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June 30 2022 10:41 AM ˚
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To start, maybe do not buy unnecessarily cheap stuff

Courting Social Justice

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Amjad Yamin (Photo: Jordan News)
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Buying cheap clothes hurts people in other countries, and sometimes people in our own. 

We live in a world today filled with inequality and suffering; newspapers are filled with stories of children and families in this and that country who have been killed in ongoing conflict, who are starving even though the shops are filled with food, who are living in modern slavery, or who are dying from diseases we have cured decades ago. اضافة اعلان

What is often absent is our own contribution to that. Even if minimal.

A lot has been done towards social justice in a particular society, from social security that allows older people to live in dignity, social safety net programs that help alleviate poverty to even more progressive programs like universal basic income that guarantees the necessary minimum to everyone living in a particular space. 

The problem, however, persists. As different countries are at different stages of their development of a regulatory framework that prevent exploitation, there are always attempts by bigger corporations or individuals to find labor elsewhere; either in places where the difference in currencies could result in a net profit or in countries that have weaker labor protection schemes that allows for the exploitation of workers, or often the employment of children in the workforce — moral arguments aside, children are less likely to be able to negotiate a fair wage or protest poor working conditions, particularly in countries where they have no one to turn to.

A recent study in Australia showed that it would cost an additional $0.2 per shirt (JD0.15 in Jordan) to pay workers in India who made the shirt a living wage, which would raise the workers’ income by a massive 225 percent. 

Or similarly, a popular Disney doll named Ariel that sells for $48 was revealed to net the Chinese workers behind it around $0.14.

It is a simple equation. There is no way to pay workers a living wage if the shirts they are making are selling for $1. As the demand and consumerism grow, so does the competition. A lot of good has been brought to the world by this, but also a lot of exploitation by bigger companies trying to compete, and increase their income, at the same time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not agree with personalizing the responsibility — bigger companies, governments, and states have a significantly higher impact than a single person. 

At the same time, we can vote with our money. We can find items that we need and pay a fair price for them. A lot more work need to be done to make sure that the fair price does not only go to profit, but we can start at our end and only buy from places that respect their workers, that pay fair wages and prevent exploitation of adults and children.

I do not think we will ever live in a world in which there are no disparities between people’s income, quality of life and social privilege, but we can live in a world where we guarantee equal access to services, fair distribution of basic income, to say the least, where people, regardless of their background can have a decent life.

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