Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Made in China: What does it mean to a youngster?

This past weekend I had Sunday lunch with five of my cousins, nieces and nephews ages 8-11. They had no idea what I did for a living so I happily gave them an introductory lesson on supply chains and how they impact their young lives. They initially were more interested in me getting them a free computer, but I pressed on and spent a few minutes discussing globalization when I was asked an disturbing, yet interesting question, "Why can't we make sneakers in the USA"? After giving my nephew a confident, "we certainly can" response he countered with, "then why are my sneakers made in China"? It then dawned on me that he thinks that "made in China" implies that we simply aren't smart or savvy enough to make sneakers here in the US. I then briefly reflected on what a strange world we would live in if we could make a rocket go to the moon, yet we can't make a pair of comfortable shoes. After laughing at my own thought, I took a quick poll of my other young relatives and they either didn't know what it meant or they agreed with him.

As we look to encourage America's youth to become scientists and engineers I couldn't determine if his thinking will be motivational or not. Either way they need the facts. After explaining in simple terms that while his sneakers are made in China it has nothing to do with America's sneaker making abilities, but more about cost and competing on a global scale. My niece then asked if she should only buy American made products. Which I told her is perfectly fine idea if she doesn't want to use her cellphone or play any more video games. She gave me a inspired look and said, "I'll make my own out of play-doh". Now that's the spirit!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the risk of being a smart-ass, I feel it is my duty to inform you that production of Play-Doh recently moved from the USA to China. I can't give you an exact year, all I know is when I gave one of my younger cousins a Play-Doh set 2-3 years ago, it was labeled "Made in USA." Today, I was buying a birthday present for a child, and noticed that the Play-Doh products are now being made in China.