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Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Cooper A-2, Feb 20, 2016.
Not intended toward anyone, just one of such threads.
+1. The bolded sentence is what Scotrace briefly touched on above.
Which is why the jobs at Foxxcon factories have extremely large lines when they open up.
Apple has gone a long way to improve things, and those jobs are good jobs from what I gather. Maybe this was spurned on by bad reports, but whatever - they did act and improve things. Really, it's up to the countries to protect their workers, and we have a lot of onus on "us" to take care of the world's issues...
Well said gentlemen!
It's a thorny issue, and often presents difficult questions for us all. To focus on the positive, I'm very glad to see this become a mainstream concern - I remember twenty-five years ago, when you had to have a connection within a church-based charity and be prepared to pay quite a lot more for fairly traded/ ethically sourced tea and coffee. To see that movement grow into one where you have these available on supermarket shelves, competitvely priced (the old killer was always distribution and overheads, now they can deal in bulk...)... and, more to the point, where you can actually buy clothes for the office rather than some wild, hippy stuff, is great. This is very much an area where the consumer is the kingmaker. At least, in the early phases, the well-heeled consumer: there are a lot of folks out there who aren't so fortunate, and simpyl have no choice than to buy cheap because that is what they can afford.
Pleased to see this discussion proceeing in such a measured way.
That's the worst part of all this cheap "everything". Poor folks are stuck eating crappy food because you can feed a family of four at Mickey D's for a few bucks. Go to Whole Foods and try to get groceries for the week - about $100 per brown bag. I'm not a huge subsidy kinda guy, but if this country were smart, they'd subsidize healthy foods for people and we'd see the obesity rates drop with Diabetes and other deadly (and expensive) disorders. We'd also see more sales of home-made goods providing more work for farmers. It's a win-win-win.
I know that I see this with even young adults struggling to make their way.
I don't think that anyone here was trying to be "holier than thou", but rather, prefer not to support sweat shops and makers of poorly put together goods.
I feel for anyone that has to work in the conditions that most folks have to in the world (including here in the US). I also believe that 99% of the regulars here are good, sensitive folks who feel the same. It's tough to convey thoughts on tough subjects with a few words or sentences...as we all know too well.
what is considered sweatshop?
to me if the owner of the factory making way too much money compared to the wage they pay to the employees in a way it is borderline slavery,
but not if the factory is just a normal business in a foreign land where everyone earning proportional money at the end, even when it is 'nothing'/ 'impossible to live from' when converted back to Euro or USD.
now if big international brands decide to use OEM factories rather than setting up their own, and making tons of profit just by slapping on their brand and maintaining the same price range to keep their image and market segment even though the production cost is now much lower,
do you consider this OEM factory a sweatshop? just because they accept much lower price to produce the same stuff? while they get a normal profit in their own living standard and economy.
just an example in another situation:
a tourist visit a 3rd world tropical island for a vacation, decide to get a massage, and the masseur in the end charges an incredibly cheap fee for his/her effort, the tourist thinks it is impossible/ inhuman to pay such small amount of money to a person who spend 2 hrs working, and way over tipped the masseur, the tourist feel good and generous (and still thinking it is a good bargain way cheaper than in their homeland), the masseur stunned in disbelief, do you think the tourist do the right thing?
^ I respectfully disagree. The owner's and/or retailer's earnings compared to the factory workers is not a relevant consideration for purposes of determining whether a particular factory qualifies as a "sweatshop." Rather, the relevant considerations include the working conditions, hours, safety measures, wages relative to basic living expenses in the subject territory, and exclusion of children (these are merely examples -- there are other considerations). A factory owner, and a retailer that contracts with a factory, are entitled to earn disproportionate profits, without regard for what the factory workers earn, and this disparity does not render a factory a "sweatshop."
So, does that mean we want "Fair Trade" leathers and jackets? Ironically, Fair Trade in coffee beans and coco farming industries do not seem to work very well.
