As a 15-year homeowner, 10-year landlord and recent purchaser of two dishwashers, two refrigerators, a freezer and a washer and dryer, I'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit.
The article reflects classic confirmation bias. If you're in the business of buying and selling and scrapping used appliances, you're going to see the stuff that people are getting rid of. This is the sort of thing that will convince you that everyone is "using thinner paint" when the reality is it's damn-near impossible to buy anything other than shows-every-fingerprint stainless steel. You're going to see an awful lot of bullshit top-loading washing machines because you have to be a mouth-breathing moron to not score a $150 rebate on a water-saving front-loader (got my first one in '96). And you're going to see the cheap-shit Haier appliances because - "and this is true" to quote John Oliver - you can get pretty much every Kenmore, Whirlpool, Bosch or Maytag part on Amazon Prime.
Yes. You see appliances from 50 years ago. You don't see a lot of them, though. As to "screws vs. glue" I hate to say it, but a self-tapping screw scores the galvanizing on your sheet steel and leads to rust which is apparently the #1 concern of cheap-shit appliance recyclers in Hawaii.
I remember buying a dishwasher to replace our busted one when I was in 6th grade. To the best of my knowledge, my dad was still running it in 2008. That's 22 years - not bad. But it also cost $600... in '88. For a one-stop-above-basic GE. That's a $1300 dishwasher now and you gotta work at it to spend that kind of money. No lie - we bought a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher and a refrigerator (with icemaker) for $1900.
I bought a washer-dryer combo in '96. My wife bought the same damn one in '97 before she even married her first husband. I think I paid $900 for the both of 'em. When they died on our tenants in 2011 we pretty much bought the exact same ones for $1300. And when it started screeching at me I bought a $30 pump off Amazon and spent 20 minutes fixing it. THAT is what has changed - you don't need to roll a truck and wait two weeks to fix your washing machine anymore. You look up the schematic online, point to where the bad man touched you and have salvation show up in your mailbox 48 hours later.
That is a dope ass refrigerator. Yer damn skippy it's still running in 2017. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I can tell you it's the equivalent of a $3,000 refrigerator now. What do you get for $300? Well, it's got an operating system. And no. It isn't hammer-tone, and no, it isn't painted white, and no, it isn't being "designed to rust away." It's got a ten year warranty.
Yeah. There are cheap appliances out there. And yeah. They break quickly. But what cheap appliances there were in '52? They're gone, yo, as are the cheap appliances from '62, '72, '82, '92 and '02. If you're judging longevity based on what shows up at the junkyard you're going to think the world is made out of junk.