Thursday, May 22, 2008

Made in China

Joyce here.

"Made in China." Magical words that inspire the worst thoughts. For the bike exhibition at the MU on Tuesday, we used six Ikea wooden easels made in China. As the day got older, forces beyond our control (i.e. the wind) blew our huge timeline measuring 3' x 12' standing on four easels to the ground. Luckily, the timeline which was mounted on four gator boards fell as one and thus did not tear. That first fall was lucky. Later in the afternoon, the wind got stronger and blew the timeline down again. Except this time, while the timeline was still intact, the easels were not. They were made in China, afterall.

Two of the four used to support the timeline exploded, like literally, into splinters. We rushed to salvage what we could but the easels were too far gone. One of my groupmates mutter, "Well they were made in China." I protest at this assertion! I calmly told her that this was an Ikea easel, we got what we paid for.

This brings to memory the recent onslaught of accusations towards Chinese products and their supposed inferior quality. I say supposed because the products are designed and made for the Western consumers. The rules of capitalism and consumerism WANT low prices but high quality. One cannot have both and must accept the consequences of choosing one or the other.

I too used to laugh at cheap products when they break, shrug and say it was made in China. But no, that is no longer entirely true. Consumers are the people that can never be satisfied. They detest the disagreeable work conditions yet spend an astronomical amount for a pair of shoes. They criticize the manufacturing government for not regulating the workplace, but still scoff at a correctly-priced t-shirt made under conditions that these people prize.

1 comment:

kieulinh said...

remember the assignment calls for you to connect your new/old consciousness about consumer culture and being green to readings in our class.