made in china [day 176]

I heard something interesting on the radio yesterday morning.  It was on KRLD news talk radio, and I’ve looked for it online, but I couldn’t find it.  I did find something similar, but the radio version must have been the recap.

Basically, they were blaming the failing global economy, single-handedly, on China.  Now let me just say right now that I do not know a lot about global economics.  President Obama did say he has an opposition to China’s currency manipulation yesterday, although I don’t know exactly what he meant by it.  From the articles I have been reading, China’s economy is doing very well.  My question, based off the news I heard, is this.  If China is somehow responsible for the failing global economy, wouldn’t that make us responsible too? A large percentage of the stuff in our retail stores was made in China.

Here’s an excerpt from  “Consider all the “made in china” stickers you see.  The products wearing those labels and all the jobs that went into their manufacturing were out-sourced to China because it was most economical to do so.  America produced the entrepreneurs to design the products, and China produced the cheap labor.  If the educational trends hold, China will house the innovators, and America will be thrown the scraps from their powerful economy.” We do outsource a lot to China and do we expect them to always be the cheapest option?  Do we expect them not to build their economy off their hard earned dollars?   

I guess that comment on the radio just took me by surprise.  If the implied statement is true, then I think our spending habits and need for new stuff would be the culprit, not the people in China, working for low wages trying to feed their families.  And if they are to blame, isn’t there something very wrong with this whole system?

On a similar subject, I was having a conversation with my friend Jerod yesterday and I said we were cheap.  He immediately retorted, “I am not cheap, I’m frugal”.  We then discussed the meaning of these two words.  Here’s some of the dictionary definitions:


[froo-guhl]  –adjective

1.  economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing;  not wasteful: a frugal manager.

2.  practicing economy; living without waste; thrifty


[cheep] adjective, -er, -est, adverb, noun

1. costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive: a cheap dress.

2. costing little labor or trouble: Words are cheap.

3. charging low prices: a very cheap store.

4. of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy: cheapconduct; cheap workmanship.

5. of poor quality; shoddy: cheap furniture ; cheap and nasty

6. stingy; miserly: He’s too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.

Jerod’s point is that cheap means you don’t care about the people involved, and you would be willing to save money, even if it mean hurting someone in the process.  My view on cheap was based solely on the price point, meaning low cost.  Jerod and I frequently use the same buying process, looking for the best deal possible.
  • Value, for the money spent
  • Long term use of the item
  • Price shop
  • Possible used item
  • Comparison to similar items with different price points
  • Want versus need
  • Is some newer style or technology coming out soon
I’m sure this isn’t a 100% comprehensive list, but you get the point.  Neither one of us would ever consider it a good deal if someone was getting hurt or shafted in the process.  Actually both words are accurate, however frugal is the better description of how we live.  Wow, I just said Jerod is right, and it’s in writing.  Print it and frame it, this won’t happen again…  😉

My point is this. Our shopping habits make a difference, not just in our lives, but the lives of others, all over the world.  Know what you’re buying and who and what you’re supporting in the process.  I’m not opposed to China doing well, I’m opposed to them working in sweatshops so we can have more inexpensive stuff we don’t need.  I’ll close with this drawing from one of my favorite websites:

About jody wissing

I'm a person just trying to matter in a crazy world.
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7 Responses to made in china [day 176]

  1. Ailsa says:

    I think what most Americans do not realize is that things cost a lot more in developing countries. I’ll use Malaysia as an example. A beginning teacher in Malaysia earns about RM2000 a month, that’s equivalent to US$640.

    A new macbook in Malaysia cost RM 3299, which is about the same as what it would cost in the US ($999). But you have to remember, a teacher only earns RM2000, so getting a RM3299 macbook is a major purchase. Imagine a teacher in the US paying US$6000 for a laptop.

    A pair of Levis jeans in Malaysia cost RM190. So a teacher with a RM2000 monthly salary will be paying 10% of her monthly income for a pair of jeans. Whereas in the US, you could get a pair of Levis for about $35 or less, and that’s about 1% of a teacher’s monthly income.

    Even non-branded clothes cost more in Malaysia. A regular top in Malaysia will cost about RM50, a nice top will cost close to RM100. Whereas, you can get pretty nice stuff at Marshalls etc for less than $20.

