Rightwing Film Geek

Celebrity Politics Update (Today’s Guest Star: Minnie Driver)

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Dumb Celebs Web site picks up on this stunt by Minnie Driver to work at a Cambodian garment maker to raise awareness of sweatshop issue and shock the world’s conscience into … blah, blah, blah. I wonder which sweatshop is gonna cooperate with this plan to drive them out of business? Just asking.

Anthony makes some fine points about what these Cambodians would be doing if we didn’t buy clothes from their factories and how economics is more complicated than egalitarianist outrage allows. Some *other* points he didn’t make but could have. It’s an embarrassment of riches dealing with these artistes, frankly:

First, we need to get some scientists to test just how dangerously-potent is the form of crack Minnie is smoking if she thinks that this issue is something that she needs to “raise awareness of.” What person who is sufficiently culturally awake to learn about Min’s efforts at consciousness-raising doesn’t already know about the garment industry in the Third World and the issue of working conditions in those places? This is the cause du jour on college campuses and the Protest Movement. When I went to college in the late 80s, it was Apartheid, and one would be as likely not to know about Apartheid then as someone today would not know about sweatshops.

Second, Miss Driver wants clothing makers to raise the wages of their Cambodian workers to Western standards (presumably with no regard to the inflationary effects on the Cambodian economy … it’s needed to make *Minnie* and *Us* feel good). More likely, this would switch production back to the United States. But in either case, the manufacturers’ labor costs are gonna go up dramatically, and this will then be reflected in the prices of their clothes. At Miss Driver’s level of income, the extra few dollars will mean nothing. But for working-class or poor people in the United States and (even more so) for Third World *consumers* … who have been known to buy these clothes, I hear, that price premium (we’ll call it the Guilty Liberal Conscience Tax) would be a deal-breaker for buying the clothes at all. And they’ll do without or with less. But we’ll feel good, having Done Our Part.

November 5, 2003 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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