Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fourteenth Post

Stinky Wallboard. What’s Next?

China exports its wares to the world. Virtually all the kitchen paraphernalia sold here is manufactured there. I bought a lot of it . . . unfortunately.

Let me explain. I have yet to see a dishwashing machine in this country and running hot water at a kitchen sink is a rarity. Consequently a less than rigorous dish washing leaves food clinging to nooks and crannies – right angles, even – formed by the manufacturing process. The food attracts mold and who knows what bacteria. I have containers that are unusable for milk products and I have a difficult time cleaning the blender pitcher to my satisfaction. I occasionally add a dash of chlorine bleach to the dishwater in hopes it will remove the bad news stuff I don’t want to ingest and, from time to time, I leach out glass ware with muriatic acid.

I’m not alone in my disgust with China’s Laissez Faire attitude toward their exporters.

Item: Thousands of American homes built or remodeled in the past few years had Chinese wallboard installed that now outgases noxious odors. Smells awful, makes some sick and tarnishes jewelry. Builders are in a hard way right now and those who are not already bankrupt will have a difficult time correcting the problem.

Moving right along, Ford is trying to clamp the lid on information it installed prone-to-early-failure tire valve stems in some of its 2006 and virtually all of its 2007 cars and light trucks. Guess where they got ‘em. Double bad guys here; Ford developed a legal strategy to answer the many lawsuits involving fatalities arising from the design faults in its older Explorers equipped with Firestone tires: Stonewalling and secret out-of-court settlements. They dusted it off for this situation. NHTSA under Republican administrations have demonstrated a rather toothless enforcement capability, so the problem goes largely unreported. If you have any doubts, get your valve stems inspected, better yet replaced.

Before that it was the tainted milk scandal which killed several and sickened tens of thousands – small children and infants, for the most part, and before that, there was the lead paint which prompted the recall of millions of Christmas toys, and before that was the imported pet food which poisoned several animals.

Not all the fatal foul ups in the world’s most populous nation were exported. They kept mum on the SARS outbreak to the detriment of their own citizens. They were also reticent on the number of avian flu victims until the central government was embarrassed by leaks.

Building inspectors overlooking shoddy construction practices – for a fee, most likely – contributed mightily to the death toll in the Sichuan quake on the eve of the Olympic Games in 2008. Tens of thousands of children perished in poorly built schools.

Some show trials have been held. If something is reported in the media as an embarrassment to the government, you can be sure executions will be dealt out liberally to the defendants. Several Sichuan builders and inspectors have gone on to whatever reward might be found in the afterlife. Only one of the executives tried in the milk scandal was not so sentenced. The sole survivor was the woman whose botched suicide attempt confined her to a wheel chair for life. She received a life sentence. Who said Chinese judges didn’t have a sense of humor?

Americans have largely graduated from the age of Caveat Emptor, but if you have a desire to purchase something, check the tag to see where it was manufactured. You might want to be skeptical if it is from the PRC

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