There is something exciting, and something disappointing in the many discussions provoked by the recent factory fire that engulfed the Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Today, for example, the New York Times invited a group of individuals involved with trade and labor rights to weigh on the matter with an online special in their Romm for Debate series called The Human Cost of Cheap Clothing.
It is exciting to read and hear a range of voices, both from inside Bangladesh, and outside, speaking out in outrage and demanding changes to domestic laws, international trade practices and corporate supplier monitoring and selection rules. The discussions are important, and one always hopes that they provoke a continous attention to the question of globalization and its real, lived consequences for the poor. At the same time, it is disappointing however because they lack new thinking and tend to dance around the same arguments we have heard before and which have never quite moved governments, retailers and consumer to change their preferences and patterns. Details »