By on October 22, 2008

In the wake of the milk worries, affluent Chinese parents of babies more and more turn to ‘milk mothers’ or ‘Nai Ma’ who breast feed their new-borns if the real mother doesn’t want or can. Baby formula? No, thank you. (Or “bu, xie, xie,” as they say.) They want the real thing for their one child only. In Beijing, a milk mother from the provinces can make between $300 and $1600 a month, with free room and board. A secretary in Beijing starts at around $300 a month, and must use the money to pay for food and shelter. A family that barely can feed their babies is unlikely to worry about a new ride. A Chinese milk mother can buy a new car for cash with three or five months earnings. While the International Breastfeeding Committee of WHO/Unicef recommends breastfeeding for six months, Chinese hospitals recommend a year or more. After a year’s of not really hard work, the milk mother can afford two or three cars. Meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A. , parents need parts to keep their cars running, at least twice a month, for a trip to Wal-Mart.

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26 Comments on “Chinese Contaminated Milk Worries Fuel New Car Sales...”


  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I want to know how you get that spread in pay. What makes some breast milk worth $1600/month while another is $300? That would be a really awkward taste testing.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    My wife is working towards being an ICLC, so I have to step in on this one.

    While the International Breastfeeding Committee of WHO/Unicef recommends breastfeeding for six months, Chinese hospitals recommend a year or more.

    Not entirely correct: WHO recommends an absolute minimum of six months of exclusive breastfeeding, but recommends complimentary (that is, breastmilk and solid foods) at least two to four years, especially in developing countries where basic nutritional needs are not met through diet alone.

    Or in countries like China, where the food system is badly compromised by corporate profiteering. Put it this way: would you trust some conglomerate whose goal it is to turn a profit to provide adequate, safe food for your child?

    There’s very sound scientific reasoning behind this: breastfed kids have much stronger immune systems, better growth and development, and are less likely to develop diabetes.

    affluent Chinese parents of babies more and more turn to ‘milk mothers’ or ‘Nai Ma’ who breast feed their new-borns if the real mother doesn’t want or can

    The Western term is “wet nurse”. It’s been around a long time, and was the traditional occupation for women whose children died at or shortly after birth. Generally, this was in the service of nobility. It’s still done, though not at all often because a) Nestle and their ilk have done a hatchet-job on breastfeeding, which is a travesty and b) less kids die before weaning.

    I want to know how you get that spread in pay. What makes some breast milk worth $1600/month while another is $300? That would be a really awkward taste testing.

    The same reason it costs more to buy a house in New York versus Detroit: location.

    All that aside, China’s problems with food are going to extend to their automotive industry. The country is the worst mix of market-driven profiteering and oligarchial lack of accountability. Either the free market needs to be restrained or, better yet, government needs to be held accountable to the people.

    Remember the safety lawsuits Western automakers faced? What chance do you think the Chinese will have when some jackass executive decides to shave several yuan off the cost of the car and gets away with it because he’s got pull with the party?

  • avatar
    autonut

    toxicroach – I think it would be in a quality of a jug(s). Perhaps irrelevant to the infant, but nice to look at for daddy. Moreover, it may be more then just looks of the container(s).

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    Welcome to the future of America – a tiny island of the super rich and…wet nurses.

    When will they start using people as furniture as Melville described in Moby Dick.

    Weeeee!!!! This is the fun game called rapacious capitalism.

    Poison milk! Don’t have ‘laws’ against it. The ‘market’ provides a solution.

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    The country is the worst mix of market-driven profiteering and oligarchial lack of accountability.

    Very nicely stated. I’ve had some dealings with Chinese electronics manufacturers, and it runs the gamut of very good to downright sleazy. In general it seems that any corners will be cut if they think they can get away with it. Chinese cars or tires for my family? I won’t bet mine or my kids lives on them. No way.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    psarhjinian :

    On one hand China is relatively corrupt:

    http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2007

    On the other hand, those that do get caught in China face rather stiff penalties:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6699441.stm

    The USDA is so corrupt that it fought long and hard against country of origin labeling and is now hesitantly enforcing the law that was finally passed:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26890660/

  • avatar
    npbheights

    Psarhjinian:
    You seem to be an expert so I will ask you, I heard that the HIV virus can be spread through breastmilk. Is that true? Would make me nervous about handing off my child to a stranger for breastfeeding. (getting totally off subject here I know) Melamine or HIV. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  • avatar
    BertelSchmitt

    Why the spread?

    Milk Mothers or Wet Nurses with good looks and better education make more than bland looking girl fresh from the farm. This due to the belief that the baby picks up a lot of its smarts and good health through the (surrogate) mother’s milk.

  • avatar
    BertelSchmitt

    npbheights:

    Right you are. With that $300 – $1600 contract comes a thorough health check, and the lady must stay at home and not stray … or get – horrors of horros – ideas such as the below, which are a new fad in Japan:

    http://translate.google.com/translate?sourceid=navclient&hl=en&u=http%3a%2f%2fwww%2emilkybaby%2ejp%2fnew%2findex%2ehtml

  • avatar

    RF,

    You’re going to get slammed for calling breastfeeding “not really hard work” if anyone who has actually done it reads this post.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Michael: Getting paid 4xs the normal wage to sit around and lactate…

    I’ve never done it, but for 100,000 a year and room and board I’d be willing to try.

  • avatar
    shaker

    We must prepare for the race of Chinese Supermen that will arrive in 18 years.

    PREPARE!

