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(Wired)   56 years ago today, the first container ship set sail bringing cheap products here, better economies and better wages abroad, huge carbon footprints, and a race to the bottom here. And cheap products   (wired.com) divider line 46
    More: Interesting, maiden voyages, average cost, cranes, economy  
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2763 clicks; posted to Business » on 26 Apr 2012 at 9:10 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-26 09:18:45 PM
Hey, remember that without container ships, we'd have no containers.

/I have plans for building a house out of three L53' x W102" containers.
 
2012-04-26 09:59:03 PM
Piggy back is for pigs!

/am I remembering that right?
 
2012-04-26 10:39:38 PM
FTFA: The first container ship was the brainchild of North Carolina businessman Malcolm McLean, who bought a second-hand truck in 1934 and built it into a fleet of nearly 1,800 trucks, the largest in the South and the fifth-largest in the nation.

A terrible idea for this country coming out of the South? Color me shocked.
 
das
2012-04-26 10:47:13 PM
So this is the guy who REALLY founded Walmart???
 
2012-04-26 10:50:40 PM
1956 = fifty years ago?
 
2012-04-26 10:53:57 PM

germ78: FTFA: The first container ship was the brainchild of North Carolina businessman Malcolm McLean, who bought a second-hand truck in 1934 and built it into a fleet of nearly 1,800 trucks, the largest in the South and the fifth-largest in the nation.

A terrible idea for this country coming out of the South? Color me shocked.


One of the greatest labor saving and trade enhancing inventions of the 20th century, and you and subby manage to find a reason to hate it? The internal combustion engine also increased foreign trade as well as our carbon footprints. I suppose you hate that as well? We'd all be better off if we returned to subsistence farming powered by oxen and reintroduced trade barriers and tariffs?
 
2012-04-26 10:59:22 PM

kenny's mom: 1956 = fifty years ago?


ish...

/pedant... 50...56...oh wait...
56 like the headline said?
 
2012-04-26 11:00:04 PM

Talondel: and you and subby manage to find a reason to hate it?


Subby is not actually hating it?

"bringing cheap products here, better economies and better wages abroad"

I think I can speak for subby, when I say subby is recognizing it's been a mixed bag. Some truly great things, and some truly bad things.

"huge carbon footprints, and a race to the bottom here."
 
2012-04-26 11:18:22 PM

RoyBatty: Talondel: and you and subby manage to find a reason to hate it?

Subby is not actually hating it?

"bringing cheap products here, better economies and better wages abroad"

I think I can speak for subby, when I say subby is recognizing it's been a mixed bag. Some truly great things, and some truly bad things.

"huge carbon footprints, and a race to the bottom here."


but it's all cool, your winning that race....
 
2012-04-26 11:19:55 PM

RoyBatty: I think I can speak for subby, when I say subby is recognizing it's been a mixed bag. Some truly great things, and some truly bad things.


Are you subby? Because the headline makes it sound like it's only been a great development for *other* countries (better economies and better wages abroad) and lousy things here (huge carbon footprints, and a race to the bottom here. And cheap products). I will admit that I am ready a negative connotation into the word "cheap."
 
2012-04-26 11:24:34 PM
*reading. I am *reading a negative connotation
 
2012-04-26 11:29:58 PM
I remember when this started, there was a huge amount of biatching from the Longshoremen's Union and the Teamsters too, if I remember correctly.
 
2012-04-26 11:34:55 PM
I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.
 
2012-04-26 11:34:56 PM

Talondel: RoyBatty: I think I can speak for subby, when I say subby is recognizing it's been a mixed bag. Some truly great things, and some truly bad things.

Are you subby? Because the headline makes it sound like it's only been a great development for *other* countries (better economies and better wages abroad) and lousy things here (huge carbon footprints, and a race to the bottom here. And cheap products). I will admit that I am ready a negative connotation into the word "cheap."


I wrote "cheap products" twice.

As I said, I think it's a huge mixed bad. Some really great stuff, but the race to the bottom in the US in terms of labor and pollution and health doesn't have to be.

I am truly in awe of all the different things that containers and containers ships link us to, but I don't think the only way of getting there is by jeopardizing wage improvements, occupational safety, labor safety, and environmental improvements as fast as we can in the name of free trade.

Parents, grandparents, and great grand parents quite literally died in the fight to make jobs safe and create a middle class here.

And I think there is a big difference between protectionism intended to stall the dying of an industry, and laws and tarriffs intended to stop arbitraging labor wage costs by incentivizing third world countries to not bring labor, wage, and pollution standards up thus killing off industries that would have been competitive.
 
