Friday, January 15, 2010


Pity the poor harried American businessman, hurrying through the Chinese marketplace. It's not his fault he's sacrificed quality control and knowing what goes into the bad goods he sells in the US. He's just trying to make a living and those darn Chinese, they just won't cut him a break.

"David Smith pushed a cart piled high with boxes of beads and other jewelry through a maze of shops at a wholesale market in southern China ... The American shop owner said he would screen the trinkets for lead before they hit the shelves of his Arizona stores [but] he was unaware of the recent discovery of hazardous levels of cadmium in Chinese-made children's jewelry," reports AP here.

"It's small U.S. buyers like Smith who are playing a key role in importing untested products from Chinese factories that ignore safety standards and cut corners to earn a bit more profit ... They often fly into China for a whirlwind buying trip and don't have the time or resources to properly assess their suppliers. Many don't bother to perform quality checks as the goods are being made. Blind faith is a key element in the business deal."

They forgot greed. And sloth and 'just don't care until caught' and a host of other weak rationalizations and excuses.

There's been no shortage of news on how American companies have given up their supply chains to China.

And DD maintains one can blame that country for the crappy goods it makes all you want but that's only half the story. The other half is the western businesses -- big and small -- who gladly signed up for it. And one can't overlook the US government, which relies on a professional career apple-polisher to note on a regulatory agency blog post that parents should throw out cadmium-tainted children's jewelry -- after reading about it in a newspaper.

They rid themselves of their monitored supply chains, their quality control, their American workers, their manufacturing plants and processes, all so they could ship everything overseas and give up paying and worrying for all the stuff manufacturing in the US made them responsible for.

Pretending ignorance is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. In a country where everyone pretends to pride themselves on a staunch sense of personal responsibility, there is none to be found on the ground.

"Dressed in jeans, a brown plaid shirt and running shoes, Smith looked like he was ready to go hiking Friday as he maneuvered his cart full of boxes with 'Tucson' written on them in black marker," continued the AP. "He has been coming to China for 15 years, he said, and was confident he has developed a good eye for jewelry that might contain lead."

Until the next book of something gets buy him with an adulterant or poisonous metal in it.

Gold-plated classic excuse-making

"Paul Midler, author of the new book 'Poorly Made in China,' agreed that buyers have to be diligent," continued the news agency.

"But he didn't blame them for the cadmium controversy ... It's too difficult for buyers to stay on top of all the possible contaminants that might be going into products, he said. Jewelry dealers might have asked to have lead-free products, but might have not thought to ban cadmium too.

" 'You cannot blame the buyers, who are in no position to guess what new trick has been introduced in their supply chain,' " said Midler, whose book is based on his experiences working as a sourcing agent helping Western importers find Chinese factories to make their goods in southern China."

The man who's income depends on Americans coming to him for leads in China cannot be relied upon to tell the hard truth about the matter when it will endanger his livelihood.

So the man must come up with a fob. No one can keep up with all those Chinese tricks.

One can choose not to do business in China. One can put together rigorous quality control instead of having none. One can demand better government regulation and severe death-penalty-like punishments for companies importing bad things and prohibitions against entire categories of Chinese goods.

Unpalatable suggestions because when the US -- everyone -- has ceded manufacturing to China, the person who tries to do things differently stands to lose his shirt as everyone else continues on with bad and predatory business as usual. And this state of affairs, because it is seemingly unchangeable -- now inextricably woven into the fabric of the United States way -- becomes exsculpatory for every subsequent bit of news on poisoned or shoddy products.

We'll go broke if we can't do it! It costs too much money to hire third-party lab testers!


Still more boo-hoo-hoo-its-China from earlier in the week.

Worthless stub wrenches

Toilet seats that blister when urinated upon.

Poisoned pet food

Lethal counterfeit drugs

Cadmium in jewelry

Covers just about every manner of good, right?


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