Friday, August 24, 2007

Yellow Peril part II

NBC news calmly announced last night that two brands of packaged baby carrots contained an extremely nasty bacteria called Shigella. As far as I know, even Lou Dobbs has not been calling for a retaliatory strike against Mexico. Such recalls are common enough and the most frequently tainted products are certainly not exclusively imports. Last summer's packaged spinach recall involved California grown produce, February's Peter Pan Peanut Butter Salmonella surprise didn't involve imports and of course tainted ground domestic beef seems frequently to be in the news. Clearly better inspection of foodstuffs would not be a bad idea. Of course we're not talking about imports from the designated scapegoat - China, or as Lou calls the largest bastion of swashbuckling capitalism: Communist China.

E-mails were pouring into Lou Dobbs' newsroom this week when someone in Indiana claimed her dog got sick on made in China Wal-Mart dog treats. The consensus was that we had to punish, not the manufacturer, but the 1,300,000,000 people of China for making "shoddy" products. Of course it's doubtful that we will get any "never minds" from the hysteria vendors and the public will, for the most part, not read any headlines mentioning that tests showed the dog treats to be free of contaminants.

Could it be that the inspiration for the "shoddy Chinese product" meme bears some relation to the panic much of the world feels at being unable to compete with this enormous producer of sophisticated electronics and technology? Joe consumer seems uneasy with the cheap appliances and tools and clothing he sees on the shelf, but is probably less familiar with the Chinese Space program, nuclear submarines, communications satellites and computer technology and components that make Japan and the US nervous. I wonder if that meme will meet the same fate as the one I remember as a child right after WW II, of shoddy Japanese products made by little bucktoothed and simian featured Japanese people.


NeoAuteur said...

China is a master of high technology???I thought China is only good at copying other countries' innovations.

Capt. Fogg said...

Technology and invention are two different things. Most of what Japan and Germany brag about are things Americans invented decades ago and many are actually assembled in China.

For what it's worth, the computer memory I'm using to write this was made in China.

The problem I'm talking about is that people insist of viewing that country as an entity instead of a place with many companies and individuals, all different. When my $2000 Sony TV blew up a month out of warranty and they refused to service it, I didn't blame the people of Japan, I blamed Sony and it's American division, yet we blame a billion people for one man who mislabeled some paint and sold it to a toy company. We don't bother to blame the American company who didn't take responsibility for what they sold.