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Mon

06

Aug

2007

Back To The Fab 50s - Ed Naha looks at Globalization
Monday, 06 August 2007 18:02
by Ed Naha

I personally want to thank the geniuses that came up with the concepts of globalization and the out-sourcing of American jobs. Who knew that globalization could be so retro? Why, this year alone, China has done its best to bring America back to the Fabulous Fifties.
 
No, I’m not talking about the squeaky clean 1950s found on “Leave It To Beaver” or “Ozzie and Harriet.” I’m talking about the REAL 1950s, wherein electric appliances blew up like Vesuvius, lawn chairs would eat their owners, frozen food contained more chemicals than a Gilbert Chemistry Set, toys could kill ya, everything was flammable, fast-food burgers had fur and pesticides were considered one of the major food groups. It was an, er, experimental time.

Granted, America today gets a lot of shoddy and/or dangerous imports on the cheap from a lot of countries but, this year, China seems to be going for the gold.



Americans first became concerned when countless brands of cat and dog food made, in part, with Chinese ingredients proved fatal. That, unfortunately, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Counterfeit Chinese cold medicine supposedly made with glycerin instead included the toxin diethyleneglycol. On the plus side, it got rid of your cold for good…as well as your capacity to ever catch a cold in the future.

Dried apples were preserved with cancer causing chemicals.

Frozen catfish were filled with banned antibiotics. (Maybe they were prone to the aforementioned colds?)

Scallops and sardines were coated with putrefying bacteria as well as waste products giving new meaning to the phrase “something smells fishy.”

Juices and fruits were pulled because they were termed “filthy” and contained chemicals not fit for human consumption, something children have been saying for years.

Mushrooms were laced with illegal pesticides. On the plus side, they didn’t have bugs.

Toxic chemicals found their way into cosmetics while toothpaste boasted anti-freeze.

A raid in Beijing last month netted 18,000 fake Viagra tablets, presumably resulting in semi-stiff fines. In Heilongjiang province, 10,000 doses of bogus rabies vaccine were found as well as 20,250 bottles of fake cardiovascular medicine and 211 bottles of blood protein. All in all, bogus versions of 67 medicines made by 53 companies were tagged. Remember the good old days when all you had to worry about from China were phony DVDs?

This year, it was found that Chinese honey contained both life-threatening anti-biotics and extra sugar. Almost 70 percent of honey consumed in America is from China. Hotcha! Oh, yeah. This same honey finds its way into items like cereals, snack foods, meats, beverages and health products. And speaking of health products, China exports one-third of the world’s Vitamin A, along with a lot of B-12 and health supplements. Earlier this year, some retailers found themselves selling multi-vitamins containing that old healthy stand-by: lead.

I mean, who needs Iron supplements, when you can get lead? Even our toddlers can get a life’s dosage of lead via Chinese fun goods. In June of this year, wooden Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends toys were recalled because of excess lead in their paint jobs. Little girls’ necklaces also contained excess lead. Kmart earrings also gave off that lead ambience.

Attention, Kmart shoppers: Russian Roulette being played on aisles 1 to 50.

Last week, Mattel recalled 1.5 million Chinese made toys because of both excess lead and their ability to cut children via jagged edges. Among the better-known toys were “Poison Me, Elmo,” “Botulism Barney” and “When Big Bird Attacks.”

When I was a kid, Mattel’s slogan was “You can tell it’s Mattel, it’s swell.” Today, it’s been amended to “You can tell it’s Mattel, it’s swill.”

Also, this year the “Cooky” children’s stationery set was recalled because, not only did it include paper, pencil, markers and erasers but a razor as well. That’s one, tough Cooky.

Pine-cone-shaped candles were yanked from the shelves after it was discovered that, not only did they burn on the inside, but on the outside as well!

Ceramic heaters were given the heave-ho when it was made known that their chords got hotter than the heaters, quite often bursting into flame.

Certain brands of glassware were recalled after they began breaking for no discernable reason. (I mean, you can blame poltergeists for just SO much.)

Chinese lounge chairs were recalled after their target audience found the various chair settings more suitable for contestants in the Iron Man competition than fat guys wanting to inhale beer while watching “The World’s Biggest Loser.”

