Tuesday, December 18, 2012


These are random bits of facts, none of which are exact, and many of which are remembered, so if you want to bitch about this, don't pick on that. . .

Before his fall from grace, Tiger Woods made roughly the same amount of money endorsing some piece of clothing or sneaker or something as all the people who worked in the sweatshops making that product did in one year of their labor.

I can buy an 11" x 72" hand hemmed silk scarf for less than five dollars. That's retail. So, I'm buying it from a company that probably paid half that, say $2.50 who bought it from a wholesaler for half that, $1.25. How much do you think the person who hemmed that scarf was paid?

I might hand dye and print and paint that scarf and sell it for anywhere from twenty to a bit less than fifty bucks. I might spend the day working on that scarf. Some people say they're too expensive.

Years ago, a museum in America had a show of uniquely American quilts. They sold a limited edition of these "uniquely American quilts" to a select bunch of folks who paid a good price for them. Where were those quilts made? China. The museum said that they could not have been able to sell a quilt anyone would buy if they used American workers. I'm sure that was (mostly) true.

A person who knits for a living gets paid by the yard. The going rate in Maine right now is ten cents a yard. Think about that next time you gasp at the price of a hand made sweater. Three hundred dollars for a sweater that was hand knit? The knitter got about a hundred bucks. This doesn't even include the price of the raising of the fiber animals or the spinning of the wool. . .

I have at least a dozen sweaters. I buy all of my clothes at the Goodwill, but they originally came from sweatshops. Some of my sweaters were hand made, by me, but all of those were made of wool that comes from. . .where? I didn't know when I made them. I do know where all my wool comes from now, but that's after a whole helluva lot of research.

I, by the way, make less than minimum wage designing and knitting sweaters and I'm glad to have the work.

I've been sure that people in third world countries are glad to have whatever work they have.

But. . .

I just want to point out that "we" fought for the abolition of sweatshops in America. Yet, we rely on the cheap labor of people in other countries. We've (mostly) become so poor ourselves that we must.

For those of you that can afford to buy true local products, I'd like you to think about exactly how local they are. Are all the raw materials in your local products actually local?

Local spinning mills generally do not use wool from animals that are raised in the United States. It's simply too costly to do so. But the consumer does not know that.

This post started out as being a rant about the concept of meritocracy, so let me end with a bit about that. In this country, we generally believe that those who work hard are rewarded. Do you think a person who works in a sweatshop works less hard than a person who works on Wall Street or a person who makes things by hand is worth less than people who do not? Do you think an elementary school teacher is worth less than a politician? That's a question that gets asked a lot but no one ever actually answers it!

Do you think a person who gets piece work wages is not working hard? I've heard people justify the insanely low wages of knitting and sewing from home that (mostly) women in America get by saying, "But they'd knit or sew for fun anyway" or "Well, they're doing that while they're watching TV and/or raising kids." So, if you're enjoying your work and/or doing other work while you are working, you should be paid less?

Does that really make sense?

With this kind of logic, a man who throws a ball shouldn't get paid a penny.

The logic of capitalism is simply this: profit. That's all.

Image note: Just 'cuz I like the image. It does make me think, however, about how women do a lot of things for charity, or for their families, or for "hobbies," and when men do the same things they are taken a lot more seriously. Yes, this is still true, in 2012, in the 21st century. More on that another time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hello again

In spite of the fact that I haven't blogged for approximately a year, and the fact that no one was leaving comments, I'm returning to blogging. I suppose now I'll be simply screaming into the wind, but I need to scream somewhere in the virtual world. If I don't start expressing myself, I might start screaming into the wind here in the town I live in (aka The Real World), and that could lead to an arrest. Not a good idea.

Many topics continue to irk me, simply interest me, and/or obsess me. Here's a preview:

1. Believe it or not, the lack of decently fitting bras continues to be at the top of the list. Why on earth does one have to spend over sixty dollars for a decent bra? Why is my size so darned hard to find?! I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, believe it or not. I also have a fantasy of starting a bra company. Like other good ideas I've had in this lifetime, I won't do a thing about it.

2. Americans still think hitting children is a good idea. I've seen this odd sentiment on Facebook in the last week or so: "I'm afraid of a world run by adults who weren't spanked as children." Really? The fact that the world is run by people who were abused as children scares me more.

3. I've come to the conclusion that any rules-based ideology or theology is a truly lousy idea. This is a complex subject. I can't sum it up, even here, in a few lines of near wit.

4. The weather is horrible. The prospects for jobs, housing, making ends meet (etc.) for those of us who aren't wealthy are Not Good. Yet, people are still acting like nothing is wrong. Huh?

5. Last but not least, I continue to marvel over how romantic and optimistic I can be in spite of all sorts of terrible things. This might be an answer to the #4 question, but since I also have some of the most seriously negative world and personal views, I suspect something else is at play.*

Image note: Cool bottle, Lady Gaga. Sad to note (but no surprise) that your perfume is yet another pallid celebrity scent. Wouldn't it have been edgy if she had teamed up with Lutens or something? I mean, SL has a gold plated toilet, so he gets the over-the-top thang. Read more here.

*Believe me, there are way more than 5 things that I'd like to rant write about after one year. . .this is but the tip of the iceberg.