On 26/10/2012 16:46, Steve wrote:
> I recently visited my old club and noted just how many Swift racing shells
> they had. Having been out of the sport for quite a while I was curious to
> find out more about these boats, so I searched the web to find that they are
> made in China.
> Looking back on RSR to see what users of these boats thought of them and how
> they compared with more established makes I found some threads about 5 years
> old. So, I thought it was high time to perhaps re-visit this topic,
> especially as the issue of longevity has 5 more years of user experience
> from which to draw upon.
> So, is the stigma of "Made in China" still applicable - at least to racing
> I can see that pricing plays a major part in the choice of these boats and
> that for this reason Swift will figure highly for many clubs with tight
> However, has low cost proved a false economy over the years? or are these
> inexpensive shells really on a par with other boats?
> Also, how does the other Chinese manufacturer, WinTech compare both with
> Swift as well as others.
> I would be very interested to hear your thoughts, ramblings or ravings on
> this subject :)
This question has hung unanswered for a week, so clearly there is an
embarrassing elephant in the room.
This is part of a much bigger & no less inconvenient question? It isn't
a case of stigma but of perspective. It is part of a process and a way
of thinking which will turn & bite us all.
At present most goods can be made far away & shipped around the world
for less than the cost of the same and better goods made here by your
neighbour. Not surprising when labour rates, health care, social
security & working conditions there are markedly inferior to those which
you, the buyer, would deign to accept.
So we've seen the hollowing out of Western nations' manufacturing
industries, with jobs in manufacture exported on such a scale that we
can no longer make many of the goods on which we depend. Meanwhile the
accompanying industrial injuries & environmental damage, which would so
horrify our delicate sensibilities if they were to happen here are
conveniently out of sight and out of mind.
Another result is the lack of job opportunities for youngsters in
manufacturing, despite repeated raising of school leaving age & the
growing scorn for & disregard of manufacture as a fit & proper activity.
Once it was a matter of pride to buy British, or American, or from
wherever you earned your own living - we were proud of what we made, we
knew it was good, & by so doing you kept your neighbour in work, he did
the same for you & between you you also made the exports which paid for
what we needed from abroad.
Man was made for work, with hand & brain. If we no longer make things
there'll be no work left for those whose natural talents lie that way.
Do we believe that we can run a stable economy when entirely dependent
on what other nations can make for us & can afford to render a chunk of
our youth unemployable? I recall when politicians said we didn't need a
manufacturing sector since services would do it for us. Well, since
2008 we've seen exactly what the banking & insurance "industries" can do
for us. It ain't pretty, & the rest of us are saddled for life with the
wreckage of that hubris.
In the USA the talk is now of "re-shoring" - of bringing back industries
which over the last 10 or so years were cheerfully off-shored to such
places as China. As a result, a few prominent people became very rich &
many former American workers were left to rot. Thus certain highly
fashionable phones & computers, although US designed, are made in
sweatshop Chinese factories with appalling accident rates which are
rigged with safety nets in an effort to reduce workers' suicides.
(Similarly, we export farming to countries where they have enough
difficulty feeding themselves & fly the vegetables grown on land
expropriated from the locals to our supermarkets. And we have no change
of feeding ourselves in Britain if need arises.)
Far Eastern work conditions as described above would be intolerable in
the West, so we export them out of sight. But it is already nearly too
late to bring all that off-shored industry back to the USA & Europe.
Our skills base has been laid waste while the artificially low value of
the Yuan keeps the economic scales tipped one way, even as Chinese wage
rates continue to rise. America sinks ever deeper into debt, its cities
even go bust, but continues to buy, buy, buy from its transpacific
neighbour. As does all of Europe.
We kid ourselves, in Britain, that we can export our design skills, &
our whisky, & somehow this will make up for the loss of manufacturing
industry. That foolishly ignores >3000 years of Chinese history: how
dare we presume that Chinese designers won't soon exceed the expertise
of British design studios?
So what about quality? If it's cheap enough we don't question quality,
good or bad. As we adjust to the lower quality of many imported goods,
we lower our sights & accept "that's how it is". But this, too has
consequences. As well as your neighbour losing his job when his firm
off-shored its production, other firms are now being damaged by their
management having bought cheap from afar. As just one current example,
the makers of London taxis are crippled by defective steering systems
sourced from China. A simpler example is in the nuts & bolts of
industry - you almost can't buy nuts, bolts, washers or screws that
weren't made in the far East, but quality control can be a nightmare.
Then there's design piracy, widely encouraged in the far East. I don't
care about the pirating of intrinsically worthless goods such as jeans &
handbags whose price depends on the bling value of their maker's name.
I do care about aircraft flying with spares closely copied from original
equipment but made to far lower standards & so painstakingly dressed up
as the real thing that they can hardly be distinguished from the genuine
article - until they fail.
In this setting one can foresee, in a rather short period, an inversion
of the former relationships between nations. My question is this: how
can an indebted, spoilt & increasingly office-bound European & US
workforce cope when, suddenly, their custom is no longer needed by the
energetic far East? Unable to make anything at home, & no longer able
to afford to be a ready market for increasingly costly imports, what
will become of them?
That's why we need to think very hard about the quality & value of what
we buy. If we think it smart to wipe out our indigenous industries,
then we'll buy the cheapest regardless of quality. If we care about our
own futures, and our childrens' futures, we will think of such things
before we spend. Are we proud of the efforts of our indigenous
industries & designers, & do we care for our nation's well-being, or do
we not give a damn?
Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Email: c...@carldouglas.co.uk Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: carldouglas.co.uk & now on Facebook @ CarlDouglasRacingShells