Mad(e) In Canada

The following is my response to an e-mail forward sent to me by my friend Katie in Canada about Canada losing jobs to lower wages in developing nations. The original FWD is below. I think my perspective is perhaps biased because I’ve met people here in China who work at these factories that build things for our comfort in developed nations, and having lived in Canada my whole life – in a variety of states of financial need/want/have – I know that even at our worst, we border on these workers’ best.

Hey Katie… how are things? Hope all is well back in Canada. 🙂 We’re celebrating Chinese New Year today… and it’s crazy… fireworks everywhere (and it’s only 10:45 a.m.)… it’ll grow and grow until the sky is filled with them tonight for about 4 hours.

Just saw that I still had this forward in my e-mail… and wanted to say that it’s a tad xenophobic in nature. The idea that Canada loses jobs for things being made in other countries is a bit silly, considering no one wants these jobs anyway. Do you know a lot of people taking jobs in factories? The simple truth is that Canada has a higher education level, and cost of living level than most 2nd and 3rd world nations… making it much more cost effective for the company to make the things there. Considering that the average Canadian wage is 7-10 times that of people in poorer nations, as is the cost of the factory, the infrastructure, etc., you have to assume that by getting Canadians to make the products in Canada you’d have to charge 7-10 times more for the product. Do you want to pay $3,000 for a 27″ TV rather than $300?

So, while it’s easy to gripe (especially for those without a job) that all the jobs are going to foreign countries… keep in mind it’s the only source of income for many families in poor countries. Assembling Nike shoes or RCA MP3 players is the only way they can afford to feed themselves and their children. While the unemployed in Canada have to get off their asses once a month for the strenuous job of cashing their Social Assistance cheque, the unemployed in other nations simply die on the side of the road.

Original e-mail:

Oh Canada…OH, so true

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock ( MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6am. While his coffeepot ( MADE IN CHINA ) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor ( MADE IN HONG KONG ). He put on a dress shirt ( MADE IN SRI LANKA ), designer jeans ( MADE IN SINGAPORE ) and tennis shoes ( MADE IN KOREA ). After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet ( MADE IN INDIA ) he sat down with his calculator ( MADE IN MEXICO ) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch ( MADE IN TAIWAN ) to the radio ( MADE IN INDIA ) he got in his car ( MADE IN GERMANY ) and continued his search for a good paying CANADIAN J O B . At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals ( MADE IN BRAZIL ) poured himself a glass of wine ( MADE IN FRANCE ) and turned on his TV ( MADE IN INDONESIA ), and then wondered why he can’t find a good paying job in CANADA….

Keep this circulating [sic]
(plus most of us shop at walmart where nothing is made in CANADA)

I think what we really need to remember here is that these people sweat long, long hours, day after day, making things that they themselves could never afford. Despite the evil images painted by human rights advocates (and sometimes rightfully so), often the conditions and wages in foreign owned factories are much better than those in the domestic industries. So, before we criticize companies and countries for stealing “our” jobs, we should seriously consider who needs these jobs more. Canada is one of the richest nations on the planet, ours should not be a position of selfish greed.

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