To thread or not to thread?

What the hell – let’s do it.

The Discussion: 79 Comments

Well, I can’t stand to see an empty open thread, so, er, well…

I bought an oscillating floor fan made in China today.

July 23, 2005 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

It’s early. These things don’t usualy get going for another two or three hours. Meanwhile, I have to cope with the trauma of an empty thread as best I can.

July 23, 2005 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

Lisa that’s Amazing….now try to find something that isn’t made in China. ๐Ÿ˜›

July 23, 2005 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

I got this at that yuppie store, Restoration Hardware. I’d gotten a really cool-looking cast iron table fan there years ago. We’ve been having this pretty hot weather here in LA, muggy, even a bit much at the beach where I live, so I thought, yeah, cool-looking retro floor fan! The earlier one I bought was made in India I think. Or even France. But this one, China. Quite nifty, though it was kind of a pain to put together.

July 23, 2005 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

I am sure the smoked salmon I had for breakfast today had its bones cut out in China.

July 23, 2005 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

Lisa, I hope you saved the receipt.Richard ,if you start vomiting try Cipro.Gordon,I’m tired of your negativity.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

I’ve been having some rather heated debates on another forum with union members that are complaining about their jobs going to China.

They don’t like it when you point out that Chinese people are more than willing to sit on an assembly line and pull the same lever for lest than $21/hr.

Sorry, I just don’t see a need for unskilled workers to receive such high wages. They make more than the people designing, maintaining and selling the product. It’s ridiculous.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

ACB deleted some of Madge’s comments yesterday, edited others. Good for him.

Gordon, you are such a Republican. Power to the people. Workers of the world, unite, and all that.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

I’m going to post a story a little later tonight about the tragic, and I mean, tragic, fate of a young Chinese migrant worker who toiled in one of those factories.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

Not a Republican at all.

I think it’s complete bullshit that you have to join the union if you want to work for certain employers.

There was a time and a place for unions, but they are no longer what they were in the early part of the nineteenth century.

I’m tired of watching job after job move overseas because of unions screwing the pants off of the corporations providing them.

All of Delphi’s employees are union and as such they can not let them go even though they have no work for them. Instead they are placed on “protective status” where they clock in and litterally sit on their asses doing nothing all day long because their unions says they can only do the job in their job description. No broom pushing for them.

So, there you have several thousand employees that you are forced to pay for doing nothing.

Just imagine if it were your business.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:15 pm | Comment

Lisa, I do think unions could do some good in China.

God! I have never seen so many maimed and disfigured people walking around a country in my life.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Would love to comment further on this, but first, a trip to the gym…talk to you all in a while!

July 23, 2005 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

That Other Lisa is a real yuppie. Fancy wine’s,food’s, fan’s,gym etc……

July 23, 2005 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

Did I say yuppie, I meant to say Californian.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

I like unions.

July 23, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Let’s just say “champagne tastes on a beer budget.”

And yeah, Californian and proud of it.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

You go girl!

July 23, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

I have mixed feelings about unions. I think that, in certain situations, they are absolutely essential. Gordon has a point that there is a real time and place for them. And workers should have a right to organize and demand certain standards of treatments.

But they are capable of immense corruption, they are often exclusionary and they can be counter productive when you end up with a labor force that is so rigid that employers are simply reluctant to hire people (see: Germany). And they end-up creating ridiculous rules that are counter productive. So, if American car companies are uncompetitive, partially because of union conditions, and they have to close factories, who is being served exactly?

So, is there a balance between helping workers achieve good working conditions and decent salaries and preserving enough labor flexibility to keep an economy competitive?

July 23, 2005 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

I think this is why certain benefits and wage standards need to be decoupled from place of employment.

National health insurance, let’s start there. Businesses will wonder why they hadn’t been campaigning for this all along, once they figure out how much money they will save…

July 23, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

and now, the gym, really. I had to cut up all the cardboard from said yuppie-made-in-China fan box and put it in the recycling first…we Californians LOVE recycling, you know…

July 23, 2005 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

Will, we are actually in agreement on this one. Unions can be really frightening, and I was giving Gordon a hard time because he’s such a Republican fat-cat capitalist.

