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Just watched an unusual movie called "The True Cost"


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#1 hutch48

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 08:24 PM

Unfortunately I don't have a link for it as I watched it on Netflix but if you have a way to see it, you will learn how the ugly side of "Fast Fashion" actually works. Slave labour pits in Bangladesh, Indo-China and similar places where women workers work for $2 to $3 USD a day with long hours, appalling working conditions and often at risk to their health. One of the worst kept secrets is most of the big name clothing companies have this slave labour market as the baseline of their supply chain.

 

Now for those folks who still bother to make some of their own clothing, even if you work under less than optimal conditions, you have at least made something where the only person being exploited is yourself and the odds are that if you have made it properly it will last far longer, fit better and deprive some slimebag corporation of a few bucks that they would prefer you spend with them.  :thumbsup:


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#2 Henry Hall

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 01:23 AM

I think I've seen this. I didn't know the title because I tuned in about 15 minutes after the start. 

 

Have you read the book 'Slaves to Fashion' by Robert Ross? It covers a lot of the same in a longer format.


Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

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#3 tailleuse

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 03:17 AM

I read about it a couple of months ago. I do want to want to watch it, but the review I read said the documentary isn't very precise. It points the finger at "Fast Fashion" as if it were a monolith without distinguishing between different companies' practices.

 

I don't give myself a huge pat on the back just for making clothes.  I'm still buying fabric that's been made under conditions of which I'm unaware and probably aren't always environmentally friendly and I don't know how the workers who produced it were treated.


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Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#4 Henry Hall

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 04:04 AM

Fast Fashion is a monolith.

 

The film rather accurately cuts to the core of the problem by pointing to massive brands that wield a lot of power and command monopolies. Consider that all of the major brands that employ Far East labour refused to participate in the film; if they have a better story to tell that we don't know, why didn't they tell it? Any company selling jackets for less than 20 units of currency and t-shirts for 3-4 units (which is all of them), is ripe for criticism. The film also talks to many people working to make ethical and environmentally sound manufacturing companies.

 

Half the film is about the atrocious conditions of Eastern workers, but it is also a critique of the economic system as it has developed over the second half of the 20th century to now. It's also about environmental impact and the loss of skills.

 

I'm sure some reviews will not be as enthusiastic as others, but I would question both their moral and economic standpoint, as well as their ability to process known facts about how the garment industry has developed, because these are known facts.


Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#5 greger

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 05:15 AM

Watched something about Haines 20 to 30 years ago, I still don't buy anything from them. And look at Wal-Mart what they demand from companies.

Those under paid, for some, there is a silver lining. They learn how to make (how much does a college education costs?) and a few start their own business. For many people the only way to a better financial world is investing (library has many books, some good and others fraud). Loose by working for these snobs, but win by hoping on the investment train. Can't win one way pick it up another way.

There is always another side the self righteous never mention. As bad as these jobs are, from our view point, it maybe the best job those poorly treated employees can find. No doubt Western companies should be forced to higher standards.
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#6 Henry Hall

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 05:51 AM

Who are the self-righteous? People highlighting continued corruption and poor working conditions? Sign me up.

 

The "free-market" (in heavy inverted commas) evangelists have been playing these 'at least it's a job' and 'it all leads to development' cards for decades now. Who in their right mind believes it?


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Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#7 greger

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 02:07 PM

Have you ever heard the people who lose their job because the company left? As poor as some of those jobs are in pay by our standards over there it could be better pay than what they got before the company ever showed up. If they had better opportunity why would they step down to these lousy jobs? No doubt, these companies who don't pay fair wages and provide decent working conditions, should. On the other hand I've seen well paid union workers who won't do anything to create decent working conditions for themselves- busted this, busted that. Like anything, there is the good and bad. Some unions are great while others are terrible. One place I worked the union guys did usually at most 1/2 hour of work, but got paid for 8. These guys would do nothing for the company. Not even take a few minutes to clean up there mess. But they sure took 7 hours of work pay every day that they never earned. If you are not bringing in money to the company then how can the company pay? Needless to say that company didn't last.

Edited by greger, 25 July 2015 - 02:10 PM.


