Is the U.S. Doing Enough to Protect Consumers From Potentially Harmful Imported Products?

Posted by Frederick Jones
December 12, 2007
Toy Factory in China

The United States is one of the most open markets in the world, and its consumers have a wide variety of products from across the world to choose from. Last year the United States imported nearly $2 trillion of goods through more than 825,000 importers -- and the vast majority of these imports are safe. Yet recently, and in the midst of the holiday shopping season, imports from toys to toothpaste to pet food have been recalled because of safety concerns.

Is the United States doing enough to protect its consumers from potentially harmful imported products?

Comments

Comments

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
December 12, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

America's true strength fiscally came from being self sufficient, not importing.

No more need be said. Consumerism will fail because there will simply be a depletion of decent employment and the Federal Govt. will have to provide for its citizens, thus making us more socialistic and dependent on the Federal Govt. for health care and educational funding. What is the average American debut factor now? Three plants shut down here in the Nashville area alone recently.

If the war ended, what would our economy be like? OOO

A better fix would be to make manufacturing more viable within our borders providing employment, less Federal dependency, have better control our monetary system and our safety.

Why even permit China to import without a great tariff, there is no equity in trade with them? Because of Greed which is the byproduct of Capitalism gone too far in one direction and a Congress who fell asleep at the wheel. How much of our National Debut do they own now? How many billions of dollars have they not re circulated? Now we tread on eggs with them? Not only did we put ourselves in a fiscal political leverage disadvantage, we funded the building of weapons which might one day be used against us for the same purpose. Poisoning our children is not disconcerting to them as long as the money rolls in. What have we taught them in actuality with Global Fair Trade?

A better fix would be to make manufacturing more viable within our borders providing employment, less Federal dependency, maintain better control of our monetary system and responsibility for our children’s safety.

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
December 13, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I'm afraid that yesterdays end to the talks shows the actual concern of a communist/Marxist ideology regarding economics which deliberately damage a free Democracy: BBC reports...Quote:

"China and the U.S. have ended two days of trade negotiations with very little apparent progress on their key issues of dispute. ... As a result, Chinese exports to the U.S. have soared in recent years, and China's trade surplus with America is on track to hit a record $233bn (£114bn) this year."

In fairness the China one truth statement prevails: Quote...
....Ms Wu said the China could not be blamed for U.S. consumer demand for inexpensive Chinese products. End quote.

Capitalist do hold responsibilities to their stockholders; however, everyone holds their first responsibility to the free country and ALL ITS PEOPLE and the Govt. which
offered it the opportunity for growth

Again, the fix is in making American Investors and Corporations responsible to the Democracy which gave it the ability to profit and in the Congress to make it viable for them to re-invest in the American worker industrially.

Paulson is fighting a losing battle with the notion that in his words: We must fight economic nationalism.

The Chinese are not ignorant; they know what they are doing to us.

America for Americans should always come first in every decision. From our National Security to Safety to Education to Health Care to Economics to Opportunity, what is in the pocket of every American Citizen needs to prevail again, not how much they owe nor the United States of America having to plead with a foreign govt. that we put in the position to endanger us to begin due to greed and our good nature of open arms -- after all, it was General Electric who gave the Chinese the gyro mechanism for a third stage missile with our mutual space program of good faith. China sold that technology to N. Korea.

How many times do you have to get bit by the same dog before you realize they don't like you?

Student
December 13, 2007

S writes:

I think the U.S. needs to start worry more about itself and the jobs lost to the same people we are talking about.

conrad
|
Florida, USA
December 16, 2007

Conrad in Florida writes:

I feel at this time, the United States is doing enough. However, they are doing it enough just barely.

In the future, marketing new imports with different problems will occur. We have to let these importing countries know all the time.

Most important and good, is that we are letting the American people know what is happening all the time in the market and what to do if a catastrophic problem arises onto the consumer.

James
|
Virginia, USA
December 18, 2007

James in Virginia writes:

I think the focus should be on food imports. We've gotten hooked on "any food during any season," and there's no alternative.

For consumer goods, no, with limited resources focused on food imports, we need to let the market force the standards higher.

As far as jobs, I don't see this as a responsibility of the federal government. I also don't think there's a huge desire among Americans to work in these industries either.

Money is going to go where it's well treated and stay there. That's up to us.

Sandy
|
California, USA
December 18, 2007

Sandy in California writes:

In a perfect world, anyone who would like to have trade with other countries, whether import or export, would be legally bound to meet or exceed required standards that American manufacturers have to meet to sell to Americans. I am not up to date as to what the International Trade Standards are, so I have to try to catch up. I feel this is a wide spread common ground situation with most Americans. Another aspect is where would the average American go to get this information? Without enough information, we rely on Government to take care of these issues. If we have not gotten involved and researched information, we have ourselves to blame, as much as the Government Employees we 'elect' to trust.