Your last sentence is the $64,000 question. As America becomes Hamburger-Flipper Nation, I really wonder.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

California forever!

I used to think restoration hardware was cool. But I also used to think there was just one. How naive. I have a Chinese floor fan. It sits underneath my desk at work to make up for the inadequate Chinese air conditioning (no colder than 26C by government mandate – energy shortage, you see) in my office. It’s plastic and has no discernible style. But it was cheap.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

California is home to many of my heroes: Charlie “Chucky” Manson, Richard “Dick” Ramirez, The Zodiak Killer, Bob “Bobcat” Dornan, Richard Allen “Do Me Daddy!” Davis Etc……..How you guys produce such great people is amazing.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

I like California.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

I like the idea of California.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:21 pm | Comment

Of cour se,Living in China, I like the Idea of Gary, Indiana.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

Of course!

July 23, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

You know why California is great LLF? Because it would welcome you.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

Do dog’s get Pink-eye? I think my lil’ Frenchmen’s got it.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Touche,Will! I could be Governor!

July 23, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture?

July 23, 2005 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

LLF, only if you speak Spanish.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

Or JuuuuuuurMan!

July 23, 2005 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Gordon, the article comes from UPI, owned by Bush-friendly Reverend Moon. I presume it’s true. Do you really think after all this trouble we’d let Saddam live? The trial is a formality; he’s a dead man walking and everyone knows it.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

It would seem to be another case of mistaken identity.They should just let him move to Cali.”All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz and I’m fine”I can hear Arnie’s PSB scrambling for my IP address.

July 23, 2005 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

Great post on the perils of Yellow Fever. A lesson for all you expat guys in Asia. I’ve been burned myself, more than once; but they seem so damned sincere!!

July 23, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

Another funny one – Chinese condom popsicles. (Yes, you heard it right.)

July 23, 2005 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

” I rub you rong time is insincere”

July 23, 2005 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

hmmmm, let’s see, BTK killer – fine, church-going fellow from…where was that again? Iowa? Ohio? One of those heartland places. John Wayne Gacy? Jeffrey Dahmer? Ted Bundy? And what about that recent whack-job who cut off her kid’s arms? Texas, wasn’t it? And how about that woman who killed the 9 months pregnant woman to steal her baby? That was…Ohio?

Help me out here, folks.

July 23, 2005 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

And Ed Gein was from Wisconsin. But I can’t blame midwesterners too much for becoming criminally insane.
Anyone would go violently nuts if they lived in a 2000 mile football field.

July 23, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

Right on Lisa.

July 23, 2005 @ 11:08 pm | Comment

I like onions, too!

Hey, fartypants, even from China, Cincinnati doesn’t look good.

So, is there a balance between helping workers achieve good working conditions and decent salaries and preserving enough labor flexibility to keep an economy competitive?

This is the best question yet. I protested loudly in the ’70’s while the unions gave the whole American car market away to foreign makers (and this was before I knew I wasn’t a Democrat anymore). Pricing themselves out of the market was definitely not in their long term interests.

Now, on to better news….it looks like there’s been some redress in the Shengyou Village land grab, with the mayor fired and the Party chief in jail. With all the focus we put on the horror stories here, a little justice deserves a cheer.

July 23, 2005 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

Thanks Sam. Pity that link comes via Xinhua as I usually prefer a less bias source of news. A similar article also appeared in yesterday’s SCMP but, again, the source was Xinhua.

*Warning* for China residents re Richard’s above Yellow Fever link. It’s to blogspot. We must do the “proxtrot” to access.

Right, today I’m giving Laowai’s Chilli recipie a go. In place of Jalepenos, I’ve some extra hot chilli powder and Mexican seasoning–with Jalepeno power. Fingers crossed.

