We're rightly so fixated on the elections, Iraq, al Qaeda and the economy, we're missing something insidious coming in the back door.
It started here with tainted dog food, moved to Europe, then to Indonesia, and then back to the U. S. again.
"It" is tainted food products made in China, and it makes one wonder: Is there a hidden Chinese agenda designed to have the dragon cripple the eagle? They certainly have motive. With the demise of the Soviet Union, they moved into second place as far as world power is concerned, but they don't intend to stay there for long. They want to be the number one super power and they have some leverage to gain it. If this is some part of an agenda, it's up to us, the people of the United States, to come to the eagle's rescue and right now, because the government can't.
According to AP news, melamine, used to bulk up protein can be toxic in humans if too much is used. Apparently, that's what happened. Somebody fell asleep at the switch when it was used in the manufacture of baby formula, candy and an unknown number of other products. The baby formula sickened 53,000 children in China and killed four more.
The dog food fiasco of a year ago, which also involved too much melamine, led to some figurative decapitations and a shakeup. But so far, the Chinese government has doled out little or no discipline for the current melamine mess. I don't know about you, but I find that very curious. One bureaucrat has resigned, but that was a futile, inconsequential gesture in the scheme of things. And that scheme is spreading.
Under the cloud of the sick and dying infants in China , the well-known British candy maker, Cadbury, decided to test its own products. Good thing they did. According to CNN.com, Cadbury, which has many if not all of its products made in China, found melamine in eleven categories of its candy.
In Indonesia, according to FoxNews.com, “high doses" of melamine were found in Chinese-made M&Ms, Oreo cookies, and Snickers bars.
Then, according to FoxNews.com, the Food and Drug Administration, the California Department of Health and San Mateo Public Health Department started testing White Rabbit Candy, which is made in China and distributed in the U. S. by Queensway Foods Company Inc. The agencies found “high levels" of melamine in that brand. Queensway immediately and voluntarily yanked White Rabbit from store shelves.
However, it's also shown up in Connecticut, according to wfsb.com. Jerry Farrell, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, told FSB, “We continue our work with the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to help in the inspection and evaluation of imported food items that could contain milk or milk protein from China. "
The implication is obvious. Every state department of consumer protection should be taking a long, hard look at any product from China that has milk or milk protein in it.
Oddly, during the last week of September this started out being a well-covered story by a number of news outlets it has since gone mute; Teflon-coated. It got reported for a few days, but not only has there been no follow-up to speak of, nobody seems to be paying much attention to it.
They should be. Tainted food is but one disturbing aspect to what could be-emphasis on could be-some secret Chinese agenda.
And they've got us by the short hairs. A second potential agenda item involves our economy.
The proposed $700 billion financial bailout-if it passes-won't all come from taxpayers. As we all know, we have a huge budget deficit because we spend way more than the IRS coffers hold. So we have to borrow money. And guess which country owns the second largest number of Treasury notes (bonds we float to borrow money). China.
According to the blog, Discursive Monologue, “The Twin Towers of East Asia, Japan and China own so many claims against Americans that we might as well put our children in chains as they are born. No one will ever be able to pay them off. Who owns America? Everyone except Americans. "
And that has people in the government reaching for antacids. We're being held hostage and the president and secretary of state have to tread very lightly when dealing with the Chinese. It's why we haven't been more aggressive about advocating for human rights in China, why we treat mention of Taiwan as if it was a PC taboo, why it is we aren't buddy-buddy with the Dalai lama and vigorously supporting freedom for Tibet, and why we open our markets wide to the Chinese while accepting atrocious restrictions they put on us. I've worked with an Asian importer and the paperwork to get a product on Beijing's shelves is astounding.
According to the U. S. Census, which keeps an eye on trade, from January through July of this year, the U. S. has exported $43,128.8 (numbers are in millions) to China, while the Chinese have exported $185,468.5 to our markets, which hands us a trade deficit of $142,339.7. But here's the kicker and what has everybody walking on egg shells: If China decided tomorrow to cash in its Treasuries, our economy could very likely slip into a “China syndrome" meltdown, and that's what has the government's knickers in a knot.
Okay, so if our government can't act for fear of economic calamity, what can we do?
The answer is surprisingly simple, but the task somewhat difficult. We stop buying Chinese goods, plain and simple. But how do we know what's made in China for certain?
Good question. I had no idea that 50% of apple juice shipped into this country comes from China. Bet you didn't know that either. To me, apples, apple juice, apple pie, apple crisp, etc. are all considered 100% Americana. So, therein lies the rub. In some ways, we err through our own traditional beliefs. It's inconceivable to me that we need to import apple juice when we have so many apple orchards. But I once took the bait.
Fortunately, though, Americans are starting to “get it. " According to a USA Today/Gallup poll some 46 percent of people who participated are “very concerned" about the safety of food imported from China.
Good! So, how do we even the playing field? Consider this, which came from an accounting friend: If 20 million Americans did not buy just $20 worth of Chinese-made goods, we'd actually reverse the trade deficit. Let me put it another way, we'd have a trade surplus.
But, there are a lot of Chinese products on our store shelves and where they're made is not always easily identified. The best thing to do is scour the packaging. If it's made in China-and you'll be surprised by how many products are-put it back on the shelf-even if it's a name brand; Cadbury has superb brand recognition that just went down a few pegs-and move on. If all you see is the name of a distributor, play it safe and put it back. If they won't tell you where it's made they're trying
We need our food to be safeguarded, and we can do that only by being vigilant in what we buy, not buying Chinese-manufactured food and by bringing jobs back to the U. S. and putting outsource victims back to work.
I would much rather pay more for U. S. -manufactured products I can trust than to pay less and become a victim of China's tainted goods.
Simply stated, pay close attention to packaging and don't buy Chinese-made products of any kind.
James H. Hyde is Co-Founder, Editor and Designer of newenglandtimes.com
He has served as Managing Editor of three magazines, two at the same time; is a winner of the prestigious Jesse H. Neal Award for “Best In-Depth Analysis Article of the Year"; has written two syndicated newspaper columns; and written an op/ed piece for “The New York Times. "