Anyone know a brand of unicycle which is...

wouldn’t it be better to buy european?

as a consumer you have only two choices, buy responsibly or don’t buy at all.
unless you watch telly all day that is, then you have no choice.

no, buy Fair Trade
oxfam.qc.ca
theres also a few cooperatives in quebec from which you can buy bags of biologic veggies and fruits, produced and harvested by producers here. no transgenetic food.
Also, if you buy from us or europe, it might stop the companies from exporting their crafting people in third world countries part. From year to year, there is always less products made in industrial countries.

Charles

fair trade, well that kind of goes without saying.
of course lots of people have no idea what fair trade is.

i have a sneeking suspicion that most organic food on sale here (the u.k.) is actualy produced in the e.u.

if all trade with the developing world was fair trade then we’d actualy be doing them a favour by being greedy.

I’d like to hear from those bashing me… not even my arguementation, but my person, which is often shown when theres a lack of arguementation.

Hump. Counter-replies anyone? Comments? or maybe just… a usa/canada/europe crafted brand uni?

DrBallard, I am thinking that no one is going to challenge you further on your position.

It seems like you have read many books detailing other people’s views related to sweatshops - and it provides you with support for your position.
However, I am sure there are just as many authors supporting the other point of view. What matters more is to look directly at the logic of your position.

You seem to be saying “buy certain products based on how a company treats their employees” and “buy certain products based on how countries treat their workers.” Fortunately, that is where the weakness in your position lies.

The point is there is a difference in “commerce” and “charity.”
Want to buy a great product at a low cost? Great.
Want to “save the world” and fight for workers rights? Great.

Few people will collect the names of the authors supporting YOUR position and only read that text. Few people will gather information about the employee makeup of a company before buying from it. Moreover, less will fly to other countries to get first hand accounts about how workers are treated. Most people will see a quality product at a reasonable (often lowest) price and buy. In other words, most people will vote with their money.

I would dare say that it is better for the US consumer to buy the best product at the best price, even if they support your position. The US consumer can simply take the money they save (in my case $200) and donate it to a 501c3 organization that fights for “worker’s rights”, and take the tax write-off to boot.

In this way, commerce and charity work hand in hand. The consumer wins, the sweatshop workers win, and the companies that look for ways to provide products at the lowest cost win. Oh, and the charity wins too.

Whether your position has merit or not is irrelevant because it buckles under it’s own weight.
Ultimately: You are trying to convince people to pay more for products.

What’s worse, is that when it comes to off-road/trials/freestyle unicycles, if designers like Kris Holm, etc HADN’T gone to other countries to produce the products, most of the (current) riders on this forum would be without a quality, durable unicycle - and the sport of extreme unicycling wouldn’t have caught on.

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I think the pichlerrad SOLO (www.pichlerrad.de) frames are made in Germany, and Dave Mariner (www.unicycle.co.uk) makes his own frames. All the high end muni frames I know of (except the standard Kris Holm frames) are made in the US or Canada.

Finding regular bike parts like rims and pedals which where not produced in 3. world countries is going to be harder.

Soon sweatshops will be back in UK/US and god help us then!

Yes, it is better than doing nothing, but it is OUR fault if they do not have any choices besides … sweatshop, until death comes.

I don’t believe that it is our fault at all. It is capitalism (An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.) that’s what causes workers to slave away in sweatshops. I still don’t believe that they do. You talk about China, it has the sixth largest economy in the world; growth in 2003 was 9.9%. Quote; America is suffering; Cheap, high quality goods from China have eaten away profit margins at National Presto industries, a Wisconsin-based firm which makes pressure cookers and electric frying pans.
“That’s going on all over the US, our entire industry has moved to China,” says Ms Cohen, National Presto’s president.
She is reluctant to say how many jobs will go at National Presto’s plants in New Mexico and Mississippi but it will be a “substantial number for a company our size” - at least half the workforce.
The reason because the cost of living is lower, and salaries are lower, the standard of living may be different, but they aren’t all working sweat shop, it just isn’t the case.
We can look at other cases.
What goes wrong is that employers in these countries that do have problems are greedy, but skilled work moves away and they go out of business, as their competitors drive a good “Management team”.

