Archive for the ‘Overseas printing’ Category

Printers When Your Business Fails — Thank China

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
I thought it was time to move off the China subject and go to something else, but there have been a rash of comments on this site and on my printing groups on LinkedIn that I’m going to post another China related blog in an attempt to address those other concerns.

Are American families, homes, and jobs worth defending?

Sometimes I can’t believe my ears. What has happened to America? Americans used to fight for their rights, but now our fight begins by laying down our guns. Our motto seems to be “why try; it won’t do any good anyway.”

Chinese printers market their low ball prices in the United States aided by two main things:

  • Their costs are one-tenth of ours. How did I arrive at that figure? It was easy; I know how much minimum wage is in the US. Remember this wage is mandated by the government. Employers have to pay it. They also have to pay matching Social Security, so the real figure is much higher. I also read an article in Reuters that discussed how much the average factory worker earns in China. Without matching Social Security, they earn 1/10th.  Suppose you are a Chinese printer marketing to the US, how difficult would it be to come in at half the price when your labor costs are less than 1/10th? Who is making the real money here? The Chinese workers? Ha!
  • China plays hardball when it comes to International Trade. They are members of the WTO, but you don’t have to look far to see filing, after filing, after filings of Chinese trade violations for anti-dumping and anti-subsidies. Some states have a three times you are out law to penalize career criminals. If we held China up to this same standard they would right now be serving several consecutive lifetime sentences. They can import some products to the US for 2-5% duties. We, on the other hand, have to pay some 24% to sell there. It is wrong, it isn’t fair, and it is killing the US economy.

Since our government won’t help, and the business elite are benefiting from cozy relationships with foreign countries, there is only one thing left to “we the people,” and that is our collective buying power. If enough of us refuse to buy Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, Mexican, or any other products made from cheap labor we can turn the tide.

Some say that it is unfair to blame these countries because it is the American consumer who really controls the prices. Of course I want low prices, but not at the expense of putting myself or my neighbors out of work. I don’t know about everyone else, but if presented with two identical items and one is made in the US and the other in China I would rather buy American, even if it was a little more. I would not choose Chinese industry over American.

What about the automobile business, didn’t the Japanese do the same thing? No — they didn’t. They didn’t compete solely on price, although they used price at first to get our attention. What they did is build a better vehicle than the crap being pumped out by Detroit. I hate it that we lost this giant industry to foreign competition, but we deserved to lose it. Not because of the workers but because of the fat cats at the top who left the office every day counting their lavish bonuses while steadily guiding their companies into bankruptcy. Bonuses for bad leadership — whoever thought that was a good idea?

We are experiencing a 10% unemployment rate in the United States right now, primarily because of a few bankers who used vast lobbying power to influence congress. Our government systematically deregulated the banking and financial institutions until we got chaos. Those who believe in free markets, take note, without some control everything goes to hell, quickly.

There is an axis of evil to coin a phrase from George W. Bush. Americans are being crushed economically by Wall Street Bankers, the US Congress, the Insurance industry, and unfair foreign competition. Until these four entities are brought to task it is going to do nothing but get worse. Do you hate 10% unemployment, reduced wages, and increased working hours? That is just a start. Over the next few decades we will see 25% unemployment, salaries cut to the bone, and typical working days of 16 hours. Once Wall Street has us where they want us, poor, starving, and desperate we will be competitive with China, because we will be reduced to their level. Welcome to the new America, the one world government, the one fashioned by the true axis of evil.


 

Was I Being Unfair in Sharply Criticizing Chinese Printers?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Where's YOUR money going? To China, my friend. To China.

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.


 

Chinese Printers Play Dirty in Stealing US Customers

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Is it too late to turn it around?

It happened again in my area. Two more printers, and I’m not talking micro-shops, but printers with 40″ multi-color presses, full binderies, etc. closed their doors. These were plants that just a couple of years ago were thriving, hiring people, buying equipment, and taking care of business.

What happened?

We all know what happened.

  1. The US economy tanked. The US government, Banking, Financial interests, and Real Estate speculators combined to nearly drive us into full-blown depression.  The harm dealt to the printing business was both instantaneous and long-term. The instant effect was that companies, all kinds of companies, got scared. They pulled back their printing orders because that was the perceived easiest way to cut expense.
  2. The banks got scared. They decided to circle their wagons and cut off loans to the printers. The printers, that are generally small businesses, have shallow pockets. In an economy of falling sales they needed the banks more than ever. Help didn’t come.
  3. Direct mail campaigns were scrapped or delayed by marketers who turned to the Internet for cheaper CPM. Was this a wise move? We’ll see. Early wisdom points to DM as still a very viable tool. In comparison to the Internet, DM yields higher response numbers. Will enough customers return to save printing?
Is Printing a Bellwether Industry?

