Thoughts on China sourcing: Despair is a sin

Thoughts on China sourcing Despair is a sin

I don’t fit in well in my home town in America anymore. Oh, I was born and raised here, have friends here, go to the church where I was baptized, confirmed and married, but having been an expat, spending a couple months a year in China, having a workday that spans the globe, and making a living “taking American jobs overseas”, suffice it to say conversations are often awkward.

My view on China sourcing can be summed up thus:

  1. I might change things in the rulebook if it were up to me, but it’s not. The game is played by rules written by others, and until someone makes a change, the world is a global market and one man or one company cannot change the system by refusing to play. When I came back from my first experience living in Asia in 1994, I told everyone in our company that the “great sucking sound” from Mexico was not what we were really hearing. It was the tidal wave headed across the Pacific from China. I knew that our company was not going to stop that wave and we could either drown on the beach trying, or get a board and learn how to surf. PassageMaker’s services can be described many ways – China supply chain management, vendor coordination, China sourcing, China contract assembly, blah blah blah blah blah – but we are really surfing instructors for hire. It’s my job to keep you from drowning, not change the world.
  2. China moving from a desperately poor nation to a more prosperous one is a good thing. I would rather 1.3 billion Chinese people feed themselves than starve waiting for foreign aid. That doesn’t mean I’m in love with the government or that I think Chinese people are perfect or better than Americans. America’s problems are mostly our fault and entirely up to us to fix. The solutions are there, and most business owners I know, regardless of political affiliation, will prescribe the same solution – get the government out of the way and let me get to work. Nothing is accomplished by blaming others or giving up hope. To quote Jerry Pournelle:

Despair is a sin.

At the end of World War II, much of Germany was in ruins. Large parts of its infrastructure was attacked or bombed by the Allied Forces. The city of Dresden was completely destroyed. The population of Cologne had dropped from 750,000 to 32,000. The housing stock was reduced by 20%. Food production was half the level it was before the start of the war; industrial output was down by a third. Many of its men between the ages of 18 and 35, the demographic which could do the heavy lifting to literally rebuild the country, had been either killed or crippled.
During the war, Hitler had instituted food rations, limiting its civilian population to eat no more than 2,000 calories per day. After the war, the Allies continued this food rationing policy and limited the population to eat between 1,000-1,500 calories. Price controls on other goods and services led to shortages and a massive black market. Germany’s currency, the reichsmark, had become completely worthless, requiring its populace to resort to bartering for goods and services.
In short, Germany was a ruined state facing an incredibly bleak future. The country was occupied by four nations, and soon it would be divided into halves. The Eastern half became a socialist state, part of the Iron Curtain that was heavily influenced by Soviet policy. The Western half became a democracy. And caught in the middle was the former capital of Berlin, which was divided in two, eventually separated by what became known as the Berlin Wall.
But by 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was once again reunited, it was the envy of most of the world. Germany had the third-biggest economy in the world, trailing only Japan and the United States in GDP.

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There is a way out of this Depression. Our lands do not lie in ruins. Our fields are not cratered from bombs and filled with mines. Many of our idle factories still exist. Wonderful machine tools and laboratory instruments are sold at scrap value on eBay and at public auction. There is lots of unused productivity in this land, and we know the formula for prosperity. It is liberty. That has always been the secret of American exceptionalism. We had founders whose goal was to insure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity.

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. We have always known this. We know it still.

China sourcing is a tool businesses can employ to help make themselves more competitive. That doesn’t mean you should source in China. And that doesn’t mean it is the only way to compete. Blaming others solves nothing. Time to get to work.

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