July 24, 2005 @ 12:09 am | Comment

But, but, but…come on, the upper management in Detroit had as much – oh heck, MORE to do with that than did the unions. And they still persist in making bad decisions and misreading the market. Look at GM. They’re not making cars that people want to buy. And unlike the union members, who have paid the price for management’s and their own miscalculations, what happens to the guys that make the bad decisions? Multi-million dollar parachutes, anyone? Has anyone looked at the wage disparities between the top earners in a company and those at the bottom lately? It’s okay for top execs to be compensated in the tens of millions while we won’t raise the minimum wage to get workers above the poverty line? I’m sorry this is obscene.

Mind you, I think that unions have made a lot of bad decisions, have become bureaucratic and sclerotic and have certainly helped to engineer their own downfall. And I think that unions are not necessary or even the best option in many employment situations. But unions helped bring huge numbers of working Americans into the middle class, where they could buy the stuff that helped keep our economy humming along.

And now…? If America is to become primarily a service economy, how will the millions of workers in these jobs participate in the American economy if we don’t pay them decently? Are we going to become another Brazil, with a small number of extremely wealthy on the top, an increasingly squeezed middle class of professionals and a huge number of poor on the bottom? Because this is the direction we are headed.

The “invisible hand” is giving average Americans the finger.

July 24, 2005 @ 12:13 am | Comment

Ed Gein was one of my personal favorites.Ivan,you have good taste.

July 24, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Okay, I’ve blogged my take on the Joong Ch@ng bio – even though I haven’t read it yet.

July 24, 2005 @ 1:10 am | Comment

Get this straight, My name is Little Lord FUCKPANTS, NOT fartypants. O.K.? Now Richard, I find this “Yellow Fever” term to be racist. Is it alright if we change it to something like Epicanthic Fold Fever or Down Syndrome Sickness or…? Yellow Fever is offensive.

July 24, 2005 @ 2:48 am | Comment

Nah, Lisa; GM’s management isn’t the smartest, but they can’t do much without union concurrence. The issue in the 70’s was; car workers making $19 per hour, trying to sell cars to a nation making $6 per hour. Even if the cars had been gorgeous, something had to give, and in this case it was US-made auto sales. The big losers were the union members (and auto shareholders).

Of course, though we lost the Corvair, we gained the Super Beetle! The consumers came out allright in the deal.

July 24, 2005 @ 2:59 am | Comment

It’s okay for top execs to be compensated in the tens of millions while we won’t raise the minimum wage to get workers above the poverty line? I’m sorry this is obscene.

Lisa, you lost me on that one.

You show me a GM worker that is only making minimum wage. Ha!

Oh..unless of course $17.50 is the minimum.

July 24, 2005 @ 3:20 am | Comment

Hmm, in the case of GM, from what I’ve read, that company takes fantastic care of its workers both present and previous. Please don’t ask me to go hunting the figures but GM is one of better companies to work for…or so I’ve always heard.

Are far as unions go. When I worked in London, one of my company’s customers was Guinness (London brewery). I’m not saying this is typical–but–the unions ground the company into dust with their wage demands. For years the mangement begged the unions to drop their ourageous demands, warning them that the company would be finished within 5 years. They didn’t listen.

Within 3 years, every single part of Guinness’s operations (drivers, catering, cleaning, H&S, prodcution line, admin etc) apart from the brewing and testing/quality was contracted out under a tender sytem to third party companies.

Every last man and woman lost their jobs.

The only good thing Thatcher ever did was curb the power of the militant left-wing-run unions.

Remember, unions were first started in the UK to stop children climbing up chimnies, to stop workers pulling 16-hour daily shifts and to stop people wondering whether they would be killed or not during their working day.

July 24, 2005 @ 3:50 am | Comment

Nicely put Martyn. As I said earlier, there was a time and a place for unions, but that was the past.

July 24, 2005 @ 4:24 am | Comment

KLS,

Yesterday you made the following comment on my blog (currenly down for maintenance) about the man who was shot dead in London for being a suspected suicide bomber:

this is utter and complete goddamned nonsense!!! think about it. why did people shoot at this person? ie why did they suspect him? ie who were the people who suspected him? who were the people that shot him? were they ordinary people who had a hunch? or were they policemen who had good reason to believe he was a suicide bomber???

This just in: Man Shot by London Cops Not a Terrorist

Doht!

