HarborFreight - am I just unlucky?

Page 2 of 4  


No flame intended, but you truly live in a fantasy world and have little if any understanding of economics, human nature, and recent Chinese history if you believe any or all of the following: 1. Chinese workers are worse off because of exports to the Nikes and Home Depots of the world
[Fact, China has increased its PPP (purchasing power parity) manifold over the past 2 decades due to its rapid industrialization and export-driven economy. While the rich have (as always) perhaps benefited disproportionately, there is now a rapidly growing middle class and a much less impoverished working class]
2. Chinese factory workers are slaves
[Fact, Chinese workers are fleeing subsistance farming jobs in rural areas to come to the cities in search of factory jobs. They desire these jobs so much that they risk arrest and deportation back to the rural areas -- hardly the sign of true slavery]
3. If US consumers only were willing to pay more, then all the problems would go away.
[Fact, instead of the "profits" from cheaper production flowing to the consumer, they would simply be pocketed by the factory owners or other middlemen. The "slaves" would be unlikely to get even a token more. Finally, while it is a nice Utopian dream, do you think a sizeable number of Americans will voluntarily pay more to help unknown faces in some far off country and culture? The automobile example you cite, actually proves the opposite. In that case US consumers stopped buying from Detroit automakers because they got better value overseas, just like they do now buying from China. The solution then as now is to get US industry and workers to deliver more value for the buck to be competitive with overseas production . Instead, you are asking US consumers to voluntarily choose and pay for a worse value. Good luck!]
4. China should just institute a fair minimum wage and legislate better working conditions for workers [Fact, in a global economy, the jobs will just go elsewhere to markets where labor is cheaper and more flexible. So instead of having millions of Chinese with low paing jobs, we will now have millions more Chinese literrally starving from lack of jobs. After all, why do you think these jobs "left" the US in the first place? -- because the US is too expensive for certain types of basic labor]
5. The US should just "ban" or "tax" imports from countries with unfair labor conditions.
[Fact, first, we are party to various treaties that do not allow such unilateral actions that have the efect of restricting trade and protecting home industries. Second, the people who believe this are usually the same people who accuse the US of acting unilatterally, being a bully, and generally trying to impose its values and culture on others. Who are we to tell other soverign countries how much to pay their workers? We are hardly talking murder and genocide hear -- just our own self-serving perception of the proper tradeoffs between growth, profits, distribution of income, and worker quality of life. Final restrictions on trade, price controls, and command-and-control market policies always end up hurting more than they help leaving most of us worse off (see, Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, Nixon's 1970s price controls, the whole Soviet economic "experiment")]
In summary, I believe that those who inveigh against buying from China suffer from one or more of the following afflictions or delusions:
A. Well-meaning limousine liberals whose hearts are in the right place but whose brains aren't -- the "cures" they recommend are unimplementable and would have consequences worse than the "disease".
If you fall in this category, then nothing stops you from buying at discount places and putting aside your savings to donate to some established oversease charity where at least one can be assured that the money goes 100% to the needy. Before you ask others to pay more, try doing so yourself voluntarily first.
B. Disingenous, self-interested labor protectionists who are just interested in propping up overpaid and inefficient US industries.
If you fall in this category, then nothing stops you and your friends from paying more to buy American. Also, you can lobby American organized labor to stop opposing reforms that impove efficiency and competitiveness of US industries.
C. Disingenous, self-interested foreign policy protectionists who fear China's rise to power.
If you fall in this category, then you too can always pay more to buy American. Also, it behooves you to do everything possible to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the American workforce. The only way for the US to maintain its economic position is to out-innovate and stay ahead of the competition -- trying to hold others back is at best a small temporary measure that won't make a dent in the inexorable development of 1 billion Chinese who would love nothing more than to have the wealth-creation opportunities enabled by a US-style free market system. China.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<snip>
I appreciate what you've written, but my main objection to patronizing that country is based on just one thing: I don't like the way the country's run. It is a dictatorship. I don't expect every country to mirror our system, but at the same time, the other extreme cannot be justified simply because there's something good on HBO tonight and nobody wants to think about where their clothing comes from.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Nothing wrong with your opions there. You are entitled to put your money where your mouth is and buy elsewhere or contribute to solve the problem.
I just don't think it is realistic or appropriate for one group to impose their political or moral opinions on others. If enough people think and act like you, then a market will arise in the US to supply non-Chinese origin (but likely higher priced goods).
My only intended points were the following:
1. Most people are quite happy with and benefit economically from the the tradeoff of accepting low priced goods, even if sometimes lower quality and even if manufactured in a non-democratic country
2. The market goes where there is money to be made and politicians generally don't want to swim upstream against the economic interests of their constituents (see #1 above)
3. The wishes or actions of a relatively small minority of people (see #1 above) are unlikely to influence either the market, the US government, the Chinese government, or the Chinese-based manufacturers (see #2 above)
4. Boycotts and trade barriers often hurt the people you are trying to help more than they help them (e.g., workers lose their jobs, Americans pay higher prices).
5. While I too am troubled by the rise of a rich, powerful, populous, non-democratic, and potentially antagonistic China, I don't think that buying or not buying Harbor Freight tools will have any impact, even if millions of like-minded people did the same. I would rather focus my efforts on working harder and smarter here while creating more wealth for me and those who do business with me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

