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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


"Chinese" toys

Yet again today we hear of millions of Chinese toys being recalled (because of lead paint and magnets), with the emphasis on the word "Chinese." But while Chinese manufacturers certainly bear responsibility, the ultimate responsibility not only of American companies, including not only the toy companies but the toy-selling companies as well, is downplayed.

These toys, like many other things, are being made in China (and even made "on the cheap" in China) because American "manufacturers" (i.e., companies that used to manufacture things) want lower and lower prices. That part is probably fairly well-understood. Less well-understood is how companies like Wal•Mart (but especially Wal•Mart) use their size to constantly pressure their suppliers to lower their prices, which in turn drives price pressure and wage and other cost-cutting all the way down the line.

It's not the Chinese who bear the ultimate blame for these problems. It's capitalism, the system which is driven by profits rather than human needs.

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