Tuesday, December 15, 2009
KRUPS: Made in China for the USA
Buying Chinese: Dumping junk on Americans
By William J. Murray
Date published: 12/15/2009 - First published in the Free Lance Star
KRUPS, a German company, makes some really great small appliances in Germany that can be purchased just about everywhere, except in the United States.
Because the vast majority of Americans care for glitz over quality, virtually all Krups appliances sold in the U.S. are made in China. A Krups coffee bean grinder with a metal frame made in Germany can be found at the duty-free store at the Dubai Airport as well as the main mall in Moscow. At Macy's a similar model with a plastic frame is made in China.
Not to pick on Krups, the same is true of the renowned German knife maker, Henckels, which sells German-made knives in Japan, but Chinese-made knives here in the U.S. French manufacturers T-Fal and Cuisinart also sell Chinese-made products in the U.S., while in Europe and the Middle East they sell products made in Europe.
And it gets worse:
Krups maintains factories in Europe with well-paid employees who are virtually all middle class. Most of their employees own their own homes. All have medical insurance and live very well. Krups owns no factories in China, and neither do T-Fal or Henckels. The products they sell in the U.S. are made for them under contract at Chinese factories where workers earn less for a 12-hour day than European workers make in one hour.
There is virtually no medical insurance in China: A visit to a doctor can cost a week's wages, and payment must be made in advance even for emergencies. Factories are poorly lighted, often bitter cold in the winter, and sweltering hot during the summer. In Germany, France, or the U.S., these working conditions would violate dozens of laws and bring jail time for the owners.
Do Krups executives and those of other European manufacturers even know what the plastics are made out of that are used to manufacture goods for the U.S.? Probably not, and they probably don't care, because the Chinese products are not going to be sold in Europe.
Since Americans don't seem to care about quality, safety, or the slave-like conditions of the workers, the chemical properties of plastics and other parts just are not that critical. As long as it is shiny and cheap, Americans will buy products for premium prices if they have European brand names.
Even Japanese firms follow the pattern. No Nikon cameras are sold in Japan that are made in China; but in the U.S., many Nikon models are made in China at factories not even owned by Nikon.
Why doesn't Nikon sell Chinese-made cameras in Japan? The Japanese people are interested in a long-term investment in a camera. Americans, on the other hand, figure that if it is cheap and breaks later, they can just buy another one on credit.
The practice of dumping junk on Americans extends far beyond small appliances, to clothing and even food. Only God can help those who eat tilapia grown in Vietnamese fish farms. And, may God forgive Americans for supporting, with borrowed money, some of the worst labor practices in the world.