The FDA banned the sale of Chinese catfish, eel, shrimp, basa and dace because they contained cancer-causing food additives as well as drugs. Some Chinese monkfish may have been mislabeled, allowing American diners to chow-down some puffer fish, instead. For anyone who doesn’t know about puffer fish, in Japan it’s considered a delicacy in that it contains the toxin tetrodotoxin, a poison that can kill its chow-downer by, first numbing the body and, finally, causing paralysis, thus transforming any meal into the culinary equivalent of “The Most Dangerous Game.” It’s a staple of Japanese culture. Then again, so are Godzilla and twenty-year old strippers dressed in Catholic Girl School Uniforms.

Factoring in exploding tires, collapsing hammocks, rickety baby cribs, imploding electric saws, giant palm tree lights which transform themselves into pyrotechnic displays, bicycles that fall apart and go out of control and cell phone batteries that go boom, China’s manufacturing sector has proven itself as quality conscious as, let’s say, our own Executive Branch of Government.

Now, the point of this screed is not to bash China. It’s to bash those who are responsible for this dross - the CEOs of worldwide companies who are interested in one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. The people responsible for this are the greediest people on earth and they have decided to exploit the poorest and call that exploitation “globalization.”

“The ‘whatever we can do to get it a few cents cheaper’ attitude has now led to U.S. firms being confronted with major problems,” says Steve Vickers, president of the consultancy International Risk. “We end up doing business with people we shouldn’t be doing business with. Or we end up dumping people and leaving them with the ability to continue to manufacture our product.”

Indeed, as a government, China is ill-equipped to handle the “faster, cheaper” explosion. China doesn’t have a centralized food-safety regulatory system; responsibility is split among at least six agencies overseeing health, agriculture and commerce. The lines of authority are ill-defined, and different bodies oversee different laws.

China also has no equivalent to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that can alert consumers to recalls or hazardous products, although it does have an official Web site listing automobile recalls.

Not that the U.S. is much better at handling imports. Although Chinese products accounted for about 60% of recalled products this year, the FDA inspects only 1 percent of food imports. (And, although inefficient, the FDA is polite – giving several weeks’ notice to any facility it intends to inspect.)

And, because the U.S. is SO good at management, the inspection of various imports falls not only to the FDA but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (an independent agency), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Trade Representative and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

A seventh agency, the Department of Letting Things Fall Through the Cracks, is currently on the fast-track in the Bush Administration.

Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin co-authored an amendment that is basically an early-warning system for bupkis goods but it was passed during a time wherein Bush wants to close half of the FDA’s 13 food-testing labs. Guess that 1% of food inspected was too lofty a goal.

This year’s uproar has caused China to blacklist more than 400 of its exporters although Forbes couldn’t figure out exactly what kind of punishments were meted out. This week, China and the U.S. agreed on a food safety accord which called for more meetings and, uh, stuff.

Now, the irony of all this is: according to the International Monetary Fund, China will become the biggest driver of the global economy this year.

Although China is the world’s fourth-largest economy, it accounts for only 5 percent of the global economy. This year, it’s projected to grow 11.2 percent, far above the predicted 2 percent expansion of the US economy. It will make the largest contribution to the world’s growth rate of any country.

China is slated to provide a quarter of the annual growth rate of the world economy, while China, Russian and India together will account for more than half of world growth.

Until we get a government in place that truly represents its people both in terms of their well-being and their economic stability, what can we do?

Heck! Lets all put on an oldies station, chug a pint of paint, grab a tin toy with ragged edges and run after the mosquito truck as it sprays out DDT. Let’s party like it’s 1959!

Whoah! Check it out! Glow-in-the-dark hot dogs!

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a guest said:

0
...
AMEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
August 06, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Support China....
Support China....
 
August 07, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Jimmy Montague
Make mine Sherwin-Williams, thanks.
I hate that cheap crap they sell at Wal-Mart.

Excellent post, Mr. Naha. We all look forward to seeing more of you here (that's all of us, me and my cat, who cannot read but thinks your writing smells good).
 
August 07, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

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