Call me the Lizard of intelligent Discontent, but even in the midst of the legislative session I can’t keep my mind completely in Montana. It’s quite obvious now that China is experiencing serious inflation. That’s not surprising, and is a natural result of their fast-growing economy. But I also think it’s a good opportunity to review our personal relationships with China.
Companies are increasingly sourcing products to countries other than China. So, the ubiquitous ‘made in China’ label that dominated all product for several years may well become a bit more varied in the future, and that is a great chance for some reasoned consuming.
Obviously, buying used products where possible is ideal as far as saving money and reducing waste in the economy, and buying domestic products provides greater assurance as to labor and environmental standards. If you must import, however, it pays to look at where products are sourced.
Increasingly, non-Chinese imports tend to come from Vietnam, which is if anything less politically free than China. Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia are all better (if still imperfect) options, and products can often be found manufactured in those countries. I am personally finding that many products can be found that are manufactured in Brazil. Brazil is certainly not without problems, a massive wealth imbalance being one of them, but it is also one of the nations most concerned with corporate responsibility and with a government that is continuing to make efforts to improve the lives of its poorest people, rather than relegating them to the countryside like in China.
As China’s inflation drives up prices and increases the competitiveness of other countries, it’s important to keep in mind that American consumer dollars can go a long way in determining the success of a nation, and so in some way when you choose what shoes to buy, you can take part in choosing which model of national governance is more globally successful. Or you can grab whatever is cheapest and not think about it. Nothing bad has ever come of that.