It may look like the industrial revolution europe and north america lived in the late 1800 early 1900, BUT, they only get the bad sides of that. In long term, they wont be richer, nor more industrialized! It only generates more wealth for us, north-americans and “civilized” (no i do not think what ive just typed) people. Yes globalisation creates wealth, but for whom?

I don’t agree with you here, it is the boom time for these countries as jobs move from UK (call centres for example to India, hundreds of low paid sweat jobs which is what they are, are lost in UK to elsewhere). Business in US close down as they can’t compete. They are becoming richer, just look at the number of Nigerians for example going abroad. Now I am not saying that there aren’t sweatshops, and now this is the difficult part. How does one define a sweatshop? Perhaps we should look at poverty? Now we define that as a percentage of the National Average, in the US they have a sliding scale. We don’t need to debate that, what the problem is where who’s to say that they are in a sweatshop? When they might not agree with you. Look back to the Cotton Mills of Lancashire during the English Industrial Revolution – what do we see massive exploitation! Sweatshops and worse. What changed in England was the 2nd World War, and partially the 1st WW. Did you know that the UK is still paying America war payments dating back from the 2nd WW? Ending 2006.

“should i buy american made products?
surely financialy assisting the worlds greatest oppressor is a bit imorral?”

Yes, you should! We all should!

If you want to support these people then that would be the worst thing you could do! Their businesses that they work in would go bankrupt and they would loose what income they do have. America would get richer for sure. Now lets perhaps look at the social economic problems that America/Europe suffers? And let good old fashioned Capitalism sort out the rest?

Soon sweatshops will be back in UK/US and god help us then!

The problem with unicycles (and bicycles, and many other products) is first figuring out where they came from. A dozen different manufacturers are most likely involved in producing even the most basic of unicycles.

Even if we follow just the frames, with many brands it can be hard to trace the actual factory. Distributors don’t like to give out such information, because their competitors may find their way to the source company and order directly from them.

Many different branded unicycle frames are undoubtedly produced in the same factory, though I do not know which one(s).

Our “industry” is so small, we would practically be wasting our time, along with our money, if we went to great lengths to try to help overseas workers with our buying habits. We couldn’t even begin to make a dent.

Yes, you can buy a non-Asian made unicycle frame, but you will usually pay at least three times as much for the finished unicycle, even though most of the other parts are likely to come from Taiwan and China anyway.

KH seats are made somewhere in Asia. Miyata seats, formerly made in Japan, are now made in China. Viscount seats are from Taiwan (unless manufacture has moved since they started). Most of the pedals we use come from Asia as well.

So I understand What DrBallard is saying, though I am not up on the facts. We in the industrialized “rich” nations live off the poor people of less wealthy nations. We are not controlled by our press, but it would rather tell us who’s going to be on TV tonight than what’s going on around the world, especially if it’s going to make us feel guilty. When you buy bicycles, clothing, or any one of the many things we consumers use, but that are made by the millions and not by the thousands, please keep these ideas in mind. This is where people can make a difference.

You could buy a DM, they are made in the UK by Dave Mariner, buy a unicycle from him and you help feed his kid, pay for his shoes etc. Or you could by a frame from Joe Rowing, again made in the UK, buy a unicycle from Joe and you help train a teacher, prehaps buy a wheel made by Mike Hinson and help feeed his unicycle habit, all assembed into a unicycle by Miark or Roger, who also have rent to pay and food to buy.

The major financial problem that third world countries have is surely the lack of free trade between them and the west. Many of the industries that were traditional industries in these countries, such as agriculture, are being destroyed because the West subsidise them so much in their own countries. In agriculture, we subsidise our farmers to produce food costing next to nothing, so that even though the farmers in the third world are producing the same food for far less money.