2012-04-26 11:37:04 PM

cryinoutloud: I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.


So the question is what would OJ from Brazil cost if there was a carbon tax, and it wasn't being picked by children too young to work (I don't know if Brazil has a problem with employing children.)
 
2012-04-26 11:45:40 PM
RoyBatty
2012-04-26 11:37:04 PM
cryinoutloud: I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.
So the question is what would OJ from Brazil cost if there was a carbon tax, and it wasn't being picked by children too young to work (I don't know if Brazil has a problem with employing children.)


cant answer all but here is the child labor ref
id say they have no problem at all with employing children

A 1994 study by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) found that approximately 2 million, or 14.3 percent of children between 10 and 13 years of age are working
 
2012-04-26 11:45:46 PM

cryinoutloud: I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.


It's called demand, the local CA, FL et. al. only get one harvest a year.... Brazil also gets one harvest a year, but it's six months off yours...tada!... year round oranges...
 
2012-04-26 11:54:31 PM

bindlestiff2600: cant answer all but here is the child labor refid say they have no problem at all with employing childrenA 1994 study by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) found that approximately 2 million, or 14.3 percent of children between 10 and 13 years of age are working


Well that was 18 years ago, but if they still have that as a problem, I have no problem whacking them with a huge OJ tariff and using that to compensate our growers and/or developing other labor intensive industries in affected communities.
 
2012-04-27 12:00:36 AM
What a container ship racing to the bottom might look like:

cdn.coastalcare.org
 
2012-04-27 12:48:49 AM

bindlestiff2600: RoyBatty
2012-04-26 11:37:04 PM
cryinoutloud: I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.
So the question is what would OJ from Brazil cost if there was a carbon tax, and it wasn't being picked by children too young to work (I don't know if Brazil has a problem with employing children.)


cant answer all but here is the child labor ref
id say they have no problem at all with employing children

A 1994 study by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) found that approximately 2 million, or 14.3 percent of children between 10 and 13 years of age are working


Think of it this way, there is an unemployment rate of 86% among children 10 to 13 years old. Doesn't sound like they're even trying.
 
2012-04-27 01:10:45 AM

germ78: FTFA: The first container ship was the brainchild of North Carolina businessman Malcolm McLean, who bought a second-hand truck in 1934 and built it into a fleet of nearly 1,800 trucks, the largest in the South and the fifth-largest in the nation.

A terrible idea for this country coming out of the South? Color me shocked.


Maybe not such a terrible idea.

According to this link, if you ignore the European Union (because it is not a single country), then the US is the world's 2nd biggest exporter. A lot of those exports would be shipped in containers.

And this link show that the US is world's biggest importer (once again excluding the EU). Your big screen TV and your iPhone were shipped into the US in these containers.

The figures in the list show that the US has a trade deficit, but this is not a result of the existence of containers. It is due to a combination of consumer goods being made much more cheaply in China than the US, the free market allowing consumers to shop around for the lowest price, and manufacturers wanting to maximize their profit and market share.
 
2012-04-27 01:19:34 AM

kg2095: allowing consumers to shop around for the lowest price


"Lowest price" = "cheapest crap they can find".
 
2012-04-27 01:22:23 AM
The most hilarious thing about TFA: He did it as a tax dodge.
 
2012-04-27 01:31:49 AM

cryinoutloud: I don't know about you guys, but I'm horrified by stuff like this. It's so incredibly inefficient and wasteful that it boggles my mind. When I look at a juice can and it says that the juice came from Brazil, (when we grow farking oranges in this country) what is this, I don't even.


We are pretty much the largest consumer of everything. We do not grow enough of what we consume.
 
2012-04-27 01:39:42 AM
Intermodal containers are not a bad idea, in and of themselves.

The problems associated have been more a matter of trade policy. Overall, when they came into existence the trade meant raw products into the USA and finished products out. The idea a billion "communists" would become a manufacturing center would have been ridiculous.

On the plus side, I heard TI relocated a bunch of chip fabrication to the USA after a few of their fabs in Japan got interrupted. And a IMC of chips is probably worth more than an IMC of cellphones coming back.
 
2012-04-27 01:40:10 AM

Talondel: I will admit that I am ready a negative connotation into the word "cheap."


Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, made in the USA, 1979, size 11 1/2. I still have them, still wearable, need new laces (old ones rotted away).

Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, made in China / India / Indonesia, 2010, size 11 1/2. Worn out in 191 days, soleplate came loose at rear, left shoe.


CHEAP (negative connotation not just implied, but stated).


It's a race to the bottom. You really don't want to win this.
 
2012-04-27 01:47:52 AM

WordsnCollision: What a container ship racing to the bottom might look like:

[cdn.coastalcare.org image 584x389]


It's okay, though, they still have the pinta and the santa maria to go..
 
2012-04-27 02:38:40 AM

rewind2846: Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, made in the USA, 1979, size 11 1/2. I still have them, still wearable, need new laces (old ones rotted away).

Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, made in China / India / Indonesia, 2010, size 11 1/2. Worn out in 191 days, soleplate came loose at rear, left shoe.


CHEAP (negative connotation not just implied, but stated).

It's a race to the bottom. You really don't want to win this.


So what? If you don't want cheap imported junk, don't buy cheap imported junk. If you want to buy American you still can. If you want to buy quality imports you still can. Poor management destroyed the Chuck Taylor brand. Not standardized cargo containers.
 
2012-04-27 03:42:55 AM
Efficiency is always good for the economy. Always. Container ships didn't flood the market with cheap credit for people who can't pay it back.
 
2012-04-27 04:15:08 AM
i0.kym-cdn.com

really? i'm the first? farking slackers
 
2012-04-27 04:29:09 AM

bindlestiff2600: A 1994 study by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) found that approximately 2 million, or 14.3 percent of children between 10 and 13 years of age are working


You really can't use a 20 year old study in Brasil and assume that anything still stands. I don't doubt it happens, but 20 years ago things were hugely different in the BRIC bloc.

Personal take on globalisation. Some good, some bad. Ultimately the greatest thing it has done is made the human race infinitely more connected. I don't think it's coincidence that we are at unprecedented levels of peace in the world. When anyone can be your customer and anyone can be your boss....it makes you have to learn to appreciate humanity and help abandon tribalism in important ways.

The globalised world is important for setting the mindset we will need to tackle the huge problems we are facing that are a global collective action problem. Unfortunately, we are already late, but improving and moving in the correct direction is never a bad thing.
 
2012-04-27 04:52:44 AM

Talondel: Poor management destroyed the Chuck Taylor brand. Not standardized cargo containers.


Lemme break it down for ya:
- Standardized cargo containers made it easier and cheaper to ship goods across the oceans.
- American manufacturers, ever on the quest for higher profits, figured out that it was cheaper to take American cotton, weave it into cloth here, then send the cloth to Bangladesh to be assembled into t-shirts and shipped back here to be sold.
- Soon it became the norm to operate in this way, and the tag "made in America" which used to be proudly displayed on even the most mundane and ordinary objects became either exceedingly rare or nonexistent, depending on the item. People didn't have to go out of their way to purchase well-made goods, because those goods were made here.
- This business paradigm shift would not have been possible without the standardized shipping container.
 
2012-04-27 08:30:13 AM

germ78: FTFA: The first container ship was the brainchild of North Carolina businessman Malcolm McLean, who bought a second-hand truck in 1934 and built it into a fleet of nearly 1,800 trucks, the largest in the South and the fifth-largest in the nation.

A terrible idea for this country coming out of the South? Color me shocked.


Wait he took one truck and built 1,800 trucks out of it? he's the truck Jesus!
 
2012-04-27 09:28:05 AM
I'm surprised the invention and standardization of the container was so controversial. it's almost as evil as the assembly line or something. or the damn lawn mower, for killing all those great landscaping jobs.

/ if your problems are with cheap foreign goods, than take it up with reduced barriers to trade, not some invention.
 
2012-04-27 10:07:13 AM

some_beer_drinker: [i0.kym-cdn.com image 500x349]


How are those containers in the pictures upthread staying on the ship? Did someone just happen to catch a picture just before they fell overboard, or is something holding them together / on the ship?
 
2012-04-27 11:00:28 AM
Let me give you guys a heads up:

Shiatty made goods have always been made, including in the United States. Any old goods that were crap were thrown out long ago, because they fell apart because they were crap. And, if you are willing to pay for good goods, you certainly can buy very well made goods today. This is why I drive a Toyota product and not a Chrysler.

Here's an perfect example of a old-school crap item, made (very profitably) in the USA:

Muntz Televisions

He is infamous in the history of television, both for making a fortune selling them and for skimping on components in order to keep his prices low. Engineers nicknamed his electronic-design practices- "Muntzing", which means to reduce something to the absolute minimum number of parts required to make something work.

