The Epiphone brand began with the work of a Greek immigrant luthier- a violin and guitar maker of fine reputation. His instruments were such that his brand name has been perpetuated by the larger American company that bought his brand. But the Epi pictured above is hand-made in China, and it is a really beautiful instrument to play.
The hard work of one generation seems to create comfort and greater expectations in the next, so the things we make in our wealthier context become harder to afford, and we out-source to poorer emerging economies. It doesn't take much intelligence to see that this is one of the central problems facing us now, whether you are for example, Greek, American or Japanese.
On one hand, the Chinese people who made this instrument are being brought into some level of comfort from our support of their products. On the other hand, by supporting them we make it harder for people to make things in our own country. I make instruments but it doesn't make sense for me to make one of these. I'd spend more on the components than the cost of the Epiphone- and in my mind, this is a musical power tool, a product. It is a beautiful appliance. And although it feels nice not to have to make everything I use, as a maker, I couldn't justify purchasing the three or four times costlier US made article (but if I was a good player, I probably could). So I become one of the consumers that contribute to the scenario wherein our societies become poorer (in several ways) because we can't make things, and consequently we must lose some of our value as markets for other people. That will probably become self-defeating even for those that can still produce. What good is an unemployed Italian or Australian to an aspirational Chinese worker if he can no longer finance his life?
I don't have the answers here, but I really believe in small scale enterprise and diversity, and I'm sure that it isn't healthy to have fewer, larger manufacturers chasing larger homogenous markets, and being able to apply downwards pressure on costs anywhere in the world. That's why, whenever possible, I invest my daily expenditures in people rather than price. But in this case, I'm as bad as anyone, except that I did buy from a local dealer, despite the lure of the net.