The Garment Industry, by: Andrew Cortez

In today’s world, fashion is all about brand and the profit manufacturers can make rather than quality. And with lower prices comes cheaper manufacturing. With cheaper manufacturing comes outsourcing. With outsourcing comes loss of Human Rights and breaking child labor laws. All of these things create sweatshops, and as Sonic the Hedgehog used to say, “That’s noooooo goooooood!”

So why do “good” people like Wal-Mart and Forever 21 do such a horrible thing? The answer is simple. They are a capitalist corporation, and like a lot of capitalist corporations, they care about one thing and one thing only: money in their pockets. Sadly because of this lust for greenbacks, ethics are thrown out the window. But the worst part is that even though they have been found out, people still shop at Wal-Mart and Forever 21. In fact, Wal-Mart is one of the few department stores that didn’t weaken or fall apart during the recession. I still shop a bit at Wal-Mart if I’m in the Loma Linda/Redlands area. Why? Because we blind ourselves to the ugly truth behind corporations of this country. I know I do it. And I know that many Americans do it as well. When we see a nice pair of sneakers in a department store, that’s all we see. We refuse to realize that those shoes were most likely made by some little Chinese boy or girl in a sweatshop making little to no money. And yet the price tag says anywhere from $19.99 to $29.99. Now that’s a deal for us as the consumer and for the manufacturer. The question is, if we get the deal and the company gets the deal, why doesn’t the creator get paid? I mean, are they worth less than us? No! They make a lot of our clothing among other things; therefore, they should get a cut. An actual cut; not whatever minuscule pennies, yen, or pesos they’re making now.

In America, capitalism is the form of economics we have. People obtain jobs, thus making an income to survive with. The harder you work, the more you make. If that be the case, sweatshop workers should be some of the richest people. Though in the countries where these sweatshops are located, the people in power don’t understand this concept, and we see this as a business opportunity to take advantage of. America, who imperially barges into other countries to cram democracy down the throats of the people, does nothing but indulge immensely in it.

In the 1998 film Basketball, the main characters decide to make a clothing line for fans of the sports team they play on as well as own. Like most sports apparel, it is made out-of-country. It’s brought to the attention of the two owners/players that their clothing line is being made through child labor in Calcutta. Almost immediately, one of the characters is on a plane to Calcutta to fix the problem. A news report gives the story of how he has changed the manufacturing of their clothing line from child labor in a sweatshop to an all-adult, normal business setting where the workers make the clothes and receive adequate pay and healthcare benefits. Though the film is a satire of the corruption in sports business, it shows exactly what should be done: you have children/lower class people working in sweatshops, so change it! It’s not that hard. Sure there will be a few precious dollars being lost, but at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

In conclusion, the problem is solvable, it’s just the corporations need to actually want to. That’s the biggest battle. We need to put sweatshops out of business. If we can force democracy on people who don’t know or care about it, we can do something constructive as well.

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