RE: The Future of Tech Writing In America

Subject: RE: The Future of Tech Writing In America
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2012 08:30:33 -0400




Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
>
> Choosing and actually being able to find are two different things.
> More
> often than not you have to actually hunt for the US-made products, and
> unfortunately the money I spend on things that can be found made in USA
> pales compared to what I spend on things that can't. It takes a lot
> of
> socks to make up for a workstation PC.

Indeed. I just bought a Dell Ultrasharp monitor. I know it wasn't
made in Canada. Not likely it was made in the USofA.

Speaking of socks... many years ago, I found that my feet prefer
wool socks over cotton or plastics. So I stopped buying socks with
cotton and plastic in 'em. That was good, though the socks often
came from far away. I'm Canadian, so my preference - all other things
being roughly equal - would be to buy Canadian. After that, buy
American, after that, buy from away.

Anyway, after I'd been wool-socking pretty much exclusively for
more than a decade, a minor miracle happened. Sock makers (a
few anyway) discovered Merino wool. Shortly afterward, *I*
discovered Merino wool. My feet became tremendously happy,
and the rest of me wanted some, too. I began actively looking
for Merino versions of clothing items. That wasn't too awfully
hard for sweaters and watch-caps, but ... really, how many
sweaters and watch-caps does a body need?

Years later, it's still almost impossible to find a golf or
polo shirt made of Merino wool, but at least it's now easy
to find athletic T-shirts and layer items (i.e., underwear
with fancy new names) and the odd turtleneck in Merino.
But even the ONE source I could find that makes [some of]
their apparel in Canada was using New Zealand or Australian
wool. The odd American site that carried the stuff ALSO
admitted that their garments were either 100% imported or
at least made from NZ or AU wool.

Worse, several USian sites would sell me other trinkets, but
would not ship the apparel items that I wanted. "Contiguous
US States, only." Whether that was due to stupidity on their
part, or stupidity on the part of [your-or-our] law-makers
was immaterial. If I wanted Merino clothing I went back to
the New Zealand and Australia sites and ordered direct.

I can't believe that the entire North American continent
doesn't have at least a few pockets of climate that would
be suitable for raising Merino sheep to the caliber that
those New Zealanders keep producing, by the millions.

So, for several articles of clothing, I have a choice of
buying (i.e., paying my hard-earned dollars for) stuff I
don't actually want (cotton and plastics), or stuff I do
want, but from the other side of the globe.

If there's a citrus industry in Canada, it's too tiny to
be a blip on the radar. It turns out that I get absolutely
shivery with gustatory pleasure over Mineola tangelos, and
the odd Clementine, and will pay almost whatever the going
rate is to have them at whatever time of year they are in
season in some part of the world, be that the southern US
or South Africa. At not-far-from-sixty, I don't feel that
I have remaining time or inclination to deprive myself for
ideological reasons.

When I wanted specific things in a new bicycle, a couple
of years ago, it turned out that those specifics
("crank-forward" all-aluminum frame, and a tough Continuously
Variable Transmission) were available only from US
suppliers. So, a bike shop in another province (they
were the closest dealer) got some of my money for their
labor, and they in turn sent most of two-thousand of my
dollars to those US companies for the parts and assemblies.
If the equivalent items had also been available from (say)
Taiwan, then I would have willingly paid a small premium
(say 20-to-25-percent) to have the North American-made
versions, but otherwise, I would have bought the Taiwanese
items without compunction - as I would if the far-east supplier
had been the only one. Even so, at least some components
of the NuVinci CVT and of the RANS crank-forward bike were
made in Asia anyway, and only assembled in the US.

You may now generalize to an enormous number of other
products. If I *want* 'em, and can get 'em from Canadian
or US makers, I'll do so. I'll even pay a bit of a premium
for the privilege. But if nobody in Canada or the US
is producing - or if they choose not to make themselves
readily findable - then I'll buy from wherever, and not
blink. I think I'm not alone.

On the other hand, if Canadian and [Canadian branches of]
US companies stop employing technical writers, and I can't
move into some other semi-lucrative endeavour, then I won't
be holding out for preferred this-and-that anymore; I'll
be taking whatever cheap crud I can manage to afford,
regardless of where it comes from... and then I'll die and
it'll all be somebody else's problem.

Some of the young among you might put ideology first.
Don't worry - that will wear off. :-)


-k



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: The Future of Tech Writing In America: From: Chris Despopoulos
Re: The Future of Tech Writing In America: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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