When Earl Muntz started his plans to sell TV receivers in 1946, he looked for an edge. He wanted to get the circuits simple, keep the manufacturing costs low, and use a lot of promotion.

He realized that a television set designed to receive the "far-fringe reception" of 40 or 50 miles out from the transmitter, had to have at least 3 or preferably 4 Intermediate Frequency (IF) stages with a pentode for each stage, plus a transformer, 5 capacitors, 3 resistors, and loops to hold the frequencies stable even when the signals were very weak.

Earl Muntz decided to give up the outside the big city "fringe" business to other established manufacturers. Instead, he would design his televisions for urban areas like New York City, where you could look out your window and see the station's antenna on top of the Empire State Building.

He took a trip to New York City, checked into the Warwick Hotel and ordered three television sets delivered to his room: an RCA, a Philco and a Dumont. He turned all three televisions to the same channel and began pulling tubes from each one by one. When he pulled one tube too many from a set and the picture went black, he would make a note. Then, he put all the tubes back, changed the channel to another of the four television stations operating in New York City and repeated the test.

Next, he substituted parts from one set and put them in the others and did the same thing. When he was finished, he loaded up a suitcase with the parts he needed.

Earl Muntz checked out of his room, left the chambermaid with an extra large tip and a room full of leftover TV parts and broken cabinets and headed back to Los Angeles to start his TV empire.

Muntz knew he could get his engineers to continue to design television receivers that would be very simple and inexpensive that would work fine in strong signal areas. He knew he could get away with two IF stages and his sets would not need fancy loops and tubes.

As the circuits shrank, the price shrank, and as his sales volume grew, he achieved economies of scale that made the sets even cheaper to make.

People would watch Ed Sullivan, squinting at their tiny 7-inch screens. At the end of the show, who would be there to promote his new low-priced 14-inch TV sets? Why look, it's Madman Muntz!

He would say, "You can have a TV in your home tonight. Your living room is our showroom." And, dressed in his red long johns and Napoleon hat he would claim,

"I wanna give em away, but Mrs. Muntz won't let me. She's Crazy!!"

Actually, Earl Muntz never appeared on TV or on billboards although many people think they remember seeing him. The three foot tall wacky cartoon character Madman Muntz was on all advertising. Muntz dropped his prices so fast, that his competitors accused him of being a madman. He was the first to sell a television set for less than $200. They said that his low prices were unfair competition.

Earl Muntz was a master marketer, and he knew that the bad mouthing by his competitors could be turned in his favor. He knew that his TVs were not built of cut-rate parts, and that they were carefully engineered to be at least as reliable as his competitiors' sets that cost twice as much and they performed just as well, as long as you stayed near town.

How did he keep making his televisions so inexpensive? MUNTZING. He hired very smart engineers. And, the story goes that he would wander around to an engineer's workbench and ask, "How's your new circuit coming?"

After a short discussion, Earl Muntz would say, "But you seem to be over-engineering this- I don't think you need this capacitor." He would reach out with his handy insulated nipper that he always carried in his shirt pocket, and snip out the capacitor.

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. The picture was still there! Then, he would study the schematic some more, and then snip a part here and snip a part there. Muntz would guess on how to simplify and cheapen the circuit. Then, usually, he would make one snip too many, and the picture or sound would stop working. He would tell the designer, "Well, I guess you have to put that last part back in," and he would walk away. That was MUNTZING- deleting all parts not essential for basic operation. Engineers and collectors still refer to his old televisions as "gutless wonders". Muntz took advantage of this story, and advertised about his "uncanny" ability to cut costs.

Earl Muntz kept after his engineers to build in only the circuits that were essential, and for those years, his TV receivers were moneymakers. All because of his MUNTZING he would brag in his ads. But really, it was just sharp clever engineering. Of course, he had to know where to start snipping. Although he was not a degreed electrical engineer, he was a pretty smart self-taught engineer. He had built his first radio when he was 8 years old and at 14 built what was probably the first car radio. He knew how to engineer what people needed at a price they could afford.

Automatic Fine Tuning, which makes manual fine-tuning unnecessary, has only become a standard feature on television sets in the last thirty years. But as early as the mid 1950s, Madman Muntz was bragging that there was no fine-tuning on his best receivers. Was he ahead of his time? No. He just left out the fine-tuning knob. His sets were all tuned at the factory. Then, if the tuning drifted on a hot day or the tuner components got old, you had to call a repairman to tweak it with a special screwdriver.