OK, but you know what? Some products would NOT be that much more expensive. I think some of the problem is that American distributors may be out of touch with what the market will bear. A few years ago, I wrote the the CEO of Lands End. I was curious what their $12 t-shirts would cost if they were made in the states again. Response: about $18.00. I wrote back saying that I had LE t-shirts that were 10 years old and looked new, so the six bucks really didn't matter to me. No response.
The extra profit goes to the distributor, and we have no choice but to buy foreign made stuff. Try buying a pair of American made casual or dress shoes these days.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 24 May 2005 18:41:28 GMT, in alt.home.repair RE: Re: HarborFreight - am I just unlucky? "Doug Kanter"

Relatively speaking, one might say the same about the USA. Compared to the freedoms that I remember we had 50 years ago, I would consider this country to now be a police state and well on it's way to a dictatorship. If you don't believe that, try commercial air travel.
OTOH, from what I've read about China, it is *much* more free and economically vibrant now than it was 50 years ago. Not as free as we are now by a long shot; but they are gaining ground while we are loosing ground. Soon we will be passing each other: they on the way up, us on the way down. It's not the first reversal of rolls in the history civilizations, and it won't be the last.
The excess you describe are the last-gasp efforts of the old-order trying to hold onto power by chanting the law-and-order mantra. It works here and it works there too.
--
To reply to me directly, remove the CLUTTER from my email address.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
[analysis of Chinese labor conditions and US buying Chinese products]

Perhaps if more people buy from Chine, the additional money will raise the economic well-being of the citizens. If so, it is unlikely there can be a dictatorship with a large middle class.
--
charles

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

Yeah...I've heard that cash can change a country. I'm still not sure I believe it. It depends on where the cash goes. Perhaps China needs to go through a labor revolution like this country did 100 years ago. Hey...wait a minute....wasn't Communism supposed to be a labor revolution? :-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Kanter wrote: ...

Did you see the new report the other night on the couple in Beijing? Showed a plush high-rise condo (they said $5M, but I'm not sure they got it right, but whatever the actual figure was it would rival anything anywhere in NY or London) w/ the gal sitting at her grand piano and all...she and her husband had just bought the place w/ their earnings a "business consultants". The development of a middle/upper class w/ property rights will invevitably, in my view, bring the end of the totalitarian government.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I am old enough to remember when Made in Japan meant junk. I have seen an improvement in Chinese goods already. When the Chinese get their act together they will be making products of high quality. The Asian unskilled workforce has a much better attitude than the unskilled workforce we have in this country.
Sam

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sam Marlison wrote:

Problem w/ generalizations is that, well, they're generalizations. :)
There's good quality stuff from RPC and junk and everything in between. It depends on the specification of the purchaser. I've been associated w/ firms using overseas manufacturing facilities and on the purchasing end for electric utility transmission gear/parts. In both venues, there have been competent and not-so-competent bidders from multiple places, including both RPC and USA. Not too surprisingly, cost/quality tend to be highly correlated irrespective of location.
As for attitude, as I've noted before, there's at least a wide a range of attitude/aptitude amongst the Chinese as any other population...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Kanter wrote:

