inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #126 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Fri 31 Jul 09 14:26
    
Yes, of course. There is a big difference between an outsource
manufacturer and one that produces merchandise for itself. PMIC spends
time describing the dynamic between US importers and Chinese suppliers.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #127 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Fri 31 Jul 09 14:32
    
I'm surprised that no one's made the suggestion that low prices are to
blame...
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #128 of 150: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Fri 31 Jul 09 14:49
    
> Well, did we get melamine-laced baby formula and pet food from the
> US, Canada or even Mexico?  No. 

No, but we did kill a bunch of people with E. Coli in spinach, and
other domestic food safety issues.  If you think domestic products and
those from countries other than China are somehow free of dangerous
defects, you might want to take a look at a couple of web sites:

http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/default.htm

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #129 of 150: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Fri 31 Jul 09 14:55
    

>  According to Consumer Reports, roughly 20% of all laptops bought
> between 2004 and 2008 have had serious problems or required a repair.
>   This does not sound like decent quality to me.

Cite? The June 2009 issue said that reliability has been "mostly
undistinguished" but unless I missed it said nothing about a statistic.

And given how laptops are tossed around, "undistinguished" is not bad
considering the level of mistreatment. There are only a few that are
hardened against being whacked or dropped.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #130 of 150: Dan Flanery (sunspot) Fri 31 Jul 09 16:04
    
>No, but we did kill a bunch of people with E. Coli in spinach

There's a world of difference between accidental contamination and
deliberate adultery.  Nobody added E. Coli to the spinach in order to
tart up its tested protein levels.  I'll take negligence over outright
toxic fraud any day.  Shit happens (no pun intended).
 
>Cite? The June 2009 issue said that reliability has been
>"mostly undistinguished" but unless I missed it said 
>nothing about a statistic.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/computers-internet/co
mputers/laptop-ratings/brand-reliability.htm

Note that you'll need to be a member to see the article.

I don't buy the "laptops are tossed around" argument, in part because
they're designed to be tossed around a bit.  I've used a laptop since
1997 and have never damaged one in the least, and neither have any of
my friends.  I'm sure that it happens, but are the folks answering the
survey even reporting that kind of damage as a 'serious issue requiring
repair"?  

Generally when we had one go on the fritz (I used to manage a CRM
system with about 300 users, all on laptops) it was due to some obscure
hardware issue which had nothing to do with any obvious signs of wear
and tear.  Dead hard drives, "motherboard" issues, fried power
supplies.  The same stuff that happens to desktop PCs, which (surprise,
surprise) aren't much more reliable than laptops (save Apple's
desktops):

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/computers-internet/co
mputers/desktop-computer-ratings/brand-reliability.htm
 
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #131 of 150: David Albert (aslan) Sat 1 Aug 09 05:46
    
> "If *some* of the products out of China are good, then maybe we
> don't have a problem." 

No, that's not what I said or asked either.  I asked, are there ANY
good products coming RELIABLY out of China from some manufacturers and
if so why?  Meaning, what is different about those?  Are there any
lessons to be learned from the differences between manufacturers in
China? 

Or are you saying we can't really know because even products that look
good may have hidden problems we haven't found out about yet?

Would also still like to know: what, if anything, can we do as
consumers?
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #132 of 150: Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Sat 1 Aug 09 08:07
    
IBM/Lenovo might be a good example. IBM has a strong relationship with
Lenovo, as far as I can tell from here. IBM maintains a large
operation on the ground in China and Lenovo has a large operation in
the USA. Now, Lenovo has had problems with their *components*
suppliers, but I assume they have the clout that comes from dealing
with IBM and very large orders to help them enforce quality. It would
be really interesting to know how *Lenovo* does it. 

I note that IBM is selling supply chain management consulting and
management services in China:

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/hk/gbs/bus/html/bcs_supplychainprocurement.htm
l
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #133 of 150: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Sat 1 Aug 09 10:15
    

>  Note that you'll need to be a member to see the article.

