first, from what ive read the violins arent being made in beijing, the top violin makers earning 800 a month in china run there own buisness employing workers who dont earn, 800/month or even close, which is exactly what i originally said
just read an interesting discourse on how different things were 100yrs ago in 1910, seems the average hourly wage in america in 1910 is comparable to the 2011 wage in china, with the top jobs paying 5000/year and hourly wage being 25c an hour in 1910, that is
On the contrary, the best factories and individual makers are mostly in the Beijing area, many of them in Pinggu and Donggaocun. Just to be sure of my facts, I wrote my colleague who is staying at a factory in Donggaocun at the moment, and he said that the average
workers in those two towns make $300 - $400 per month, working a six day week, and he confirmed that top workers can make twice that or even more. Many of the workers live in the factory dormitories with their families. Wages in Beijing proper are higher, but so are living expenses. Cost of living and living standard are well below current U S standards, but not all that much different from what my Mom grew up with in coastal North Carolina in the 20s and 30s.
The article linked to above addressed wages in 2006
, in the Fengling factory in JiangSu province, several hundred miles south of Beijing, where prevailing wages are much lower, but still much better than work in the countryside. Judging by the product I have seen from them, they are one of the factories making the lowest of the low end products - the $50 an under violin outfits. Three observations: 1. Things have changed a lot even in the last five years. 2.FengLing is hardly typical of the musical instrument industry in China. They are more of the bad example that people pick out to criticize and generalize from. 3. You can't judge living standards in China by translating their wages into dollars. It's all relative. Example: In Germany in the late 60s, a friend of mine who was an engineer at Pfaff made about $250 a month, about 1/6th of what an equivalent position paid in the States, but he and his family lived well and ate well, compared to the standards I had grown up with.
I may have a little different point of view from many, but I think that as long as one has freedom from danger, freedom of choice, sufficient food, shelter, access to medical care, and something worthwhile to do, that is sufficient. Material goods are a burden to me, and certainly largely unnecessary in general. I don't consider the glut of cheap material goods to be much more than a waste of resources. In other words, I don't find a lack of cars and televisions, gewgaws and gimcracks, to be deprivation. When I was a kid in Kansas (not that long ago), a family had to be fairly well-off to have even one car, and there was no television, or even air conditioning in houses. Farm houses might have an oil stove in the living room in addition to the kitchen stove, but generally had no insulation or central heating, no heat in the bedrooms, and no interior plumbing other than a pump at the kitchen sink. They had only recently gotten electricity due to the REA. Not that far ahead of present conditions in China, yet we didn't suffer; that's just the way the world was. We had a good time, and never felt poor or deprived. So when I look at China, I ask - do people have enough to eat, shelter from the weather, medical care, and some choices in life? I think the answer is, "more than they have had in at least 50 years, and continuing to improve." There's a lot to criticize about present day China, but I think it's helpful to have some current facts, and some perspective, before one forms opinions.