So, he had the gall to leave out an important feature, then, bragged about how simple they were to operate.

By 1949, Muntz TV was producing 5,000 sets a month. He mailed out TV knobs with a note-"Call and we'll show up with the rest of the set." He ran ads that said "Stop staring at your radio!"

In Muntz TV's peak year, 1952, he sold $55 million worth of television sets at his 72 stores.
 
2012-04-27 12:44:31 PM

Geotpf: Let me give you guys a heads up:

Shiatty made goods have always been made, including in the United States. *long cut and paste here*


The issue is not that there have always been businesses and manufacturers which have done their best to cheat the customer with crap goods and crappier service. The issue discussed here is that the standard shipping container helped to spread this contagion nation and worldwide faster than any one single invention. It has greased the wheels on the handcart that is taking us on that race to the bottom like nothing else before or since, and that is why it is so significant.
 
2012-04-27 01:18:41 PM

DrPainMD: Efficiency is always good for the economy. Always. Container ships didn't flood the market with cheap credit for people who can't pay it back.


You're witnessing to idiots. Half the Fark Regulars would have posted about the invention of the axle exactly what they posted here.
 
2012-04-27 02:11:55 PM

Manfred J. Hattan: DrPainMD: Efficiency is always good for the economy. Always. Container ships didn't flood the market with cheap credit for people who can't pay it back.

You're witnessing to idiots. Half the Fark Regulars would have posted about the invention of the axle exactly what they posted here.


Externalities, subsidies, and bad incentives are probably not what a growing economy, or world economy needs.
 
2012-04-27 03:38:26 PM
People who support a "carbon tax" should be burned for fuel.
 
2012-04-27 04:35:52 PM

Manfred J. Hattan: People who support a "carbon tax" should be burned for fuel.


And people who don't should be locked in a garage in a car with the engine running and the tailpipe plugged.

How much is your next breath worth to you?
 
2012-04-27 04:57:38 PM
The air is getting cleaner, not dirtier, you farking retard, and efficiency breakthroughs like containerized shipping are a major reason why. And the way to make the air cleaner still is not to tax Brazilians further into poverty by making their exports unaffordable, nor is it to deny poor Americans orange juice by making it less affordable for them. It is to make Brazilians rich enough to demand cleaner air locally.

And for the love of FSM, FCOJ doesn't travel in containers anyways.
 
2012-04-27 05:22:08 PM

wildcardjack: Intermodal containers are not a bad idea, in and of themselves.

The problems associated have been more a matter of trade policy.
Overall, when they came into existence the trade meant raw products into the USA and finished products out. The idea a billion "communists" would become a manufacturing center would have been ridiculous.

On the plus side, I heard TI relocated a bunch of chip fabrication to the USA after a few of their fabs in Japan got interrupted. And a IMC of chips is probably worth more than an IMC of cellphones coming back.


Thank you.

It it utterly amazing that people here are actually placing blame for the rise of imported goods from nations that don't share our values on the box used to deliver said goods.
 
2012-04-27 06:37:07 PM

Manfred J. Hattan: And the way to make the air cleaner still is not to tax Brazilians further into poverty by making their exports unaffordable, nor is it to deny poor Americans orange juice by making it less affordable for them.


Well that's good, because no one has suggested that.

What has been suggested is that to the extent that Brazil exploits children, the way to protect their children, and our children, and the way to make sure they are rich enough to demand clean air and we maintain our clean air, is to tax their use of children meant to undercut prices, and tax their pollution used to undercut prices.

Otherwise it's a spiraling race to the bottom as we all compete against each other down.
 
2012-04-28 05:33:35 PM
As a result of import-substitution industrialization, the Brazilian economy experienced rapid growth and considerable diversification.

How do you think Brazil's car manufacturer has taken off? "Last month a 30-percentage-point tax increase on cars with less than 65% local content took effect, taking the tax on some imported models to a punitive 55%-on top of import tariffs."

And from personal experience, don't send electronics to Brazilian customers. When they go to pick it up and are faced with all of the import duties, they tend to abandon it in customs.

But their chicks are hot, so I let it slide
 
2012-04-28 05:37:23 PM

rewind2846: Talondel: Poor management destroyed the Chuck Taylor brand. Not standardized cargo containers.

Good point.


Lemme break it down for ya:
- Standardized cargo containers made it easier and cheaper to ship goods across the oceans.

Jibberish

- This business paradigm shift would not have been possible without the standardized shipping container.
 
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