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#1928132 - 07/17/12 03:02 PM 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos  
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Our own Del made a statement about pianos being manufactured in China. Keep in mind that this was in 2003, almsot 10 years ago. Here is the quote:
Quote
...I have been in three piano factories in China and I would have serious questions about the longevity of anything coming out of any of them. The problems range from the quality of the various glue joints to the quality of the wood used to the way the wood used structurally is handled. Mostly how it is dried and conditioned. It's still a matter of getting what you pay for. There is a reason (aside from the cost of labor) why more expensive pianos are more expensive, be they verticals or grands.

Del


I'm curious about how Del and others feel about pianos CURRENTLY coming out of China. Is this statement is still useful for those in the used market? Mostly I'm wondering what's changed in the last 9-10 years in Chinese piano manufacturing.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
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#1928149 - 07/17/12 03:53 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Originally Posted by Pianolance
Our own Del made a statement about pianos being manufactured in China. Keep in mind that this was in 2003, almsot 10 years ago. Here is the quote:
Originally Posted by Del
... I have been in three piano factories in China and I would have serious questions about the longevity of anything coming out of any of them. The problems range from the quality of the various glue joints to the quality of the wood used to the way the wood used structurally is handled. Mostly how it is dried and conditioned. It's still a matter of getting what you pay for. There is a reason (aside from the cost of labor) why more expensive pianos are more expensive, be they verticals or grands.


I'm curious about how Del and others feel about pianos CURRENTLY coming out of China. Is this statement is still useful for those in the used market? Mostly I'm wondering what's changed in the last 9-10 years in Chinese piano manufacturing.

Among the main players there have been significant improvements. In some cases companies like Kawai and Yamaha have been getting involved with the Chinese manufacturers and have been bringing with them their knowledge and expertise. They have also been bringing their quality and performance standards.

In other cases the manufacturers have been seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall: Get Good or Get Gone. Some of these companies have been bringing in consultants from Europe and from the U.S. (Myself included.) If the company is receptive to change the results can be good. In most cases, I think, these collaborations have worked reasonably well.

The days of finding loose knots rattling around in the backposts of uprights or plywood lids with the raw edges exposed are pretty much gone.

Most of the Chinese-built pianos coming into the U.S. now represent a good to excellent price-to-performance value. Both their build quality and their performance have improved significantly over the past ten years.

I should add that this is not always true with some of the companies making pianos strictly for the Chinese market. On my last trip to China I was able to visit a couple of piano dealers where I did see some pretty sad examples of the pianomaker’s art. It is unlikely that we will see pianos from any of these manufacturers in North America.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
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(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1928153 - 07/17/12 04:12 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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As always, an excellent answer Del, thanks. I do have a question though. It is my understanding that wages are rising significantly in China. How long will it be before the cost of labor is about equal to what it is here in the USA? At that point, will it make sense to continue to build products of any kind in China? Will heavy manufacturing move to another country with cheaper labor? Will manufacturing costs reach the point where the USA will have a competative edge because of shipping and import duties? So many questions.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1928168 - 07/17/12 04:50 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Originally Posted by Pianolance
As always, an excellent answer Del, thanks. I do have a question though. It is my understanding that wages are rising significantly in China. How long will it be before the cost of labor is about equal to what it is here in the USA? At that point, will it make sense to continue to build products of any kind in China? Will heavy manufacturing move to another country with cheaper labor? Will manufacturing costs reach the point where the USA will have a competative edge because of shipping and import duties? So many questions.

Wages in factories is certainly rising in China. On my last visit to Tianjin I was told that the average per capita income there was one of, if not the highest in China at something around $11,500 per year. And this is still rising at a fairly strong pace.

Low wages were not the only reason why U.S. manufacturers failed. While Japanese manufacturers were investing heavily in factories and tooling U.S. factory owners and managers were working on improving their annual bonuses. While Japanese managers were working on achieving ever-better manufacturing quality standards U.S. managers were bragging about how great their pianos were when they were shipping pianos riddled with manufacturing defects and poor quality materials and components. Some, not all, Chinese manufacturers are following the Japanese model. Others are following the old U.S. model. Guess which ones will survive?

