Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Way It Is

I was out with my camera one day, and I ran into a man who was out with his camera. We both used the same brand, and so fell to chit-chatting about features and capabilities of different models that we used and/or were interested in. After a couple of minutes, he took me off guard with the contention that the company used sweatshop labor to make their products.

I bit confused, I asked: "Well, if the company is using unfair labor practices, why do you buy their products?"

"Oh," he replied, "It's not really a bad thing. I'm kind of glad they do, actually."

Now, I was really confused, so I asked him to explain, half expecting to hear the standard defense of a crappy, possibly exploitative job over having no job at all.

But instead he said, "Well, if the company paid its workers living rages, only wealthy people would be able to afford the equipment. And I don't want only the elites to have nice things."

You know, it's one of those things that we hear often, that capitalism thrives by exploiting the poverty of others. And so it's one of those things that people take on faith, especially those who feel that the whole idea of capitalism is immoral and/or unjust. But it's another thing to hear someone come out an say it, especially when they put it as taking advantage of someone else's poverty so that they don't feel so poor themselves. We've become accustomed to the idea that we've allowed ourselves to become blind to the injustices of the world, or that we engage in self-deception and pretend the problems don't exist. And so when you encounter someone who flat lays it on the line, it's surprising. Maybe we need to change that.

No comments: