Pet Peeves, Big And Small

Written by Larry Usoff on June 22, 2019

Leading off on this list is the “camouflage” of brand names. Case in point… Bell and Howell. Apparently THAT name is no longer associated with fine cameras, binoculars, telescopes, or anything else that one might be thinking of. It currently provides services for automated equipment in enterprise-level companies. HOWEVER, there IS a company called Bell+Howell and they DO sell cameras and associated equipment. They are under something called Elite Brands and phone calls and emails to both produced NO RESPONSES. The purchase of a camcorder bearing the name Bell+Howell, which was made in China, showed me exactly how far down the quality level that name has sunk. From personal experience, I would not recommend anything bearing that name.

While on the subject of brand-name camouflage, have you looked at a pair of Levi’s jeans lately? What was once an American “institution” has now become just another “schlock” piece of goods. Mr. Strauss and his family must be spinning in their graves to see what they have done to his jeans. Someone, and I don’t remember who, said something about doing one job, but doing that job better than anyone else, and you’ll be a success. That was the story behind Levi’s jeans…when “the old West” needed a pair of pants that stood up to everything those old cowboys did, they turned to Mr. Strauss’ jeans. The jeans could take it and they lasted because they were RIVETED! The only thing riveting about them today is the outlandish price being charged!

For many years, off and on, I was in the remodeling business. In that field you become used to using a large variety of tools. One name that was always worth the money was Craftsman, which was sold by Sears-Roebuck, and yes, that was the name then. Actually I remember it when it was Sears AND Roebuck, but that’s just giving away that I’m an old geezer.

In the years since then, it’s been one merger, or gobbling-up, after another. What were individual, quality, companies have now become a family of names. Stanley Black & Decker has chosen Lowe’s as the next retail destination for its Craftsman brand, which it bought from Sears Holdings earlier in 20179. Sears had controlled the iconic tool name for 90 years. The “lifetime” warranty on tools has been “modified” somewhat, and you’ll have to check that out yourself.

What about your car, or truck? Where is THAT made? Many consumers looking to buy an American-built vehicle have a difficult time identifying one that’s assembled here with 100-percent American-built components. That’s because it’s impossible, at least if you’re talking about buying a car from the major carmakers. Why is this happening? When we were “Fortress America” during the 1940’s and WW2, we made everything that we, and our Allies, needed. After the war we were still the powerhouse of the world of manufacturing but, as Americans do, we helped those we defeated, to get back on their feet. As time went on we “outsourced” things to other countries to help them, and, as it turned out, to be much cheaper than we could make them here. Eventually, and you know this to be true, we made less and less in this country. Practically everything you pick up has a label or imprint that says it was made in China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia or almost any other place that you can think of. We DO still make things in America, but it’s limited and they do cost a bit more. If you don’t mind the little extra, please buy American.

Lastly, because I’m a gun-owner, and it pains me to say this, I HAVE bought foreign guns because there was nothing comparable in the price range that was comfortable. Our armed forces are currently using as the standard-issue sidearm a Sig Sauer P320 semi-automatic pistol. This was a decision made on the basis of performance, one would hope and expect. The Model 1911 .45 caliber has always been a reliable, tough-as-nails pistol and had the benefit of being made in America…for a long time. Now, there are “variants” being made all over the world calling themselves 1911’s. Our military rifles, excluding specialty ones for competition or sniping, have been American for as long as I can remember, BUT, the “camouflage” of brands even extends to firearms and what you might think would be a fine old American brand could be made somewhere else, and you’d never know, until you bought the weapon and looked at it closely. As an example, Springfield, a great name in American firearms, is manufactured in the city of Karlovac, Croatia by HS Produkt (formerly I.M. Metal), the Springfield Armory XDM is the marketing name for the firearm, which is licensed and sold in the United States by Springfield Armory, Inc..

So, you see, brands are being camouflaged, and it creates confusion in a lot of buyers minds.

Parting shot: It doesn’t help the American consumer when a product is wearing a name that reflects American-made, but it isn’t. Is that a possible bait-and-switch game, or just out-and-out fraud? I don’t know that it is either, or both, but I would certainly investigate something before you spend any money on it. That is just common sense and, do I have to say this, that’s a commodity that seems to be in short supply.

Larry Usoff
Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired. Articulate. Opinionated. Patriotic. Conservative. Cultured enough so that I can be taken almost anywhere. Makes no excuses for what I say or do, but takes responsibility for them. Duty. Honor. Country. E-mail me at: