Santa’s Real Workshop

Christmas decorations being made at a factory in Yiwu city, Zhejiang province, China - 15 Dec 2014

This picture is, in my opinion, an excellent example of the stain industrialization can leave on society. The picture is from my first link, which details where over 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations come from.  When I first read this article last year I was caught off guard by the brutal reality of it. There I was enjoying the holiday season of lights and decorations, as I am accustomed to in my everyday experience, when the veil was pulled away from me, and I got to glimpse into where all of these “things” came from. After reading about the conditions  some workers have to endure and the hours they put in, all for what seems to me are such trivial products, I became much less enamored with the sparkle the holidays had to offer. After my first gut reaction of revulsion and self loathing for partaking in what seemed to be now such a dirty act, I got to thinking bout free-market economics and how this was just a natural progression of supply and demand. After all, If these Chinese workers didn’t make this stuff, surely somebody else would jump at the chance to earn extra money by supplying us with our landfill-destined goods. It was then that a second wave of disgust for our society’s over-consumption kicked in. I  went  all anti-commercialism for a while but the reality of my situation, having a wife and children and living in one of the most privileged countries in the world, eventually set in and I went back to my usual holiday routine of enjoying the crap out of them. Now, as we put the industrialization of the world into a historical spotlight, I see that it is an inevitability of our global civilizational system that this should happen. The way economies grow and shift will always lead to commerce between peoples, and this commerce will tend to flow as the money flows. In America we happen to have a good amount of expendable income and it just so happens that China has set themselves up to become a powerhouse in mass produced goods. From here it’s only logical that we should make economic arrangements that will benefit both countries. My second link is a doozy, but you really only need to read the first few pages to get the gist of it. Basically it says that trade is coupled with economic growth and it happens to work out great if there is an already industrialized or “post-industrial” country that partners with a country that is wanting to become industrialized. The relationship between these countries benefits both economically and, in loose terms, is considered a “win-win”. Now I may be a bit too humanist, but I don’t see much winning in the faces of the workers in my first article, nor do I see the winning in the polluted air/water/soil that is considered a “byproduct” of industrialization. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think it’s about time we re-think exactly what the hell we’re doing here.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/dec/19/santas-real-workshop-the-town-in-china-that-makes-the-worlds-christmas-decorations

http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/apts/papers2011/park.pdf

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