Yes, I think a U.S.-based piano manufacturer could be successful even in today’s difficult piano market. It would probably source some components from other countries and would have to sell what U.S. factories and workers are capable of doing best; innovating and pushing the envelope to gain ever-better levels of performance at reasonable—not cheap—prices.

Such a factory could be built for a fraction of what some are investing in the coming U.S. election. Admittedly the profit potential of owning your own piano factory is not going to be as high as the potential profits to be gained by owning your own government but there would probably be more artistic satisfaction.

The trick in this sort of venture would be to balance the requisite investment in machines and equipment against the cost of hand labor. There are some operations that are simply done better by machine but those machines are not cheap. Other operations are done better when the tool is guided by a human hand but those humans don’t come cheap either. While the initial cost of a largely hand-guided factory is lower than a machine-centric factory the long term costs of the former are greater.

Another challenge would be developing the right product and market mix. I don’t see any American based piano maker being able to compete at the low end of the market. But the piano market is made up of more than just the bottom end. Were I involved in such a venture I’d want to see some experienced product people studying the international market to help decide on model sizes and price points.

And now let the fun begin….

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
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#1928179 - 07/17/12 05:18 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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I think Del's explanation of the American piano market and its lack of success is a trifle simplistic. . . .But I have to believe that he already knows that!

#1928186 - 07/17/12 05:33 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]  
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
I think Del's explanation of the American piano market and its lack of success is a trifle simplistic. . . .But I have to believe that he already knows that!

Yes, it is simplistic. You expected a book?

Actually I'd like to see a good book written about how to destroy an American musical icon -- Baldwin -- in just a couple of decades. I'm not qualified to write it but I'd sure like to read it. It could start just before Harrison/Smith and end with Gibson.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1928191 - 07/17/12 05:41 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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I've been to facrories in China, Korea, Indonesia, and Japan. Many of those that Del has visited (and worked for).

The thoughts he has expressed on this thread are right on. Particularly on the level of improvement that has occured over the past 10 years, and continues to occur today.

On the other hand, prices on Chinese-made pianos are rising as well. This somewhat mitigates the improvements as it relates to value.

I can also tell you that a few manufacturers are looking beyond China and Indonesia. Coming soon....Vietnam, Cambodia??


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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1928205 - 07/17/12 06:15 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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"Admittedly the profit potential of owning your own piano factory is not going to be as high as the potential profits to be gained by owning your own government but there would probably be more artistic satisfaction."

Del, this is just too funny. I love it!

I await the new Koch & Koch 12' Concert Grandioso.[Linked Image]


Now, I must hide. [Linked Image]


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#1928213 - 07/17/12 06:31 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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DeL:

Bravo! Bravissimo!


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#1928214 - 07/17/12 06:31 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty


I await the new Koch & Koch 12' Concert Grandioso.



Fathertopianist could really run with this line. Epic win, MM.


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#1928217 - 07/17/12 06:34 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: OperaTenor]  
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[Linked Image]


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#1928252 - 07/17/12 08:14 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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At the risk of taking this thread too seriously, I would like to remind those reading it that the "value" that Chinese pianos have in this country is at least in large part based on the inexpensive labor with which they are produced. It can also, of course, be attributed in part to the unfair currency policies of the increasingly restrictive Chinese government, policies designed to keep the prices of Chinese exports low and imports high. It is all very well and good to take advantage of the low prices, but people need to know that they are benefiting from the labor of workers who have a far lower standard of living than do workers in this country and from economic policies dictated by a government with absolute control over such matters.





#1928437 - 07/18/12 09:29 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Rank,

While much of what you say is true and a problem we all should keep in mind, theer are mitigating circumstances that you fail to take into account.

Most piano industry laborers in China and Indonesia are paid more and have a higher that average standard of living. Comparisons to our standard of living distort the reality. In my visits to Young Chang’s factories in Inchon S. Korea and Tianjin China as well as when I visited Samick’s factory outside of Jakarta, I spoke to a number of workers about their standard of living. They were quite satisfied and did not feel, nor did they seem exploited.