Thanks for the pointers; that's why I had not seen the statistics.

Consumer Reports advertising for their web site violates what I think of
as ethical advertising so I refuse to sign up. They hype the teaser rate
but make it almost impossible to find the rate after the first year.

I even wrote a letter to the president of Consumer Reports about this and
got a reply so off base that I have to assume that, at best, the thought
they were being unethical set off massive cognitive dissonance.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #134 of 150: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 1 Aug 09 11:02
    
Some nonprofit CEO types have almost no idea what's going on with
their organization's web site.  Many association websites became little
self-serving empires during the early days when people hardly knew
what the web was.  
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #135 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Sat 1 Aug 09 17:14
    
I would like to direct participants to the following blog post, which
includes photos of average factory workers in China. The title of the
post is "Sweatshop Smiles:" 

http://www.paulmidler.com/sweatshop-smiles/
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #136 of 150: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 1 Aug 09 18:27
    

Very interesting photos, Paul.  I was wondering about the people and the 
conditions, and haven't known anyone to ask.  I tried asking my mom who 
took a trip to China and reported that they were all happy, and then I 
remembered who I was talking to.  

I didn't realize how conditioned I was to thinking of all of the 
manufacturing as sweatshop-like, although there was that part of the book 
where the factory looked like one thing and then a couple of hours later 
looked like something else, having put on a good face for you, which 
reinforced my conditioning.

Let me clarify what I meant when I asked about media interest.  I didn't
mean interest in your book so much as media interest in the subject of the
book and whether anyone seemed inclined to take the ball and run with it.  
What I was thinking about was Jef Sharlet, who wrote a book several years
ago about the organization known as The Family, and about the place called
C Street where a bunch of Congressman and Senators live while in
Washington.  It's only recently that Jef Sharlet has had a lot of air time
as a result of writing that book, particularly on The Rachel Maddow Show,
because of the recent spate of political sex scandals among conservatives
who have had connections to The Family and C Street.

One of the anecdotes you tell in the book about the broken toilet in your 
hotel and how the manager who responded to the call about it seemed to 
imply that it must be your fault because no one else's toilet was broken.  
Was blaming the person on the receiving end of a problem something that 
you encountered a lot?
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #137 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Sat 1 Aug 09 20:45
    
On your last point, it is not uncommon for people to blame the victim.
Bad things happening to you? It must somehow be your own fault. In
China, this notion gets also combined with a strong superstitious
sense. "That person is unlucky," I have heard someone say without even
a hint of sympathy when it is probably due. People in China create
distance from unlucky persons, and these can include truly helpless
classes, like the disabled. It's sad. 

At one factory, there was a girl who got in a traffic accident and
injured herself. Her status at the company suffered for no good reason.
These kinds of attitudes may even contribute to quality failures in
China. Workers who find, for example, quality problems on the factory
floor may be seen as having something to do with those problems -- if
not directly, then by association -- and so workers choose not to see
anything wrong.

Regarding media interest, there has been some. Maybe that interest is
not as broad as it could be. Perhaps there are news outlets that don't
know how to handle the story. The Economist did a brave piece that was
good, and I was impressed with the kinds of questions they asked in
their interview with me. Others are weighing in, sure. In the end, a
book must make its way. If those who read this one recommend it to
others, then the book will continue to be read. Can't ask for anything
more than that. I hope this answers your question.  

  
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #138 of 150: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 2 Aug 09 16:23
    

Yes, indeed.

Let's hope for bestseller status.  If I wanted to tweet about the book, 
what's a good URL that will land people at a place that will make them 
want to buy it, and give them the opportunity to do so?
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #139 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Sun 2 Aug 09 19:15
    
If you would like to inform others about the book, any of the reviews
and articles listed towards the top of this discussion ought to be all
right. For an opportunity to purchase the book, any link to an online
book retailer is good. Thanks for recommending the book. 