The United States IS heading toward becoming a third world economy.  If anyone wants to know what living in America will be like in fifty years, all they have to do is look at how the Chinese live now. This is the legacy we are leaving to our grandchildren. Think about it, manufacturing jobs have been fleeing our shores faster than a cat with its tail on fire. Our country has huge balance of trade deficits, and enormous national debts. It doesn’t take a genius to see that if you aren’t making any products, there aren’t any products to sell. Apparently the only products we can produce and sell are hamburgers and fries, and they don’t export very well. How long will it be before our citizens will have to go to other countries to seek employment?

This Brings Us to the China Question

What happens when we chose to buy from China, India, Mexico, or Pakistan?

  1. We put American citizens out of work. I had a very kind, considerate person whom I have known for a quarter century, or more, say to me that Americans can find other jobs. Even if they have to work for minimum wage there are other opportunities. Maybe they are just lazy. Maybe they could. Just maybe they could go to work for minimum wage when they used to earn much more. What will they be able to spend their minimum wage salary on? A home — nope. A new car — nope. How about college education — no way. Minimum wage isn’t even enough to survive on, and barely surviving is what they do in third world economies. Every well-paying job that is eliminated hurts the entire economy and drags us step-by-step into inevitable decline. If you think Katrina was a disaster, just wait and see what a US economy will be like without a middle class.
  2. What about Chinese families don’t they need to be employed too? Sure they do, and we all feel for them, but if we take the food out of the mouths of our children to feed theirs, our children will starve. Can you visualize it, a neighbor, or a relative’s children dying because the work they could have had went out of the country? We have a global responsibility it is true, but our first responsibility is to our family, then our neighbors, then our communities, then our states, then our nation and finally the world. We’ve been doing it backwards!
  3. Isn’t it too late? Don’t we already drive foreign cars, wear foreign clothes, and shoes? Even Hershey chocolate is now made in Mexico. If we are already buying these things out of the country why not buy printing out of the country too? Anyone who accepts this line of thought needs to go back and read point No.1. This is the moral equivalent of saying that since murder is committed regularly in our cities it is all right to commit murder. No it isn’t. Just because a terrible thing has been happening doesn’t make it right! Moral people do whatever they can to stomp out wrongs, they don’t justify them and they don’t, for heavens sake, participate in them.
  4. Business people who buy from China forget what they saw when China hosted the Olympics. The world was only allowed to see what the Chinese government wanted reveal. They even censured the Internet. What is China hiding? They wanted us to believe that everyone was happy. That the country was clean, prosperous, and healthy. Is it? The loss of our jobs and the expenditure of our dollars don’t go to the people who really need it. It goes to the upper class, just like it does in the US. We discovered that when we bailed out the big banks and they rewarded themselves with BIG bonuses! The difference is we are allowed in this country to see the disparity between rich and poor, but the poor in China are hidden by the government.
  5. Don’t forget that Chinese businesses are guilty of serious crimes and injustices in their rush to grab all they can at the expense of their disadvantaged employees and helpless competitors.
  • They pay very poor wages bordering on slave labor — pennies per hour
  • They employ children. Impoverished children must work to help support their destitute families.
  • They use toxic materials like lead based paints and inks. Remember the problem with Mattel and the recall of millions of lead painted toys?
  • They substitute cheaper materials for the specified ones like in the wallboard fiasco.
  • They have very foul working conditions.
  • They have few, if any, environmental concerns or laws.

Is it moral to send work out of this country to benefit another, especially when you know that their workers are subjected to the rankest of conditions and living on poverty wages? They gave me a good price, and everyone else is doing it, aren’t very good excuses. Those American business people who are buying from the Chinese and are destroying the economic future of this country for a good price should hang their heads in shame. The karma they are creating will return, if not on them, then on their children or grandchildren. What moral person could live with that over their heads? I know couldn’t.

So is buying Chinese printing killing US printers? Yes it is, and it is killing our very way of life. Short term expediency will never justify the long term harm. Think about it. Think about it very hard and then choose to buy American. Our very way of life depends on it.


 

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