Didn't realize you all had a blog- this is cool! Thank-you!

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
December 19, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The problem is larger than simply legal liabilities.

China has openly announced it has no obligation to either re circulate our money, float their currency or be on any level of obligation to the International monetary standards.

This is an immense problem for our Country and our citizens. Bush seems to be the only one who takes it seriously and understands the implications.

When people in America were paid well for their work, the money was re circulated in the country. Why does that make a difference? It is spent on goods and services, pays taxes and lifts a burden off the federal government, not enhances it. Global trade with China is not working as it should because they follow no Fair Trade arrangements with us.

You have to realize that where legal liability of products are concerned that companies have in China may have varied namesakes, they are owned by the Communist Government of China directly. Many are owned via proxy of Generals and Committee personal. So, who are they going to mandate change to or fine?

China's obligation to ITSELF and they have said so on numerous occasions and in many ways. Their nature of intent was shown when they openly hacked our Defense Computers as registered by the DOD in open text. If they don't care about that, why care about product liability?

China does have a point in American's being greedy and wanting more for less regardless of how it affects our job market. Our Federal government DOES HAVE a responsibility in the employment levels of our Nation. It is a direct obligation to protect and SERVE its citizens best interest. If too much work is being lost and the trade deficit is non-compliant with what is best for American Citizens, it is their responsibility to pass laws to govern a correction.

The saddest part of the imbalance of Trade is that Americans have paid for China's new military and technology. What we didn't give them, we paid for.

President Nixon's Open Door Policy with China was only to circumvent the Russian Sino accord which is now in place. It was to help with National Security, not impede it. Since this door is swinging only one way, something needs to be done.

NO we are not doing enough.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
December 21, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

In President Bush’s most recent speech he mentioned the non compliance of fair trade with China, but made a comment as to protectionism of the American worker by the government as not it’s responsibility.

I would like to support a different view...

1. If Consumerism is a driving force of the economy, especially with the down trend in housing, we must have a sound foundation of consumers to spend. That is only common sense.

2. Under present legislation, companies as IBM, Nortel, GE etc, are afforded tax incentives and lower over head by hiring what are primarily full time personal as part time or temporary. A local company here has temporary workers in a Union environment that have been employed as full time workers for up to three years. How does this benefit America as a whole when the Temporary company who receives over a half of the earnings and produces nothing, as shown recently in the Electrolux case in Tennessee?

How can anyone support the fact that a producer of nothing receives over half the earnings paid by an employer to begin with? What kind of representation is that? Is that what China did to us?

3. Laws to govern this and eliminate this problem, yet make it feasible for the Employer to keep work for the American Worker is needed. It is the obligation of the federal government, which represents the people first to put the people first and protect the citizen economically by protecting their jobs, not selling them away. There is no reason for many countries to be self sufficient by now. We have been constantly stabbed in the back by countries over their dependency on American trade when politics change.

What has been created is a worst situation than putting all Americans on open welfare programs as no benefits go into any Health Care or Workman’s compensation programs to elevate the burden of the States, who now have less since Federal funding has been cut on many programs.
While I fully understand the economics of Fair Trade, it has only taken one country, China, to show how devastating it can be when used against us. South Korea, Japan, and Malaysia were hurt to the point of creating diplomatic round table talks for how many years now. We lost the Philippines to a great extent over this rift with giving more work to China.

I believe there are times and situations when We The People come before anything else and when we have more homeless families, foreclosures, less medical care, higher un employment rolls, and less economic equity over all in this Great Society, adjustments are the direct responsibility of the Leaders who represent us.

The problem with China isn’t China; it is in us not preserving our citizens right to a secure future and job markets which pay decent wages. Who ever thought that companies as IBM, Nortel, GE, etc would not be able to pay and keep employees then provide retirement for all the effort and sacrafice, yet show constant stock valuation increases. When did Corp earning rights exceed the Citizens rights in America?

Quote: I give you a democracy if you can keep it.

The middle class is not supposed to be a serfdom in America. Without it, there is no America, only money.

Joanne
|
Pennsylvania, USA
December 30, 2007

Joanne in Pittsburgh writes:

I believe that, as much as we would like to prevent such events such as those with Matel, our government cannot be all places at once. While we can regulate what goes on in our country, it is difficult to set standards for those companies outside our border. If we set such standards, we would also have to enforce them, which would be a challenge. If it is part of our culture to have an open invitation for trade, then these issues will come up. We must have some minimal form of legal protection available to consumers upon purchase of these products. Perhaps a surcharge or tax could be applied to foreign items for insurance. If there is no protection, then American consumers will be the ones who pay in the end.

Ronald B.
|
New York, USA
December 28, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Is the United States doing enough........?