#8 hutch48

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 03:33 PM

If I have it right, the problem is one of massive international players driven by nothing else than maximising profits who play the international market to continue to screw down the costs of labour at one end and spend a fortune in advertising to get the highest prices in affluent western countries. It matters not to such corporation that the people at the base of the supply chain work in filthy, toxic conditions in dangerous old buildings that fail any reasonable safety standards and to make the point, if the corporation could effect a lower supply chain price by further cutting wages, it is simply part of the profit driven equation.

 

There is nothing wrong with good old fashioned capitalism, people work, sell their labour, expertise and products for what the market will bear, it is when it is abstracted by corporations at a global level playing on exchange rate differences to exploit both ends of the rag trade (production and retail) with indifference to any long term costs of excess waste, appalling working conditions, pollution, subsistence level wages for workers, destruction of the manufacturing markets in developed countries and major skill loss across the rest of the world that the real cost of globalised marketing can be seen.

 

I am not generally a tea drinker but long ago I read the background of a co-op in Sri Lanka that markets Dilmah tea and on the odd occasion when I buy tea I buy theirs as it is an ethical product that pays its worker/shareholders the profits from the co-op. Rather than the corporate model of unknown sources sold at a price in developed countries, when you buy an ethical product at least some of the money goes back to the people who do the work.


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#9 Henry Hall

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 08:27 PM

There is nothing wrong with good old fashioned capitalism, people work, sell their labour, expertise and products for what the market will bear, it is when it is abstracted by corporations at a global level playing on exchange rate differences to exploit both ends of the rag trade (production and retail) with indifference to any long term costs of excess waste, appalling working conditions, pollution, subsistence level wages for workers, destruction of the manufacturing markets in developed countries and major skill loss across the rest of the world that the real cost of globalised marketing can be seen.

 

Isn't 'good old-fashioned capitalism' on a large scale, really just a myth most of the time? Garment workers, in factories particularly, have been dogged by poor pay and conditions from the 19th century until now. The system didn't get better, it just upped sticks and moved to where the enlightened legislation wasn't in force. It's been the same story for car production, electronics, you name it. Labour costs money, but paying a living wage costs a lot more and is always the first casualty in the drive to reduce costs. That is how a business keeps ip the facade of high-quality product for the purpose of customer interactions, while cutting costs in the hidden areas.

 

The standpoint taken (by Greger, above) that this job is better than no job, is the real red herring. It's just like saying a bad relationship is better than no relationship.

These are western companies, aware they wouldn't be allowed to get away with treating western workforces so poorly, so what is their rationale for allowing others (women particularly) to be locked in and beaten by foremen and managers for demanding better conditions? The rationale is cost reduction for higher output, that is capitalism. The defenders like to draw a distinction between piddling little companies and giant corporations, as if they are doing different economic activity, but it is a matter of scale alone. So the bigger it is, the more visible it is and the greater the visible damage at one go.

 

People can ask: 'If the job is so bad compared to before, why don't they quit?' Is that the "choice" for the average Bangladeshi or Vietnamese? Starvation and grinding poverty or a little more money and semi-slavery? All at the hands of multi-billion profit-making organisations. There has been no 'fall' into corporatism, it has been there all along, since the early 19th century. It transitioned smoothly from Empire operations.


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Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#10 greger

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 05:14 AM

"The rationale is cost reduction for higher output, that is capitalism."

That is not my definition of capitalism.

As far as beating people, that is criminal, and should be dealt with as such. Jail time and huge fines. Look at Enron and some other companies who cheated where the government did its best to recover all the stolen money.

A real capitalist understands that good wages brings in more money because, people spend it. If the people don't have money to spend how can companies get rich? Greedy people can never understand this because greed blinds. Greed is a vice. This greed for money isn't just from the rich. There are plenty of poor and middle-class who are just as greedy, therefore, just as evil. In all three classes there are lots who are not greedy.

Some rich parents make their children go out and find jobs, which would be MacDonalds, stocking shelves at the local grocery, whatever. The reason is so these children do not want to be dependent upon others (so they start their own business), and hear how bad life is at the low wages from the other employees. They want their children to step up to the plate and do something, instead of being told what to do and receiving whatever wage is handed to them. Some business owners are loose with the money, and other really pinch pennies. Lot of choices out there, and some pick the wrong ones, while good people pick the best choices. In my opinion, communism takes away opportunity for good people, not to mention, lots of rotten apples in there too, so not a magic bullet, and really, a hinderance to humanity, and there is no individual freedom.

