Over 120 workers died in a factory fire in Bangladesh while working over time to meet the demand for cheap goods on Black Friday. The building did not have proper fire escapes. Some died by jumping from the upper floors of the building.
See, worker safety measures like proper fire escapes would have cost more. The sourcing agency (Li & Fung) that buys goods for Wal-Mart already found the cheapest labor in the world, so they couldn’t threaten the Bangladeshi workers by saying they would move the factory to another country. They would have had to pass the cost on to Wal-Mart and then Wal-Mart would have no choice but to pass the cost on to us consumers.
This is late-stage global capitalism. Despite the fact that nobody would knowingly demand cheaper clothes if they knew people would die making them, capitalism finds a way. Endless decentralization, sub-contracting, and outsourcing mean that nobody has any clue who is making what and where and under what conditions. Supposedly this makes things more efficient… but then companies like Apple and Wal-Mart end up spending more money anyway, sending inspectors all over the world so they can claim innocence whenever they get bad publicity like this.
Here are some rational self-interested actors making informed decisions
Here is how Wal-Mart meets their insatiable demand for ever-cheaper sweat pants