Which - as dictatorships go - is a relatively benign one and which is *far* better than anything else the Chinese had for decades preceding.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yup.
So how do / can you improve it even more? By ignoring the entire country and condemning them to isolation as a backwater?
Personally I am convinced that the best way to improve their government, is to send money over there in the form of pay for products.
Someone working substinence level farming has no time or energy left to even dream about a better future. Someone working 12-14 hours a day in a factory with money to spend after room and board, does have time to dream, to learn, etc. Once the country has an overwhelming mass of people who want something different, things will change.
They have come a long way in mostly the right direction since Tienneman Square. Integrating them into the world economy seems (other than job loss) to be mostly positive.
sdb
--
Wanted: Omnibook 800 & accessories, cheap, working or not
sdbuse1 on mailhost bigfoot.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Goedjn wrote:

Yep, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Let her starve, or support slavery. Nice choices.
--
If you find a posting or message from myself offensive,
inappropriate, or disruptive, please ignore it. If you don't know
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Why do you think the practice will be ending soon in the Peoples Dictatorship of China? The whole world knows it's happening, but nobody says a word about it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Kanter wrote:

China is on the move, I mean moving forward. Dictatorship? Where? I thought U.S. has dictatorship right now, LOL. In 40 to 50 years China's econmy will be 3 times that of U.S. Next up following China is India. U.S. watch out. May get left behind. Tony
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What do you mean by "moving forward"? They have absolutely NO reason to change the way they do business, treat their employees, or hose their environment. They're being rewarded for doing things any way they damned well please, unless you think all the business we give them is some sort of punishment.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
And we support it by buying all their stuff....

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Kanter wrote:

are. The changes between now and 20 years ago are phenomenal. _____________

Chinese are first rate business men. What don't you like about the way they do business? Any manufacturer knows that the productivity of the employees grows his business. Unhappy employees aren't productive. What makes you think the workers are treated badly? And badly by what yardstick.
Now, as far as hosing the environment goes, nobody - but *NOBODY* - does it better than we Americans. Look at the cars. Look at the space dedicated to cars. Look at the energy consumed by the average American...look at the water used. Look at the 1000s of trucks delivering stuff coast to coast...stuff that could be more efficiently sent by train to major distribution centers and trucked from there. And I don't hear any mumblings from DC about one child families either. _______________

Lead the way...chuck your computer. Probably your TV, VCR, DVD player too. Not to mention more mundane things like clothes, umbrellas, rope...
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 23 May 2005 17:40:24 GMT, in alt.home.repair RE: Re:
wrote:

