Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Deadly Toys, Poisoned Pets: More Reasons To Buy American

by Glenn Littrell

Toothpaste, toys, and pet food. Major recalls of over 3 million items, all imported, all from China. All cheap, all non-regulated, all use to be manufactured in America. Companies were quick to offer apologies and assurances that they are on top of things and it will not happen again, or at least they will take steps to better prevent it. Weeks later another recall of over 300,000 Barbie dolls followed by another. The culprit... lead paint, again. The dangers of lead paint are not new. In this country bans have been in effect for decades.

China has said that it will no longer allow the use of lead paint in toys, but the very next day it was revealed in Congressional hearings that millions of pieces of children’s jewelry from China are already in this country. In a country like China (that is ruled by an elite, arrogant, and corrupt communist party) how can we expect enforcement when they lack safety codes and manufacturing standards for their citizenship? A communist party that sees capitalism as a scourge that they must protect their citizens from, but that they will tolerate for their own personal gain.   With no human or civil rights granted to the peasant citizenship how can we expect them to do more than give token considerations to product standards to protect our citizens? Capitalism in the hands of a corrupt government ensures that corruption will rule in favor of the pockets of that government.

We are constantly made aware that few goods are made in America by cries about the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries. Unfortunately we tend to absorb these complaints as an unavoidable fact of live as long as it’s not our job. In other words as long as it’s affect me is to lower the cost of an item I consume THEN that’s a good thing. But these recent recalls should serve as a warning that outsourcing affects more than lower prices and someone else’s job. It also affects the safety of the consumer of every outsourced product and that is all of us.

When Mattel, RCA or any other company closes their American plant and moves it to a third world or communist country (and it is always a third world or communist country) they don’t just shut the plant and move their operations to that country. They totally eliminate their manufacturing operations and set up a purchasing operation there. This is true in most cases and especially China. This is why major retailers like Wal-Mart force their suppliers to relocate to China specifically. They are no longer manufacturers they are just importers. They sub-contract the manufacturing to an unheard of entity and then market products based on their own well known name. This is what drastically lowers their cost of production; they eliminate their production cost and replace them with purchasing cost. They have little, if anything other than token, oversight over the manufacturing of their products.

Many American companies are no longer manufacturers of their product but are just importers and as importers they are limited to their own voluntary inspection of a very small portion of their imports.

In third world countries with weak governments, weakened infrastructures, weak manufacturing, virtually non-existent labor laws, undeveloped civil and human rights, low standards of living, and non-existent environmental regulations how can we expect them to have an effective oversight system that treats our products better than they treat their citizens?

In a communist country where civil and human rights are outlawed and the plants that manufacture goods are government owned, absent of regulation or free market pressures, and are manufacturing gooimageds that their own plant workers will never be able to afford, why would we expect them to have a concern for our product safety?

Why would we expect our importers to exert pressures on plants that are owned and operated by a monopolistic, elite, corrupt and arrogant communist party? Remember these are free marketer capitalist who have crawled into bed with a Communist regime in order to make a cheaper buck! 

And don’t expect the free market right-wing politicians to raise more than token objections to China’s lack of regulation and controls when they themselves constantly preach the sins of government regulations for product safety, human and civil rights and environmental concerns in this country.

It is time we realized we have to break our addiction to cheaper prices. There are two ways to make your voice heard in this country, with your vote and your dollar. We have become complacent with our right to vote and ignorant of our right to choose how we spend our money. Too many of us think we have no option except to buy made in China products. For some of us maybe we can’t afford to turn away from Wal-Mart and other importers because of economic reasons, but for many of us it is our addiction to cheaper goods that dictates that not true poverty. Those of us who can afford it need to be more selective, at least occasionally.

Yes we are just a grain of sand on a large beach when it comes to the grand scheme of things, both in terms of our lonely dollar and our singular vote, but as a little old lady speaking out on the right to vote at a APRI Conference said:

“…me and my vote might just be a grain of sand on a beach, but let me get in your eye or the crack of your butt and then you see if I can’t get your attention…”

Many changes have resulted from large or popular economic boycotts, but they all started small with concerned individuals making small individual sacrifices before they snowballed into movements. You may not be able to get involved in a time and effort consuming movement, but you can always make a choice with your dollar and your vote.

Buy American and vote like an American!

Are you familiar with the term “blowback”? It’s a term reminiscent of the fifty and sixties phrase “ugly American” We hear it more and more on the news in reference to terrorism, the war in Iraq, and in political rhetoric. Does our exporting of our jobs and manufacturing to China and third world countries have the potential for future “blowback?”   Yes......more on that.

Glenn Littrell