Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

I am aiming no insult here at the Chinese people themselves: most of us try to survive whatever government we have. But the government and the type of manufacturing they allow: especially prison labor?

Yes, China, you suck.

I’m on tour and have to sleep on an air mattress. It’s an old man back thing combined with portability. I used to sleep on air mattresses all the time, now I have Tempur Pedic at home but use air elsewhere. I have been using air mattresses since I was a kid: no problem… until a few years ago.

This is only one of the many products coming pretty much exclusively out of China that’s a fine example of how “free,” unregulated, worldwide trade doesn’t work.

I noticed years ago that air mattresses were mostly, if not all, made in China. The reason why I noticed was my constant attempts to understand why, suddenly, I was having a constant battle with air mattresses. Not a damn one these days works right, is made well, or lasts. The valves are faulty, or the ribs bust, or seams split… if you can call them “seams.”

Stores are beginning to refuse to give your money back on them. Hell, WalMart gives money back for damn near anything, but air mattresses at Wally World in Nashville are now “exchange only.” Other stores have been following the leader, so just changing stores isn’t always helpful.

The idea that “free enterprise” allows the consumer to shop elsewhere and reward the better companies is nonsense, in fact a damnable lie. Especially a “damnable lie” if enterprise is so “free” that they’re all allowed to sell the cheapest products they can: no matter how defective, how deceptive. Then you have the issue of where they find, and treat, their workers… then allowed to hide all that from the public’s scorn, multiple/high price lawsuits.

Beyond mere license plate scenarios, prison labor pretty much negates “free enterprise” when your product is built upon servitude. It also encourages more companies to abandon the labor market place for slave labor. And when government walks hand in hand with business, watch out: the whole world may wind up in prison for the actual crime of being otherwise inconvenient to both government and corporations.

Damn near any product I know of “made in China” exhibits similar symptoms of piss poor manufacturing. Those few I’ve noticed that don’t completely suck are overseen well by the American corporations that sell them to us. From what I understand Apple is made in China… not bad from my admittedly limited experience. But Schwinn, Huffy and hundreds of other once proud American brand names are now all made in China… poorly. They are the same bikes, just different, deceptive, labels. And the more complicated they are, as in multi-speed, the worse they are. Not one of the Schwinn bikes I’ve bought has been worth spit.

American companies shouldn’t have to play big bad Daddy, watching over Chinese manufacturing. If the Chinese aren’t proud enough to demand quality for their own corporations no one should vend out to them. And their employment/manufacturing practices should be openly ridiculed, openly scorned, worldwide. In many cases: sanctioned.

Of course if our tax laws rewarded actual American manufacturing, American labor at living wages… and were a hell of a lot less lenient when supposed “American” companies vend out to the Chinese and their slave/prison labor mills, we’d be better off economically. Our air mattresses, our bikes and, oh, so many other products would be a hell of a lot better.

Why anyone thinks it’s wise to give the same tax breaks and advantages to corporations who are mere shells posing as “American,” I have no idea. Unless they think everyone but the 1% should be in prison producing free products so we can “compete.”

Sounds like a plan… but only “a plan” for the .5%.

We all know the Chinese uses prison and slave labor. We also know, when it comes to exports, they send out stuff that… if inspected… it was inspected to make sure it’s bad.

I kid. My guess is even if it says “inspected,” they’re “kidding” about having inspected a damn thing.

A completely open, unregulated, worldwide, market, only means the worst labor, the cheapest: most slave-like, labor. Shoddy manufacturing is rewarded as long as you make damn sure, like WalMart does in Nashville, that you can’t get your money back… you have to trade for another piece of Chinese excrement that doesn’t hold air.

China is a damn good example of why unregulated, non-union, international, free enterprise with no limits or rules, does not work, will not work, and is probably one of the worst ideas the Right has ever had.

Unless, of course, we all want to be slaves or prisoners serving the 1% once corporate vultures dissect what’s left of American manufacturing, like Bain did.

Which should give everyone a bit to chew over this election year.



Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2012
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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