Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blog Entry #1

In our current society, where food is bought in a store rather than grown and picked and clothing is bought in the mall instead of hand-sewn, the average American consumer seems to have lost any capability of self-sufficiency. I realized this as I was searching through my closet for an outfit for the Asian American Studies Banquet. Idleness settled in and I immediately wanted to go shopping for a new outfit instead of creating one. But then I realized our new agreement for ASA 189B and I pouted and sulked. I had become too accustomed to buying my solutions when it came to coordinating outfits or buying food.
After that momentary lapse, I actually found a solution to my outfit problem. It felt satisfying to figure out that I did, indeed find a brown top to match my brown skirt. But after reflecting on my "hard decision", I did realize how completely trivial my "dilemma" was. I was only "deprived" of my shopping for cheap clothes for two days, and I was already complaining. It only made me realize the gravity of America's consumer culture and its' power over the American people, myself included. I admit, I am one of those women who have a closet of clothes but still declare "I have nothing to wear!" Our reliance on the consumption of new products has become so evident, I'm surprised I didn't realize it before. I finally admit that I love buying clothes even though I don't need it. Professor Valverde asked the question who was to blame for this almost repugnant need for consumer products. I still believe that it's the major corporations who gain major profit from playing to human emotions that consumer products are "needed" on a regular basis. But as long as we as consumers keep believing it/not do anything about it, nothing will change.
Exploitation is a recurring theme throughout the articles Diasporic Connections: Case studies of Asian women in business by Irene Hardill and Parvati Raghuram and Forever in Trouble by Chuck Q. Byun (KoreAm Journal) about outsourced products. However, what appalled me most is when reading about the Asian businesswomen and the Korean sweatshop owners. I felt like these business owners should have known best that they were exploiting fellow South Asians or fellow immigrants. But I quickly realized that I had no right to be so critical. I was a consumer of products made at the hands of the underpaid and overworked. Because the business owners, the workers, and I are all a part of the cycle of capitalism, and it's almost impossible to break out of this cycle. However, this brings me back to my earlier opinion, and how it's really the executives of these major corporations who should be the most responsible for the amount of consumerism and exploitation that takes place under their corporations. Because ultimately, this group of people has the most power and money that can easily change the lack of resources for the lowest workers. These executives ultimately have influence but choose not to in order to make more money. Some will argue that's okay, because the entire premise of economics is to gain maximum profit. But where do we draw the line? Is it okay to gain maximum profit at the expense of minimum standard human treatment?

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