#11 hutch48

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 10:05 AM

I probably should have explained the "Capitalist" model I had in mind better. Good old fashioned capitalism equals Lasseiz Faire capitalism where the market alone dictates how supply and demand work so you have tinkers, tailors and candle stick makers plying their trade on the basis of what the market will bear with pricing contained by competition. Where the model becomes perverted is when there is a shift from free market to a government controlled market and its done with regulation aimed at killing competition. In the modern era it is corporations buying politicians who in turn legislate to the advantage of their benefactors and succeed in killing off competition.

 

The US for example used to have very good anti-monopoly laws that stopped massive corporations from controlling complete markets but like many other sensible controls that maintained a free market, they have been watered down so they are no longer effective. If anything is destroying western economies, it is the one way shift of wealth upwards to the 1% who own about 50% of the world's wealth. There is a correlation between wealth inequity and failing economies, the more even wealth is distributed, the healthier the economy is, the more uneven the less healthy it is.

 

The disparity is even worse in developing countries with a very rich few who happily exploit the very poor working under appalling conditions for very low wages. The vehicle that serves both western and developing corporations is globalism where corporations can simply pick where their advantage lies with indifference to the working conditions and wages of the people who do the work.


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#12 greger

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 12:46 PM

There comes a time when globalism won't work for them. Already they are departing China looking for cheaper wages elsewhere. When the last place demands higher wages they will have to give it.

#13 Henry Hall

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 09:11 PM

I probably should have explained the "Capitalist" model I had in mind better. Good old fashioned capitalism equals Lasseiz Faire capitalism where the market alone dictates how supply and demand work so you have tinkers, tailors and candle stick makers plying their trade on the basis of what the market will bear with pricing contained by competition. Where the model becomes perverted is when there is a shift from free market to a government controlled market and its done with regulation aimed at killing competition. In the modern era it is corporations buying politicians who in turn legislate to the advantage of their benefactors and succeed in killing off competition.

 

The US for example used to have very good anti-monopoly laws that stopped massive corporations from controlling complete markets but like many other sensible controls that maintained a free market, they have been watered down so they are no longer effective. If anything is destroying western economies, it is the one way shift of wealth upwards to the 1% who own about 50% of the world's wealth. There is a correlation between wealth inequity and failing economies, the more even wealth is distributed, the healthier the economy is, the more uneven the less healthy it is.

 

The disparity is even worse in developing countries with a very rich few who happily exploit the very poor working under appalling conditions for very low wages. The vehicle that serves both western and developing corporations is globalism where corporations can simply pick where their advantage lies with indifference to the working conditions and wages of the people who do the work.

 

This is somewhat contradictory. It can't both be complete Laissez Faire that is best and the presence of the US (and Europe's) anti-monopoly legislation model; which is pure regulation. corporations have been around for at least 300 years and have always dictated the market. The regulatory framework of the New Deal in the U.S. and Europe's post-war social democracy models put Laissez Faire capitalism on a leash for a good while; this being the time many Americans and Europeans refer to as a 'golden era'. Which is rather ironic isn't it? Economists from all sides admit that regulation weakness and the removal of much of it accounted for the lead up to and the crash of 2008. Laissez Faire is lunacy and incompatible with human wills.

 

Capitalism as an economic system (as a moral system, which is what Adam Smith envisioned it as, though no-one seems to remember that) is a model that only operates in that way on a much smaller scale than it is now applied. Despite what Greger wrote, the harder truth is that both common sense and common decency are most often trumped by the need to make profit and not go under. This is precisely why you have people, like in that documentary, inventing positive future moral outcomes from current actions: "It will create development...it gives people jobs". In fact the same old pap said about working conditions of miners up to the 1940s; factory workers from the industrial revolution to now; and now semi-slaves making clothes in the Far East. Development will come, but at what cost?

