22 June 2010

How Outsourcing to China will "Bring it Home"

Mei (name changed) is a Chinese factory worker who makes toys sold overseas. She works 12 hours except on Saturday when she is permitted to only work six hours. She lives in a small flat with her husband and one child. She was pregnant with a second but the local authorities forced her to have an abortion. For two years she managed raising their living child alone, because her husband was being detained under suspicion of having ties to a certain religion. This is not Hollywood, this is nothing remarkable, this is common people's life.. in mainland China.

The phenomenon of outsourcing to China took on a complete new dimension in the USA, with the sudden success of what some consider the single largest retail scandal in American history - Wal*Mart. According to the PBS documentary STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town:

Made in the U.S.A? Despite a well-publicized "Made in the U.S.A." campaign, 85 percent of the stores' items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops. In fact, only after Wal-Mart's "Buy American" ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country's largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry. By taking its orders abroad, Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business.

(note the above recording of Wal-Mart's 1992 television ad "Bring it Home to the USA" was removed from YouTube several weeks after this article was published)

Most Americans never saw past the red-white-and-blue logo of this seemingly phony patriotism. Wal*Mart stock price skyrocketed with its success. Wal*Mart would ultimately get away with "selling the American economy" to Chinese elite on an unprecedented scale. Other retailers - by choice or by necessity - also increased Chinese imports. The Chinese elite came to understand that a great weakness of their western counterparts was the overwhelming self-centeredness of some. And as Wal*Mart showed everyone, you only need some. Convince one to outsource - two more follow. Others resist, but as their own products loose markets to cheaper competition, they too are soon forced to follow suit in a massive avalanche of outsourcing. This flood of new low-cost, low-quality product to store shelves also fostered a new "use up and throw away" mentality in people, which produces more waste and garbage.

But it gets worse. In early 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a collateral agreement in Beijing which grants China the right to claim Eminent Domain of LAND within the USA as security for all the debt this has helped cause. America has now quite literally - and quietly - mortgaged itself to China, and most people living there don't even know. Americans can partly thank their local Wal-Mart - after all - "They Care", as their carts say. All of this for the everyday low price of cheap tube socks and $2 a day paid in sweat shops that nobody else had to look at. So, for those who want to move to China, there is good news. We just keep outsourcing to China, and China will be brought to us.

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