A bill o’ goods

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

One more rant on the Reo Hatfield-China deal, and then I promise to stop.

(For this week. It’s Friday, so it’s not much of a promise, I know.)

Reo Distribution’s director of global logistics, Tom Sikes, had something interesting to say on NBC-29 the other night that I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss.

“China is an amazing country. It is warm. It’s open. It’s friendly,” Sikes said. With a straight face, I will point out.

(If you’re reading this on Friday, June 20, the video was still up on the NBC29 website as of this morning. The comments from Sikes begin at the 1:41 mark in the report from Matt Talhelm, if you want to skip ahead.)

Let’s parse this, shall we?

OK, first, as a student of world history, I’m not going to dispute Sikes on the “amazing country” part of what he had to say. I’ve read every book I can get my hands on about China’s own rich history, studied Chinese religions, its modern-day culture. It is an amazing country.

It would be even more so if its communist government wasn’t setting itself up to be our next great political rival, if it isn’t that already.

“It is warm.” Literally, yes. And that’s going to be a problem in the ’08 Summer Olympics. I don’t think Sikes was using the word warm in that way, of course.

“It’s open.” Ha! Maybe Sikes isn’t aware of the $256 billion (with a b) trade deficit that we had last year with China. We’re having the hardest time getting any kind of a foothold in their markets specifically because they’re not open.

Then ask political dissidents if they think China is “open.” If they’ve not already been executed, or sent to the mountains to make little rocks out of big rocks.

And then ask Chinese who want to access the web uncensored if they think China is “open.” Just don’t try to do it by e-mail. You might inadvertently turn them into political dissidents, and we all know what would happen then.

“It’s friendly.” Well, aside from the above, and also the troubles that China has with its neighbors, like Tibet, I can’t dispute this one all that much. I mean, I would expect them to be friendly with somebody like Tom Sikes, who is doing what he can to make it easier for Chinese companies to sell their goods to American consumers.

One last thing that Sikes told Talhelm jumps out at me.

“It’s ready to do business with America.” It is, as long as it’s on our soil where the business is being done, and our dollars are able to go back to the Far East when the transaction is done.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being sold a bill o’ goods.

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