Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Opuscula

Made in
CHINA

 

The U.S. is importing too much from China.

In itself that might not be so bad (except for the balance of payments), but China has proven, time and time again, that it cares nothing for the health of its people or the people who purchase Chinese products.

It's time American's looked elsewhere for their merchandise

When I was much younger, everything was imported from Japan. The crafty Japanese even had a town called USA so it could label Japanese made products as "Made in USA." The original Japanese products were, to put it nicely, less well made then Japanese products of a decade ago.

Like the Japanese before them, the Chinese "appropriate" most technology from the west.

Chinese products are, more often than not, unsafe. Americans know that.

But, Chinese products are cheap - in all senses of the word. And "cheap" is what sells, especially in a collapsed world economy (for which the U.S. must shoulder the lion's share of the blame).

Back in the day - the day being 1967 - I bought a Honeywell Pentax H3v 35mm nothing automatic camera. Pentax was made in Japan, but the importer, Honeywell, put its name on the product after it performed a 100% inspection. Mind, the H3v was not an expensive (as in Leica or Nikon) camera; it set me back $125 borrowed from my then-employer, the Titusville (FL) Star-Advocate. The H3v eventually was given to a friend who gave it to a son-in-law who gave it to . . . who knows. As with my last 35mm camera, a brass Canon F-1, it is, for me, a collector's item, for others, something that just gathers dust.

We were looking for frozen tilapia today. We found plenty. All the kosher label fish were "Product of China." (There are unlabeled frozen tilapia from Honduras. Can't tilapia be raised in farms in the U.S.?)

The wife bought garlic the other day. When she got it home and started to open the net bag in which it was sold, she noted "Product of China." GARLIC!

We can't grow garlic in the U.S.? Unbelievable.

OK.

Let's assume that garlic and tilapia have such a low Return On Investment (ROI) than U.S. agri-comglomerates can't make a satisfactory profit to raise the products in the U.S.

If that's the case, that in order to make a profit on garlic and fish it has to be a "Product of Somewhere Else" then at least the U.S. government - charged with all things international - MUST inspect all incoming products to assure they are safe. The FDA samples U.S. food products and discovers - albeit infrequently - dangers to the consumers.

Products of places that are notorious for a cavalier attitude toward (a) their own people and (b) their customers - China, for example - need to have a high-ratio sampling. The cost, of course, must be passed on to the consumer.

Having the added cost might make "Products of the USA" more price competitive as well as being safer for the consumer.

When I worked in the mil-spec world (communications and process control systems), some of the incoming materials received 100% inspection; each unit was individually inspected to make certain it met our - and the government's - quality requirements. Other materials, from vendors with a long history of quality and strong Quality Assurance and Quality Control processes in place, were sampled at a much lower rate, perhaps one unit in 100 or 1000.

We have a "China only of there is nothing else available" policy for the Glenn household.

There ARE products that their point of origin is less than critical. Some furniture, for example. But even here, our preference is for products first from the U.S. then made any place OTHER THAN China.

When Wal-Mart was making a name for itself and Sam Walton still controlled the company’s direction, Wal-Mart bragged that it sold mostly "Made in America" products. Now you are lucky to find an "Assembled in the USA" product in the stores.

Certainly there are some good products made in China; I expect Chinese military products not-for-export get a fair QA/QC before being put into service. But commercial grade products - clothing, food stuffs, compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), dry wall, tires, etc. - are proving to be less.

It's time Americans started looking for Made at Home (USA, Canada) products even if there is a minimal (10%?) surcharge to provide enhanced quality and product safety. (Sadly, many Made in the USA products - GM's ignition switch being an example - also lack a level of QA/QC that should be expected with local products. In GM's case, as was the case of Ford's Explorer transmissions, management apparently made a decision to ignore the faulty product rather than "do the right thing" and make design and production changes.)

Even with less than perfect products bearing the Made in the USA label, I feel safer with those products that I do with anything with a Product of China label.