In the developed world over the last fifty years, we have experienced an astonishing leap forward in terms of disposable income and general material comfort. Increasingly the developing world has played provider to the apex consumers of the West and the divide between the two has never been greater. With the rise of seemingly unbridled global capitalism the ethical water of our lives has become decidedly muddied.
The baby boomers of the post-war West enjoyed the most seismic shift in living standards on record but it was largely at the expense of underregulated foreign markets. Pleading ignorance to the wider context of our relative wealth may have been possible a generation ago but not now. We know too much. Whilst the sheer weight of information that is available to us is intimidating and sometimes muddled, it cannot be ignored. If we are to reap the benefits of globalisation then we must accept the responsibilities that come with it and this is much less painful than it sounds.
As consumers, we wield unimaginable power, the power to make and break the institutions that dominate our world. Big businesses have influence comparable to governments and how they behave is a reflection on us, they are acting on our behalf! They live and die on the contents of our pockets, what we spend our money on is, therefore, a political expression. Money is the world’s most potent agent of change, all we need to do is to make informed decisions as to which interests to feed and which to starve.
We must expect better if money talks then make it shout. If that pair of trainers seems criminally cheap then it probably is.