The High Cost of Cheap Clothes

Over 300 people have died in the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. There are 50 people buried under the rubble. The factory was built on a swampland.

This raises, once again, really tough questions for us–for which there are no simple answers.

Anna McMullen has a helpful, balanced, reasonable article, called “Who Really Pays for Our Cheap Clothes?” in which she suggests the responsibility is not ultimately or primarily the consumer’s. The consumer “shops” for a reasonable deal. Furthermore, to refuse to buy clothing produced in sub-par conditions may also accomplish–if anything at all–nothing more than put poor garment workers out of work. It’s a complex deal. Globalization, economics, labor, massive disparity, questions of proper accountability–there are more questions here than answers. But there are some solutions that corporations can participate in, but progress requires a critical mass–and that the voices of the voiceless be heard.

About Kyle Roberts

(PhD) is Schilling Professor of Public Theology and Church and Economic Life at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Roberts has published Emerging Prophet: Kierkegaard and the Postmodern People of God (Cascade, 2013) and is currently co-authoring a theological commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans) and A Complicated Pregnancy: Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin? (Fortress Press, Theology for the People)