Friday, April 26, 2013

Terror Abroad

In case you were taking a break from domestic news and wondering who's killing innocent people overseas, well, in Bangladesh it's mostly the people working for Bennetton, the Gap, and J.C. Penney;
"The plan would ditch government inspections, which are infrequent and easily subverted by corruption, and establish an independent inspectorate to oversee all factories in Bangladesh, with powers to shut down unsafe facilities as part of a legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers and unions. The inspections would be funded by contributions from the companies of up to $500,000 per year.

The proposal was presented at a 2011 meeting in Dhaka attended by more than a dozen of the world's largest clothing brands and retailers — including Wal-Mart, Gap and Swedish clothing giant H&M — but was rejected by the companies because it would be legally binding and costly.

At the time, Wal-Mart's representative told the meeting it was "not financially feasible ... to make such investments," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press."
Well, I, for one, am glad that our corporate "citizens" are not knuckling under to the tyranny of those irresponsible Bengalis who seem to hold the misguided belief that things like workplaces that don't collapse or catch fire are some sort of "right" rather than a privilege of being in a Free Market.

I'd have more to say but there's a terrific sale today down at Wal-Mart, and I have got to pick up a pair of Levis; always low prices there, y'know?



basilbeast said...

And of course they do it here too.

I haven't been regular, but Chris Hayes' show has been digging right proper into such things.


Talyssa said...

:O H&M nooooo!! I'm so upset!!

Re-considering my support right now...

You'd think that looking after ALL employees would be a no brainer for any company - small or large.

So terrible. This should be considered a compulsory responsibility not a choice...

Lisa said...

@Talyssa says safe working facilities should be "compulsory responsibility not a choice", tell that to the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Protection doesn't come cheap nor is it a business imperative; responsibility is not compulsory, but compliance with safety regulations can be. Sadly, sequestration will soon be reducing the oversight of protection agencies in your own background.

FDChief said...

I think the difference here, Lisa, is that the U.S. companies subcontracting this work are subject to U.S. law that has been informed and shaped by atrocities LIKE the Triangle Fire. And while failed states like Bangladesh are just as feckless and hopeless as the U.S. and New York governments were in 1911 the U.S. government now has the muscle to make workplace safety a "compulsory responsibility"...if it chooses to do so.

The fact that it has not; the fact that these companies are allowed to profit from the stability and social peace purchased with things like safety regulations and OSHA inspections here in the U.S. while perpetuating the Gilded Age mores in places like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam is and should be a shame and a hissing among us.

And the fact that WE the People seem more concerned that our jeans and brassieres come cheap and not that our corporate "citizens" are acting in ways almost sure to stoke the worst fires of rage and hate against us should surely be a shame and a hissing directed towards us.

So, while protection is neither cheap nor a business imperative, intelligent businessmen should surely realize the benefit in a placid, productive workforce and one that is paid well enough to buy the very products they make. Even a paleolithic capitalist like Henry Ford realized that paying his rivetheads and making their assembly lines safer paid off in the long run; not only didn't they sabotage his cars - they actually BOUGHT the damned things.

This is, and should be, a shame all around. Everyone involved - from the corporate execs through the Bangladeshi officials to the U.S. government to the person shopping for jeans at Target - should be ashamed of themselves.

By our own feathers and not by others' shafts are we now stricken.

Lisa said...

As our economic pressures increase at home, we are unlikely to have the time or inclination to advocate for protections for workers in Vietnam, et. al., and I agree that most of us are happy to be the beneficiaries of the cheap products.

Who has the time to vet which companies buy from the abominable collapsed factory? Perhaps if THAT news were disseminated, people could boycott those products (as we did with the Martha Stewart sweat shop debacle. But she was a woman, and we don't like uppity women ...)

But when a pair of made in America boxer shorts is $20, versus a three-pack made in Vietnam for $6.95, it will be a hard-sell.

Is there a way to source a made in the USA 3-pack for somewhere between $6.95 and $60? I would hope so, but where are they? (Tell me and I'll buy them ... I like wearing boxers 'round the house.)

FDChief said...

Thing is, we love to piss and moan about how "they hate us" and worry and fret about all those scary people "over there" building bombs and such...

Well, what helps MAKE them hate us so much? It ain't just Beyonce' and Kentucky Fried Chicken...

Making our corporate "citizens" less Ugly Americans would hit us in the pocketbook, yes. But as much as billions of dollars in bribes to the Karzais? As much as multi-millions on drones and missiles and the spies to target them and the Blackwater guys to protect out embassies..?

