This Is What Your Jeans Really Cost

Bryan Walsh thinks the Bangladesh factory collapse should be a wakeup call
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2013 12:25 PM CDT
This Is What Your Jeans Really Cost
Army personnel watch as workers toil in the collapsed garment factory building, Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

At last count, at least 362 people were killed in the Bangladesh textile factory collapse making it the worst disaster in garment industry history—worse, for example, than the famous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that prompted a drastic overhaul in American factory safety laws, observes Bryan Walsh at Time. Nor is this kind of thing uncommon; 262 died in the Ali Enterprises Factory fire in Karachi eight months ago, which "I'm guessing nearly all of us had forgotten about, or never knew occurred."

Yet most people seem to be shrugging the tragedy off. Matthew Yglesias at Slate wrote a much-derided post arguing that Bangladesh's awful safety standards help developing countries compete. "There's a difference between accepting that workers are being paid sweatshop wages," Walsh counters, "and accepting that they must labor in deathtraps." Consumers, he argues, need to pressure their favorite brands to improve their standards. Of course, "that would require placing as much value on the cost of a life as you might on the cost of a T-shirt." Click for Walsh's full column. (More Bangladesh stories.)

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