I have always wanted to be a real estate developer and start my own business so that I can build sustainable apartment buildings that do not waste resources or energy, and as a result, end up paying for themselves over a few years. Building sustainable apartment buildings would be easier and more valued in other countries around the world, but I realized, sustainable buildings would have a greater impact in the U.S. where there is currently a smaller presence of them in the market. I want to be part of the trend toward more sustainable lifestyles, and JR is one of the reasons I have bigger dreams and aspirations for my passion.
After listening to This American Life, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the type of people who are running these manufacturing companies. I would to understand what is going through their minds when they monitor these workers. Listening to the podcast, I am sure many of us already knew about the harsh working conditions regarding the sweatshops, but how do we as consumers look using these products and turning a blind eye. It is saddening to see how Foxconn and other sweatshop companies have the ability to just let money cloud their judgment. I always thought what if it was their 12-14 year old daughter working in these factories would the sweatshop owners or the American companies owners still continue doing business with them? Where has the morality of these companies gone? From changing the production line with older workers when auditors come to the harsh working and living conditions workers have to go through is just disappointing to see.
One thing that really caught my attention was when they talked about how some people see the benefit in sweatshops as an effective way to fight poverty. Yes, I can agree to an extend that they are being taken out of their state of poverty, but they also have to realize that the workers are still technically in the same situation as before because they are still living in poverty from the rich benefiting on their behalf. Some of the production workers are saying that the being in poverty with manufacturing jobs are preferred over agriculture, but with these production line jobs their mental and physical health is actually suffering more. For instance, these companies do not care about providing you with medical support if you hurt yourself because the workers are seem as disposable goods that can be easily replaced. This takes me back to my first blog entry about individual sustainability, where our society has helped promote a world of self-interest and success. This type of mentality can contribute to the focus on profit maximization, which can hinder one’s judgment. Why is there this mind-set of selling the cheapest product when we in the US have fought for labor rights for 100 years? Do we want to just keep our achievements to ourselves because it seems that way when we outsourced our production jobs without the protections of workers?
Personally, for me, I never actually realized where these products came from, but it was always in the back of my mind. I own many of these products that are produced in these manufacturing companies in ShenZhen and when I first heard the name of this city is shocked me because this is where my family is from. The last time I was back in that area I was about six years old, so I never got a chance to actually see the city the way it was described by Mike. Even now I do not hear about these factories my family from that area speak and I think it stems from the normality of getting work in these manufacturing companies to make a living. On the other side of the world, people are so blinded by all the social benefits these products bring like a sense of status and belonging in our culture. Our societies are so fixed on having the best and providing people an image of your success because nobody enjoys the feeling of being ostracized. I believe the our own individual intentions along with the society we have socially constructed with material goods has these conditions acceptable.