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Monday, August 13, 2007

I don’t feel like chicken tonight

Today we learn that retailer Philip Green pays some of his Asian workers less than £4 a day to make manky cheap clothes with Kate ‘crackwhore’ Moss’s name scrawled across the label. This is a priviledge for them, apparently, as these workers are asked to pay local agents £725 in order to get the job in the first place.
Quite why anyone would expect a better ethical position from a man who refuses to pay fair taxes in the country that provides him his billions, just as those us who fuel his wealth by buying his sweatshop tat are obliged to do, is a mystery to me. This is a man who, upon turning 50, donned a toga at his own £1m party. Yummy. A man whose wife recently bought him a solid gold Monopoly board as a gift. Does that spell ‘caring and sharing’ to you, people?
Handily for those who have undergone trauma to the frontal lobe in recent years, The Times newspaper explains that this kind of thing is rather common and MIGHT JUST be the result of globalisation. (This, a full seven years after ‘No Logo’ hit the bestsellers list). As The Times shockingly reveals, the retail world’s terrifying obsession with offering absurdly low pricing to its consumers in Preston and Port Talbot means that the real cost is felt by others at different points along the supply chain, say, in The Phillippines and Pyong Yang.
At the same time, rumours are abound in the press that a mangy and anaemic-looking chicken, now being sold at Asda stores with a ridiculous £2 price-tag for an entire bird, might not actually be the true ‘bargain’ – or, in Asda’s own words, “iconic” - product it claims to be. (Antibiotic overdosing, broiler shed overcrowding, pork-protein injecting, loss-leader selling, supplier blackmailing, all the usual stuff).
Well bugger me backwards, REALLY???
Frankly, if you find yourself surprised by these pieces of information, you need, in my opinion, a damn good slapping. To be so ignorant of how the world works, to walk around with your eyes SO firmly closed that you hadn’t even bothered to think about what the true cost of your ugly Primark shift dress or your poultry-heavy diet might be, both to other people and to your own society, is actually offensive, in my view. Buy shit designer knock offs, by all means. Eat, as the EU says we do, the weight of a 7 year old boy in rank chicken every year. Tell yourself that the words ‘ethical’ and ‘consumer’ don’t belong in the same sentence. Go ahead. But don’t come over all mock-outraged when it’s pointed out to you what your consumerist greed really means and how we actually got here.

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