m just glad to read that a few American companies still make things here.
This is hardly a call for protectionism. Only a naif would demand that every last item be MADE IN THE USA like this charming box of staples from the early 1950s:
staples2.jpg
Note that it even has reinforced metal corners!
My mom never went through all the staples, and she died in 1999, so I inherited her “stash” of staples. The box is half full and at the rate I go through them, it will probably outlive me. Have to say, it is charming, and it brings out my “they sure don’t make things like the used to!” codger side.
Today, even “MADE IN USA” is sometimes open to question. While I was in California, I had trouble with a sticky screw on a no-hub coupling I bought at a local Ace Hardware.
Note the label (and you can see where the screw did not want to pull out):
ACENHC.jpg
Pretty straightforward, according to the label.
But look at the screw clamps themselves:
ACENHC2.jpg
It’s all too easy for me to pronounce the company dishonest. Is it? What if they’re allowed to put two Chinese-made things together to form a finished product? Who “made” “it”?
According to the FTC, whether the phrase “made in USA” is deceptive depends on the percentage of total manufacturing costs:

It will not be considered a deceptive practice for a marketer to make an unqualified U.S. origin claim if, at the time it makes the claim, the marketer possesses and relies upon competent and reliable evidence that: (1) U.S. manufacturing costs constitute 75% of the total manufacturing costs for the product; and (2) the product was last substantially transformed in the United States.

So if 75% of ACE’s cost was to pay Americans to simply stick the rubber sleeve inside its clamp, it’s “made in the USA.”
Then there’s this:

It will not be considered a deceptive practice for a marketer to make an unqualified U.S. origin claim if, at the time it makes the claim, the marketer possesses and relies upon competent and reliable evidence that: (1) the product was last substantially transformed in the United States; and (2) all significant inputs into the final product were last substantially transformed in the United States.

I guess “all significant inputs into the final product” could mean deciding how to label and display the product.