Oddly enough, though most governments are well in favour of free trade in their speeches, current US, UK and other EU governments seem to actually all be in favour of increasing subsidies and blocking imports from the developing world.

The interesting thing about globalisation nowadays, is the globalisation of skilled jobs that were previously thought to be western specialities. For example the latest Imac, whilst designed as a concept by Jonathan Ives, apparently outsourced much of the lower level product design to the company building it in Taiwan, who also design and build a good proportion of the worlds Laptop computers. Similarly in India, computer programming outsourcing is booming. Many people shout about computer programming outsourcing being slave labour, whilst not realising that the relatively small wages these programmers are getting are really good in Indian terms.

The thing about welding bike frames, as opposed to garment making and the typical things that people are protesting about, is that it’s a highly skilled job. The best welders in the world are almost certainly in Taiwan and yes, they’re willing to work for less than US welders, but that’s still a comparitively good salary in that country. They’re skilled enough for it to be worth the while of the companies employing them to pay them a sensible wage and to give them alright working conditions.

Naomi Klein wrote a very good and popular campaign manifesto book, but she hardly puts across a balanced viewpoint. I could just as well say you’re totally wrong by saying read Popper, Adam Smith, Hazlitt or Murray Rothbard. They all write very well reasoned cases for why what you’re saying is wrong.

The big problem with just dumbly boycotting a country is that countries that can’t trade globally just go to hell. Nigeria is an interesting example, there’s so much corruption that no-one wants to invest there and poverty is really going insane. The other example I can think of is a former soviet republic, which is run by ex-communists, which can’t get any investment because the government every so often put massive arbitrary taxes on foreign corporations and take away all their money, so no-one wants to trade there. There’s even a whole city for sale, built to support oil drilling that no-one ever managed to do, which no-one wants to buy at any price.

Joe

I tried paying Mike for doing my wheel, but he wouldnt have it!!!
I also disagree about buying stuff from Roger and Miark!! :stuck_out_tongue: haha - only joking! I dont know what I would do without those guys, they are great! :smiley:

Joe,

Yes I did see the factories… and it is ok, no children!

Had a couple of big revelations. All of unicycle.com unicycles are assembled and packed in one factory! It is a small business run by a husband and wife, they were really nice and do it all them selves. This also includes all the wheel building! This is one of the reasons why the quality of the packing has improved in the last few years.

The other interesting thing is that the engineers/workers tend to work for more than one factory and I met the welder who does most of the CrMO welding in the bike area of Taiwan… again amazing, this is one guy!

Thankyou Roger, that’s really interesting, can I suggest if you go again you could take some photos, maybe put together a piece on the site. It would be really interseting to see the uni’s being born. Oh, and the Onza Muni I bought from you a couple of weeks back is going great.

The problem with buying a Unicycle built in the West is that it costs so much. For a DM budget ringmaster costs £99, which is a very good price for very good quality. But an unbranded 20" unicycle from Unicycle.com costs £88 - a better price for pretty much the same quality at that level. For someone already committed to unicycling, and looking to upgrade, a “Fair trade” unicycle is a decent price for good quality. But for someone who has seen a unicycle on the TV or something, and decided they want to learn, £99 is an awful lot to spend on a whim.

Another thing is would smaller, western unicycle manufacturers actually be able to cope with demand? A friend of mine that visited Dave Mariner (albeit several years ago, said that his factory was a shed at the bottom of his garden. And so far as I know, DM is a one-man-band, he is the only person who makes those unicycles.

Everything in that last paragraph is based on hearsay and guesswork, so don’t shout at me if it’s wrong.

This is really all hypothetical though, because as Roger said, just because unicycles are made more cheaply in Taiwan, doesn’t mean that workers are treated badly - money is worth different amounts in different countries. There’s nothing you can do about it, and boycotting a country certainly isn’t going to help the strength of their currency.

