There is an excellent article in the May issue of Wired magazine, not yet online, “Why the World is Flat.” It’s an interview with Tom Friedman. It’s full of background information that is directly related to yesterday’s posts about China. If you’re the least bit interested in the coming changes, you should check it out. I can’t stress enough the impact these changes will have on all of us. They’re not bad changes, just big, and lots of people don’t like change, unfortunately, those folks will have it rough.
Think about it this way, do you have a Harbor Freight store where you live? Harbor Freight sells tools cheap. The name of their company says it all, they import tools from China and elsewhere and sell them at rock bottom prices. If I need a tool for a one time job or an occasional task, I buy their stuff. It works fine and unless I really abuse those tools, they’ll probably last for quite a while. I have a toolbox full of Craftsman tools and I like them a lot, some Snap-On tools, too. But I don’t need that quality all the time and over time, the imported tools will improve as those companies make more.
Yesterday, a comment to one of my posts mentioned the poor quality of motorcycles a friend of his bought from China. Even so, they do the job. A lot of people will find them perfectly acceptable and if they break down, not a big deal, they were cheap. There’s a pretty large price sensitive part of the market and if a motorcycle isn’t a daily commuter vehicle that the rider depends on, cheap might make it. Not every buyer is into motorcycles like readers of The Kneeslider.
Of course, many imports are very high quality and affordable at the same time. Every part of our economy needs to get ready for more of those. I wonder how long before lots of us begin riding motorcycles made in China, especially if you can buy a new one for $1495 or even less.
Update: This article refers to the Friedman interview discussed above and takes him to task for his ideas that global trade with China and other countries will prevent war with those countries because it is not in their best economic interest. I also disagree with Friedman on that point. The article does a good job of clarifying where the problem is with this ever recurring illusion.