Saturday, July 21, 2007

 

Blaming China Is Absurd

Lately there have been many news reports in the US and Japan about the dangers of foods and other products imported from China, and Japanese and American consumers have been sounding indignant. I won’t buy anything from China, you can’t trust the Chinese, and so on.

But all this posturing is totally absurd because the Chinese are only doing their best to satisfy the strong demand that developed countries make on China: Produce lots of stuff cheaply. You can talk all you want about safety and sanitation and quality and not exploiting workers and not using prisoners as free labor and blah blah blah, but the Chinese are under tremendous pressure to produce lots of stuff cheaply to supply rich American and Japanese consumers who are spoiled rotten and expect to buy, at dirt-cheap prices, things made with someone’s labor and with resources scraped up from around the world. You want quality and safety? You gotta pay for them. But spoiled-rotten Japanese and American consumers think they are entitled to get high-quality products for dirt-cheap prices, and to that end make this unreasonable demand.

Of course you can see this within any one country as well. One hundred spoiled-rotten city people want a single farmer to grow lots of food for them. They want their produce to be picture-perfect, with no bugs or discoloration or malformation. So the farmers are forced to dump chemical fertilizers and pesticides on everything. They want farmers, or cheap migrant labor, to work all day under the hot sun for a pittance. In other words, to produce lots of stuff cheaply.

So condemning the Chinese for doing what we tell them to do is absurd. You can’t tell them it’s their job to produce lots of stuff cheaply, and then attack them for cutting corners to accommodate our demands.



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