"Made in America Week" at the White House has come and gone, amounting to . . . not much.
There was a terrific parade of American-made goods, some of them near to my heart: Stetson hats and Gibson guitars among them.
But the newly energized nationalists among us may not want to look too closely at those sentimental "All-American" claims.
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Gibson makes some of the finest electric guitars in the world, along with some very fine acoustic guitars, mandolins, and much more. It was founded by a child of immigrants and currently is owned by an immigrant, Henry Juszkiewicz, whose parents moved from Poland to Argentina before he found his way to the United States. For much of its history, Gibson was a Panamanian company, and while Gibson-branded guitars are indeed made in the United States, there is much more to Gibson Brands than American-made guitars: Chinese-made Baldwin pianos, Chinese- and Japanese-made Epiphone guitars, Boston-based Cakewalk Software, Malaysian-made Cerwin Vega audio components, a stake in Japanese electronics firm Onkyo, and much more. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took an interest in Gibson's wood imports from Madagascar a few years back, which came via a German intermediary. Which is to say, in its triumphs and in its troubles, Gibson is a truly global company.
Stetson hats currently are made under license in Texas, but the original John B. Stetson Company of Philadelphia was a global enterprise, too, over the years operating facilities everywhere from Germany to Brazil to New Zealand. In the 1990s, the iconic Western headgear was acquired by a conglomerate held by an all-American leveraged-buyout firm based in New York.