The exorbitant cost of cheap stuff made in China

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It is difficult to buy anything that is not made in China today, because the U.S. imports more than half of its consumer goods from that one country.

 Other country such as Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Guatemala and Mexico and a few more split the rest of pie.Whether you buy discount, store, designer or” American” brand , China makes it for us, everything from clothing, accessories, household electronics, government computer components and software, weapons , hardware, building materials, toys, toiletries, pharmaceuticals and food staples like dairy and meat. Even puppies bought online have been shipped from China, most of them very sick, many dead (from dehydration and lack of air) on arrival.

The flood of consumer goods from China has nearly tripled since 1997, and the number of recalls has grown proportionately. The Food and Drug Administration is deluged by this flood. The FDA inspects just 0.7 percent of imports. David Acheson, an assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA, says it logistically impossible to test all imports from China. “It’s got to be based on risk,” and the Chinese knowing gladly take the risk of losing a tiny percentage at inspection.

FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs and for the products that made it to market, there has been after the fact inspections (sickness or death) recalls on pet food (after the critical illness and death of hundreds dogs), produce, infant formula, toothpaste, score of poisonous non food articles such as children and pet toys, pharmaceuticals, drywall, etc…

A widely used chemical in animal feed and some human foods in China, melamine disingenuously gives food products the appearance of high protein levels, allowing watered-down dairy products, for example, to pass quality tests.                                                                                                                                                                                               In September of 2008, Canadian food inspectors issued a recall on cookies when they were identified as containing unsafe levels of melamine. But the , FDA was reluctant to make a similar stand even as pressure from the public and the media was mounting — and the cookies continued to sell in grocery stores across the country.When it was revealed last year that Chinese-made baby formula laced with melamine was causing infant deaths, nine countries, including Canada and Australia, temporarily banned imports of Chinese dairy products, sending a clear message to China that its food safety problems will not be tolerated. Consumer groups in the U.S. unsuccessfully called on lawmakers to take similar measure.

The Chinese government has responded with reluctance and resistance to the safety problems and issued a public statement to this effect, stating, “as a developing country, China’s current food and drug safety situation is not very satisfactory because supervision of food and drug safety started late, its foundation is weak so the supervision of food and drug safety is not easy.”

Why are we trading with them on such huge levels as to endanger our children, our pets,our economy, our values?

Additionally, FDA found that imported fruits and vegetables are likely to have illegal levels of pesticide residues heavy metals and other contaminants. Water, soil, and air are dangerously polluted in many rural areas as a result of heavy industrialization and lax environmental regulation. Shawn Dell Joyce wrote “Recently, China surpassed the United States as the world’s top polluter. China has no real environmental safeguards in place to protect drinking water from contaminants, no labor laws to keep children out of sweatshops, and no legal ethics to keep entrepreneurs from producing dangerous products.                                                                                                           The FDA and USDA again and again fail to protect Americans, fail to protect animals, fail to do the right thing and seem to take advice only from lobbyists and orders from powerful American Corporations with business interests in China. For example, in March of last year, China complained to the WTO about the United States ban on the importation of Chinese poultry, a measure the U.S. took on the grounds that Chinese poultry is produced in an unsafe manner, notwithstanding the fact that China has zero animal protection laws. China has claimed that the ban “violates the basic rules of the WTO,” and the country continues to use its leverage under the trade agreement to compel the U.S. to reconsider the ban.

Why do we do so much trade with a country that does not share our standards of ethics, of democracy, of consumer protection, of human rights, unless the corporations who do business in China have access to Washington and put tremendous pressure on our government to keep disturbing hugely profitable relations? Or is it ransom?

 In addition to our safety, the overwhelming cost of this contaminated flood of imports is a huge trade deficit and the loss of millions of American jobs. The United States government could do a lot to help bring some of these jobs back to America, if only they would in effect punish companies for outsourcing jobs to other countries. Ironically we should hope that offshore companies will begin to realize that they’re losing their American markets to impoverishment. As Henry Ford understood, “when you get rid of an employee, you likewise lose a customer.”

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace. The globalism and “free trade” that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn’t tell us that the “global economy” would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations, no environmental concern, no bill of human rights.

The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001 and a staggering 32% of its manufacturing jobs since 2000. Approximately 75 percent of those factories employed at least 500 workers while they were still in operation.