I'm not some kind of bleeding heart; the welfare of the Vietnamese or the Bangladeshis is Vietnam's and Bangladesh's problem...unless I help MAKE it my problem by shoving cash at those $6.95 boxers that come at the price of dead Viets. Those little bastards make bad enemies, and we should not have already forgotten that.

So if we have to pay $10.00 for a three-pack and it means that J.C. Penney pays out for some basic safety features? I'd call that no real skin off my ass (so to speak...) and a win for everyone.

Somehow the image of you slouching about barefoot in a pair of boxers and a baggy shirt seems very...something Southern. Possibly with some sort of tall gin-and-limey sort of drink? Or a parasol? I dunno, but I have this mental picture of Andie McDowell playing that role in the movie...

Lisa said...

Oh, yes to the $10/3 pk, but I specifically searched online for Made in America and only found $20 for one (1) short! Surely we can do better than that.

The unfeeling amongst us will say, "Ah, but the Indians or Viets are happy to have a job." Perhaps, but I agree with you that we are responsible for ensuring that we are not patronizing fire-hazard sweat shops. If it means we can afford less, so be it.

(I s'pose the boxer brief thing might be a bit "Southern Culture on the Skids", but I picked it up honestly from my mom -- always one to expropriate dad's clothes. Well-worn men's underthings get so soft and comfy. Gin-and-Tonic it is, and Andie could play the role well with her tousled locks and easy confidence.)

FDChief said...

I should really do some sort of a post about "middle-class", and how making people "middle-class" may seem expensive and laborious in the short run but is really in the oligarchs' interest in the long run. Because "middle class" people are too worried about staying middle class and BEING middle class; polite, respectful of their "betters", well-behaved, "civilized" to worry about things like injustice, incivility, rapacity, and insensate greed. A poor man has nothing to lose; how many revolutions or rebellions have started from "What the fuck WORSE can they do to me?" At least storming the palace you have a chance that you'll take the princelings down with you rather than waiting like a sheep for the butcher's axe...

But a bourgeois is by nature conservative; he would rather suffer little indignities than rebel and risk the Big Fall...

And the image of you lounging about on the divan in your soft cotton whites, sipping your icy drink and swinging a long bare foot while looking up from under the dark tousled bangs and drawling "Well, here we are with nothin' at all to do all afternoon..." just gives me the happy shivers.


Lisa said...

[I've been w/o computer several days now as that's just the way they "do" here. I'm told they will get into "the bucket" Tuesday to fix my phone and DSL line ... I do hope so.]

Yes, there seems a built-in protection from protest as the "bourgeois is by nature conservative".

I'm glad you like the image in my comfy whites ... I've been accused by one man of "not trying hard enough" (not stuffing myself into teddies with whalebone, I presume), but I think I should not need to try that hard. Here I am -- you like, or not.

It should be comfortable, above all else, IMHO ;)

FDChief said...

"I'm glad you like the image in my comfy whites ... I've been accused by one man of "not trying hard enough" (not stuffing myself into teddies with whalebone, I presume), but I think I should not need to try that hard. Here I am -- you like, or not."

I do, my dear, I do, indeed.

I don't quite "get" the male fashion for plucked, buffed, and sanitized women; always seems to me to have the emotional and physical appeal of a plastic figurine. The endearing intimacies have always seemed to me to be the imperfections that make the physical body of the other person an individual rather than an anonymous body; the way the soft hair grows up the back of her neck, the little rough spot on the inside of her finger from where she holds her pen, the freckles along the crest of her shoulder that make a constellation all her own.

The way she frowns down at the page when she's trying to parse some complex passage. The warm weight of her thigh over yours. The wordless sound she makes as she enjoys her first sip of coffee on a cold morning and the wisp of steam that curls from her lips.

"Here I am" indeed. While I won't pretend that there are not moments for gloss and glamor, give me the easy intimacy of everyday; the passion of a sigh, the delight of a smile, the fire of a lingering and languid kiss.

Why would one want to exchange that for someone hidden beneath those frills and furbelows?

Lisa said...

Thank you for understanding my position, and sorry for being behind in my site-check. Though we may both enjoy the spectacle of Hollywood fripparies, we also know what would actually feel good to embrace. If one wishes a performing Barbie doll, I'm not your girl :)

We -- most -- seem to enjoy the march towards homogeneity. The ubiquitous pornography and Hollywood productions make people feel less-than, and I believe by extension, feel less connected, less appreciative of reality, etc.

I'm not a big Stones fan, but "Satisfaction" said it well.