July 24, 2005 @ 4:28 am | Comment

The absurd circle of todays shareholder society:
1. workers invest their money in equity funds to insure their pension.
2. managers of the equity funds pressure the companies they hold stocks of to maximise their profits.
3. to maximise the profits companies go to China.
4. Workers loose their jobs.

Who won?
Who will buy the products of the companies?

July 24, 2005 @ 6:39 am | Comment

There could be an end to this vicious circle, if Chinese were capable of buying their own products, one day.

That could be the end of American Hegemony too.

July 24, 2005 @ 7:13 am | Comment

I’ve never seen an empty Wal-Mart parking lot. You?

July 24, 2005 @ 7:14 am | Comment

Bing:

Rubbish. You’ve got it all backwards and skew-wiff. An end to American hegemony? We won’t see it in our lifetimes…and I’m still a young(ish) man!

July 24, 2005 @ 7:21 am | Comment

“And I’m still a young-ish man”.

Heh. Is that what you keep telling yourself these days? ๐Ÿ˜›

July 24, 2005 @ 7:51 am | Comment

Actually, I believe your reading of economic history is a wee bit skewed and incorrect. Labor unions did not creat the middle class, that was developing very rapidly way before unions become as significant as they did. And they become significant after FDR came to power in 1932. FDR wanted to creat an corporatist society. All of America was suppose to be unionized in this scheme. Fortunately it did not happen.

Wages are only one element, and not necessarilly the severest restraint. The union rules creating artificial restraints on moving labor from one type activity to another is very important, often more important in increasing factor of production costs. As labor is augmented by technology, the value of labor increases, not decreases. In China, all of the factories that I have visited, all of them use labor very extensively. Labor is cheap here, relatively speaking, consequently technology is sparingly used. In America, technology is used very extensively, and the cost of labor increases naturally just from that. Today, even in the rust belt, who really wants to work in a factory, not many. Consequently, labor rates increase (it is irrelevant what the minimum wage rate is, a useless peice of legislation that all the progressives think is so mindboggling beneficial). There are factories in America where you do not see anyone on the factory floor, just a few people in a control room, a number of maintenance crew staff, and other support staff.

The wage rate in America is usually not that serious of an impediment. If it is, the company just quits and goes somewhere else, or usually just hires fewer people (yea, unions really help the worker, they just keep more of them unemployed). The real problem today is the transactional costs of just doing business in America (from rules and regulations, mostly government).

July 24, 2005 @ 8:01 am | Comment

Hi everyone, I’m back from New Zealand.

Seems like I missed a whole lot of interesting business regarding MAJ, the good Dr., and who knows what else? And who is this person with the active pants? Is that American Man under another name? What’s been going on in my absence?

July 24, 2005 @ 8:15 am | Comment

Ed Gein doesn’t want people with good taste. Ed Gein wants people who taste good!

July 24, 2005 @ 8:34 am | Comment

Ivan, You’re D Lish Urse. You probably taste better with sour cream. Most Russian dishes do.

July 24, 2005 @ 9:26 am | Comment

Congratulations to Mr. Lance Armstrong. A Truly amazing person!

July 24, 2005 @ 9:34 am | Comment

A totally different subject:
Can anyone direct me to a source for information on Jews in China?
I read an article awhile back that said that in 1930-1945 there was an influx of Jewish reugees into Shanghai?
Any suggestions?
Thanks

July 24, 2005 @ 9:49 am | Comment

Henry kissinger?

July 24, 2005 @ 9:51 am | Comment

JFS

Mother Jones would hate you.

July 24, 2005 @ 9:53 am | Comment

RMH,
This looks promising (click on my name below for the URL)
but you have to join to read the whole thing.

