I therefore quote verbatim from Inhabitat:
"As the number of confirmed deaths from the deadly Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh pushes past 1,000, a more-heartening number is emerging. More than 1 million people have signed petitions calling for brands and retailers sourcing from the South Asian nation to commit to the legally binding Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Agreement, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations in 15 European countries dedicated to improving working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industries."Actually, a few comments. First, neither this Inhabitat post, nor Bloomberg, nor quite a few other sites I read reporting the petition, actually provide a link to it. I can't help wondering if they think it will protect their fashion industry advertising placements. Just seems strange. As a consequence, their figures are wrong, too. Just now when I found the petition, it was only barely over 900,500, and certainly trying to get to the magic million. Help them, sign the petition at Avaaz.org .
Second, focusing so singularly on the 'fashion industry' is a knee-jerk reaction. The whole problem is much bigger and more complex.
I am not making excuses for the brands that source exploitatively cheap productand on-sell for exploitatively expensive mark-ups. But I suspect the Wal-Marts and the Targets and the K-marts source more by volume, and supply to us in developed countries for unsustainably low prices, so that we can all make our comparatively huge discretionary spending go much further than it should. So the clothing retail industry has a lot to answer for.
But, economics being what it is, you do have to wonder what would be the jobs that would feed the families in Bangladesh, if they were not supplying goods more cheaply than countries with which they compete? So you can't just assume that a building collapse that kills a 1000 workers is caused only by an unequal but symbiotic relationship between a western retailer and poor Asian labour.
A building collapses like that because of malpractice and corruption. Those human failings are unambiguously causal. The European and American retailers committing to an agreement for safe practice are only going to help if they can directly improve building inspections to stop the reinforcing being taken out of the formwork the night before the concrete pour, if they can find an honest government building inspector, if they can have a person on site to stop the factory owner locking the fire escape doors for whatever bizarre reasons they do that, and stop a myriad of other local problems from adding up to a setting in which these tragedies are predictable.And even when I get to this point in the rant, I remind myself of all the people who do somehow make a functioning democracy work in a place like Bangladesh or India, just to make sure I don't accidentally give the impression that those countries are somehow hopelessly ensnared by the difficulties I tick off so glibly.
Where is this post going? Wish I knew. Other than to say, pay attention. Sign the petition. Then do something to help. Anything that acknowledges that we live in one world.