Remember the opening scene to the amazing Nick Cage movie Lord of War? The one where you follow the life of a bullet from its birth in a factory to its shipment from the Soviet Union to the jungles of Africa? When I watched that I was mesmerized. Almost all of our material goods make a similar journey. From the extraction of raw materials found in the Earth, to their production in a factory most likely somewhere in Asia, to the retail store that you or I can head to down the street.
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The last time you looked at your T-shirt tag you probably noticed that it was made in China, or Bangladesh, or Pakistan, or…wherever - you get the point. But have you stopped to ask yourself why they never say England, or France, or the U.S.? Well as most of us probably know already it has to do with cost. But that’s only part of the story.
Awhile back I read an interesting article on NPR that talked about the journey of a t-shirt. In their investigations they found that the cotton for most t-shirts are grown in either China, India or surprisingly the U.S. in places like Texas. If the cotton is grown in the U.S. it is then shipped over 7,000 miles to China or India where the milling process begins which transforms the plant cotton into yarn or sheets. From there it is shipped another 1,800 miles to Bangladesh where it is sewn into shirts by workers who are paid $40 a month in super sketchy conditions. In 2013 for example a factory collapsed and killed 1,100 garment workers. Most popular clothing companies like Gap, Walmart, Target and well pretty much every store you can think of rely heavily on suppliers from this region. When sewn the shirts are shipped another 8,000 miles back to the U.S. where they are delivered to retailers, folded neatly by workers who are paid whatever the minimum wage in your city is and sold for $20 bucks a pop. The estimated miles traveled for any given t-shirt from cotton farm to retail store? About 16,000 miles. $20 bucks for an item that has seen more of the world than you or I have? Not bad.
But why does this happen and how is it a viable economic model? During the 19th century the process of industrialization began which was basically the time when everyday household items became easier to make with the use of machines and standardization and allowed the prices of items to decrease making it more affordable for the public to buy. Along with this there was a transportation revolution with the invention of the steam engine making shipping using boats or trains much cheaper. At the same time Europeans were busy conquering the world which had the sometimes very unwanted effect of integrating parts of the world with other parts of the world. But nonetheless it happened and here we are. Because of this more and more nations began to embrace international trade while at the same time vigorously competing with each other to gain economic and military dominance over one another and their colonies. Eventually this competition grew to a tipping point and WWI happened. Then WWII happened. Then the Cold War. Finally after the Cold War when most major government decided to just chill the f*ck out, a period of rapid globalization happened. But it was really after the agreements made by the international community after WWII, that laid the foundation to the kind of globalization that we know and either love or hate or have no opinion about today. Most countries agreed to an international monetary policy which basically has made it easier for countries to trade with each other by eliminating or reducing taxes. This led to other economic agreements between the international community and eventually the World Trade Organization which currently provides a system for countries to make trade agreements with one another. There are also other bilateral agreements between countries – for example the U.S. and South Korea has a Free Trade Agreement which eliminates 95% of taxes or NAFTA between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. which probably ruined the lives of millions of poor corn farmers in Mexico – but that’s a story for another time.
As a 50 year old consumer I have watched as everything has slowly become made in China and never yet have I seen the price go down on a product. It seems to me that the big corporations are the ones benefiting from the lower cost manufacturing overseas. And for the few jobs that can't be sent overseas they just bring in immigrants to lower or stagnate the wages in America.
Paying for quality is not cheap, until you see the expensive product is made in China. The labor's cheaper, & more $ into the manufacturers pockets, but not good news for the consumer. It's a lie about quality insurance. Would you think cheaper service will offer higher quality than costly service? Workers are underpaid for the work they do which effects craftsmanship. Of course there are hard workers trying to make a living, but not under these circumstances. I'm not defending with the way things are now because it's not a good thing. I don't want cheap plastic anymore in my high end products. Plastic is trash, & should be used under discretion~
it look likes bad ending but likes no body going to Switzerland , Nederland , Sweden(North European or middle east oil production country ) to open a clothing/electronic factory and employ (expensive/luxury worker)
Deutsche Schweitzer , Suisse / Dutch / Suomi/Finnish/Francais / italia language speaker worker to
sell to Elite class of people republic of china (un-corruptible ....Shuuuu) Government and Bangladesh / Pakistan Government ...... although those country citizen is god dam poor but their <----UN-
corruptible government is extreme wealth and Rich
If the us focused on quality such as deming did with Japan then we would have higher quality products that are still cheap the problem is that most companies do not focus on quality but quantity trying to gain market share while being cheap an example would be Samsung which seeks market share over their margins and would sell at a loss to compete against apple the reason it can do this is because it is chologopoly and has the full backing of South Korea usually through corruption however the reason globalization doesn't work is that their is no level playing field whoever is cheapest and can do the same job that you can gets the job however the amount is so low that they have no hope of being a consumer of what they produce even with reduced prices this means that when prices go down it's because costs are down usually at the expense of employee pay this situation though is untameable as the consumer base will get smaller because their are fewer consumers who can buy the product that you are selling aka no middle class jobs no Middle class consumers which means who are you going to sell your product to your employees can't afford it your rich friends don't want it and your left with huge supply that nobody wants so you literally have to pay people usually employees to buy it just as ford did which makes it more or less a subsidy to have the desired market that you want
thank you so much for addressing this issue. I think journalists are trying to inform what's happening, and I know of some reforms that are intended towards giving the workers better human rights, but the matter of fact is, not enough is being done for a really good change to happen. I know there might be a whole range of reasons why even trying isn't enough, because somewhere down the line someone stops trying. I think this issue has a lot to do with Capitalism and IMF and currencies, I would like to know your opinion/knowledge you've acquired on that matter, and if you could make a video like this about the IMF, it would be lit coz I have watched 2 documentaries on money, one on how it was created and the other on capitalism, and
both are too long, so my friends don't wanna watch it, and when I explain, I don't do a very good job.
thanks again. keep up ur good work!
Good quality videos and a nice voice that explains everything clearly. I subscribed after watching 2 videos.
I get that the monkey sound over swearing is intended funny and the first time i did find it funny but it gets old quicly in my opinion. Use it less or use different forms of humor instead.
but economically speaking, those people that chose to work in sweatshops voluntarily chose so because doing that makes them better off than the next thing they could've done. No rational person would trade their labour and time for something that would leave them worse off.
This is only meant to be a phase like in the industrial revolution where people are paid peanuts. However, it's being prolonged due to the Chinese govt artificially devaluing their currency to stay on top of exports
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