I never said Merrick or Quik were not using those companies, I said they have done a great sales job to the brainless robots who really believe they produce the best surfboards in the world or the best Surf? clothing in the world. The quality I have seen on the chinese boards is very much like if not better than some of the crap I have seen come out of production factories in California, so the public would not be able to tell the difference. When the local boardbuilder and the glassers have all lost their jobs to the chinese and the fad of surftechs and boardworks is gone, what we will have is a bunch of people with no real talent trying to make hand made surfboards, cause all the real talent has either died, retired to work at the local pizza delivery, or is too old to shape. Those who have bought into the chinese and surftech type boards have turned the surfboard into a commodity instead of an art. If it stays that way the creativity of surfing will be gone and revenge of the nurds will be reality. In fact revenge of the nurds is already reality when it comes to those who buy surf cloths and read surf magazines.
I agree with everything you say...some would argue it was progress. I shape here in the UK and we have a great little industry going on with a few exceptions. Quality custom boards for discerning customers.
To kick a dead horse. USA education beyond university (graduate studies) is so far beyond that of the rest of the world that comparisons are silly. University level is comparable with the best of the rest of the world. Secondary education in the USA is actually behind quite a few other nations. But our graduate schools are filled with many of the brightest US citizens, and many of the brightest citizens of all the other nations of the world. They come here to study, because this is the best place in the world for graduate studies. The real issue with outsourcing manufacturing is the plight of the worker, the person doing the manufacturing. The corporate officers make more money. The consumer gets more for less. But, the worker, the person in manufacturing, loses his job. And it is not coming back. In previous generations, unions provided a measure of protection for the worker, and narrowed the division of wealth. This is a good thing, economically, because the money from the worker is spent on material things. Now, the division of wealth is widening because corporate officers are making more, and workers have to compete with workers from other nations. And it is not all about working conditions. In Taiwan, skilled workers like machinists or casting mold makers work for half the price in the USA - the cost of living is also roughly half. The direction this is taking will only get worse. And it is unclear you can blame the entrepreneur. Is Bill Bahne to blame for outsourcing - his fins now cost 65-75% the cost of Rainbow Fins? He is making more money, and competing with Chuck Ames who also outsources. It is a classic tragedy of the commons problem, one that ends in another Great Depression, sometime in the next two decades. If you don't think so, ask yourself... Am I willing to pay 30% more because something was made in the USA? Am I, as a corporate officer, willing to sacrifice a substantial profit margin and ability to compete with other companies, in order to keep production in the USA? The rich are getting richer... http://www.blakestah.com/surf/
No country can be complacent about the future. The USA has not always been the leading power in the world, and in the future it may not be. If you assume that smart people are equally spread around the world, then its only their access to education and technology which is holding most of the developing world back. As the surfboard industry is finding out now, anything can be made anywhere in the world. In at most twenty years time, all the existing patented technology will be available to use for free (except for software and other copyrighted materials). The one thing that may be harder to copy is the American entrepeneurial spirit. It is usually the non-conformist small-guy that makes things happen, not corporate or government bureaucracies. Welcome to the brave new world.