Thoughts on China | zorbas's Blog
During a recent conversation , more of a discussion really, several comments were made about our exporting American jobs to oversea sources. It was the contention of several at the meeting that we have shortsided the American worker. While much of this true, I had to remind those that how it all first transpired years ago.
Our need at that time was the pressure brought to bear on us to bring products to the market place within a price range that the consumer could afford. All product, as everyone knows, has an intrinsic value in the mind of a consumer. That is true of both you and me. We simply will not pay for anything we feel is overpriced. It is we who dictate that value.
Consequently we had to do one of two things. Either cheapen the product by use of inferior components or reduce the cost of manufacturing that product, which was at the time labor intensive.
Most of us in our industry couldn't reduce labor costs sufficiently,for varied reasons, so we started this pell mell rush overseas looking for a competent labor force to bring the product in line with a price that would be favorable to first, the buyer and then ultimately the rdiscerning retail consumer.
We first went to Mexico , then to the Phillipines, Indonesia, Korea and of course Japan. None of these appealed to us favorably. We finally settled on Hong Kong. We found there, eager workers and sufficient quality. We hated to start importing from there but had no choice if we were to survive. Although we were fully aware that we were placing American jobs on the line we began to notice sublimly at first the absolute happiness in those Chinese women and men at merely the joy of having work.
One day while visiting a plant of about 8700 employees, some 800 miles up country and during a tour of the factory, at the women workers dormatory, I noticed ten pair of sandals neatly placed at the entrance of a room barely 8 X 10 feet. I turned to the owner and accosted him about the size of the room made to accomodate ten people and he retorted angrily,
" You Americans will never understand that the conditions you see here are a thousand time better than those experienced by these girls in the villages they came from. Here they get three full meals a day, are paid for the first time in their lives and housed better then at the hovels they came from.. To them this is a God send." You forget, he continued" That everyone everywhere wants a better life for themselves and their families. Americans may want a second car and home but here a father merely wants just enough rice for a meal a day for him and his familiy"
Times have much changed since that time and we now have exported our manufacturing overseas to a point where we no longer produce anything here at all. Wal Mart still is the biggest choice of American shoppers and they are the biggest importers in the land and it is now the Chinese families looking for the second home and car.
However, China now is suffering from the same malady that we once were ,with the added problems of extensive pollution , perceived poor and dangerous products and sagging exports. Also wages have risen to a point that the advantages that were there before have somewhat narrowed, when freight charges are taken into consideration.
This could be the time now to regain some of our manufacturing bases with the help of industry and labor and force Wal mart and others to seek out sources here as we did in China years ago. We helped China, but can't expect anything in return,. However, what we did there for those people we can certainly do here again for our own with a little co-operation and compromise.
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Previous PostsFacebook, Twitter and Consequences, posted July 25th, 2012
Revelations, posted April 2nd, 2009, 2 comments
Thoughts on China, posted December 17th, 2008
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