A Factory in Bangladesh

A textile manufacturing factory collapses in Bangladesh and now comes the selfrighteous outrage against those companies that contract out manufacturing jobs to foreign people who must labour in "substandard conditions" for a fraction of a pittance. What to do? Boycott the retailers? Boycott foreign manufacturing? Demand that retailers pay foreign manufacturers more, and charge us more? Not likely. In Bangladesh, a lousey job is better than no job --- and it is becoming so in Canada too, as has been not-so-eloquently affirmed by our bumble-headed Minister of Finance. Only a handful of rich Canadians can pay more than they have to, for anything, and paying more isn't what makes rich people rich!

Just down the highway, in Windsor NS, there is an old brick factory. It used to make menswear but was closed down some 30 years ago. The building still stands, unoccupied, unused, unwanted, unproductive, all these years --- but standing still, unlike the factory in Bangladesh. How could a Canadian worker compete? In Bangladesh they consider themselves lucky to obtain a wage that would not even be sufficient to cover the municipal property taxation in Nova Scotia --- let alone preserve life through a freezing Canadian winter.

Perhaps we could find some scapegoat. Perhaps the Canadian consumer is not sufficiently discriminating. Perhaps the retailers are greedy, profiteering bastards. Perhaps governments are corrupted by plutocrats, no longer "being of the people for the people", legislating for the business rather than for the people. But, no, I say: "Such things are merely symptoms, they are not the cause."

The source of the problem is more elemental, so is its solution. Bangladesh has a human population of 160 million, growing at a steady clip of 2.5 million more each year! It has the highest population density of any nation, higher, even, than many city states! Imagine land equally disbursed, each person has a plot 30 metres by 30 metres to provide all the requirements of life; a place to live, goods and food, water to drink, and waste disposal.

Overpopulation is the cause of their poverty. The people of Bangladesh simply do not have sufficient resources to sustain their huge and growing population. So they are the most desperate to compete for resources. On the global stage, their labour can be bought the cheapest, their lives also.