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How Badly Do We Want Our Cheap Stuff, No Matter How It's Made and At What Cost?

by Abby Zimet

Officials now believe the fire at the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh that killed at least 124 workers, making it the most deadly fire in an industry with an already deadly history, was deliberately set. Even as Walmart, the second largest buyer of goods from Bangladesh, reluctantly acknowledged its connection to the sweatshop, the International Labor Rights Forum cited a dozen other brands made there and called for an investigation and fair compensation; angry protesters marched for safer working conditions; company executives labelled themselves "the victims" because they paid the families of the dead $1,230 each, or $130,000, out of their yearly sales of $36 million; and The Rude Pundit rudely wondered at what point we carry blame for insisting on cheap stuff made by young women working in non-union, slave-like conditions in deathtraps for 21 cents an hour.