How Moral Can You Afford To Be?
Before I begin this article I’d just like to point out that I’m not attempting to give a moral lecture, I’m simply asking a question. In the tough economic times we’re currently enduring, How Moral Can You Afford To Be?
Whether it’s down to inflation, benefit cuts or just an overdue pay rise, many of us are now having to watch what we spend more than ever before.
My wife and I recently hit the shops hoping to find some cheap bargains to kit out our young family with clothes for the winter. The trip went well and we found some amazingly cheap clothes for both ourselves and the kids. When I got home though I thought more deeply about the cost of some of the items we’d bought and couldn’t help but wonder what the moral cost of my shopping trip might be?
How can they make clothes so cheap?
I don’t want to start naming individual retailers but some of the stores which we visited had garments that cost only a few pounds each. How on earth can retailers produce a garment of clothing for just a few pounds? I know we have production lines and computers that simplify the process, but when you produce items of clothing human labour must still be a huge factor in the production process. Perhaps I’m wrong but surely someone has to sit down and sew the seams on the garments? Surely someone has to package the clothes up and deliver them?
Cheap labour must play a huge role in the production of cheap clothing!
With the press coverage this issue has received in recent years, most of us have likely made our minds up about Free Range foods. It’s well documented that cheap eggs, meat, milk and more all seem to come with some kind of moral consequence to the animal or even the farmer. Whether it’s hens packed together in battery cages unable to move, fish farmed in confined areas living a pointless existence or farmers being paid less for milk than it costs them to produce it, in most cases it’s true to say that cheap fresh food comes at a moral cost.
Then we have the mass produced, fatty, genetically modified foods sold freely in supermarkets. We all know we should only buy sausages that have a meat content of at least 70% (This is one rule that I stick to) and avoid Turkey Twizzlers! The problem is that when you try to switch all your foods to organically grown, free range products which are free from any kind of dodgy fats or additives, your weekly shopping bill increases dramatically.
Sometimes The Lines Are Blurred
To Confuse matters even further I often hear news stories accusing the more expensive brands and retailers of being involved in the same kind of morally questionable practices that the cheaper retailers are accused of. Again I don’t want to name any names but I’m sure you can think of a few examples.
If the clothes we buy and the foods we eat are all produced in the same unethical manner by the majority of retailers, should we actually feel any guilt for buying cheaper brands?
How moral can you afford to be?
So I’m back to my original question, How moral can you afford to be?
We’d all love to make the correct moral choice every time when it comes to the things we buy, but is that realistic in the world we live in. I’m not one for ignoring moral responsibility but I’m also a realist. Can the majority of people really afford to stick to their moral convictions during the tough economic times we face?