At first glance, the piece might come off as a touching tribute to an elderly relative at risk from the advancing virus. That is, until the reader reaches sentence two:
“In New Jersey, a quick 18 miles and two river crossings from where I am in Brooklyn, my 88-year-old nana is probably sleeping after another long, semi-quarantined day of watching the news, chain-smoking cigarettes and worrying about me.”
Yes my economic chickens, our author is petrified over an octogenarian who apparently partakes in multiple cigarettes daily. God bless the grandma for her old age, and I wish her 88 more, but doesn’t the granddaughter’s reaction seem a bit odd? Her nana was presumably warned of the risks of smoking at some point, yet continues on regardless. She has lived longer than most people, and still appears tough as a cookie. Coronavirus would probably die trying to make her sneeze even once.
As it has been said, what makes a crisis devastating is less the cause, and more the reaction.
We have already established that China is untrustworthy and corrupt. But the story gets a lot worse, and it goes back years.
In 1874, the Treaty of Bern was signed, establishing the Universal Postal Union, which served to set international carrier rates for mail and shipping. Because China was considered a “developing country,” then, and explicable still is today, it got a sweetheart deal on shipping to the United States. Although less of a problem intially, the growth of China’s exports resulted in a system where the USPS was paying between $300-500 million annually subsidizing foreign imports.
The bizarre impact of the old policy meant that a New Jersey-based company like Mighty Mugs had to spend $6.30 to deliver a single mug, while a counterfeit version could be sent from China for only $1.40. According to Mighty Mugs owner Jayme Smaldone, it gets worse with heavier packages:
“We pay up to $17.61 to mail a four-pound package, but a shipper in China pays $3.67.”
It should come as no surprise that Chinese knockoff sellers can easily undercut American products by offering significantly lower prices.
Thankfully, things are changing. Under a new agreement that goes into effect in July 2020, the United States will be permitted to self-declare shipping rates, hopefully leveling the playing field for struggling small businesses within its borders. As Pete Navarro said:
“China is certainly going to pay more for the privilege of shipping to our market.”