China’s economy: Is the wakening giant a monster?

A great summary of China’s economy from The Economist last week. One point that the article misses that I would like to harp on is that, although China makes 60% of the world’s bicycles and 86% of the bicycles sold in America, their bicycles, like most of the exports from China that we see in America, are crap. There is not a single product I’ve bought recently that was labeled Made in China that hasn’t fallen apart or is ready to fall apart sometime soon. Lately I’ve been making a point to check when I’m buying items of importance to me that they aren’t made in China, and I’ve been encouraging my friends to do the same.

  • The North Face sleeping bags are made in China and the stiching and quality of the goose down is extremely poor. I’ve only backpacked with my “Superlight” 4 times now, and it’s already showing signs of wear. I don’t think it will last me much longer. The North Face tents are made in China but assembled in Korea, and they appear to be much higher quality.

  • Pacific Trail/London Fog jackets are made in China. I bought a top-of-the-line waterproof/breathable snow jacket a few years ago and it only lasted one season, it literally fell apart at the seams. I’m a small guy; I’m not that rough on clothes.

  • Most of the Martha Stewart merchandise at K-Mart is made in China and use-and-throw-away after 6 months.

    So why does China have this problem? I think it’s a combination of working conditions and wages. China has some of the worst working conditions in the world and an average labor wage of 60 cents per hour. Made in China molded plastics that we cherish in our products here at home are made in hot unventilated workshops where overworked and underpaid men and women inhale plastic fumes all day. I would take a job making Nike shoes in a Malaysian sweatshop over that job any day.

    And why does the world accept this problem? I think it’s because of our non-stop conumption culture. People in America like having “new” things. “New” is supposed to be better. If it breaks, go buy a “new” one. Industries pump out products that aren’t designed to last for a long time so that you’ll buy a new one when the old one breaks. Landfills aside, this model is working very well, but the quality of the products is suffering. Sigh…

  • Senator Byrd: Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences

    This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal. In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This Administration’s domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, under funding scores of essential programs for our people. This Administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth**. This Administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect our long and porous borders.

    (** Remember the 30% import tax on steel back in 2001? That helped no one in this country except people who had controlling interest in US steel companies, and hurt the rest of us because increased steel prices trickled down to other sectors… Eat your “trickle down economics” out Reagan.)

    Calling heads of state pygmies, labeling whole countries as evil, denigrating powerful European allies as irrelevant — these types of crude insensitivities can do our great nation no good. We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global war on terrorism alone. We need the cooperation and friendship of our time-honored allies as well as the newer found friends whom we can attract with our wealth.

    After visiting Washington Square in Philly there was no longer any doubt in my mind that I was 100% proud to be American. Our forefathers fought against [then-British] imperialism and blind use of power and to create a society where we would be free to openly question our government. Now it appears that we are becoming the very thing that we opposed. Let us never forget that it was our forefathers that taught us that it is un-American to not question the acts of our government. Horray Byrd!

    Here’s an idea: Osama bin Laden isn’t real.

    I thought I’d speculate for a moment. What if Osama bin Laden is not a real person, he’s just a fabricated persona created by Al Queda or some other terrorist network? If Hollywood has taught us anything, this would be completely feasible: whenever they feel like making the latest “Osama” video tape, this guy dresses up in his old BDUs, puts on the fake beard, and make-up changes his facial structure slightly and they alter his voice after it’s recorded. If this was true, it would explain the US never knowing his whereabouts and ease in finger-pointing all of the world’s terrorism problems on him. The public likes to have a scapegoat, and what better one for a propoganda machine to have than one that never goes away and does all of the world’s evil-doing. 1984 meets Wag the Dog. 🙂