 

None of this is because of regulation, or even corporations per se, there are smaller companies who chase the very same cheap manufacturing because they want to input less for greater output. The 'corporate corruption of capitalism' is a standard excuse wheeled out to  try and explain things. Large businesses are the logical outcome of company growth. Anti-monopoly laws are circumvented by sham diversity of many companies under one roof. Anyone denying this is economically ignorant. In fact they often shoot themselves in the foot by on the one hand claiming the market raises wages, but also claiming that demands for higher wages (usually by their standard 'corrupt union' fantasy) cripples trade. 

 

There is a great argument to be made for actual mixed economies employing capitalism where it can work and other models where they might be best suited: co-operatives, for example, or social economies. That is a real answer, rather than the pseudo-theories about the ludicrous 'market magic'. I suggest the mixed models before people start hyperventilating and shouting 'bolshevik'! Well, I am a Marxist as it happens, but also a realist.


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Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#14 hutch48

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 02:03 AM

Laissez Faire is actually earlier than Marx and by the time he wrote, the concept and practice had been replaced by late 18th century and 19th century style businesses, many of which grew massive in size and power and leveraged both to take control of markets and often governments. Market control is the antithesis of competition as it reduces the range of products available and allows the monopoly to raise prices at will. While at the moment western governments serve the function of policing and enforcing corporate control, to maintain a free market economy government needs to maintain a level playing field so the diversity and competition can produce better results.

 

Humorously enough Marxism is alive and well in the post 2007 world when taxpayers in different countries funded the refinancing of massive failed finance and banking organisations, Capitalism for the starving masses in terms of debt and repayment while the corporate sector received all of the benefits of free handouts from government, literally communism. Under a true free market economy those companies that lost so much money would have gone bust and ordinary taxpayers would not have ended up some billions poorer. The two largest pseudo communist countries (China and Russia) have abandoned many of the tenets of Marx to shift towards a market based economy because their old systems did not deliver the levels of productivity required to feed large populations.

 

Effectively its hard to get much out of someone if they have nothing to gain from it, convict labour may have succeeded in building the Trans Siberian railway but unless you reintroduce slavery or forced labour, a person does not do dangerous back breaking work for nothing. The big collectives failed as they were held together by a mixture of fear, force and political dogma. Revolutions are started by empty stomachs, not grand rhetoric and political ideology.



#15 Henry Hall

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:18 AM

I have to disagree with some of your history (not about Laissez-Faire pre-dating Marx, I know that of course), but about China/Russia collapsing (economically) because the system failed to deliver, which people make a logical leap to saying: if it isn't an unrestricted capitalist market, it doesn't work. Millions of dollars were poured into undermining those systems as soon as they began, and Cuba and Vietnam and practically anywhere that had the "wrong" economic system. The bank bailout was not "communism"; communism is not conceived of as state control of anything, yet the cartoon characterisation persists.

 

"True free market economy" is a idealistic mythical state of affairs. It's almost a religion; as if this current system now is a path to it. It's an almost step-by-step mirror image of the revolution-socialism-communism trajectory that capitalist apologists routinely scorn.

 

I can't quite fathom your final paragraph when I relate it to the starting post of this topic. The evidence of that documentary (and a thousand others)  is that people do carry out back-breaking work for next-to-nothing...effectively for nothing when they remain poor despite working longer hours than you or I have probably ever had to work in our lives. Or anyone should have to work in an allegedly advanced economic world. 

 

Folk are happy to enumerate the misery of Soviet Russia and China (neither of which appeal to me in the least), but less happy to enumerate the far greater numerical atrocities committed in the name of the 'market democracy'. The core problem is this: the delusion that when all is said and done, capitalist markets are value free, economic normality and effective if left alone. They're not. Events like Rana Plaza, Bhopal, Chevron and Shell in Nigeria, etc will persist no matter how much so-called 'development' there is. Why did the U.S. scale down it's murderous interference in Latin America and Africa? Because those countries have been finally forced to sing from the same economic hymn sheet: capitalism. Not hijacked capitalism, capitalism pure and simple. Look there for the authoritarian dictatorship. The only difference is that U.S. propaganda is much more sophisticated than anything dreamed up by the Comintern.

 

I'd better say no more in this thread because it is way out of the scope of this forum, though very accurately related to this thread.


Edited by Henry Hall, 27 July 2015 - 06:21 AM.

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Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).





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