It's so convenient to point the finger of blame at the shoddy manufacturing and duplicitous business practices of the Chinese factories for the problems facing Mattel and the US toy industry. And we're off the hook when we can use the Chinese food companies as the scapegoat in the poison pet food scandal. After all, "we did no wrong."
Blaming the Chinese for the problem is, like most situations involving finger pointing and blaming, missing the real culprit - the US corporations constant demands for lower costs and higher profits. And the US consumer's obsession with price. It is as if we believe you can bargain shop your way to wealth.
Don't get me wrong. Companies are entitled to make a decent profit and wise consumers should be price conscious, however, is a profit of almost 60 times the cost of a product fair and reasonable? This was the case, with at least one toy, according to ABC Evening News, that was being manufactured for $.35 and sold at retail for twenty dollars!
It is this insane demand for higher and higher profits on the part of corporations and the steadily increasing demands for greater and greater performance from shareholders, coupled with an unrealistic expectation on the part of the buying public that prices will continue to drop without something breaking down, that establish conditions that can only result in disaster. You can only squeeze so much before something breaks down, as witnessed in the recent loss of both human and animal lives from poisoned toys, fish, pet food and no telling what else.
While the Chinese are are by no means blameless, we too have to accept responsibility for creating a business climate that is constantly pressing for cheaper and cheaper goods.
While the US economy has risen, over a century, to a point where consumers have come to expect a high level of quality and integrity, a trait that has, unfortunately, become in short supply of late, the newer, emerging industries in China and other countries have not yet reached that point in their business evolution.
When this author was a young boy, the label, "Made in Japan" was considered junk by American standards. Today, the Japanese are world leaders and, in many industries, are the standard for what is considered "Top Quality."
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The "secret" of this amazing transformation, by the way, was largely a result off adhering to the principles taught by the late "Quality Guru," W. Edwards Deming. Deming preached the idea of making small daily improvements in every area of the manufacturing process, not finding ways to cut corners and produce shoddy merchandise. This approach to business, rather than cost cutting, can be seen in such products as the Lexus automobile, perhaps the finest luxury car available today.
We must, as Americans, both in business and as consumers, be willing to pay a little more, earn a little less profit, and demand a higher quality of goods and services if we are to maintain our position as a world business leader.
Hopefully, Mattel will learn from their experience and return to its position as a leader in the toy industry, known for high quality merchandise. If not, perhaps they've lost their right to the respect and trust of the American people and need to step aside to make room for a company with higher standards and integrity.
Jim Donovan, is the author of several critically acclaimed self-help books, published in more than 20 countries, an inspiring motivational speaker and life coach. For a bonus gift and subscription to his "Jim's Jems" ezine visit his Web site.