Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rubber Hits the Road

Hi Folks

My mum sent me an email which contained a link that ended up side-tracking me for quite a while.

I own a small Catholic book business. It's really small. I am owner, employee, CEO, cook and bottle-washer.

A couple of years ago, I started carrying some giftware along with the Catholic books. More recently, I began carrying hand-crafted rosaries, made by my mum.

Somewhere, I remember her commenting that people were often taken aback by the prices of hand-crafted goods. She said that she was in competition with cheap goods coming from China.

I didn't think much of it at the time, as I only carried rosaries made by her. But a few months back, I got a call from a local rosary and crucifix maker. He, too commented about cheap goods from China.

Well, the email my mother sent the other day had a link to some articles detailing just how some of the cheap (and not so cheap) Chinese goods are made. Now, it has my attention.

It seems to me to be ironic that devout people are getting their religious items from places where workers are being paid almost nothing. One factory is even in violation of China's own regulations, which are not what most people would call "employee friendly". What does it do to evangelization to have a worker, who is working his 19th hour that day, looking at the image of Jesus which he has just attached to a cross? I'm not sure I'd want to know any more about His Church when it would seem the members are exploiting me. Here is the link:

The Catholic Church has teachings on these matters, and has had for a long time! Leo XIII got the ball started with Rerum Novarum over 100 years ago. If you read Scripture, you can see that it does not support exploitive practices. It condemns them!

As a very small Catholic business, it should not be too hard to avoid Chinese made goods. I will certainly make that effort. I already have noticed that one of my suppliers labels where his goods least when those countries are European or American! Am I to assume that if items are not so labelled that they are Chinese? I guess I'll need to ask him.

Another of my suppliers acknowledges that some of their goods come from China. I'll be watching!

Of course this leads to a dilemma. By boycotting Chinese goods, one is actually attempting to remove what little sustenance sweatshop employees get. Is there a way to influence their conditions without totally removing the support of our retailers? I do not know.

The Chinese do not seem to listen to the West all that well. I guess we just do what we can and pray for insight!

God Bless