I have decided not to be ashamed when I buy something.

Too many times I have been told that I am contributing to global warming, pollution and genocide by purchasing a piece of clothing.

Well, excuse me for living in the western world and having money. I'm not rich, but I have an inordinate amount of money compared to maybe 90% of the worlds population. Compared to the person who made the khakis I am wearing, I am Bill Gates. Should this make me ashamed? No. Western Society works in a certain way - resources flow mostly because of monetary exchange. My khakis have contributed to many different people's income. If the money I paid hasn't gone entirely to the third world citizen, then some of that blame lies with me for not buying ethically, but some blame also lies with the countries that manufacture the products I buy.

If a Chinese company set up shop here in the UK, offering Next or River Island quality/style clothing for the same price, I would buy from them. I would feel somewhat better than I do now for buying a little more ethically, but only a little bit. I am not ashamed to be a consumer.

At Cornell, in Willard Straight Hall, where all the politicos and liberals hang out and discuss the evils of the world and why capitalism is the root of it all, one display I always see regards China's "sweatshops". It urges people not to buy any clothing made in China because it helps the suffering of the poor workers there. Buy American! it said. The people told there told you that by wearing those clothes you are contributing to the evils of oppression and capitalism.

I couldn't help but laugh. I read a book a year ago, written by a female doctorate student from Hong Kong as part of her thesis. She posed to be a poor villager and applied for jobs in several clothing factories in Southern China, not only to look at the working conditions, but also to talk to the other village women working there and their attitude regarding the new capitalist way of living.

According to her, out of the twelve or so factories she worked 20-day stints at, none of them had the "slave factory" conditions that Western media were so fond of talking about. The working hours were decent, the factories clean, the pay much higher than the average farmer's earnings. The workers themselves were mostly glad to be working in the factories, because of the money.

In any case, I'd like to see if the American working conditions are that much better than China. It seems that most of those protestors didn't realize that America is the richest nation on Earth, and hence the working conditions here is one of the highest. To demand that African and Asian countries raise their standards to American levels is plain absurd. If it's decent, leave it. They're not working 12 hour days, so quit complaining.

The blatant generalizations made by these "activists", unfortunately, are all too appealing. People are very gullible sometimes. The lies and slander spread by these people is almost like a disease. I've met people who actually believe that China is a giant slave labor camp or something. How inane, that people can believe in something so steadfastly without doing a single bit of research.

My khakis have contributed to many different people's income.

Consumer Culture Scenario

2,000 poor Chinese workers work in a factory making khakis for just barely enough to live by while the consumer purchases the khakis instead of cheaper-and-easier-to-make some-other-kind-of-pants. The factory workers get the money that was paid by the consumer. They can live, just barely.

Non-Consumer Culture Scenario

The consumer buys cheaper-and-easier-to-make pants. The poor factory workers spend their time making cheaper and faster-to-make pants but get paid more. They're producing more good and getting more money. The consumers get pants just as good, but less fancy and easier to make. Less poor factory workers can produce as many pants as before. Now there are enough pants for everyone, not just the rich consumers. The factory workers are happy. They no longer have to choose between going to work naked and eating.

Even Worse Consumer Culture Scenario

They're not making pants because they're making stupid toys to put in boxes of cereal. If they made easy-to-make pants they would produce something useful and get paid, rather than just getting paid for making stuff nobody wants.


Full production will always result in full employment but full employment will not usually result in full production.

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is a good book.

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