The real cost

By Megan Goodacre

The real cost

At breakfast, the front page of the paper confronted us with the brutal and horrifying images of the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. The death-count at the time of the paper's printing was 140. An hour later, on the CBC news, it was over 200. And the count is rising.

The images of workers escaping from the rubble on makeshift ropes made from lengths of fabric tell a chilling story. On the radio, the voices of trapped workers call out to us where we sit, in the comfort of our cars and homes.

Even if you reject ipods and sneakers and sweatshop t-shirts, the spider's web of low-cost manufacturing is intricate and insidious. The thirst for affordable goods drives the manufacturing of those goods to countries where buildings, time, materials, people, cost less. Even if you check every label, grow every vegetable, sew your own clothes, you will be touched at some point by the bizarre inequities created by a world of consumers.

This is not a political blog. This is not a controversial environment. But there is no way to turn away from stories like this. Our shared history of controversy, dilemma, guilt, inequity, these are all woven in to the things we buy. We are involved.