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Bangladesh factory scandal

The Bangladesh factory scandal has been followed by a round of breast-beating, as if firms that sell cheap clothing, or their customers, were to blame and could do something about the situation, even if it was just to apply political pressure.

The wages of labour are in all circumstances the least that people will accept. If there are no other opportunities for earning a livelihood, then people will accept penurious wages. If the employer is paid more for the produce, the extra will most certainly be retained by the employer as profits. In due course, the higher profits will be retained by the landlord in the form of higher rents, so the benefits do not even go to the employer. That is the Law of Rent when all land is enclosed and its rent privately appropriated.

The situations in Bangladesh is only possible when land ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few families, who, as recipients of rent, become enormously wealthy. Until that is changed the majority of the population will live in abject poverty. The cheap clothing retailers are not going to start campaigning for land reform, as that would quickly draw attention to the existence of much the same situation on home territory. The breast-beaters do little to help either. They rarely take a step back to assess the situation as a whole; if they did, they would, for a start, notice that poor working conditions in clothing factories is only part of a much bigger problem which exists throughout the supply chain, from what are virtually slave-labour farms in cotton-growing countries such as Uzbekistan, where child labour is used and workers are continually exposed to dangerous chemicals, to poor living conditions for those who crew the ships that bring the goods across the world.