Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2007.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Hecho en China

Posted 17 September 2007

People are irrational. You can see this in the way people judge the terrorist threat level: 9-11 created fear in hearts of men, and we've responded by misgauging relative safety. 3,000 people died in 9-11, but 40,000 people have died in automobile accidents in the United States every year since. Commonplace death just isn't scary.

Recently, the makers of Thomas the Train toys issued a high-profile recall due to the discovery of lead in the paint on very specific models. At the toy store where I work, many customers have come in looking for toys that were not made in China. Some have even wanted toys only made in America. Tough luck for them, because some 90% of American toys are produced in China!

Their irrationality presents itself when they ask for our opinion: should they throw out all of their China-made toys? Their kids' safety is at stake! The answer is of course "no", but we have to do a little song and dance for every customer, noting that many of our manufacturers have issued press releases that their toys are safe, nodding sympathetically to their unfounded concerns, and making non-legally-binding suggestions that the customer probably likely has almost nothing to fear from other toys made in China and of course I'll show you the press releases that we've printed off.

So please, keep things in perspective.