The China Syndrome
The CHINA SYNDROME
By Dusty Schoch
An open letter, by DW Foreign Policy Editor, Dusty Schoch, to Mr. Robert Culp III, High Point, N.C. (DW hometown) C.E.O. of Culp Inc., a furniture, upholstery and fabrics conglomerate which in the past decade has closed most of its manufacturing doors and shipped its fabrication division (labor) “off shore” to China. The company announced the closing of the last remaining two of its plants in N.C., with the sacrifice of 185 jobs. On December 15, 2006, Mr. Culp was quoted in his local paper, the High Point Enterprise, as saying “By further consolidating our U.S. manufacturing operations and utilizing lower cost manufacturing alternatives, we are reducing our operating costs and improving our domestic capacity utilization…” Mr. Culp went on to claim that all this means that “We have been “…highly successful with our China platform…and continue to be encouraged by the progress we are making in selling non-U.S.-produced products.”
What has this to do with U.S. foreign policy you might ask? Well…. Consider this:
Who’s “We”, Mr. Culp?”
The quote from C.E.O., Robert Culp, in your Dec. 15 business section was that through the closing of Culp Inc’s last two NC-based fabric plants—eliminating 185 jobs for residents of Lincolnton and Graham—“We have been highly successful with our China platform….”. Does the “we” include those 185 Culp employees whose jobs have been quite literally Shanghai’d?
About 3 years ago I recall an article wherein Culp stated he was satisfied with the “balance” of off-shoring his company had achieved and hoped to maintain. Now there is no Culp Inc. in NC unless you count what remains of their former industry, where they apparently have switched roles from American manufacturers to Chinese sales reps.
What remains of the furniture and textile industries in this town that prompted its patriarchs to name their club “The String and Splinter”? Isn’t it time we call it the “Lint and Dust Club?”
As Christmas nears, Mr. Culp, will your former employees be seated around their tables celebrating their “high success” along with you? Who’s the “we”, Mr. Culp? Would that be you and your Chinese partners—the ones paying their employees $179/mth?
I’m not an economist and admittedly have very little knowledge and even less appreciation for mega-million-dollar corporate margins and maneuverings. But what little I do know includes the fact that exporting jobs and manufacturing to China betokens industrial defeat and a quest for short-term profits, and one day there will be hell to pay when we are totally dependent on China (our most formidable nuclear-armed enemy on earth) and they suddenly declare the dollar is worth about a nickel. When that happens, no Federal Reserve ping-ponging with prime will keep Peking’s hands off the switch of American inflation and/or depression. Happy Christmas, Mr. Culp, and
God Bless us…every one.
December 15, 2006
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