Friday, January 14, 2005


Two days ago I finished reading No Logo by Naomi Klein. The book was originally published in 2000 (I’m a bit behind the times) and went on to become an international best seller and gave momentum to a ‘counter-culture’ movement already in place. As I’ve mentioned previously, I think everyone should read this book. Why? Because it directly relates to your existence on numerous levels. This is not abstract; this is about what you eat, what you wear and how you live. To not be exposed would be to remain in ignorance; sometimes that is okay, but here the consequences would affect more than just your life.

The saddening overall theme is that some people value financial gain more than humanity. Not the discovery of a new trait of humans mind you, but disgusting to read about when it is so thoroughly researched and well communicated. I don’t think she ever makes that point explicitly, but I believe it is likely the root of why multinational corporations will continue to outsource their manufacturing needs to sketchy companies that violate human rights. When you start to look around and see Nike, Pepsi, The Gap, Wal-mart et al. using the blood, sweat, tears and lives of people just make our junk a little cheaper, one begins to feel ashamed for being a part of it all. Mostly young women are working 10-14 hour days at less than a country’s minimum wage: a number that is usually less than a living wage (3 meals/day…etc) in that country. Most of these companies have no qualms about doing business with brutal dictatorships (in Burma, Nigeria…) and only sometimes leave when they receive news coverage about it. If left to their own devices, I think that as long as they made money, it wouldn’t much matter to them who they deal with. “It’s business, right?” Bastards!

We’ve been fed a lie. The whole damn thing! All around is the taint of mistreatment and human rights violations. Nearly all of the wonderful amenities of your life only exist as they do because of the oppression of others.

You are part of the problem. No one likes to hear it, but if you are reading this it is highly likely that you’ve become a small part of this terrible situation.

Do you still want that new outfit if you knew it was made by young women working forced overtime while not allowed to talk, some workers are not allowed to smile?
Do you still want to play with a soccer ball that was made by kids in forced labour?
Do you want to fill up your car with gas from a company that easily does business with a murderer?
Do you still want that new Nike shoe if you knew young women working 11 hour shifts, 7 days a week were the ones that made it?
Do you still want a frilly dress for a doll if you knew how it was made?

Those are just major pieces of consumption, worse is that the little bits that go into everything else are also probably made in the same way. So what do you do? Chances are that if you go to a mall and buy something, you will be supporting a structure that treats its working people in a way that you would never want to be treated.

Things can change.
1) Buy less. Simply, buy less stuff. Do you really need what you just bought?
2) Buy from ‘made in Canada’ or other ‘human-friendly’ companies, if you can find them
3) Learn about where and how your goods are made.
4) Ask your newspaper to do a story on it. They care about what you think. It may be just to sell papers, but it can be used to your advantage.

Just to be clear, this is not an issue of comparatively low wages, this is an issue of companies contentedly paying less than minimum wages (which is illegal) and supporting contractors that oppress their workforce. Although, the fact that it would take a Haitian worker, making Disney stuff, 16.8 years to earn Disney CEO Eisner's hourly income is just ludicrous! Worse, Eisner’s not even one of the highest paid!

Please, just think about these things when you buy something. Even though it may seem like worlds away, when you buy something a connection is made between you and the manufacturer. If that manufacturer works in conjunction with those who oppress, you are (inadvertently) supporting that practice. That is a fact.

To good part is that it doesn’t have to be like this.

Your choice.


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