Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hypocrisy, Patriotism, Bullshit.

No security angle here, just an incendiary rant.  (Unless we're talking economic security, but we won't go there).  You've been warned.

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Gettysburg is a great town, rich in history of course; but also a nice college town with a well-maintained downtown and a real sense of community.

Sure, there are the obligatory tacky tourist traps- including sacrilegiously named stores, restaurants, and hotels (winner in this category, "Gettysburg Battlefield Resort"), but not all of the tourism is bad.  The Park Service is trying to restore many areas to period-appropriate condition and has just opened a new visitor center.

The Rant:

On the edge of town, out by the highway, is Battlefield Harley-Davidson (not near the battlefields, by the way).  Battlefield Harley-Davidson is housed in a large steel building, near failed and failing auto dealers and the requisite highway off-ramp hotels and shopping centers.  Like most H-D dealers, it is a large and impressive facility, nicely landscaped and well-maintained.  When you enter the building, you are greeted by dozens of shiny new Harleys, but beyond the front line is the magic- a bewildering array of clothing, accessories (both motorcycle and "lifestyle" accessories) and trinkets.  This is the stuff anyone can afford, even if you can't swing a new 'Glide.  Unfortunately, much of it poor quality and almost all of it made in China.  For a company which touts quality and wraps itself in the American flag as much as Harley-Davidson does, you might expect some true patriotism and dedication to quality American-made goods- but you won't find it.  Even the more expensive goods are almost exclusively Chinese, so it isn't just the cheap stuff they outsource.

This isn't really about Battlefield H-D (except the BS name and proximity to sites of historic patriotism), it is about Harley-Davidson's corporate greed.  Want to sell inexpensive stuff made in China?  OK, there are some issues with that, but it is a legitimate business model.  Want to milk false patriotism for a buck?  (Note, I believe John Deere gets a dishonorable mention in this arena, too- for similar reasons).  That's fine for spineless cowards and hypocrites.  I'll pass on that ride, thank you.