Yes, I’ve seen the reported abuses at other Chinese factories, and I am aware of the currency manipulations which certainly are unfair. But, from what I saw, the piano industry labor seems well in line.



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Jasons Music
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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1928443 - 07/18/12 09:42 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Very, very interesting topic!!!
I am new to pianos and is looking to buy one for my child of Craigslist this week. I was concentrating on either Kawai or Yamaha when I came across 10 y.o. J. Strauss & Sons Upright Piano for 2K.
Further investigation revealed that 'Strauss' is in the same 3rd group category of Upper Quality Consumer-Grade pianos same as Yamaha and Kawai according to http://www.thepianoreview.com/piano-ratings.html
I started to pull some additional information of blue book of pianos and it reveals that piano is actually made in China by SHANGHAI PIANO CO., which had discontinued production in 2006 and original MSLP of this instrument was $2,500.00 in 2002. Now, I am very hesitant to pursue it any further based on conversion within same forum thread.
Question: Have any of you can say anything positive about visiting SHANGHAI PIANO CO located in Shanghai China and has anything to say about their production line back in 2000 and with regards to J. Strauss & Sons Upright Piano?
Serial Number LF -29798
Manufactured in 2000
STRAUSS, Name used by the Shanghai Piano Company, Shanghai, China. See Shanghai Piano Co. For serial numbers.

Strauss (new listing)
L & M International, Inc.
6452 Bresslyn Rd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37205
615-356-3686


Thanks,

#1928444 - 07/18/12 09:47 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Steve: I agree that many workers in the piano industry in China are well paid relative to their compatriots. I also think that workers would be extremely reluctant to express dissatisfaction to anyone, let alone someone they cannot know well. Nor do workers in China or Indonesia have the same expectations about standards of living that workers in Europe and the United States have.

This does not mean, however, that China is not at an advantage because of lower labor costs, nonexistent environmental protections, and currency manipulation.

Some years ago, I read an article about the auto industry in which the author of the article noted that (1) Japanese cars cost less than their American counterparts, and (2) every single Japanese car made in Japan had a pre-existing subsidy of something like $6500 dollars because of Japan's health care and retirement systems. Quite an advantage.

This argument may or may not apply to Japanese cars today; many are actually made in the US, and cars have become fairly cosmopolitan creations anyway. But it is worth remembering that American products have to compete against subsidies like this across the globe.

Let's hear it for universal health care!

#1928450 - 07/18/12 09:56 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: NickZ]  
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Hi Nick - Welcome to Piano World!

When the initial reaction is; "A what, built by who?", it's probably time to look elsewhere.

$2,000 for a 10 y/o dubious piano from a "dead" maker which sold for $2.5K new, is just filled with too many red flags.

Run Away, Run Away, Run Away ...


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#1928462 - 07/18/12 10:20 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Thanks Marty for your prompt response. You're absolutely correct about too many red flags.
I can't believe how thepianoreview site ranked this $2.5K J. Strauss & Son junk with 4 stars above Kawai's K5, K6 and K8 ranked at 3 1/2 stars.


#1928466 - 07/18/12 10:25 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Nick7,

The reason you see the piano review giving the J. Strauss such a high rating is that the importer of J. Strauss owns the review!

It was all a marketing ruse by East Coast Pianos, a company that has since, I believe, gone belly up.


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
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Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1928470 - 07/18/12 10:31 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Rank,

I agree they have an unfair advantage.

And, what is your alternative to universal healthcare?


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1928486 - 07/18/12 10:51 AM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: NickZ]  
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Originally Posted by NickZ
Very, very interesting topic!!!
I am new to pianos and is looking to buy one for my child of Craigslist this week. I was concentrating on either Kawai or Yamaha when I came across 10 y.o. J. Strauss & Sons Upright Piano for 2K.
Further investigation revealed that 'Strauss' is in the same 3rd group category of Upper Quality Consumer-Grade pianos same as Yamaha and Kawai according to http://www.thepianoreview.com/piano-ratings.html


Nick,

The only way to know if that particular J. Strauss is of sound construction and in good playing condition is to pay a technician to evaluate it. Since that's going to cost $100 or so out of pocket, I would only do it if that piano seems promising and your used market is so thin that the piano is a standout. In most local markets it would be overpriced.

