There’s a series of articles in the Salt Lake Tribune on the terrible health impacts on workers in China who make the cheap things we buy.
For all the hullabaloo on American consumers’ concerns with the safety of lead in toys, anti-freeze in toothpaste, etc, at least we can choose not to buy it. For workers without knowledge of what they’re getting into, no OSHA-type safeguards, no legal protection or enforcement of standards, there’s perhaps no choices.
Consumer or workers, we’re losers in the transaction. The winners are the players in the supply chain betweeen the two ultimately ends: owners of the small workshops, larger factories, middleman brokers/contractors, China’s bureaucrats, and the multi-national corporations that don’t really sell anything except the marketing and branding of their increasingly tarnished reputations.
And this is not unique to China, which is the poster-child scape goat. This is a scenario seen in any other country that has cheap labor to manufacture goods for export to first-world consumers.
Cheap as we may think the price of something we pick up at big box retailer, it’s still inflated over the actual price of the raw material and labor to cover the cost of advertising, shipping and the layers of transactions.