Why is Everything Made in China?

Chinese factories break rules American won't.


“Outsourcing” is a painful word for most Americans. Since Richard Nixon opened relations with the People’s Republic of China, “Made in China” stamps have shown up on more and more consumer products. That trend picked up speed through the 2000s, sucking away more and more American jobs. Well-known brands like Apple and Wal-Mart seem to think Chinese labor is superior, but why?

The short answer is that Chinese labor is cheap and malleable. Many factory workers make the equivalent of $2.00 per hour, and since China is a communist dictatorship, they have no recourse against inhumane labor practices. Chinese workers may be assembling the newest electronics, but their work environment is like something out of the 19th century.

You may have read the New York Times expose last week, which detailed an explosion last May at a plant in Chengdu that builds iPads. Four were killed, 18 were injured. In its March 2011 cover story, Wired investigated the 17 suicides at a plant in Shenzhen. Management’s response was to put up nets. Both plants are owned by Foxconn, a Chinese company that contracts with Apple to assemble phones and tablets.

Such a relationship is, in the long run, just as bad for companies as it is for workers. Working through subcontractors or, as is the case in the auto industry, mandatory partnerships with Chinese companies, brings the risk of industrial espionage. There is also the risk of a massive backlash if Chinese workers ever organize.

America cannot compete with China, because that would mean sacrificing American values. Since Henry Ford opened his first plant, American businesses have believed in giving their employees a wage they can live on and humane working conditions, in exchange for their labor. 

This relationship has made the United States an industrial power since the turn of the 20th century. The rise of cheap Chinese labor is not just a threat to the American economy, it is a challenge to American values. We shouldn’t shrug our shoulders and mutter “that’s business,” we should fight to keep jobs in the U.S. and, perhaps, refrain from that next iPad purchase.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joe Doakes February 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Buy a machine and makes something. Then take out your stop watch and count the seconds it takes for some blood sucking lawyer to sue you out of existence. Then stop wasting your time wondering why the few people manufacturing in this nation make guns, ammunition, planes, missiles, and bombs and/or commoditized items that are too expensive to ship. Actually, they are suing a gun manufacturer, Remington, do you know where they manufacture? New York State. Think again before you attack one of the last industries that is prospering with.
John Q. Public February 03, 2012 at 04:29 PM
This article is seriously misguided. America is still competitive despite the cries of politicians. BMW chose to build a plant in South Carolina, created thousands of jobs, built a school, created a huge halo effect for Greenville. Why? Because it made economic sense. The cost of labor in China is rising. European labor laws (can't be fired without having hand in the till) make them increasingly unattractive. America is THE place to do business. States with "right to work" will attract new business and jobs. But people looking for handouts will lose. Upstate New York is slowly but surely recovering. Manufacturing is more high tech than it used to be. Read the article in "The Atlantic". People need to learn math to succeed. Visit upstate. New York has its own Silicon Valley in Rensaeller County, a huge Nanotechnology area. Cheap labor isn't the issue. It's people unwilling to adapt to a new world, where rudimentary knowledge of math, science, and technology are required. The clothes I wear are made in the US. The plates I eat off are made in the US. My car was made in the US. To say everything is made in China is a bad half-thought.
John Q. Public February 03, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Since the author likes esoteric words, perhaps it should be said that the person of average intelligence with a good heart would conclude this short-sighted anti-American article totally unaware of the great work so many people are doing in our country, was written by a fatuous dotard.
Aintthatascam February 03, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The same reason why people (americans) employ illegal aliens to cut their grass, wash dishes and paint..... CHEAP! Not good though. I recently started buying tools at a place where 99% of the stuff is from China, their stores are popping up all over the place, they are like the IKEA of tools. The reason I shop there is because I now have to compete with illegal aliens in my industry.Why should I support tools made in USA when I can save 50-70% in cost? There are several factors bringing down what was once one of the most powerful, wealthiest and well educated countries in the world. My income has been cut 40-60% due to illegals in my industry, so I have to cut back by buying tools made in China, sorry. I'm not happy about it trust me, but what am I to do.
John Q. Public February 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I don't employ illegals to cut my grass. Most people I know would rather pay for quality. Finding a good contractor is a hard thing, but once you find one, you don't change. I find it hard to believe your business is being cannibalized by illegals, unless perhaps you don't run your own business. The cost of renovating a house, adding a pool or porch, making an addition to your house, has not gone down in the past decade in the NYC Metro area. Someone is making the money, if not you. It's a myth that America is in decline. Read Robert Kagan's piece in the New Republic. http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/99521/america-world-power-declinism?passthru=ZDkyNzQzZTk3YWY3YzE0OWM5MGRiZmIwNGQwNDBiZmI


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