Absolutely not. Really; if the U.S. was, the State Department wouldn't even have to ask the question! The United States has been pounding the table for free-open-trade markets since cheap bananas in the 20's. The U.S. has even threatened other countries with extinction for failure to shift to free-trade and open markets. The multi-nationals have bought their way into Congress and the White House for cheap goods with U.S. Brandings. Now we have poison foods, cancerous toys, dangerous cars, and a future which blurs the lines between licit and illicit trade. With over $2 trillion in goods from over 825,000 importers, it is time to spend some political capital and will to protect the American future.

maximilian
December 28, 2007

Maximilian in Europe writes:

Can we see the Euro currency as mere promissory note after the Lisbon Treaty signed on December 14th, 2007 because of lacking in legal tender for all debts, private or public reference on it? Enjoy Santa and a Happy New Year to all.

Joel
|
North Carolina, USA
December 28, 2007

Joel in North Carolina writes:

The United States is doing just fine at keeping harmful imported products out of America. It seems like everything I buy is made in China and so far none of it has harmed me in any way. Thanks State Department. What everyone else is concerned about is balancing the trade deficit with China and that has nothing to do with the question posted above. If you want to balance the deficit, then stop buying their products. When our government found lead in Chinese toys, kudos to you government, and we stopped buying them the Chinese Government started executing people. If that's not a responsive market then I don't know what is. Criticism for China's protectionist policies and their refusal to move to a floating exchange rate is the pot calling the kettle black. Our monetary policies are designed to promote our currency and our subsidies/tariffs protect our producers/markets. In the end, we all ignore free market principles in favor of pandering to non-competitive constituents. If anything we should lead by example and drop our protectionist barrier to free trade.

Preston B.
|
Texas, USA
December 30, 2007

Preston in Texas writes:

American's need to get back to the grass roots of the country. The middle class is quickly evaporating into debt. The problem we have with china is not because of our buying their products. There isn't anything wrong with buying foreign country's labor in moderation. It is because we as a country have become dependent on their and other foreign country's labor force to build and supply a majority of our goods AND services. In order to break the addiction from foreign influence. America will need to start manufacturing more things domestically rather then importing them. Until someone like me finds a solution to the rampant outsourcing of our jobs the situation will never improve.

Eva
|
Florida, USA
January 3, 2008

Eva in Florida writes:

Although testing everything that comes into the country would be impossible, since we know that all of these products stem from the same country I do believe that something should be done to insure that products from that country are safe. If they are not, then trade with that country should be curtailed until safety can be assured.

It might help to start with companies that are owned by U.S. citizens no matter what country they are manufacturing in. They should have to comply with the same manufacturing laws that they would if they were in the U.S. to import their finished goods into the U.S.

I think our people are starting to see that cheaper is not always better.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
January 3, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

As I stated: there does come a time when, even in a capitalist democratic union, that the capitalist put the countries' people -- who provided the state which provides them the ability to profit -- FIRST, not profits!

Without this democracy, they will not exist and their ties in Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Europe and china will be cut little by little. Simply use Putin as an example of what will be without a free democratic base to work from.

We the people need leadership, which will pass legislation that does regulate this situation productively for its citizens. We the people do come first, not china, not Korea, not Mexico? It is our country established by freemen.

Look, the act of counterfeiting is considered an ACT OF WAR when it is intentionally done by another country. What China has exhibited economically parallels this action, not including the poor manufacturing Quality Control actions, which have prevailed for decades, not recently.

@ Joel in North Carolina -- Even the supplement tryptophan was discontinued as a sale item solely because of Chinese production imports which lead to the death of American citizens: BEFORE IT WAS CAUGHT JOEL! The lowest quality standard of, creatine monohydrate, a relatively easy production, is tainted with metal and toxins which comes from China, yet it is still imported. WHY? Because the pharmaceutical industry is hoping it will kill Americans so they can control supplements and kill free enterprise of smaller high quality companies. This example alone shows why we need legislation to keep America a free enterprise country, not a corporate legislated country.

It is not just about China.

Joel
|
North Carolina, USA
January 8, 2008

Joel in North Carolina writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- Wow, I had no idea that the pharmaceutical industry was out to kill me on purpose with poisoned supplements. I guess I'll scrap the new year’s resolution and stay out of the gym. Here I thought all the football players dying from Ephedra and Creatine were just overloading and overworking themselves. Your anecdotes suggest that someone dropped the ball and perhaps we need to hold importers on our side more accountable for the products they buy from China and sell to us. However, regulation is one thing; tariffs and protectionist policies, while useful foreign policy tools, are inconsistent with our nation's values. If a product meets a specified standard of quality, then I should be able to buy it from anywhere I want. I understand that the focus of the U.S. Government should be Americans, but let's not forget that most Americans like the cheap crap from China sold at Wal-Mart.

.

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