Sunday, December 10, 2006

Corporate Conglomerates

I was out doing some Christmas shopping yesterday. Found some cool stuff. But along the way I had a conversation with my sweetie about why I would prefer to do business at store A even if it cost me a bit more for the same merchandise available at store B. One of the considerations I listed was the way employees were treated and another was whether or not products came from "third world sweatshops".

Now, I'm very confused about this, as I recently toured a place I would consider to be one of those "third world sweatshops"... a carpet factory in Egypt that people were PROUD to have available to give children from poverty striken families meaningful work. I thought of those young kids sitting at their looms day after day after day and it gave me the shudders, so much so that I could not bring myself to buy any of their very nice carpets. But if that carpet factory was not there, these kids would NOT necesarily be better off...they might just be hungry. So am I right or wrong to pass judgement on their child labor practices??


And there is the whole issue of local vs. large corporate.... is local inherently better?

We vote everytime we spend our dollars, saying what is important to us. I'm questioning some of my spending lately, wondering if I am happy with my vote.

1 comment:

Spoke said...

The bigger shops here in the West will rarely tell you honestly and completely about there supplier's practices up front. Forced labour etc. One posh coffee/tea shop in Banff, Alberta boasts Fair Trade Coffee. They have this plastered on their website and on the windows of the shop. I noticed it written on one packet of beans. Hmmmm? Sounds good yes? I looked into it. They have ONE coffee that is fair trade. The rest of their product isn't. Since they offer ONE, they can state that they are a fair trade shop. All they need is one item, or a small percent.
In Alberta, some manufacturers boast "recyled fibres" in the making of their packaging. By law, all they need is 5% to warrant saying that. FIVE PERCENT!
This is a devious tactic to get people like us to support their practices while believing we are doing the right thing.
As far as while you are in other countries, never barter. Pay what they ask, especially in markets. At home, ask questions...ask the manager/owner. It's difficult for them to conceal the whole truth while you are standing there....
Thanx for caring!

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