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For most of my life I have been bombarded with advertising on tv, radio and in the newspapers urging me and my family to buy American made products.

As a child of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s that was still possible. Clothing, cars, appliances etc… were mostly still manufactured in the U.S. Electronics though were making a strong shift to overseas production. I can still remember my family’s RCA television, but by the time I was a young adult all we had were Sony’s, Sharp’s and Mitsubishi’s.

With the rise of overseas manufacturing it didn’t take long before clothing, toys, appliances, you name it were being made in China, Thailand, Korea and India to name but a few countries.

The biggest change came with auto manufacturing. Yes the Big 3 was still selling cars but a wave of imports mainly from Japan were gaining market share at a rapid rate. Today foreign manufacturers represent about 55% of the U.S. car market and are growing while the Big 3 keeps sliding towards oblivion.

That brings me to my current situation.

Two months ago I was involved in an auto accident where my car was hit, t-boned actually by another driver. Unfortunately for me the car was a total loss. Now having received a settlement from my insurance company I need to purchase another vehicle.

In searching for a new car, I am going by my experience of growing up with a Corvair (the car that made Ralph Nader famous)  then a Pontiac LeMans, Olds Cutlass Salon and Ciera and last but not least a Ford Taurus.  In addition to those cars I owned a Camaro when I was in high school and college and a Ford Tempo when I was married and a Ford Taurus station wagon as my family grew. They were all decent cars and served my family well, but cost a small fortune to maintain.

For the last 6 years I have owned two Hondas and a Lexus that I inherited from my father. Unfortunately it was the Lexus that was totaled in the accident. By the way it was 8 years old with 150,000 miles on it and probably would have lasted another 25,000 miles at least. How many American cars are likely to last that long without a major overhaul?

My main expenses on these cars have been for routine maintenance and some minor repairs making the cost of ownership over the life of the cars very reasonable especially when compared to my American made cars.

I will probably pay more for buying a Japanese car, but I will receive in return more comfort, better styling and a higher resale value. Even with all the wear and tear on my wrecked car after 8 years I still received over $8,000 from the insurance company. Can someone please name an American car with the same age and miles that would also warrant that type of settlement?

For the government the auto industry is sacrosanct and must be saved at any cost. Yet with all the money taxpayers are dumping to “save” the Big 3 we still won’t get what we need which are reliable cars that hold their value and look good to boot. The industry is still mired in decades long manufacturing processes that makes them anti-competitive and more costly to own than their Japanese and German counterparts.

The bailout will only be a temporary reprieve. Detroit won’t solve its problems until they can lure buyers like myself back to their showrooms and at the pace they are going it won’t happen in my lifetime.

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