SWEATSHOP RESENTMENT, SWEATSHOP GUILT

Do you ever look at imported sweatshop goods–which is most of what is available to the average American consumer–and wonder if the low quality is partly due to an understandable resentment on the part of those who have to sweat in the sweatshops? Do you feel some resentment, yourself, at being stuck with this junk, on our end? Do you feel guilt at being part of the whole system?

It’s getting harder and harder to find American made goods. I found a “made in America” products website but it was pathetically under supplied. It was a radiator cap here, a washcloth there, the occasional potato peeler. Almost everything else is outsourced overseas, thanks to Bill Clinton, NAFTA etc, and a lot of greedhead manufacturers who didn’t mind dumping American workers and generally lowering the quality of life.

So most of what I get is made overseas–and even the “designer” stuff is often made in sweatshops in China and India and Pakistan and Malaysia. Some of the sweatshops, like the ones Nike reformed (a little) are just tolerable; some, like the ones Apple uses for its iPhones, are toxic and brutally demanding and exploitative.

Sweatshop goods are unreliable, sometimes poisoned with lead and other toxins, and generally inferior to what we grew up with. International import standards of quality are commonly flouted, especially in China.

I resent it. And chances are, factory workers resent making the stuff. They know they’re underpaid, and overworked. Maybe it shows in the quality of goods. Maybe not–probably the poor quality is more about haste and crappy materials.

What’s undoubted is my own resentment–and my own feelings of guilt. Shopping for clothing at Burlington Coat Factory–man they’ve got everything!–I feel resentment at the hasty way the clothes are assembled, the uneven way a shirt or a pair of pants hangs on you. Then I feel guilt at taking advantage of it at all; at being part of the big vampiric society feeding on workers in the third world.

But then…I usually go to the cashier, and pay my money. And I try not to think about it too much.

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