Does Chelsea Clinton still play with Barbies?


Who's to blame for faulty Chinese products? The obvious answer is, well, China. But maybe there's plenty of blame to go around. As Stefan Stern argues in the Financial Times, the West also needs to take responsibility for these tainted goods. After all, it's cost-cutting efforts by Western companies that are putting pressure on manufacturers at the bottom of the supply chain, many of them in China. Inevitably, some corners get cut.

Stern also chides certain American politicians for "foreigner bashing":

Even the usually measured Hillary Clinton was moved to declare while out on the stump recently: "I do not want to eat bad food from China or have my children having toys that are going to get them sick. So let's be tough on China going forward." (Clearly, the pressures of working first at McKinsey and now at a hedge fund have led Chelsea Clinton to seek comfort with her Barbie and Ken dolls.)  

Zingers aside, Stern makes a convincing argument. But the question going forward is: Can policymakers can resist the temptation to demonize China? Encouraging U.S. business managers to check their own supply chains doesn't seem like a way to win votes, but it has to be part of any comprehensive solution to this problem. Of course, the Chinese government has a major role to play in promoting and enforcing regulatory standards, but as is well-documented, that's not always possible. Which means it's all the more critical for Western companies to make sure their suppliers don't harm their customers.


Swiss party wants to revive Nazi policy


Sippenhaft is an old Nazi policy under which family members of criminals were held equally responsible and punished. Now a Swiss political party is using a racist and xenophobic poster to revive the practice.

The poster shows three white sheep booting out a black sheep, with a caption that translates to "for more security." It's part of an effort to drum up support for a deportation policy in which entire immigrant families would be kicked out of Switzerland if their children committed a violent crime, a drug offense, or benefits fraud.

It's not some fringe, extremist, right-wing political party that's trying to collect 100,000 signatures for a referendum on the policy. Rather, it's the country's largest party—the Swiss People's Party. Back in 2004, this party used the image of black hands reaching into a pot of Swiss passports to successfully campaign for stricter immigration laws. More recently, it proposed banning the construction of minarets.

It all seems part of a larger general trend of racism and anti-Semitism brewing in the region. Uniformed Austrian soldiers recently put a Nazi video on YouTube. Last month, eight men from India were chased down and beaten up by a mob of 50 Germans yelling "Foreigners out!" In eastern Germany, where far-right heckling is a "fact of life" at soccer matches, neo-Nazis took things to a new low in May by targeting a youth match and calling a 14-year-old goalkeeper a "Jewish pig." And last year when Germany hosted the World Cup, a former government spokesman warned dark-skinned visitors to avoid "no-go" areas where racism is a problem. The examples go on …

Obviously, not all Germans, Swiss, and Austrians are cold-hearted extremists, but history is replete with examples of populations that have been radicalized quite fast. This German-speaking part of the world should be kept on our radar screens.