We’ve all heard the cliché phrase “less is more” throughout our lives. The articles this week about Charlie Kernaghan’s work exposing child and women sweatshops bring a more negative light to this phrase. Our society always pushes for faster, better, cheaper, newer, etc. We rarely stop to think, “what will that all cost?”
In “A Conversation with Charlie Kernaghan”, Kernaghan talks about Wal-Mart as an example of a company that’s pushing for lower prices that will beat any ones anywhere, but they won’t tell how they are able to get prices that low or where their factories are located. In the other article “Keeper of the Fire”, Kernaghan lists off stats about American products: “83 percent of all garments sold in the United States are now made offshore, as are 80 percent of the toys, 90 percent of the sporting goods, 95 percent of the shoes.” Big companies are sending jobs over seas where they can find labor for pennies an hour and where they can work those who have less rights: women and children. Of course companies would opt for cheaper labor! That means they can pay workers less, set prices slightly lower to get more consumers, and then gain more profit. What’s the cost of this for Americans? Jobs that are needed that will employ workers that they will also respect and pay a decent wage. Kernaghan said, “We’ve lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years.” While those jobs are also needed in other countries, workers aren’t getting the benefits of having a job and suffering because of our societies need for cheaper products. It’s a lose-lose situation; fewer jobs in America, poor conditions and wages in other countries. Society’s push to continue growth towards faster, better, and cheaper goods (more for less) will only support sweatshops and poor labor laws and wages to continue to exist.
This brings to mind a question for people and society: Now that we know what it takes to make the things we ‘need’ for our luxurious lives to continue, will we still purchase these items pretending we are naive to the truth, or will people feel called to take a stand.