Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

Cheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell

Cheap has a goal of demonstrating the real cost of our quest for buying the cheapest possible items, from lowly-paid store clerks (an old tradition that was not invented by the evil Wal-Mart but dates back to Woolworth’s in the 19th century) to shoddy quality and a culture of waste, whether it’s driving many miles to an outlet store where prices are artificially manipulated or simply buying disposable goods rather than investing in well-crafted pieces that would also sustain communities of craftsmen.

Interesting, but so one-sided. It’s easy to show how Wal-Mart or IKEA are evil, but how about changing the labor laws that allow Wal-Mart to¬† pay workers small wages with no benefits? And what about the happy college students and others who would do without furniture if they had to buy it at craftsman rates? Perhaps the problem is with us rather than the evil corporations? Maybe we need to think about our thirst for “stuff ” — and become better shoppers.

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