When I wrote about the [bad domestic effects] that a globalized economy can have on our lives, I wasn’t thinking directly of threats to health — but that’s exactly what the recent recalls of Chinese products sold in this country force us to face. Tainted toothpaste is one thing, but it’s almost unimaginable that after all these years, we are actually again dealing with the threat of lead exposure in children’s products — thanks to the greedy bastards at Mattel. Today Mattel CEO Robert Eckert [apologized] for the danger his company introduced into American households by blaming it on a bad subcontract. Whew! Don’t worry Mom, it was just a bad subcontractor — you know how that can be.
It’s amazing to watch the Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — when companies operated with practically no oversight or regulation — playing out all over again thanks to “globalization”. Businesses flock to nations without labor unions or meaningful regulations to manufacture their products at a fraction of the cost it would be in an industrialized nation with responsible policies in place and then pocket the (huge) savings. While, no doubt, crossing their fingers and muttering a prayer skyward in hopes that they don’t end up harming customers back home. Mattel’s prayers weren’t answered today — but maybe ours were. Maybe this incredible fiasco will finally force craven politicians to start demanding meaningful safeguards on outsourced manufacturing or even — shock — institute significant levies and penalties on companies that play fast and loose with our safety. Who knows — the risk of such costs might actually convince American businesses to keep their manufacturing in America.
UPDATE 8/15: Bad news about Chinese manufacturing is [good news] for the few remaining made-in-America toy companies.
UPDATE 8/19: A new post that details the moral cost to us all of current toy industry standards, [Made in China: What Price Profit?]