Sometimes for the workers, it is a matter of having a job or not. Even a generation or two earlier, our parents/grand parents had to work multiple shifts or multiple jobs 7days a week in order to feed the entire family.
Workers? in these countries the " workers" are kids... Sure workers as well.
The masseur/ masseuse is not ( I hope) below 15 yo and surely not working in a ( poluting) tannery or (sweat infested) leather tailer shop....I do hope again...
Its not the " job" its the condition about " the job"
Happy to give jobs..but decent and to adults but NOT to kids.
Good book to read on this is Klein's "No Logo" which, for the most part, is spot on. Not all Developing and/or Third World manufacturers employ child workers, but some of them do. Not all Western companies exert tacit or overt pressure at governmental level to keep employment ages as low as possible to save money and maximise profit, but some of them do. The 'strike teams' to check up on this for foreign firms who manufacture goods in these countries are not always PR stunts, but often they are. My own sentiment to the reps of a foreign tobacco firm whilst doing charity work was that their practices were causing starvation and severe hardship in the province that I was in. The response was colourful, included the assertion that what they were doing was not illegal, and ended with the appraisal that they weren't a charity- it was somewhat ironic that the local government (much reviled) had built free, clean housing for the community so exploited in an effort to get them down from their mountain farms, but that literacy was so low that they couldn't read the signs to understand what was being done to help them.
It'll be a cold day in hell before I buy a pair sneakers from one well-known company, or, for that matter, mass-produced clothing from several domestic companies when I am in the Far East. I like companies who check; what I really hate is companies who take advantage of the fact that, once overseas, they may not be obliged to- and it matters not a jot to me what nation these companies originate from.
Interesting reading. I hope people from different parts of the world take a bit of time to understand the others, because there are many good points posted.
Take the food comparison in the US. The 10 dollars in McD vs 100 dollars in a healthy shop does not resonate in the developing world. There are still billions of people who just try to get by with way less than the 10 dollars per day for the whole family.
It resonates with me. I am not a good one to preach, though, simply because I like mangoes (and jackets, obviously) Let me explain, we don't grow mangoes here, if I want to buy one, it will cost me 3-5 dollars, that's the price at the market or grocery store. The money for that mango would feed a family in east Africa for the day, their staple food is ugali, corn starch, then add some spinach if possible. It will take you through the day. And the mango I paid for would buy some meat, as well, or make it through 2-3 days. Also, the safest thing to drink would be a bottle of coke, which costs less than water...
I live on the wealthier side of life now, so I buy a mango or two... But I have also lived trying to deal with the refugee camps and the hopelessness people feel. I thought, and still think, that giving people hope and accepting them as they are, maybe helping them to have a reason to be proud, whether working in bad conditions or not, is the key. Sure, good conditions are better than bad. But hope and self-acceptance are the key.
Went a bit off topic, sorry I won't comment on how reasonable profit margins would be OK...
I live in a country where there still are kids sometime even in their school uniform begging on the street at some traffic light crossings, in our capital city there are kids who offer their service as third passenger in a car so the car can pass through some roads at peak hours, having a job for them is a blessing so they can afford to save to buy snack/ toys / clothes / new shoes or whatever treat their parents not able to give them like more fortunate children. it is inevitable in a desperate condition.
rather than running around between cars asking for money or jump in and out stranger's car, sitting in a shop making pouches or help their older brother as a helper in construction site still a much safer place, since in the end this children need money to buy their little 'happiness' even as simple as an icecream.
When I visit a developing country, I would do my best to purchase a souvenir from a shop or person whom I think would benefit the most from me buying that particular item. If I were to over think matters, there would be a thousand and one reasons drawing me back from making such a purchase. I.e. whether that person is working in a sweat shop, whether the money I am paying him actually goes to him, whether he suffers from extortion etc.
At the end, I would usually relent and make a purchase. Purchasing makes the economy grow. Especially to the developing nations. Not all stores are sweat shops. Neither do all stores practice child labour. Some do but others are just trying to make a decent honest living.
