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Monday, 15 October 2007

What about the poor bloody workers?

I suspect this line was usd by Peter Sellers as Mr. Kite, the shop steward in "I'm alright Jack".

It certainly used to produce guffaws years ago whenever quoted as a parody of the average trades union moaner.

But when we were in Shanghai last year a friend told me that the poor sods who put together the stuff there are told to “work harder – or you will be looking hard for work”.

Not long ago a big piece in the Evening Standard about fashion week talked about how the stuff you buy for sod-all from places like Primark, Top Shop, Bhs etc. is produced by people who work for as little as 40p a day in conditions that often lead to deaths and injuries.

I was discussing this with the Light of my Life, and said, “Well, maybe these people are happier with that rather than nothing.”

This may be true, but she put me right smartly.

“Look. You can always beat these people down in price. They are usually helpless and frightened. In Cuba we could quite easily have beaten down people from $3 to $2 for a shared taxi ride – but it was wrong.”

She’s right of course. But I don’t think the people who run these big fashion firms give a shit about anything except where their next billion is coming from – and beating the competition.

"There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money" is something Dr. Johnson said which I think was plain wrong.

Consider, for instance, King Leopold of Belgium, who enslaved most of the people in the Congo to satisfy his bestial cupidity – an approach its rulers since independence have followed with such zeal that it remains one of the most destitute places on earth.

Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others.” I think that is true of free enterprise, having seen communism in action.

But why can't all the filthy rich just occasionally ask themselves what is the right thing to do?

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