Good points.
--
To reply to me directly, remove the CLUTTER from my email address.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Oh yeah. Life is good in China. There are a few people in this discussion who really ought to shell out some big money for a grownup newspaper now and then.
September 9, 2001, Sunday
FOREIGN DESK
Chinese Fight Crime With Torture and Executions
By CRAIG S. SMITH (NYT) 2314 words
HEFEI, China -- Liu Minghe paused in a hospital room here to let a nurse take his blood pressure, which had surged dangerously in the few minutes since he began talking about how he had won his freedom from China's death row.
After she left, he begged off recounting in greater detail the torture that he said had led him to confess to a murder he did not commit.
''Let's just say it was 'forced interrogation and confession under duress,' '' Mr. Liu said, his speech slurring slightly because he is missing several of his lower teeth, which he said had been knocked out during his five-year incarceration.
Mr. Liu has been recuperating in a hospital in Hefei, 560 miles south of Beijing, since winning his release last month after having been sentenced to die in 1996 in one of China's ''strike hard'' campaigns, a frenzied national effort to purge the land of lawbreakers.
He managed to overturn his conviction on the grounds of insufficient evidence, thanks largely to his former Communist Party membership, his family's relatively high social position, and money. But many other people who are wrongly convicted and condemned to die in China may not be so lucky.
China routinely executes more people than all other countries combined. This year, though, has been far from routine. Without much notice at home or abroad, the government has begun sending unknown thousands of people to execution grounds, often after they have been tortured into confessing crimes that to foreigners seem minor.
Today China is in the midst of its third great wave of executions in the last quarter century, a campaign in which as many as 191 people have been executed in a single day, according to the state news media. Since President Jiang Zemin announced the crackdown in April, at least 3,000 people have been executed, and double or even triple that number have been sentenced to death. The pace of executions shows no sign of abating.
The wrongful conviction of Mr. Liu, and others like him, suggests that by the time the campaign ends in 2003 dozens -- if not hundreds -- of innocent people will have died in the capital punishment spree.
These periodic nationwide crackdowns, in response to rising crime and concerns about weakening social order, place huge pressures on the local police to solve crimes quickly, which they often do by extorting confessions through torture. In Hunan Province, newspapers recently reported that the police solved 3,000 cases in two days in April.
Police in Sichuan Province reported that they had solved 6,704 cases, including 691 murders, robberies or bombings, in six days that same month.
The campaigns also pressure the courts to try the accused quickly, record the maximum possible number of convictions and show little mercy in sentencing.
Convictions are sometimes handed down within days of arrests. Appeals are processed briskly and executions are normally carried out within an hour after a sentence is confirmed. Usually, just a few months pass between an arrest and execution, occasionally only weeks.
The monthly tally of death sentences has become a kind of grim score card showing how each province is doing. But the real numbers remain a closely guarded secret. They are believed to be far higher than the confirmed tally, which has been compiled from press reports by people like Catherine Baber, a researcher at Amnesty International based in Hong Kong, or a Western diplomat in Beijing who does not want to be named.
Many, if not most, executions are not reported in the press at all. And many of the reports that are published simply say that a ''group'' of people were executed on a given day. A group can include anywhere from a few people to dozens. Amnesty International usually counts each group as just two.
Neither Ms. Baber nor the diplomat will venture to guess what the true number of executions might be. But both agree that this year's total will probably surpass 5,000. Some observers say the number could reach as high as 10,000.
It is also impossible to say how many of the people executed might be innocent.
Signs of Wrongful Justice
Certainly, many of them have been ordered to die for crimes, like bribery, that would earn them only brief jail terms in the West. But several wrongful convictions, like Mr. Liu's, have recently come to light, suggesting that many among the condemned are not guilty at all.
Mr. Liu, 63, married and a former associate professor at a technical institute in Wuhu, Anhui Province, was arrested during China's last great sweep in 1996, for the murder of Tao Ziyu, who was reputed to be his lover.
Her body was found floating shoeless in a shallow lotus pond not far from his campus residence. She had been strangled by someone's left hand, the police concluded.
An elderly woman reported seeing a woman arguing with a man near the pond shortly after Ms. Tao was last seen alive, visiting a friend who lived nearby. Mr. Liu, who is right handed, protested his innocence and said he could account for his whereabouts at the time.
But just before the end of the three-month period that police are allowed to hold suspects, Mr. Liu says they plunged him into brutal, round-the-clock interrogations.
His wife says he was handcuffed to a window so he had to either stand or hang from his wrists. She says he was only allowed to eat a few bites of food by lowering his head to a bowl. A document submitted to the court by his lawyers said that Mr. Liu had not been allowed to drink or close his eyes during the interrogation.
The police told him the questioning would continue for 10 days and that if he did not confess he would probably be executed, and offered him a lighter sentence if he did, according to his lawyers.
On the third day, Mr. Liu broke. In the videotaped confession, which his wife has seen, interrogators did most of the talking while a dispirited Mr. Liu answered ''yes'' to the scenario they presented.
Suspects in China are not allowed legal counsel, or any contact with the outside world while under interrogation. Mr. Liu's wife says her husband disavowed the confession as soon as he was allowed to see a lawyer.
''I couldn't bear it,'' she said he told the lawyer. ''If I didn't confess, I would have died.''
Despite the lack of physical evidence and Mr. Liu's alibis, the Wuhu Intermediate People's Court found him guilty of murdering Ms. Tao based on his videotaped confession. On Dec. 30, 1996, he was sentenced to death.
