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September 17, 2009


Some Person

I am a Taiwanese immigrant, and after reading this article, I must ask, "What is wrong with a mother carrying her child in a harness while riding a motorcycle?"

I believe the mother would have been carrying her newborn in a much safer way if she could have. But in an overpopulated country like Taiwan, along with the very busy lifestyle it offers, whether one carries her child in a harness, a stroller, a car, or even just by foot, could have been dangerous.

The real underlying problem is not the lack of rules or institutions because Taiwan is a developing country (that's a term with varying definitions depending on what you believe). In fact, Taiwan has a much better health care system than western countries like the US and Canada. What forces the mother to carry her child that way is because of a simple reason, NECESSITY. The streets are filled with traffic; not all parents can afford to have a baby-sitter; high population density contributes to decreased public safety so the mother feels her child is safer with her... these along with other reasons all contribute to the mother's "unacceptable" behavior in a North American's eye.

But who can really say a car (or anything else) would be safer for sure? I live in Vancouver and I find it more dangerous for people to cross the street without checking for clearance first. Many pedestrians of British Columbia seem to expect cars to yield to them, so they don't even bother to look out for their own safety. In my opinion, that's a jaw-dropper, too.

And yes, people are people. Most of us want to make the world a better place. And business does help bind different ethnic groups together, and those who actually travel overseas will surely learn more about other cultures than those who learn at home. It's good to have a broader view of the world. Take the good of a culture and discard the unfit.



Thanks for your good comments.

Riding a motorcycle or moped at 50 KLM per hour with a fragile baby is risky. The human body and especially that of the baby cannot handle a violent collision or fall to the pavement. This is really the point I'm making in terms of families on motorbikes. (Thank goodness I've only seen one scooter accident in Asia during all these years of travel.)

Have a good day.


I was looking to this article to explain to me better why MEC clothing and equipment is sourced outside of Asia for the most part.
This did not exactly answer my question, all it proved was similarities based on the desire to work hard and support family systems. What is lost here is the work based on 'necessity' vs. capital desire. I believe that many of the Asian families work this hard as a means to support their families as Western families would, but not of equal value.
From first hand experience of travelling through Vietnam and Thailand, I was suprised to see these same items from MEC marketed at what is considered a high cost in south-east Asian standards, in stands and shops around Thailand and Vietnam. The equivalent cost mind you was priced at anywhere from $10-30, so where is the justification to price these same items (as these were the same items)at costs scaling $100-300 Canadian dollars?
Surely this money did not go directly to the workers of THailand or Vietnam as they were willing to sell these items at much lower cost. And although shipping is expensive, Thailand is one of the cheapest, 'affordable' labour countries to export from. Moreover, the employees at MEC in Canada are paid above minimum wage standards, but this still does not justify the absorbant cost of items, less it was going directly to the workers, which I don't believe it is.
Could you please explain to me the system by which you price items as well as the Asian labour cost and what is paid to them.
Thank you!

Karl Gompf

Great comments. How nice to read intelligent and 'thoughtful' ideas--without a sense of negativity.


Hi Claire,

Thanks for your legit thoughts. About two months ago I bought a French brand jersey that wicks, breathes, super light and quite nicely designed. I paid 8 bucks Canadian. I also bought sport socks that cost about $7 dollars a piece in Vancouver for $1. I bought twenty pairs. In other words, I get where you are coming from.

The reason why goods in NA are more expensive is because our cost of living is generally higher. For example, we have to the most part a functioning health care system that allows us near free medical care. This is paid by the GST, personal income tax, municipal taxes, corporate tax and etc., Now add in the free roads we drive on, the police who patrol our streets and the schools we attend for basically free.

The second reason is we all want jobs that allow us to live an affluent life like travel the world. This means our economy must support higher paying jobs as reflected in minimum wage standards and etc., Factory workers in Asia make about .45 - .75 cents an hour. They typically don't travel the world like us, or go to the doctor as free and often as we do. In other words, their economy is not geared towards an affluent lifestyle like Canada's.

How all of this impacts retailing is that to support an affluent lifestyle, MEC charges higher prices because its bills (wages, operating expenses and etc.,) are higher than say a Thai store. This is the macro economic explanation to your question.

MEC is mandated by its Board to be competitively priced. That means a basket of goods cannot be dramatically higher (but hopefully lower) from a competitors. Second, the margin MEC makes on its goods must hit a Board mandated 32-35% range (average on goods). This means MEC is not to maximize gain by setting the highest price consumers are willing to pay. There is only so much MEC can price an item. This is the micro-economic explanation.

Thanks for your email. Cheers

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