Eudaimonia

Let our actions be the guardians of our dreams

31 May 2010

Shopping in China

A few days ago, I finally gave in to the shopping opportunities in China. I went to an all-original technology mall, to a touristy charming area and to the popular market. I need to confess this last one was a lot of fun!

My idea was to behave like anywhere else when I travel: buy small amounts, some interesting things for me and small presents for family. So I made up my mind about what I wanted and asked around the proper prices of things in advance – this is particularly important, because we can generally buy the stuff paying about 15% of its original price.

However, China is not like everywhere else. I couldn’t help but thinking how much inappropriate labor I was taking home – child labor, illegal long journeys, bad safety conditions. Besides, some of the products on the popular market seemed too good not to be original – was employee stealing on the night shift part of the explanation?

Should I not buy anything, then? I figured that is not the best solutions. In the end of the day, a good part of anything I buy in Brazil is also manufactured in China. The world is too interconnected for simplistic solutions.

I tend to believe employees wouldn’t sneak products out if they had good enough salaries and that parents wouldn’t send their children to work if they could afford sending them to school instead.

So it seems to me we need moral leadership to go forward: from business owners to elevate the quality of the jobs; from government officials to enforce the laws; from consumers to demand more transparency; and from common people to always remind the others about what’s right and what’s wrong.

How can we do that as a global society? Perhaps time will tell us. Some have already started!

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