The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting the third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Many MBA’s and engineers are out of work because their job were outsourced to well educated Chinese or Indian who works for minuscule wages . American manufacturing is long gone, but even the drug companies, the rare industry that still does a significant chunk of its manufacturing in the United States, outsources. Colleges outsource as well. Some states even outsource food stamp services and even Intelligence agencies outsource the interview process for applicants. Call centers and customer service for “secure” financial institutions and “security” monitoring and medical billing, (your extremely private information) are also very often outsourced to English speaking India (whose economy is projected to be larger than the US by 2050), even Pakistan.                                                                                                                                                                                           What would happen if a war with China breaks out, even a cold war, even an Asian war of the economies.

People used to say, get an education. Education and experience used to be the ticket for a good job. The time for this wisdom is gone.  In the 1980 ‘s, America was a beacon for immigrants. Now, immigration is down. Even the seasonal workers from Mexico don’t come in huge numbers anymore. Not only immigrants cannot be blamed for taking our “good” jobs, but it is also clear that America is no longer the land of opportunity for hard working people.

The shrinking middle class is now divided between employed and unemployed and the people in the control tower, their bodyguards, their cooks and maids, their doctors and the teachers of their children will soon be the only people employed in America. Sadly Washington gauges our economic recovery in term of spending (consuming which is what Americans do best) rather producing and manufacturing growth.

Outsourcing leads to a jobless recovery. And a recovery without jobs is hardly sustainable.

Patrick Henry would have said today: “Give me work or give me death.”

Shawn says:                                                                                                                                                                                      When we opt for a cheaper import, we give away American jobs, jeopardize our livelihoods, compromise our ethics, and let our dollars flow out of our community, only to fund a foreign system that degrades people, abuses animals and disregards the planet.

A recent economic study conducted in Austin, Texas, found that if each household in Travis County redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores (carrying cheap imports) to locally owned stores, the economic impact would reach approximately $10 million. Imagine what $10 million could do for your community”.

If you are getting fed up with cheap imports flooding our stores and damaging our economy and dangerous products slipping through the holes in our safety nets, here are a few simple actions you can take today:

-Spend your money locally. Visit local artists, crafters and artisans for gifts. Look for items that are made using local products, as well, for example, wines from local grapes and jams from local fruits.

-Boycott anything made in China, even for only a week. It will make you aware of how dependent we are on imports, and it may protect your family from unsafe products.

-Lobby to make it illegal to sell defective goods and for every business in the supply chain to be legally responsible for what it sells.”

Do look carefully at the label of the item you are wanting to buy and think

1)Perhaps you don’t really need this stuff. ”Do I really need this “stuff”!!?? Will it make me happy? How much will I use it to justify the expense? What are the ingredients or components? What kind of warranty does it offer? Remember 85% all the (non food) stuff you buy ends up in the trash within 6 months!!! A piece of Cool Art on your wall would make you happier or perhaps the gift of a gym membership would be a better gift.

2) Research the purchase ahead of time and look for a Made in America option (Good Luck!). If you find one, it may cost more out front but when you include the true cost of cheap import, and remember that those extra dollars paid the wages of an American worker. If you cannot find an American made alternative, perhaps you don’t need at all.

3) Never buy puppies online. Do not buy puppies at all except (if you are absolutely set on a puppy) from a rescue or a shelter. There are many breed specific rescues.

4) Do not buy unsafe cheap food stuff made in China (often found in dollar store and other discount stores) Quality ethnic groceries and condiments for your international cuisine are probably fine.

5) AS A CONSUMER, you can take advantage of new COOL labeling and purchase food produced in the United States. You can also tell grocery store managers to provide as much information as possible about where food was produced.

6) AS A CONSTITUENT, you can tell your members of Congress that you want:

-Increased inspections by FDA and USDA of imports from China and other countries with dangerously deficient food safety regulations;

-Country-of-origin labeling for as much food as possible;

-A moratorium on free trade agreements until import inspectors can cope with rising levels of food imports.

-A moratorium on animal products food from countries that do not have minimal standard for animal welfare.

If nothing else, watch the “Story of Stuff”, a ”Must See Video” on our site.

Sources include Shawn Dell Joyce, an artist and writer of the column “Sustainable Living” and Mark Snyder who created The economic Collapse Blog, Food&WaterWatch.org and Mark Budman, a writer for Aol News.

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