    Lastly, a new Toyota Corolla in Malaysia cost RM105,000, which is over 4 times a teacher’s annual income. In the US, the same car costs around $16,000, which is perhaps half a teacher’s annual income.

    • embracechaos says:

      Thanks so much for adding this info. In the US, we have so many opportunities to make money, not only with our jobs, but also with doing extra jobs on the side.

      I remember travelling to Africa 5 years ago, and it’s much of the same thing. The opportunity to make money is not there, and though it seems like the cost of living is good in the larger cities, really it’s not because of the income levels.

      Thanks again for your insight!!

  2. Ozzmodaus says:

    Now if you’re talking about the price of Gas sure blame the Chinese. But, the global economy…I think that’s a stretch.

    The deregulation of Wall Street and Financial institutions allowed these companies to “gamble” our money and they lost, weakening the US dollar which in turn affected the global economy. China right now is having it’s own issues with unemployment due to factories closing because of a downward demand trend here in the US.

  3. Ann says:

    I was in Bass Pro Shops the other day and saw some shirts that I wanted to try on – do you know not a single one said, “Made in the USA”??? I even saw some countries on some labels that I didn’t even know existed. I think you and Jerod rock for being FRUGAL. 😉

    And for the record I did buy three shirts, even though they weren’t made in America.


  4. Pingback: I’ve saved a lot of money, but that wasn’t why I did it [day 201] |

  5. I have a different view on this than our current President. China has slowly invested in their own country to grow imports. As an example if a Chinese business man wants to attend a foreign trade show to grow his business he can apply for a grant, (not a loan) and be granted this to grow business in China. This is and has been common since Chairman Mao was in power. This has helped fuel the growth of import for China for the last 100 years. They also have issued rebates to business owners on all paid invoices, some as high as 20%. This plan has allowed many new start up factories be competitive with other countries even they were new to the game, and over time the government would decrease this support on rebates.

    In addition if you own a factory in China you are now required to give all workers full health care, (no co-pays or half baked insurance it is 100% coverage). Factory owner costs have gone sky high. This all plays a huge roll in why costs on made in China items are going up as well. This does not take into account that now Chinese factory workers are making double what they did 5 years ago.

    As far as currency manipulation 5 years ago the exchange rate was 8.5 RMB to 1 USd and now it is at 6.65 so in currency alone costs have risen 24%.
    Looking to the future our government wants China to adjust its currency exchange rate to 5.7 to 1 USD by March 1st. This means that again in currency rate changes alone, you will see another 12.5% increase in all made in China goods so add that to the 24% from the last five years and you have a 36.5% increase in costs due solely to the currency exchange rate. In the end China does not care, forcing them to lower the rate to make other countries more competitive will only make them richer as a country.

    We already pay huge penalties to the US government for importing, they call them import duties. As an example on a cotton polo shirt we pay 23% duty on a ploy blend shirt 33%. So on a shirt that we pay 5.00 to make I pay the US govt. 1.65 each shirt for the pleasure of selling those goods here. The plan is tax items the highest that we feel can be made in the US. Problem is it does not work we still can’t afford to make these goods in the US any longer.

    as far as fuel consumption it is hard to be angry at the fact that many generations of Chinese have lived never owning a car and after generations they now can. Many Chinese families with 20+ people might have one car for the entire family. I am pretty sure we still beat the heck out of them on fuel per capita.

    Being raised in northern Missouri on a large farm I wish US factories could support all of our needs. The reality is your not ready or willing to pay 75.00 for a lawn chair so we go to China so you can buy them for 12.99. As a north Missouri farm boy I hate it, as a Christian I love it as I have seen what the worlds reliance on China, Vietnam, Thailand etc. has done for the quality of life these people can have. The food quality, the health care the living conditions are all the great benefits of us using them to supply our needs.

    Proud global economy supporter

    • embracechaos says:

      Thank you so much! It’s great to have your insights on this since you’re involved in it, and in a healthy way I might add. I love what you said at the end, “As a north Missouri farm boy I hate it, as a Christian I love it as I have seen what the worlds reliance on China, Vietnam, Thailand etc. has done for the quality of life these people can have.” This is the key. As long as people, no matter where in the world they are, will benefit from our purchases and no money is going to sweat shops or any other place that’s doing bad things to people, then I will support it. Thanks again!!!!

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