The low-cost illusion

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The low-cost economy constitutes an ecological, economic and humanitarian anomaly and sometimes a crime. The economic and dogmatic rhetoric for the loss of competitiveness in the event of a paradigm shift is close to the argumentation of the slave trade and slavery proponents to protect the production of sugar, cotton and dozens of other consumer products, two centuries ago. 

Entire populations are pauperized while others are subjected to work conditions bordering on slavery. When a garment worker paid a few tens or even a hundred euros assembles several hundred or thousand items of clothing, the cost ranges from a euro for a t-shirt to a few euros for other items of clothing, or a little more, depending on the brand’s market position.

But what is the real cost of each article manufactured at a low price, if, depending on the industry, we also take into account the over-exploitation of resources, including groundwater tables disappearing while entire populations die from drought, and lack of respect for safety norms that then requires river-cleanup, reforestation, reintroducing endangered species and medical care for sick workers? 

Regrettably, every year, hundreds of thousands of people die prematurely due to toxic emissions from shipping by sea, and the inherent global health-care cost is between $350 and 400 billion. 

Francis JOURNOT -  "International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage" 

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