And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Matell has made their second recall of toys manufactured in China because of magnets that may become dislodged (one may not be bad, but two could interact in bad ways within a toddler's intestinal trac). In our local area there are"Toy Screening" programs to test toys for lead paint. You may remember that Jesus would obviously make his necklaces from slugs of lead (also from China). It's not a good time to be in the toy business.

This is also about that time of year a magical occurance would happen in my childhood life. It would be time for those elves at Sears to send out the "Wish Catalog." I still get excited just thinking about it. Two-hundred pages of wonder and merriment and soemthing that would entertain me all the way till Thanksgiving.

But this year kids will find a hard lesson in macro-economics in their stockings. That lesson is that we don't manufacture hardly anything in this country anymore. Sure, there's a lot still going on, but compared to two decades ago, we don't make dick. Putting a fifth of JD Black Label in your kid's stocking isn't going to endear you to the child welfare people. And a axle differential is fun, but I don't see them as children's toys.

This is good news for some people. You may remember that for the past five years FAO and Geoffrey over at Toys R Us have been complaining about Wal-Mart's unfair practice of selling toys below cost to gain market share. Remember were Wal-Mart gets all their stuff? So, as long as the other guys didn't shift their maufacturing to China to stay competative, they shoud have a good year. My guess is that they have switched to the Asian Machine and we're all going to have a world of uncertainty tis Holiday Season.

Yes, there will be toys on Santa's shelves. Considering one of those recalled toys was an Elmo and a Big Bird, just how much can you trust that Transformer sitting under the tree. Chucky, at least, would just cut your throat. Primus might lower your ACT scores. And how much can you afford of non-Chinese manufactured slinkies?

One of my friends works as an engineer in a manufacturing plant. He needs qualified people to help. He can't find any because we no longer teach manufacturing, and all the older people that were good at it have left for other positions and places in the country. We're losing the skills needed to make things. Santa's Elves now have a distinct accent. Santa better wake up and smell the coffee soon.


Unknown said...

This is an interesting issue that I really do not know who to believe. The people making a huge noise about this are the same ones who made a huge noise about Dubai taking over some ports. They seemed to forget or not know that Dubai had control of many ports prior to that deal. It was not giving them something they did not already have- it was giving them more. Same thing here. China has always made stuff we bought. This is nothing new. The majority of things I hear have little to do with the safety of the products and more to do with the fact they are imports. We are so hungry for a new cold war that we are about to get more than we can handle- the Middle East and China?

Steve Buchheit said...

Kanrei, it's been my opion that we've been in a Cold War with China since 1989. I'm not so sure this is just a tempest in a tea pot. Sure, the usual suspects are beating the drum, but we do have dead pets and people who went to the hospital to show for our not watching what was being imported. The amount that we do take in from China had increased exceptionally in the past decade. Also, many of the things that we bought from Japan, Jamaca, and Mexico are now being produced in China. Seriously, the Mexicallis are upset that China is digging into their business.

Then we have an issue with tires, food, food and product additives, toys, more toys, and now even more toys. You might remember that the guy in charge of the Chinese version of the FDA was tried and executed for his incompetance and taking bribes. The person in charge of toy safety just committed suicide. This is a serious issue.

We now have such an imbalance of trade it is difficult to get containers back to China to ship us more goods. There are containter ships that are having a problem making the journey from our coast to China because all the containers they have are empty and their ships weren't designed to handle the lighter weight so well (they sit high are are top heavy).

There are ports being built in Mexico to take the work from the LA and San Diego dock workers (if you hear about a short-haul train from Mexico to Southern California, this is what they're actually talking about).

I'm flip about it in my post, but we are losing the knowledge base on how to manufacture things. It's like when steam powered ships came to the fore, we lost the knowledge of a big sail driven ships and had to relearn it.

Unknown said...

I do agree with you, I just question how dire the threat is. Remember SARS? That was another try to make China look incompetent. The truth is that the flu killed more people than SARS did and it is not even an issue any longer. I don't trust my government to tell me the honest truth of who is a threat to me. I trust them to create and prop up new enemies for future generations, but not to point out real threats. Reagan help Saddam stay in power and we have an enemy for the new century. Russia is gone and, as PNAC so clearly states, this is our time to take over the world. Now China is standing in the way with its growing economy and one billion people. The Euro is slowly becoming the currency standard and China is becoming the top consumer in the world. We are threatened.

Sorry to ramble. Its been a real long time since I discussed politics: recovering political junkie and all.

Steve Buchheit said...

Kanrei, no worries.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

Chucky, at least, would just cut your throat.

Ha! I am enjoying this (satirical humor, I mean--not the deep philosophical discussion. I'm too dim for that latter bit).

Steve Buchheit said...

Greeny, I, by no means, think you're too dim for the politics discussion.

And, as long as people keep it interesting, I'm willing to discuss almost anything with people that even have the diametrically opposed position from me (and, no, I don't think kanrei and I are all that far apart).