Ethical responsibility must balance economic perspective

Filed under: Opinion |

Dear Editor:

This reply is in regard to Mike Boyd’s op-ed piece entitled “Imbalance, unfairness and free trade” from the May 13 issue of The Colorado Springs Business Journal.

While the argument that “companies that can find a way to provide their goods or services at a price point that consumers will accept” is certainly valid, from an economic perspective, the real question should be, how are these companies able to purchase these goods for such very, very low prices?

The answer is with cheap labor. While the article names Japan and Mexico as sources of imported goods, it makes no mention of countries like China, Honduras, Haiti and Indonesia, where workers’ rights barely exist, if at all.

To buy a product based simply on the price may be economically sound, but ethically challenged. If you were told that the person who made the shirt you are wearing was paid $3 per day and had no effective sanitation in their village, would you still buy it?

If you were told that one in 100 workers at the factory where your shoes were made would die in a production accident this year, would you still buy those shoes? These are hypothetical situations, but valid considerations when making purchases.

Where is the line between economic sense and ethical responsibility? To base a purchase simply on price, while excluding quality, environmental, social and ethical concerns, is both short-sighted and selfish.

Keith Varney

Colorado Springs