The Lao-Lao Price Watch: The Reality of Laogai

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In correspondence with a friend, my conscience was inadvertantly stung and I wrote this entry rapidly in response. He could not know that his reply would activate my own extraordinary frustration and guilt over this issue (I know that I don't do all that really does lie within my power to do), nevertheless, this may sound a bit more bitter and harsh than I normally do. If so, please forgive me, but I think this is an issue of enormous importance to the idea of Catholic Justice.

Here's a place to track how we can maintain all those low-low prices we find in stores.

It is this monstrous regime that we grant "most favored nation status" because it behooves us to farm out work in this direction. While there, be sure to check out other atrocities such as reports (I don't know how well confirmed) that United Nations Population Funds supporting coerced abortions. (Has nothing whatsoever to do with Lao-gai, but the site reports on everything from coerced abortions to slave labor and Death Camps in North Korea.)

Those of us who have grave reservations about the wisdom of internationalization have merely to look this far before finding a stinking cesspool. And we don't even begin to know how many businesses are working with North Korea or other oppressive states.

Encouraging the economic growth of underdeveloped countries is a wonderful business commitment that needs to be very carefully undertaken and monitored. Unfortunately, too often, the government and the citizenry are not too keen to look beneath the hood. And if this is what is there, more often than not, they have good reason.

Next time you shop at a Wal-Mart, a Target, or almost any major chain, look to see how much of what is there is made in China. It will appall you (I hope) and perhaps sting you into action. Next time you think about buying Chinese, visit this site and remember Cardinal Kung and others of his ilk who suffer under this most favored regime.

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Steven reflects on the reality behind "Made in China provides an infolink about the Laogai. I was complaining that for some goods, it's hard to find any that aren't made in China: lights for the Christmas tree, for example. Or... Read More

Entries in this roundup cover the period from 25 June to 2 July 2004. Read More


It's precisely for this reason (and the suppression of the Church) that, for years, I have not bought anything made in China, unless I had no other choice. I've paid a dollar or two more for rechargeable batteries made in Japan, and I've paid twice as much for bedsheets made in the USA, back when Wal-Mart still tried to sell products that were made in the USA.

In theory, MFN status was supposed to help open China to Western, liberal values. But with Tiananmen still a fresh memory, it strikes me as most absurd to think that China can DO anything with those Western, liberal values.

the frustrating thing is that sometimes there is no other choice. For example, I haven't found any shoes for Hambet made in the USA, and it's not just the cheapies in the discount stores -- Stride Rites are made in China, too. So does this mean I have to bite the bullet and pay $120 for the shoes made in Germany? What about families with many more little feet to shoe, trying to do it with much less?

Interesting...certainly China is in a whole 'nuther category (as compared to say, Mexico) since this is slavery and not simply cheap labor. My stepson was recently shaken up after reading a book in favor of reparations to black Americans for slavery and the point the author makes is that even those not directly responsible for slavery profited from it - even those in the North. It appears we're also profiting from forced labor in China in the form of lower prices.

Dear Peony,

Yes, I understand the problem completely; however, the question boils down to whether we allow people to suffer so that we can have things cheaply. It's extremely difficult, I won't deny it. And I'm very sympathetic to those who experience the same pain. On the other hand, our brothers and sisters in China are being imprisoned, and perhaps used as part of this slave labor. The Church is suffering tremendous oppression in China--do we support such a regime by buying things from them?

It really comes down to Tom's oft-quoted statement, "We may not do evil that good may result." There is a question as to whether such purchasing constitutes an absolute evil, but it is certainly something to be aware of and something to do everything we can to avoid. Kairos guy, some months back, was lamenting the same difficulty.



Make your own shoes!

I think that starting small cottage industries that work under the radar on trade may be the best way to do this. Most of us have things that we make that it would not take much more time to double, triple, quadruple the output on.

If I were to do this sort of thing, I, not being at all handy with needle and thread, would offer sausage, sauces, paintings, etc.

Now, being almost completely allergic to Chesterton, I am not advocating this as some sort of SYSTEM (distributivism at best is goofy, although I loathe the whole notion of the gentleman farmer and all that Jeffersonian agricultural nonsense, so I might be biased), but as a supplement, particularly when our options for products have been erased by the tyranny of choice and free markets.

Dear Jack,

When I think back on it, one of the main reasons I ended up buying a Clie (although I really did like the features) is that when I researched the T3 (the other contender) it was reported to have a large portion of its manufacturing in China, whereas Sony was completely within Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Sealed the deal easily for me. So one triumph among far too many failures. But I agree with you entirely.



This article today out at World Net Daily fits in nicely with your post today, Steven.
China selling organs
of executed prisoners
Falun Gong sect accuses Beijing
of torture, theft, sale of body parts

So much sadness in the world. This really is a vale of tears. We're just blind to it by our affluence here in the US.

Toys-R-Us. We haven't shopped there in a while; the last time I did I was trying to find wooden alphabet blocks for one of the kids. The trip became a quest to find anything in the store not made in China, and I finally gave up.

Now that we own a house and have tools, downed limbs, space to work, etc., I just might try my hand at homemade stuff. I'm already making a good proportion of our meals from scratch to avoid hidden allergens and God only knows what else.

Fr. McNabb had some good comments on doing things yourself.

Dear Peony,

I would say that there are extenuating circumstances, and yours is an excellent example. Everything has a tradeoff. You do have to give the kids shoes, and buying them $120 shoes made in Germany might mean not giving them something else they need.

That said, you might want to check out New Balance shoes, which are mostly still made in the USA, and cost 1/3 to 1/2 what the German shoes cost.




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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 30, 2004 6:36 PM.

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