Hope that everyone has had a good weekend. I believe that we have just
a few more days. Welcome to forward any last questions as we get ready
to gear down... 
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #140 of 150: cyndigo (cynthiabarnes) Sun 2 Aug 09 19:39
    
Hello!

I'm back from my birthday kidnapping; happy to see so much discussion.
Also want to let people know that Paul has a few books available to
sign if you want a personally inscribed copy, just send him an email.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #141 of 150: cyndigo (cynthiabarnes) Tue 4 Aug 09 18:37
    
We're winding down ... I think a new discussion starts tomorrow in
inkwell. Thanks VERY MUCH to everyone who participated, and also to our
author, Paul. (I hope he'll stick around on The WELL!)
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #142 of 150: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Tue 4 Aug 09 19:05
    
Thanks, Paul - I very much enjoyed the discussion, and hope the book
proves very successful! 
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #143 of 150: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Tue 4 Aug 09 20:44
    
paul, i sent pointers on this discussion to two friends who work
in  the toy biz, who have been very much been held hostage
by the stuff you have elucidated here. they both said
'i'll buy the book!'
and i hope they do...
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #144 of 150: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Tue 4 Aug 09 21:11
    
I often buy food imported from China in chinese grocery stores, and
after the toothpaste disaster (diethylene glycol substituted for
glycerine to sweeten it, killing quite a few childen in latin america)
and the melamine horrors find myself wondering how safe I should feel
about that. I most often stick to whole ingredients like szechuan
peppercorns or other spices, exotic rices, or whole loose teas--but
wonder if I should be worrying about contamination or adulteration even
with those.

Next stop at a bookstore, will be picking it up.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #145 of 150: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 5 Aug 09 09:53
    
Thanks for this discussion!  

I use tea tree oil in an unusual way -- brush it on my gums after 
toothbrushing -- which has given me excellent gum health 
results, wowing my dentist -- but since the oil is probably imported 
for non-internal use, I want the best quality for this gambit.  My 
local store for this kind of thing (Rainbow Grocery) used to have 
New Zealand tea tree oil in bulk, and recently I've only seen the tea tree
oil from China.  Nice price though.

I worry about items like health food specialty ingredients being 
produced cheaply there. This discussion makes me feel like I should pay 
attention to that worry and not place it aside as a silly paranoia. 
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #146 of 150: (dana) Wed 5 Aug 09 11:23
    
Thank you Paul and Cynthia, this has been an excellent discussion. While
we're beginning a new conversation today, everyone is welcome to continue
here for as long as you like.

On the subject of continuing vigilance -- long before the melamine and
toothpaste atrocities, there were reports of lead in soy sauce, steroids
in meat, truly horrifying animal abuse, and more. I have reached the
point where I will avoid any Chinese food products if an alternative
exists, particularly animal products. Unfortunate, but practical for
me.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #147 of 150: paulmidler (paulmidler-1) Wed 5 Aug 09 11:28
    
In the interest of making way for the next discussion, I will sign
off. Thanks to all who have participated. It's been a pleasure.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #148 of 150: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 5 Aug 09 12:09
    

Thanks for a great discussion, Paul, and best of luck on the book.  

By the way, you don't have to leave unless you want to.  We are pretty 
good at talking about more than one thing simultaneously.  And you don't 
have to limit yourself to just this one topic, either.
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #149 of 150: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Fri 7 Aug 09 20:36
    
Hmm: 

"Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed and it should never be taken
internally."

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Tea_Tree_Oil.asp
  
inkwell.vue.358 : Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China
permalink #150 of 150: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 18 Aug 09 14:09
    
Yeah, my dentist learned that after telling all his patients how well
it works to reverse receding gums.  He wanted to set up a clinical
trial on brushing, rinsing and spitting -- but he was old and retired
at about that time.  It's used in some herbal mouthwash and perhaps
even some toothpaste in small amounts, as well as in all the external
shampoo and soap products.
  



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