Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tough times for corporate apologists

Last Friday, one of the corporate stooges who hangs around on talking-head shows like "Hardball" had the following to say about all the recent problems with products from China.

I think people should be careful what they wish for on China -- you know, if China were to revalue its currency, or China is to start making, say, toys that don't have lead in them, or food that isn't poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up. And that means prices at Walmart, here in the United States, are going to go up too. So, I would say China is our greatest friend right now.They're keeping prices low, and they're keeping prices for mortgages low too.
Sure, hey, yeah! That cute toy your 10 month old is currently chewing on may have been steeped in toxic paint in some warehouse in BFE, China, but at least you save an extra $2! Score! Unfortunately, reality has an uncomfortable way of intruding upon the fantasies spewed forth by such commentators.
Toymaker Mattel is voluntarily recalling 9 million of its toys in the United States including popular characters such as Batman, Barbie, Polly Pockets and a toy from Pixar's "Cars" movie because of hazards to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday.
Some of the recalled toys have magnets that can become dislodged and swallowed, and at least one has hazardous levels of lead in its paint.
A Chinese quality inspection agency also announced a temporary export ban on Hansheng Wood Products Factory and said police were investigating the use of "fake plastic pigment." Such pigments are a type of industrial latex used to make surfaces smoother and shinier.

Hansheng made wooden railroad toys that a New York company, RC2 Corp., sold under the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line. RC2 had to recall 1.5 million of the toys earlier this year because of lead paint.
That's not to say that everything coming out of China is toxic and should be thrown away, but when you outsource most aspects of your production to overseas corporations, you put yourself at the tender mercy of whatever regulations that country chooses to impose...or to ignore.