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View Diary: Traffickers in Misery Goods (43 comments)

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  •  Food is better than no food (0+ / 0-)

    and that's what makes me conflicted about boycott activism.

    Do I want to buy into a system where people in Bangladesh and other exploited regions are paid $37/month for 80+ hour work weeks, only to die at the hands of their employer? No, I do not.

    Do I want to buy into a system where (even more) people in Bangladesh starve because the factories close because wealthy countries won't buy their products? No, I do not.

    I would be less conflicted if the people calling for boycotts of "misery goods" weren't so often the same people exhorting me to "buy American" or "reduce consumption." But as it is, I feel manipulated.

    They play on my emotions to get me to feel terrible about paying Bangladeshi garment workers 10 cents/hour. They tell me I'm responsible for supporting a corrupt and exploitative system of lax safety regulations and environmental and building practices that literally kill people. And it works. I feel terrible.

    But then they pull the bait-and-switch. I've been baited into listening, and then they switch and tell me I need to buy American, or I need to reduce my consumption, or something else that basically involves 'keep your money in the USA, or at least North America and western Europe.'

    That 'solution' has absolutely nothing to do with helping Bangladeshi workers. That 'solution' is about helping Americans. More specifically, it's about helping corporations that produce "Made in USA"-labeled goods...with, of course, no mention of how many such goods are produced by prison slave labour at wages that rival Bangladeshi factories.

    If someone were sincere about helping Bangladeshi workers, they might be be inviting me to help with an effort to unionize them. Or perhaps asking me to invest in a fair-trade-certified facility that would compete with the misery-factories for workers.  

    Perhaps they might encourage me to participate in micro-lending operations that invest in Bangladeshi women, or a service that helps women in Bangladesh market their goods directly to worldwide consumers, or some other initiative that enables garment workers to ply their trade independent of the factories.

    At an absolute minimum, they'd ask me to choose fair-trade-certified goods, which stands a chance, however remote, of eventually increasing the profitability of those goods to the point that fair-trade is a more profitable business model in the developing world than misery-factories.

    But they wouldn't tell me to buy American, because there is absolutely no chance that buying American is ever going to help anyone in Bangladesh.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Mon May 06, 2013 at 02:01:41 PM PDT

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