Friday, January 29, 2010

SA2010 Dolls Being Made in Chinese Sweatshop

Not exactly the feel-good story of the day. It seems as if the "Zakumi" dolls being churned out for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa are made in a sweatshop outside Shanghai.

But for anyone who has paid any attention to the exploitative practices of big bosses in China -- who are beginning to make capitalist oppressors look like amateurs -- we can't really call it a surprise.

According to what appears to be a major investigation by an English newspaper not normally known for quality journalism ... the people who are making the official mascots of South Africa 2010 labor and live in wretched conditions and net 23 Rand a day -- which converts to $3.

But the dolls will be sold ... for $48. Each.

The Johannesburg Times picked up the story from the News of the World and got some outraged remarks from South Africa's labor union.

What do we take from this?

Mostly cynical stuff.

Such as ...

Never be surprised when a poor nation is particularly bad about taking advantage of its workers. You would think there would be some collective sense of "we all were poor, a couple of years ago" ... but the new rich, connected to the government or to the Party or both ... seem to have no qualms about taking advantage of their countrymen.

Never be surprised by the grim details of the production of any knick-knacks you buy around a sports event. Think "poor country, wretched conditions, negligible pay" and remember that some huge fraction of the purchase price is going to middle men and licensees. (Which reminds me; all those bobbleheads U.S. ball teams give away? Nobody got rich from making those.)

There is some irony, as several of the people who commented on the Times story noted, that a country with an often-exploitative economy (see: miners) decided to go to China for its dirt-cheap labor. Why not stay local for dirt-cheap?

Anyway, if you go to South Africa 2010 ... or if you just want one of the "official" Zakumi dolls ... the ones that light up ... pause a moment to recall the poor creatures back in the Workers Paradise who slapped those things together.
Read more!