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Letter: We deserve some blame for Bangladesh tragedy

The news of the Bangladesh sweatshop is tragic. It saddens everyone, and yet such news repeats itself again and again. Why? Work outsourcing.

My wife and I were in the U.S. Military Academy store at West Point last spring. We noted, even there, all the apparel was manufactured in places like Thailand, Vietnam, China, one or several Central American countries and possibly Bangladesh. Work is outsourced for cheap labor. In the United States, minimum wage is not a living wage. We moan and groan about loss of jobs, yet our business leaders regularly send work to Third World countries where work conditions can be abysmal. And who is looking or caring? There is the brief nod to “capitalism with a conscience” but time passes, memory dims and, pitifully, history repeats itself.

Next time you buy something in a discount store, think of our responsibility, as a large consumer country with an immense appetite. We desire more than we can possibly use, at a price so low, one wonders how it is possible.

Who is at fault for the dead of Bangladesh? In part, we are. Consider walking away after letting the store owner know that buying without social conscience is unacceptable. Third World, third-party anonymity should be eradicated.

BOB and BETH LUX

Bow

Legacy Comments3

Agree, the problem is that we do not make anything. In regards to clothing, we do not make textiles, all the clothes are made overseas, and buy American is rejected because of cost. I do know that the fashion industry is trying to turn that around. But the deal is this. It costs more to make things in the US and folks just do not want to pay the higher price. They want a deal. Try to find anything made in the US. Even Ralph Lauren had the American Team's uniforms made overseas. The only folks that can afford American made are the ones who have an income to afford it. Folks on govt programs have to shop at WalMart.

What happened to our textile industry? Is American cotton even being used? What a shame. It really is tough to find American-made clothes. Last year I needed a pair of new work boots. There were tons of Chinese-made ones for around $100. I ended up buying a pair of American-made Red Wings for $170. Not cheap but top quality. I realize that's not do-able for many people but I feel proud wearing them. I'd pay $20 for a T-shirt instead of $10 any day but I can't even find American-made clothes. What a pity that we don't even have that option.

Bob & Beth, you are quite right. We Americans like to think of ourselves as patriotic and moralistic. But our love of more and more cheap "stuff" trumps all. It is pretty UNpatriotic to have let our manufacturing base erode by choosing cheaper foreign made products and pretty immoral to continue buying these cheap products knowing that they're made in sweatshops. I'm guilty of it too. Last November over 100 workers were killed in another Bangladesh sweatshop. The retailers who had clothes made there put together a plan to improve safety conditions. Then Walmart balked and walked away saying it would cost too much and the plan fell apart. Just another reason I don't shop Walmart.

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