July 24, 2005 @ 11:10 am | Comment

only the inferior people or from primitive barbaric culture civilization who make big deal for what they have little better than others such as money, look, power or advance stuffs. my friends living in america say that both whites and espesly blacks are very obnoxous, rude, bully and arogant if they have little few dollars more and few inches taller than others like asian americans. these so called americans think they own america or the whole world for that matter.

i don’t know where these americans and westerners get the ideas that they are better anybody, asians or espesly chinese. they should know that pretty much most their culture come from china. they should know that just last 1000 years ago when many chinese people already wore silks, dined with fine chinawares and utensels, hundreds cuisines, lived in brick and tile houses, mansions, lantern lamps and good decorated furnitures in every home, read and write in pens, papers and books, enjoying dancing, singing opera, arts, literatures, jades, ritual ceremonies, already master meds, metals, ceramics, ships, irrigation, agriculture, dosmesticating plants and animals (bonzai, gold fish, singing birds, tons of other plants and pets and cattles), decoration, gardens, war tatic, science, technology, self defense, healthy living, exercise, herbs, gingseng, slow cooking ect… while the europeans were still living in caves, mud, hey and rock houses, castles, eating plain rotten fish and meat food, stinking milk and cheeses with bare hands, wore furs and leathers, enjoying sex and violence in spare times, slaveries were every where, human sacrafices, barely know how to use meds, metals, entainments ect…. and the westerners still clame themselves super race? more like super idiots.

July 24, 2005 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Sorry, my rant was unclear – I had gone on to the general wage disparities in the US as opposed to GM. GM has huge structural problems for a lot of reasons – their pension program being a big one – but the last time I heard financial analysts talking about GM they were specifically addressing how incompetent the upper level management has been, what bad choices they’ve made and how out of touch they are with the auto-buying public.

As for whether the US still needs unions, I’d say, certainly not in every situation – I have to deal with a union at my place of employment that is as far as I can determine absolutely useless – but look at companies like Walmart. Look at hotel workers and janitors here in Los Angeles. I’d like to place my beliefs in enlightened management – to see an example of a retailer that treats its workers well, take a look at Costco – but what is the alternative when companies don’t?

And you can’t just say, well those workers should vote with their feet, because they don’t always have another options. Need I remind you that Jessica Lynch joined the Army because she couldn’t get a job at Walmart?

July 24, 2005 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

and as a p.s. – I don’t know that much about the auto industry, but I’d have to agree that the unions there really contributed to their own downfall. I would argue though that there is plenty of blame to go around, and that upper management has been typically shielded from the consequences of their own bad decisions.

July 24, 2005 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

Um, for the record, the foregoing racist rant (three places above, by “trung”) was NOT one of MY satirical impersonations of a vicious Chinese nationalist.
You can’t make up shit like that.

July 24, 2005 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

Welcome back, FSN9! You sure chose one hell of a time to go away. Too much has happened in the past week to summarize in one comment. Send me an email and I’ll fill you in.

Ivan, I suspect a person can indeed make up stuff like trung’s comments. In fact, I’m sure of it.

July 24, 2005 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

Ivan, Yeah, you dont have that special something.

July 24, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

I have made a personal decision to try and talk about the positive aspects of China more often.Yesterday as I walked down the street, I saw an elderly gentleman with his 1-3 year old grandson. As I walked by Grandpa pointed and laughed at me.The Grandson seemed to agree that I was very humorous and interesting. He had his first pointing and laughing at the foreigner session.I was at the center of a complex Rite de Passage. A passing of the Cultural torch. I shall not soon forget this beautiful moment.

July 24, 2005 @ 6:26 pm | Comment

Richard, Did you read the article in IHT about China/Zimbabwe?Quite interesting.The Zimbab’s even think Chinese products are shoddy.Zhing-Zhong anyone? Also, farmers here are coming down with some weird fatal disease from pigs/sheep.

July 24, 2005 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

Yes, I did read it. The CCP sure picked a lovable little country to do business with!

Now, I want you to go out of your way to be loving and tolerant today. And no more obscene monikers, like “F*pants” – hao ma??

July 24, 2005 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

I was feeling a bit randy.I’m sorry.I seem to have a skill for upsetting people.Dunno why.

July 24, 2005 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Trung, So what happened?

July 24, 2005 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

Note to Gordon.The weekly Sheep/Pig slaughter is off for today. At least until the Government says its safe. I’m not taking any chances.

July 24, 2005 @ 7:05 pm | Comment

Time to zip it up.

July 24, 2005 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.