Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bad Men Acting Good

Damn, I wanted to write more about this, but I have important things to do. More important, in fact, than writing blogposts to you, my loyal readers (yes, it's true). So I'm actually going to keep this one pretty short. I just read this story about how China is dealing with the news that their products are unsafe:

China said Monday that it had arrested 774 people in a crackdown on substandard goods, part of ongoing efforts to calm international worries over the quality of the country's products.

Nearly 200 illegal food companies have been shut amid more than 10,000 cases of violations of the law.

"We will ensure the results will be longer lasting," Gao told reporters.
The official Xinhua News Agency also reported Monday that China would raise quality standards for pharmaceutical licensing following a string of deaths and injuries from faulty drugs.

And this is exactly how things were expected to turn out. The world can't count on people wanting to do the right thing. But when people have a good incentive to do the right thing, they are much more likely to do it. And in this case, China has quickly learned that product safety is important, at least the apperance of product safety, anyway. And so they're acting quickly to fix problems that are hitting them deep in the pocketbook. But this is all something that wouldn't have happened unless they had foreign markets wanting their goods. And the more stuff we buy from them, the higher quality shit they'll be producing.

But this isn't just about getting stuff. This is how the world has always worked. If you buy someone's shit long enough, they will depend on you for more money/power. And then you have ties that can be used to force them to behave ethically and do to what's right. It doesn't happen overnight, but it happens. On the other hand, if a country is already rogue, they will have nothing to lose when you cut them off, and you're just empowering their wicked leadership. It may sound unethical to do business with a bad man, but it's often the only way you can make one behave.

And yes, this is the simple version of all this. But it's the best I could do on such short notice.


whig said...

So if I go to McDonalds long enough, eventually I get a decent hamburger?

Sorry, not following.

Now, if McDonalds decides to offer a decent hamburger, then maybe people who wouldn't go there otherwise start going, and that's good, but it's not because you were buying their crappy burgers all along they did that.

whig said...

Feel free to substitute another company, if you happen to like McDonalds burgers. That's just my opinion there.

Doctor Biobrain said...

First off, I happen to like McDonald's hamburgers (specifically, the Big Mac, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and Fish Sandwich) and usually go there about once a month. Their fries are sometimes decent too; though they're too often over-cooked, crunchy, and cold.

Secondly, they've sold billions. Billions, I tell you. And lately they've been adding more "adult" selections and healthier choices (relatively speaking) to combat slumping sales. And it's my understanding that it's worked and their sales are going up.

And that's exactly what I'm talking about. If everyone had your opinion about McDonald's burgers, they'd either change their burgers or they'd go out of business. If someone has incentive to produce better goods they will. China has huge incentives to produce better goods, while McDonald's will continue to clog our arteries.

And in contrast, if President Bush closed down McDonald's and insisted that he wouldn't allow them to reopen until their management was replaced and executed, it's fairly unlikely we'd have seen the new all-white Chicken Strips any time soon. They'd have no incentive to improve, and they'd only stay within the confines of their corporate structure, waiting for crazy Bush to finally leave office.

whig said...

I think you took my metaphor and ran with it quite in a different direction, but such is life, so let's get back to reality.

China is shipping poisonous products to our markets.

Lead paint on children's toys.

Adulterated food for animals, and humans.

It's not fit for public sale, and should be shipped back.

All products should have Country of Origin Labeling so that when we observe such careless disregard for the lives and health of their customers, we can choose to avoid their products.

Doctor Biobrain said...

But the Chinese government is trying to do something about it, because all those things you mentioned seriously hurt them. That was my point. And that's happening because the Chinese are now understanding the need for ensuring safe/good products. Too bad our own government isn't quite so responsive.

whig said...

I would consider their product safety measures effective if we establish country of origin labeling, test a reasonable sample of incoming goods for contaminants and adulterants and refuse those shipments which fail to pass inspection.

This is what the American government must do for me to be willing to buy Chinese products again, no matter what the Chinese government says it is doing about improving quality.

Do you support Country of Origin Labeling at least?

Doctor Biobrain said...

I wouldn't consider it a key issue for me, but yes, I do support Country of Origin Labeling. I also support improved testing of products on our end.

I should mention that I think you may have misconstrued my post. My post had to do with the idea that we should do business with bad guy countries like China and Cuba because we can use those economic ties to make them behave better; while economic sanctions and whatnot only help these regimes. Allowing a country to have a thriving economy should be a goal of ours; not a reward for countries we like. But this had nothing to do with what we do on our end; which most certainly should be more safety testing and stronger standards.

Again, I find it disheartening that our government is currently trying to help businesses who produce unsafe products, while China is arresting theirs. I really wish I had had more time to write that post, but just wanted to get something out before I went to bed.