Was I Being Unfair in Sharply Criticizing Chinese Printers?
If you thought my recent China post was more of a rant than an article, you are right. Offshore printing is an issue that gets me boiling. I hope that I wasn’t misunderstood. I am not anti-China, nor am I anti-Chinese. What I am is anti-slave-like labor, anti-poor-working-conditions, and anti-business-profiteers using low prices to destroy the competition. In 1890 The Sherman Antitrust Act recognized the illegality of using low prices as a means to force out competition. If Sherman could be used against companies like AT&T, Microsoft, American Steel, etc. why can’t it be used against Chinese printers to prevent their unfair competition?
Someone wrote that I am just upset because China is doing to us what America did to Europe. It is not the same. America became a strong manufacturing and trading country because of innovation. We invented the assembly line, the steamboat, and the cotton gin. These innovations made products cheaper because they could be manufactured faster and get to market quicker. Other than in Taiwan, what has China invented in the last century to change the world? And I’m not too sure of Taiwan. Oh sure, they may have come up with a product improvement here or there, but I’m racking my brains to think of anything new. So, they compete solely on being cheaper, and they accomplish that by underpaying workers, disregarding environmental impacts of their products, and keeping workers working in sweatshop conditions. Maybe that is China’s contribution, the sweatshop. Way to go China, you get to take credit for the sweatshop. Now there’s something to be proud about.
I have a business associate who is familiar with the situation of workers in Chinese print shops. He tells me that they stay in dorms during the working week because they put in 14 to 16 hours a day on the job. They also stay in dorms because it takes a half-day to travel to their homes. So a typical work week is 84 to 96 hours with one day off, and that day is spent largely in travel.
Those living high-on-the-hog business people in China, and anywhere really, who get away with being able to offer ridiculously low prices by taking advantage of poverty conditions in their countries should be brought to task. By engaging in this behavior they hurt their workers, and lead the world economy in a downward spiral. If the only way to compete is to duplicate their working conditions and wages, we can look forward to a very bleak existence. If you want to know what the future holds for America in 50 years, just look at where China is now. Do you like what you see?
It is true that American business people were once allowed to be as ruthless as the Chinese are now. It took many bloody union wars to force better working conditions and wages. There was a time when they were desperately needed and were run by dedicated men who truly were on the side of the workers. Will the unions be able to prevent the coming collapse of the middle class? It’s doubtful. Unions steadily lost ground through corruption and vilification by the ruling class. The upper 2% has almost total control over Washington, the Unions, and apparently the Supreme Court based on their recent rulings giving corporations and foreign entities unlimited rights to promote their political agendas. Look out China, your unfair competitive edge will dissipate when American’s standard of living drops to your level. Trading will then be equal, but sad, very sad indeed.