Have you ever thought of the impending employment crisis in the Western world? What are the people going to work with? How are the people to support themselves in the future – especially the working class? I remember thinking about this in Ikea once, placing a set of cutlery in my shopping cart. I had little money, no cutlery whatsoever and needed to have a few forks and spoons. The cutlery set in my shopping cart included twenty-eight pieces; knives, forks, small and large spoons. All for the price of a cup of coffee. Made in China, of course.
Now hanba is no financial expert, but it is hard to make it all add up. Say the poor classes, who do not have a lot of income, pay this very nominal fee for their cutlery. I mean, a whole cutlery set for the price of a cup of coffee! It does not add up! The biggest part of the payment goes to Ikea, while a portion goes to the supplier company in China. Buying the cutlery helps pay a white collar salary in the West (Ikea management), as well as some blue collar salaries in China. (Of course, Ikea has staff in the stores in the West as well, but their number is proportionately low.) The biggest question is, can the working class in the West exist if it supports enterprises who outsource work to poorer countries? Is not the western worker the loser in this cheap cutlery exchange? If you wish to pay as little as this for your cutlery, you need to accept that your payment it is not sufficient to pay a western worker’s salary.
Hanba put back the cutlery to the shelf and went to a second hand store instead. She got a set of used cutlery for the price of four coffee cups. The payment, however, went to a local entrepreneur, with whom hanba exchanges a few words every once in a while. Whenever hanba tells this story to her economist friends they say something about not being overly protectionistic and that everybody benefits from a global growth. Also, whenever hanba tells this story to her friends involved in the labour union, they say she should not have given her money to an entrepreneur, since now nobody from the working class gets paid, neither in the West nor in China. Hanba, being a regular everyday normal guy with cutlery needs, discards both the arguments and keeps on eating using her new vintage forks.
(Ps. cutlery is hardly furniture. Nevertheless, for the sake of continuity, this blog post has been placed under the heading second hand furniture.)