If that piano had the faults that Del described 10 years ago, it would already be failing, so it may be serviceable. With the early Chinese export pianos, there were a few hits, some misses, and many near misses where the faults could be cleaned up by a good technician if the buyer was willing to pay for it. Since consistency was the biggest problem, in many cases you can't go strictly by which factory manufactured the piano.

I would not pay much attention to that web site or its rankings. Certainly everyone is entitled to own personal set of piano rankings, but the site owner does not identify himself, his affiliations, experience, or basis of knowledge for stated claims. There are certain oddities in the high ratings of certain pianos -- Knabe, Taylor, Falcone,, J. Struass, and Hallet among others. In addition, many piano brands are not included in the scheme. For example, there are no pianos from Pearl River, the world's largest piano manufacturer or from Petrof, Europe's largest piano manufacturer.

I don't know the purpose of that site, but it gives the appearance of being just another attempt to extract ad revenue from an industry that does not have much of a budget for advertising. It could even be the product of a retail operation which is trying to sell one of the overrated brands mentioned, and has skewed the ratings to use them as a sales tool to win customers away from Yamaha and Kawai.


Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
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#1928565 - 07/18/12 01:54 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: turandot]  
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Steve - +1 thumb

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Marty in Minnesota

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#1928698 - 07/18/12 06:22 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Steve: just to answer your question, I believe in universal healthcare. As far as I know, we are the only so-called first world nation that continues to ration health care based on wealth, as well as being the only first world nation that does not have universal health care.

So I don't need an alternative to universal health care.

Incidentally, or maybe not, this thread has provided a separate and additional reason to support health care for all: health care for all would erase some of the economic advantage that countries that do provide universal health care have over the United States, in terms of selling their products here. It would certainly help the price of pianos that are produced in this country!

#1928712 - 07/18/12 06:43 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]  
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
Steve: just to answer your question, I believe in universal healthcare. As far as I know, we are the only so-called first world nation that continues to ration health care based on wealth, as well as being the only first world nation that does not have universal health care.

So I don't need an alternative to universal health care.

Incidentally, or maybe not, this thread has provided a separate and additional reason to support health care for all: health care for all would erase some of the economic advantage that countries that do provide universal health care have over the United States, in terms of selling their products here. It would certainly help the price of pianos that are produced in this country!


Interested???

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#1928721 - 07/18/12 07:11 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Thanks Turandot for taking your time and explain the way piano manufacturing works. Based on your advised I am now concentrating my energy toward purchasing a brand new K3 as suppose to chasing one from the used market.
Once again, I am thankful for all of your timely responses pointing me to the right direction.

#1928743 - 07/18/12 08:28 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Rank,

This thread isn't about universal health care, but since you went there let me just say that if you were in England and you were having a heart attack you would have to wait for hours BEFORE an ambulance showed up to your house to take you to the emergency room, and then you would have to wait several more hours IN THE AMBULANCE (it's called ambulance stacking) before you got into the emergency room. Once in the emergency room, they hospital has a 4 hour time limit to see you, so you could potentially wait 4 more hours before you even saw a doctor. That's because of Universal Health Care available to all lucky British citizens. To be sure we have problems with our health care system that need to be addressed, but I say no thanks on universal health care. I know this will probably spark a debate, but anyone who believes that universal health care is the answer to our health care problems is misinformed. All universal health care brings is a whole new set of problems worse than the problems we already have.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1928744 - 07/18/12 08:31 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Originally Posted by Pianolance
Rank,

This thread isn't about universal health care, but since you went there let me just say that if you were in England and you were having a heart attack you would have to wait for hours BEFORE an ambulance showed up to your house to take you to the emergency room, and then you would have to wait several more hours IN THE AMBULANCE (it's called ambulance stacking) before you got into the emergency room. Once in the emergency room, they hospital has a 4 hour time limit to see you, so you could potentially wait 4 more hours before you even saw a doctor. That's because of Universal Health Care available to all lucky British citizens. To be sure we have problems with our health care system that need to be addressed, but I say no thanks on universal health care. I know this will probably spark a debate, but anyone who believes that universal health care is the answer to our health care problems is misinformed. All universal health care brings is a whole new set of problems worse than the problems we already have.


