I thought it was really interesting how the author made a point that technological progress and globalization of manufacturing has limited the imagination. Companies like Nike have actually formed nations into either being the producer or the consumer. The third world countries always fulfilling the role of the producer of a good for dirt cheap, as developed nations always fulfill the role of the consumer.
So as the market for producing commodities gets more and more competitive, the wages of the laborers in third world countries get lower and lower. The "problem is the manner in which sub-contracting has been allowed to run out of control" as more and more people are forced to work more hours for less pay. Whoever does the labor for cheaper, gets the job. Simultaneously, the prices of commodities lower, as companies such as Nike and Reebok begin to compete with each other for the consumer's bid. Thus, the amount of goods an individual consumes who lives in the developed nation gets significantly greater.
We begin to see that many people in countries like the U.S, get into a horrible habit of over consuming and taking for granted the amount of effort that goes into making something like a pair of new Nike sneakers.
So in a sense the globalization of manufacturing goods has confined nations into playing a specific role in all this. Poor nations stay poor and become prey to subcontractors. The wealthier, developed nations stop producing anything altogether as they solely rely on these poor nations to produce cheaply for them.
This is a horrible, in my opinion because then we see that the average individual in nations like the US get lazier and more dependent on consuming. The people who produce these products for the consumer are already poor enough, but have to compete for less and less money. These people only learn to become more efficient as they are worked to death and stripped of anything promising. "Hanging in there" is something these people have to live by, even though there is no real end to this corrupt treatment of sweatshop laborers.
I don't know... I can see how much it would suck to be the 3rd world worker, being worked to death. But at the same time, I think while the 3rd world worker has no tangible goods, he or she actually has respect from others. I think when someone becomes totally dependent on consuming, they transform back into a child from an adult. Being dependent on a system and losing skill sets to survive, you become in my opinion just pathetic.
I think its so important to not lose sight of our own dignity.
When I think of a middle class family in the midwest, south or east, I imagine them to be not nearly as materialistic and dependent on consuming as your average person in the Bay Area, or Los Angeles. I think average or middle/low class families have this sort of dignity and self independence where they don't have to completely rely on consuming goods.
This sounds stupid, but I think everyone should experience getting their hands dirty and live without going to the mall for a year or so and see how they change as a person.
Article: Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global Phenomenon of the Brand, Ian Skoggard