  • avatar
    Areitu

    RF- I’m not sure if counts as a typo, but in Chinese, “no thanks” is simply “Bu xie,” not “bu xie xie”

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    KingElvis :
    This is the fun game called rapacious capitalism.

    Poison milk! Don’t have ‘laws’ against it. The ‘market’ provides a solution.

    I believe the poison milk was in the Communist Utopia of China.

  • avatar
    BertelSchmitt

    Karesh & Areitu:

    I take full responsiblity for both comments.

    Actually, they come from my (Chinese & female) Executive VP who had a baby, and missed just two weeks fo work ….

    She calls breastfeeding “no work at all.”

    And she says “No thanks” equals “Bu, xie xie” – gotta believe her – got no other choice.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You seem to be an expert so I will ask you, I heard that the HIV virus can be spread through breastmilk. Is that true?

    I’m not an expert, I just live with one, so what I know is just what’s rubbed off on me.

    Viruses can cross the blood/glandular barrier, so yes, it is true that you could contract HIV or similar. It’s very rare (like, lottery-winning rare), especially if the mother or nurse is on a course of antiretroviral drugs: between that and the treatment and the sheer amount of immune-system function in breastmilk. The same applies to other viral pathogens (hepatitis, herpes, influenza) but not necessarily bacteria.

    The greater risk in disease contraction is via blood. Nipples chap and bleed, and blood is the primary method of transmission.

    If the nurse has full-blown, symptomatic AIDS instead of just HIV, that’s different. If they’re fully symptomatic, though, they’ve got a world of other problems.

    All that said, if you’re hiring a quality wet nurse, you’d be smart to insist they supply test results. Most Western health professionals do exactly this.

    I’d also like to point out that, with treatment, HIV is manageable; people live decades with it without being symptomatic. Melamine, by comparison, will either kill you, or at least destroy your kidneys and put you in dialysis for the rest of your life.

    Michael: Getting paid 4xs the normal wage to sit around and lactate…

    Spoken like someone who has never had kids, or has had kids that weren’t, ah, high-needs as infants. I’ll just say this: my wife deserves to make double the amount of money I do, at minimum.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The USDA is so corrupt that it fought long and hard against country of origin labeling and is now hesitantly enforcing the law that was finally passed:

    It’s an accountability problem. To have a truly free** market, you must have accountability. Sometimes regulation is the only way to achieve accountability, especially when markets tend towards concentration of power. Of course, yes, the regulators also need to be open and accessible. The USDA is effectively a cartel.

    The problem with China is that no one is accountable: not the government, not the regulatory systems, not the judiciary, not the corporations. In a true communist state, this wouldn’t be the case, but China is communist like Michael Jackson is white guy.

    ** free as in open and accessible, not free as in unregulated.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I’m a breastfeeding mom who likes cars so I’m really getting a kick out of these replies. Being paid to sit around and lactate… not too shabby.

    As far as the difficulty of breastfeeding, it gets substantially easier after the first 2-4 weeks. And any breast milk (even from another person) is still better for your baby than formula.

  • avatar
    nonce

    I like the Star Trek insignia hidden among the car logos. Or does some auto company actually use that??

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You know what’s sad? The picture of the logos is similar in look-and-feel to the picture/collage of sick Chinese babies that was run in several newspapers recently.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    KingElvis :
    October 22nd, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Welcome to the future of America – a tiny island of the super rich and…wet nurses.

    When will they start using people as furniture as Melville described in Moby Dick.

    Weeeee!!!! This is the fun game called rapacious capitalism.

    Poison milk! Don’t have ‘laws’ against it. The ‘market’ provides a solution.

    China is not capitalism run wild… it’s communism that uses slave labor in poor conditions to produce cheap products to make a buck on so that the elite can live like kings; all while the masses are kept down. As a quote I have says, “Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: ‘No man should have so much.’ The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: ‘All men should have so much.’”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    China is not capitalism run wild… it’s communism that uses slave labor in poor conditions to produce cheap products to make a buck on so that the elite can live like kings

    Which isn’t communism. As soon as you have classes, communism is not in effect and we’re into standard-issue oligarchy. China is a totalitarian government with partial free markets. The problem is not “communism”, it’s accountability.

    The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: ‘No man should have so much.’ The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: ‘All men should have so much.’”

    That sounds really nice, but that’s not how it works. To reduce it to a soundbite:
    * Communism: “Everyone should have the same, no matter how hard they do, or don’t work” followed by gunfire.
    * Capitalism: “Mine”, followed by gunfire.

    Both systems, inherently, suck. Communism, in it’s ideal form, implies accountability to the proletariat, but it’s ideal form can’t happen because people suck, too. Capitalism implies no accountability to anyone, except for the ultimate market reckoning, which means that it puts people through the meat grinder in search of profits.

    Perhaps the word you’re looking for is “democracy”? You know, where government is responsible to it’s people? The other word you want is “regulation”, by which the market is forced to be accountable to it’s participants?

  • avatar

    “a year’s of not really hard work”

    get real man

    I just had my first kid and my wife is breast feeding – that’s a god damned nightmare – every 1-2 hours, at the little bastards demand? C’mon, you have kids – you gotta remember what a nightmare it was (unless your wife didn’t breast feed).

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @psarhjinian :

    well said.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    When my kid was born, my wife did the breast feeding, and it was hard work just to be around her!

    On a separate note, yeah China is criminally capitalistic, corrupt, greedy, and immoral, but so is Wall St. and DC. Don’t knock a whole country because of a minority of people screws up royally; leave that job to the French, they do it better anyways.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    China is fighting a Pyrrhic War, winning at all costs.
    Probably we’ll see something else in next 6 mths.


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