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Most of us have heard that offshore outsourcing of dental restorations began sometime in the early 1980s but, actually, it's been a worldwide practice for about 40 years, particularly among laboratories in Australia, New Zealand and a few European countries.
When LMT revealed 25 years ago that California-based Continental Dental Ceramics had a laboratory in the Philippines, its Polish-born Owner Jerry Doviack became somewhat of a pariah in the U.S., ostracized and reprimanded by his peers, including members of the prestigious Dental Lab Conference. To Jerry, raised in Europe, where many countries are in close proximity, his plan was nothing particularly earth shattering or unique; it just made good business sense (watch for article in LMT's February 2012 issue). Now, of course, the practice of offshoring is widespread among laboratories and is almost completely "out of the closet." Nevertheless, it's difficult to keep politics and our desire to maintain our economic freedom out of any discussion regarding offshore outsourcing. On the surface it seems like a practical business option; and just that: an option. But I wrestle with the idea of trading with countries governed by politicians who oppress its people. China, to whom our country owes money, is still a Communist dictatorship. It imposed untold horrors on its citizens. Yet we--foreign business interests--are helping to make that country the next economic world power. Financial soothsayers forecast this will happen by 2020. Are our eyes wide open? Will the year 2020 be a lesson in hindsight for us?
On the other hand, we are helping China's citizens, recovering from decades of poverty, rebuild their lives.
Man's inhumanity to mankind repeats itself in every culture, including our own, so how can any of us make an educated judgment about the right thing to do? We cannot fault China's victims--its citizens--for taking full advantage of their new economic freedom by building businesses, creating jobs and reaching across the seas for customers. We can't even claim they are "guilty" of price-cutting. Their overhead is lower. Period.
Nor can we claim the quality of their work is poorer than ours. LMT's own 1986 and 2007 Crown Experiments proved that the work coming from China is equal to some of the work done in the U.S.
Whether we choose to buy only American goods, buy goods made overseas, or partner with foreign interests, there are cost factors involved and we make personal choices based on what we deem works best for keeping our businesses solvent. See details of my visit to China in:
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