The Beijing Olympics are also Made in China to the same set of standards and catering to the same set of people who want to be entertained but don't care about the cost. The set of people who will say, "Yes there are a lot of people in prison, but wouldn't they be there anyway, might as well enjoy the fireworks". Those are people who don't like to look too close at the human cost of what it takes to make their omelets, before or after the Olympics.
But at the same time there is something ugly about an inside look at just how hard the Chinese government worked on the Olympics spectacle. Whether it's something like this
And on Friday, state media said the nearly 900 soldiers operating the huge scroll that formed the centrepiece of last week's show had to stay hidden under the structure for up to seven hours, wearing nappies because they were not allowed toilet breaks.
Thousands of young Chinese women applicants for the 200 jobs to lead each country's athletes into the National Stadium for last week's opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games had to be at least 1.66 metres tall, have a pretty face - and strip naked for the job recruiters. During the selection process, the women were required to strip so teachers judging whether they were qualified could measure their body proportions, The Beijing News said.
These aren't the worst human rights violations in the world or even in the Beijing Olympics. But they're a look inside at what it takes to make that omelet and the spectacle of the Olympics themselves. And they make you ask, is it really worth it? Can you still enjoy those Nikes as much when you know who has to make them? Or that iPod? Or that 2008 Olympics?
Because it isn't fun or happy. Not really. It's the facade of happy and fun where every act and every scene is paid for in human misery and degradation. The huddled men defecating in diapers and the women stripping naked in a room are the real face of the Beijing Olympics. Just as much as the people murdered and evicted to make room for the 2008 Games so Coca Cola could stamp a logo on its bottles.
And the real price of Made in China doesn't end at the Chinese border. It never does when you rely on slave labor. Relying on Made in China has shipped American jobs and American industries to China by the boatload. As the trade deficit has ballooned, a number of things have happened.
First of all America has found itself losing jobs and even entire industries to China. This is a process that perpetuates itself because once a single company finds it can cut costs and sell products cheaper by moving to China, other companies are forced to follow suit, if only because cost cutting chain retailers such as Wal-Mart will squeeze manufacturers for the lowest cost products.
Second of all, once companies begin moving their production to another country, sooner or later they cease being Americans and the locals not only take over production, they take over the product line. IBM computers today are now Chinese Lenovo computers. Range Rovers and Jaguars are going Indian. In the end production is the heart of a company, take that away and all you have left is advertising and marketing and sales divisions, which anyone can handle. So pretty soon instead of outsourcing American production to China, what will soon be happening is that Chinese companies will simply be outsourcing their sales divisions to America.
Third of all, economic dependency. With the spike in the price of gas and the fall of the dollar, Americans are suddenly feeling much poorer and staples have shot up. When fuel is cheap and the dollar is high, outsourcing is cheap. When they aren't, Americans quickly discover that they're now the Third World because their comfortable lifestyle was built on cheap foreign production that stops being cheap and starts being horribly expensive when the economic climate changes. The cost of Made in China includes a lack of self-sufficiency.
Fifth, China's prosperity diminishes our own. Chinese demand for wheat and milk have helped hike the prices of basic staples in the United States. Funneling money into China drives prosperity toward the East. As China's economic power grows, ours diminishes. As both countries compete, we provide China with an advantage by maintaining a trade deficit that hits us twice over.
Sixth, any nation riding an economic boom based on slave labor is riding for a fall, whether domestic slaves or foreign slaves. In the United States alone the wounds of slavery continue to fester to this day and continue to exact a horrifying economic toll, particularly when you look at social services. And if you count illegal Mexican aliens as the new form of slave labor and the cost they carry, the toll gets uglier. Morally and economically slave labor is destructive, it breeds contempt for human life, dependency and in the end collapse. The search for cheap labor is what has brought Europe to its knees with Muslim immigration, it has gravely wounded the United States and may yet destroy it, whether in domestic problems or in the form of funding foreign Capitalist Tyrannies that will sell us the rope with which they will hang us.
Those are the real costs of Made in China, and a time when the country turns its eyes toward the Beijing Olympics, a spectacle based on oppression and lies, it is time to take a long hard look at the real cost of Made in China.