Crap from China

As I’ve been slowly cleaning things up around the house over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that crap from China dominates the cluttered mess.

Most of the plastic toys littering the floor and other horizontal surfaces are Chinese. It seems like everything the kid wants to order online comes by way of Ebay from China.

I never pictured myself as a Chinese importer before. It comes as a bit of a shock.

I’m not alone, of course. Crap from China is everywhere. Manufacturing in the US is dead, and has been for a while.

I tweeted a question: “All the toys in our house are plastic crap from China. Real question: Are there any good toys left NOT made in China, available in the US?”

Someone tweeted back: “It’s the US fault. Tariffs and industrial policy would stop and reverse outsourcing.”

I didn’t ask whose fault it is. I wanted to know if finding toys not made in China was even still possible, and if so, what are they?

As it turns out, there are. Bernadette has a list of 1000 Toys NOT Made in China.

Legos are not made in China. They’re made either in Europe or Mexico. Yomega yo-yos are made in the US. So are Scientific Explorer kits and K’nex sets and Fractiles. I’d never heard of Fractiles before, but they look like something I could spend hours playing with.

At least some, I can’t say for sure all, Bandai products (Ben 10, Transformers, Power Rangers) are made in Japan, not China, although China seems to warehouse a lot of them. Barbie stuff is not made in China.

So to answer my own question, there is a lot of stuff not made in China. That’s not to say you can easily fill a toy box with “Made in USA” stuff – or even that you’d necessarily want to. There’s plenty of “crap from USA,” too. Any worthwhile collection is bound to include a smattering from around the globe.

The key, with toys as with anything, is to be mindful. Crap is crap, no matter where it comes from. Same with quality.

2 thoughts on “Crap from China

  1. Things are made where they can be made at low cost. Because people want to buy low-cost goods. Paying more for goods is basically the same as making everyone poorer, because their money doesn’t go as far. If I need a mop, I’m much more concerned about price than quality, because one mop is as good as another, as far as I’m concerned. Adding tariffs to imports might give American manufacturing a leg up, but no one will be happy because everyone will be poorer.

    Bringing stuff in from China is good, because it gives billions of Chinese higher income and better living standards. Why isn’t that a good thing? They aren’t as concerned about safety and environmental impact as we are? We weren’t even beginning to be concerned about that either until the 80’s or so… They’ll catch up eventually.

    Manufacturing is getting too expensive to continue in China, so more and more is shifting to even lower cost countries. The deep well of the continent of Africa has hardly begun to be plumbed for cheap labor. So, China is identifying more and more with the problem of outsourcing that America has.

    This trend will continue for quite some time, but the end result is that billions of people are lifted out of poverty. Gradually, the world-wide labor playing field is leveling.

    • I understand that manufacturing goes to lower-wage places. And it’s not just about China. Sweat shops are sweat shops regardless of where you find them. The case for raising wages is fine, as long as working conditions aren’t so poor that people are jumping to their deaths out of windows and being poisoned by employers free of workplace safety regulations. Or, worse yet, locked into structurally unsound and firetrap buildings.

      By the time the product gets here, though, it better be up to the same quality and safety standards we demand at home. Toys with lead paint, honey that is actually 80% corn syrup, and dog treats laced with poison are all too common. (Maybe the lead paint is a plot to make Americans dumber over time.)

      You can have your cheap mop.

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