I visited an electronics manufacturer in Taiwan around 3 years ago, here are some observations:

Canteen food was fantastic, much better than you would expect in the UK (OK I didn’t like the huge Squid that was sometimes in the lunchbox!).

The production staff shift was the same length as the last UK factory I had visited. A lot of them were from the Philipenes working in Taiwan for the better money.

At lunchtime the lights are put out to let people have a snooze, with music played when work is due to start again.

Both morning and afternoon break seemed compulsary for production staff.

The engineers (non shift workers) on the better salaries work very hard, and longer hours, atleast when they have customers (like me) on site.

Seemed a good place to work, in my opinion.

Keith

Sorry for the delay, as you said yourself, I have a life outside these forums and don’t always post on every subject.

My comment is this: I spent four months living in central China. Despite the fact that I was consistently charged double or triple the standard price for the things I bought, I spent less than $600 in the four months I was there. True, I didn’t throw money around like I could have, but I lived comfortably and bought things when I felt the need to buy them. Because of this, I can easily see how someone could make a very good living in China, and still sell their products for a lot less than what a Euromerican product would cost.

While I admire the number of books you have read on the subject, the books you listed presented a biased interpretation of the facts. No, I haven’t read any of them, but by title alone I can tell that the authors are far from impartial observers. I’m sure they are well cited, but I would direct you toward the book “UFOs, JFK, and Elvis” by Richard Belzer. It is a great book in which he proves that a: Man never landed on the moon, and b: When we got there, we were chased away by extra terrestrials. He never mentions that the two are mutually exclusive, but he does manage to cite many sources for both cases.

Well, in a bitter and rambling way, you asked for comments. In a bitter and rambling way, I have delivered mine.

Rob

I might be wrong, but I think only the DM ringmaster advanced and giraffes are mainly UK made, the cheaper frames are imported from Taiwan like everyone else. So you’re talking £200 plus before you can get a similar quality unicycle that’s UK built.

Plus, it’s not fair trade, it isn’t helping people in Taiwan if you buy a UK made unicycle instead of a Taiwanese one, it’s removing their source of income. According to most economists, it isn’t even helping our economy, our economy is better off if you spend less on the cheaper unicycle and then spend the rest on other stuff. Which is why the buy local thing is annoying. Buy local because you’re concerned about the environment and the distance things have travelled by all means, but don’t go around with the blatantly misguided notion that buying local is in some way helping people in developing nations. Don’t buy local because you think it helps the local economy, this almost certainly isn’t true, certainly no economist would argue this any more.

Some other things -

  1. It has been argued that mass production plus travel actually has less environmental impact than many small and local producers. It’d be interesting to know if this was true.

  2. The raw materials for framebuilding are likely to have come from faraway parts of the world anyway, so it may just be a matter of at what point the tubing is sent to the UK/US from Taiwan.

  3. Why not write to your MP / Senator/ MEP etc. asking them to stop subsidising agriculture so much and to stop putting up extra trade barriers against imports from the developing world.

  4. Don’t only read things recommended by activists. Read both sides of the argument. If you’ve read Naomi Klein and weren’t even slightly cynical about some of No Logo, then you really need to read more.

Joe

Re: Anyone know a brand of unicycle which is…

“DrBallard” <DrBallard@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> writes:

> “should i buy american made products?
> surely financialy assisting the worlds greatest oppressor is a bit
> imorral?”
>
> Yes, you should! We all should!
> First, the are laws in usa which assure that the people crafting the
> gears are not abused.

Not everyone agree with your assessment! US law allows the use of
prison labor which is hardly Fair Trade.

Conversely, I know of at least one company that is trying to make the
world a better place by insisting on high standards for workers,
regardless of the country. They are rightly proud of their factories
in China.

Live well. Make good choices.

Ken

If someone pays me enough I’ll come out of hiding :slight_smile: