Remember the lettuce boycott? Or was it grapes? Or both? I think it was both. In the 60s or 70s. Cesar Chavez. Anyway, there was a boycott because the people who picked the lettuce and grapes were treated unfairly. OK, I can see that. Field workers should be paid a fair hourly wage. Iceberg lettuce is nutritionally empty and doesn't taste like anything anyway. And grapes I can take or leave. I don't particularly need to find an alternative for either.
These days it's gotten harder to step so carefully around the boycotts, or simply to stick with "green" or sustainable foods, clothing, shoes, tires, etc.
There was some recent hubbub about the chocolate industry in Africa using, if not actual slave labor, then certainly wage slaves or child labor. (If so, I am NOT saying this is a good idea.) This was immediately followed by calls to boycott chocolate companies that didn't use "fair trade" practices with their growers. OK. Fine. Except that pretty much means that my very blue collar candy choices are out. Say I go along, fine.
Then there's clothes. The clothes I can afford are almost always manufactured in Bangladesh or India, sometimes Guatemala or China. I'm fairly certain wage slavery, child labor AND slave labor are involved in at least one of those production lines. But a men's shirt made in the USA costs no less than $35. Multiply by at least 7 and I don't have that kind of money. So, I am now complicit in slavery. Awesome.
Now how about the rubber in my car tires? How was that harvested? And in what warlord-run province of what bankrupt and corrupt nation were those workers underpaid? Because I don't know how my car is going to manage without tires. And I've not heard of "fair trade rubber."
In America, nearly EVERYTHING we buy is predicated on someone, somewhere working for sub-minimum wages under unsafe and humiliating conditions. Even our own workers, undocumented, paid off the books, are making the goods we buy under such conditions.
I do understand that the best way to keep corporations honest is to kick them in the money sacks. And I do see that a boycott can be effective in that way. I'm just not sure I can boycott everything made by every company with slightly shady business practices. Because that's nearly all of them. Of course, there are alternatives, like CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Tried that. Bought local bacon, local milk, local veggies. And supplemented with fair-trade goods from Whole Foods. After a month of spotless-conscience living, we were quite broke. Back to Giant and then to Bottom Dollar.
The of course there's the grow-your-own approach. I have several close friends for whom this lifestyle choice fits like a hand in a gardening glove. Some make their own honey, others farm their own veggies. But anyone who knows me knows that a cactus would die in my care. I can only speculate on the fate of any herbs, let alone corn or tomatoes. Cheetos, to me, are a vegetable. But I haven't figured out how to grow those yet.
Bottom line: a spotless Liberal conscience is expensive. And for me, prohibitively so. So forgive me my slave-made Bangldeshi shoes, if you will. As you did my fume-belching 1972 Ford Maverick, built to run on leaded gas.