Monday, March 03, 2008

News Flash: Chinese Factory Workers Must be Treated as Human After All

A front page article in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News for February 1 announced that various pressures will drive costs higher in the bike industry for 2008. In addition to material and energy costs, Chinese factories are now required to provide health care, benefits and a higher minimum wage for their workers.

I have been saying for years that we could not continue to prop up our prosperity on virtual slavery in other countries. One bike rep laughed at me in the late nineties when I asked how soon we would run out of underdeveloped nations to exploit.

"China's huge," he said. "If costs go up in one town or province we can just move to another one."

People only belatedly realize that evolution accelerates exponentially, so each disadvantaged nation realizes its true advantages far more quickly than the last one did. Sooner than expected, you have to come up with a system that is actually fair to all.

How terribly inconvenient.

1 comment:

Dingbat said...

Well put. One can hope this will result in a cultural shift towards fewer, more humanely-produced possessions, but I suspect it will just mean more mechanization of production. On the plus side, as global labor standards equalize, more things will be produced locally, reducing transport reliance.

But what do I know?