The People's Republic of Capitalism

Mr A and I rented The People's Republic of Capitalism from the library and have been having a blast watching it over the past week.  I'm starting to give that Chinese Studies program at UHH some serious reconsideration (a daily 3-hour commute can't be that bad...right?)

Last night we were watching Ted Koppel explain the WalMart paradox.  We want jobs in the US.  But we want good working wages.  We want lots of material goods.  But we also want rock bottom prices. 

Answer: China.  More than enough bargain priced labor (if you don't want to work in a factory for 20 cents an hour, there's a line out the door of people who will) and every US company seems to have figured this out.  Even stuff that you think was made in the US, usually has parts that were manufactured in China.  And its CRAZY how companies will ship crap here, there and everywhere!  Yet, somehow, it still comes out to lowering that bottom line. 

Its the irony of the laid off US worker who shops at WalMart because of the low prices, which were made possible because her job went to someone in China.  Its the "hidden cost" of items that seem like bargains.  I don't think there is any one solution for this conundrum. 

Everywhere I turn, the concept of cutting back just keeps popping up. 

My problem (and we all know I'm addicted to deals) is that I, like most Americans, want an unrealistic amount of stuff.  If I knew that a couch, fully manufactured in the US, was going to cost me 6 months salary, I probably wouldn't think that I could afford to replace my couch, fridge and DVD player all in the same year.  Also, if I had to save for 5 years in order to afford a sofa, I would be keeping that thing for a long, long time.  Consumer goods have become so affordable to Americans that we hardly even hand things down anymore.  Why use Grandma's couch when you can get a new, modern sectional at Costco for $800?

[CLICK HERE for the "economic microcosm" of the couch]

I can waltz into WalMart and pick up just about anything I think I need.  But, if I do that, can I really complain about US jobs being outsourced to China?  I'm totally benefitting from the process.  In fact, they are doing it because of consumers exactly like me.

Oh ho ho, and if you think I'm on a soapbox now, wait until you watch the third part where they talk about the auto industry ;)

1 comment:

  1. Totally! I have been very conscientious about this as well. I always read the label to see where the product came from. I try to avoid "made in china" as much as humanly possible. I don't mind paying more money for items that are produced in other places. I also love to purchase things off of etsy because I know the item is created in the US. I feel like I'm supporting a small business run here. I also purchase a lot of toys and items while keeping in mind that I want to keep it to pass on to my child or someone else. I don't like the idea of everything being disposable. So, I will pay extra to buy quality instead of quantity. Also, I love going and buying vintage, antique and second hand. Those items always have this special quality that I can't describe and it supports our local economy as well. "Made in China" can also be dangerous because they don't have any integrity. They don't care if they put toxic chemicals in food, toys or other items because it's all about making a profit. Terrible, terrible.