I am of the view that one should not contemplate too much about the underlying currents. As long as we have done our due diligence, we should be confident of the choices that we make. Even if one's decision turns out to be wrong (especially in situations such as buying items from allegedly dubious sources), I do not think that there would be extremely dire consequences.
Another example is if you see a beggar on the road. Do you give him money, or would you shun him because you suspect that he is a mere charlatan. I think in such a situation, as well as in the above context of buying souvenirs (or jackets for that matter), we shouldn't think too much and just do what we think is right. Make the decision with good reason, then let the Almighty decide.
I buy domestic made stuff only when it's better. It's often not.
Another aspect to the ethical shopping conundrum is environmental impact in temrs of airmiles. If I buy locally, there's less transport, less of a carbon footprint, all that. Reminds me of the fur debate I saw once, where it was pointed out that most faux fur is actually a petroleum by product, and so has other implications. Very quickly when you start to think about these things, you reach a point where you just have to try to do your best with what you have, and hope you do some good along the way.
For a number of reasons, many years ago I decided not to purchase anything made in China. Over the years my view has changed and I now feel that it is probably best to allow developing nations to trade their way to better conditions for all. Some refer to the 'invisible hand'. Part of the reason I have ended up lurking here and having an expensive shoe habit is because I tried to buy UK made products. Unfortunately, very poor working conditions are common in the UK, especially for migrant workers. UK shopping alone was not going to ease any reservations I had. I also realised that it is nearly impossible to know where something is made. I have some nice hand-rolled silk ties,made in London. But, where did the shantung silk come from? I have not checked, but probably China. Many of the parts in an Audi will have be made in China. As has been pointed out, in some economies, a job that is poor compared to a job in the UK or US is still a good job.
I do think we can all help by researching the companies you buy from. A large company manufacturing in a developing country is fine as long as they behave ethically. I try to avoid companies that act unethically regardless of where they manufacture. For example, a large shoe manufacturer lost a case in Indonesia, where they were forced to pay for 1,000,000 hours of unpaid overtime. It cost them $600,000. That is a company I would avoid regardless of where they manufacture.
I would also endorse 'No Logo' and also listening to a bit of Rage Against the Machine.
It is very possible to find non-sweatshop businesses in China- their wages are low compared to wages elsewhere, but for truly minuscule wages, you have to go to Vietnam. Many businesses that used to have their factories in China are now moving them there after minimum wage was introduced and profit margins fell in several provinces. To look at Districts 1 and 7 in Ho Chi Minh you wouldn't expect the poverty you see elsewhere. One of the issues that plagues China is that many practices are highly illegal but a) you can sometimes pay local investigators to turn a blind eye and b) it's a massive country and so diverse that it's difficult to enforce Beijing law in Urumqi, let alone Fujian. When serious corruption is uncovered though, someone gets it.
It is exceptionally difficult to know where every component in a given item is made, or under what conditions, or whether lower wages are relatively high in a certain country. The profit margin from deliberately relocating businesses to poorer countries is, of course, a massive incentive. I've never seen anything quite as grotesque as carpet weavers in an Indian factory, though. Owner told me that his workers were blessed and that they lived only to weave and create beauty. I asked him why the workers were so small and thin and he was so fat. Which was stupid- his cousin was driving us around Northern India and was probably on commission to take tourists to the factory.
Joseph Stieglitz's writing on globalisation are also good. I quite enjoyed 'The Corporation', too, although (and this may surprise bearing in mind what I've said on this thread), it's occasionally a diatribe that gets a bit overly-left without necessarily understanding that corruption is not solely a foreign phenomenon, or confined to the sphere of business.
Well said. Sometimes it feels like a, "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation..
There are good points to ponder in both sides of this discussion. Some will only buy local in an attempt to not contribute to the companies and policies that keep sweatshop labor in place. Others have the opinion were it not for that sweatshop the locals would have no work at all. Both sides provide compelling ideas to consider.
The scary thing is when the subject is brought up and someone has no opinion on the matter! To not care at all about something we all directly or indirectly contribute to is very disturbing.