But Lance, you must agree that it has made the British piano manufacturing industry much more competitive worldwide. Why, just look at Kemble...er, wait...


#1928757 - 07/18/12 09:30 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Originally Posted by Pianolance
Rank,

This thread isn't about universal health care, but since you went there let me just say that if you were in England and you were having a heart attack you would have to wait for hours BEFORE an ambulance showed up to your house to take you to the emergency room, and then you would have to wait several more hours IN THE AMBULANCE (it's called ambulance stacking) before you got into the emergency room. Once in the emergency room, they hospital has a 4 hour time limit to see you, so you could potentially wait 4 more hours before you even saw a doctor. That's because of Universal Health Care available to all lucky British citizens. To be sure we have problems with our health care system that need to be addressed, but I say no thanks on universal health care. I know this will probably spark a debate, but anyone who believes that universal health care is the answer to our health care problems is misinformed. All universal health care brings is a whole new set of problems worse than the problems we already have.


I've never seen such a disgusting example of complete lies and fabrications.

I am in Canada.

My father had a heart attack, as have several friends of mine.
Ambulances come as fast as they come in the US and probably faster, and the care they get is exemplary.

Personally I've experienced some rather SERIOUS health issues last year (complete kidney blockage and resulting major kidney infection).
An ambulance came for me within 10 minutes (on two occasions) and I have been hospitalized three times (a week each time) due to my kidney problems (and recurring infections from a failing kidney) and I have had several operations (laser lithotripsy) correcting those problems.

Since this was my first serious illness I was absolutely amazed at the level of care that I received both in the hospital and at home. (I had ongoing home visits by a nurse two or three times a week that went on for months).

If I were in the US I would have lost my house, and then some.
The only thing that I have had to pay for here was any prescription drugs, and these were less than I would have had to pay in the US.

The ONLY minor issue that I had was that I had to wait a bit longer than I would have liked to get my initial operation.

If you want to hijack the thread and discuss universal health care it would be good if you did not lie through your teeth about the reality of it.
Simply because you've willingly swallowed the LIES you've been told by the corporate financial propaganda machine about single-payer health care that is no reason to spread those lies to others.

I generally abhor people going drastically OT as this but I will not stand by and watch someone spread such blatant lies about something that literally saved my life (and many other people that I know here).

Note: The CBC here once did a nationwide survey of Canadians and asked them what the number one thing they liked about the country.
The answer? Our health care system.



#1928766 - 07/18/12 09:47 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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Pianolance Offline
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Well, I'm glad for you Canadians then. BTW I wasn't talking about Canada.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1928768 - 07/18/12 09:51 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Sparky McBiff]  
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+1 Sparky.

Australia has a very good health system that every taxpayer contributes to. Nobody is ever left in an ambulance, nobody would have to wait for more than 15 minutes for an ambulance to get their their door in the case of a heart attack or stroke.

Our system, and Canada's by the sound of it, is light years ahead of the US system. People don't lose their financial security just to receive medical care. And if they don't have any financial resources, they don't go without care.

How anybody could suggest that the US has a superior system to a well run universal health care system really beggars belief. Of course, there are wealthy people who complain about the contributing more to our medical system, most of whom have private insurance over and above the government system, but most think it's the best solution for our country to make sure we don't have the horrifying outcomes of the US-style haves/have-nots system.

I don't know how it's implemented in every country but there are plenty of countries that do universal health care very well.

#1928780 - 07/18/12 10:12 PM Re: 10 year old statement about Chinese pianos [Re: Pianolance]  
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My feeling is we should get back on topic and leave a discussion of universal health care for another day on another forum. Besides, pianos are much more interesting than universal health care. So, how about them Chinese pianos?


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
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