Mr. Liu appealed his conviction and his family enlisted the help of a legal expert from Beijing who focused on, among other inconsistencies in the prosecution's case, Mr. Liu's alibi and the coroner's estimated time of Ms. Tao's death.
A higher provincial court sent Mr. Liu's case back for a retrial in Wuhu, which found Mr. Liu guilty a second time but reduced his sentence to life in prison.
Retrials Without Limit
There is no limit in China to how many times a case can be retried, and Mr. Liu appealed his case twice more before the provincial court overturned his conviction. Before he was finally released on Aug. 8, his wife had nearly lapsed into despair. ''I have no tears left to cry,'' Ms. Wang said in an interview in July, squatting in her small living room, her knees bearing thick, plum-size scabs left from kneeling outside the courthouse to plead for her husband's life.
During the five years he was jailed, Mr. Liu says he was held in a series of 200-square-foot rooms crammed with as many as 26 people. He slept on boards or on the floor. He was rarely allowed outside and given few opportunities to exercise. For 16 months both his hands and feet were shackled, he says. He saw about 30 people sent to their deaths.
''My four limbs could barely move,'' he said last week, sitting in the hospital room, his white hair recently died black in an attempt to erase the wasted years. He said he collapsed shortly after he was released from prison and has since been hospitalized with severe diabetes and high blood pressure.
Mr. Liu might be dead today had not his longtime Communist Party membership and social position encouraged the provincial court to look more carefully at his case, his family and lawyers say. Money also helped. Mr. Liu's family has spent more than $36,000 on his defense, an enormous sum here.
But the vast majority of people executed in China have neither position nor money and their cases often get less scrutiny than Mr. Liu's, defendants' lawyers say.
Part of the problem is that Chinese prosecutors rely less on physical evidence than confessions to win convictions. According to a recent state press report, a government investigation found 221 cases of confessions extorted in six provinces during a two-year period ending in 1999. In 21 of those cases, the prisoners were tortured to death.
Even if the prisoner shows signs of abuse, prosecutors rarely question how the confessions were obtained.
Du Peiwu, a policeman in Yunnan Province, was released from death row last November after a group of car thieves confessed to shooting his wife and another police officer in April 1998, crimes for which Mr. Du had been convicted despite a clear alibi and lack of physical evidence linking him to the murders.
During his trial, he dramatically stripped off an outer layer of clothes to reveal the tattered garments in which he said he had been beaten, hung by his handcuffed wrists and shocked with a cattle prod to force his confession. The judges ignored his claim, according to press reports after he was freed.
Though forced confessions are technically illegal, the country's Public Security Ministry -- whose local bureaus are charged with investigating crimes -- rewards officers who extract confessions, while usually only lightly punishing those whose abuse goes too far.
The two policemen who tortured Mr. Du into confessing were sentenced last month to suspended one-year and one-and-a-half year sentences respectively.
Compounding the problem is an untrained and politically beholden judiciary.
Judges in China are not required to have any legal training, and few do. Most hold their positions because they have close connections with local government officials, who are eager for quick convictions.
''Veterinarians, drivers, anybody can get that job if they have good relations,'' said He Xing, a lawyer who teaches at the North China University of Law in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province.
People have been executed in recent months for everything from tax fraud to drug trafficking to stealing diesel fuel.
In China's far western province of Xinjiang, where a small but persistent separatist movement percolates among the mainly Muslim population, people have been shot for ''separatism,'' according to local newspaper reports.
Similarly intense spates of executions have played a grisly role in China's political upheavals over the last half century. In the first few years after the Communist Party came to power, as many as five million people were put to death, most after summary trials by makeshift tribunals.
A Third Wave of Executions
This year is the third surge in executions since the end of the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.
The first came in 1983 when Deng Xiaoping announced the first ''strike hard'' campaign. Large white posters bearing the names and crimes of the condemned were pasted in public places across the country. Western observers estimated that more than 10,000 people died that year. The second ''strike hard'' campaign, the one that swept up Mr. Liu, began in 1996.
These periodic crackdowns and the widespread use of execution have received broad popular support in China, despite the likelihood of wrongful convictions.
A 1995 academic survey of 2,661 people found that fewer than 1 percent were in favor of abolishing the death penalty, while more than 90 percent thought there should be more.
Their opinions are colored, however, by underreporting of executions in the press and the government's secrecy about the annual total.
With increasing frequency, prisoners are formally arrested or sentenced at public rallies. Nearly two million people attended such rallies in Shaanxi Province in April and May. On June 25, more than 5,000 people attended a rally in Hubei Province, at which 13 people were sentenced to death, 8 of whom were executed immediately.
The condemned are normally paraded through town on the beds of open trucks, before being driven to the execution ground, often trailed by a caravan of onlookers.
Usually at an open field outside of town, the prisoners are made to kneel and are then shot at point blank range in the back of the head. Their organs are sometimes removed on the spot by medical staff and rushed to nearby hospitals for transplant operations.
The condemned are not allowed to see their families before they die. Once they are picked up for questioning, they never speak to a loved one again.
Often, the family does not even learn of the final sentence until the execution is over and they are notified to collect the prisoner's ashes from a crematory.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.