The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 26, 2013

Our View: Cheap clothing has a hidden cost


Free Press Staff Writer

Thumbs down

To the lack of concern for human safety that allowed a building collapse in Bangladesh.

And to the corporations — and consumers — who don’t do enough to force changes.

The garment factory building that collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh was in such poor condition local officials had ordered it vacated — an order that was ignored.

When it collapsed this week, at least 275 people were killed and more than 2,000 were rescued. It is the worst-ever disaster in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry that supplies global retailers.

The country has a notorious reputation for very low pay, no concern for workers, including children, and terrible safety records.

Of course, the industry is driven by companies’ and consumers’ thirst for the lowest possible cost in clothing.

There have been some strides, driven by consumers and some companies, to make improvements in the production of other products, such as fair trade coffee. Such efforts need to be ramped up in the clothing sector, where lives are being wasted.

No going back to winter

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To the arrival of spring.

Yes, it’s here. Finally. No matter what. We had real spring temperatures Friday and this weekend will bring 70s. Even if it cools off a bit next week — even if it snows once or twice more — we know that spring with its green grass, flower shoots, flurry of bird activity and ice-out on area lakes means spring is here to stay. The agonizingly long, extended winter of 2012-13 is over. Good riddance.

All of a sudden people not seen for months are biking, running and walking dogs in the neighborhood. Get ready for a mad rush on charcoal and propane, seeds, and night after night of makeup ball games and track and golf meets.

The hustle and bustle of reborn life and activity are welcome. And a huge relief as we stuff the shovels into the back of the garage.

Random acts of kindness built goodwill

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To the students of the Fitzgerald Middle School and the school’s Builders Club for their recent efforts to promote kindness and good deeds.

The school took on a project to count the number of good deeds or random acts of kindness the students completed. They began keeping track of those acts of kindness and representing each one with a link in a paper chain.

In a couple of weeks, there were about 1,000 links. The project, organizers say, got people motivated to perform acts of kindness to build up the chain.

The acts of kindness ranged from typical to heartwarming. Some cuddled with a younger sibling when they were crying. Others showed good sportsmanship in helping a player on another basketball team. Teachers also got involved.

The exercise was a solid effort a promoting modeling behavior and focusing on the positive.

George Jones left his mark on country music

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To the musical influence of George Jones, the hard-living country western singer who influenced generations of imitators. He died Friday.

With more than 60 years of singing under his belt, he recorded 72 hits starting with his first hit, “Why Baby Why” and was best known for his heart tugging songs like “She Thinks I Still Care” and the 1980 Grammy winner “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

He was ranked by other musicians in the same level as Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and received a National Medal of Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor. He also received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2012.

He was an extremely popular performer who stood fast to traditional music. He told the Washington Post, “I’ve always been country and I always will be country.” He was 81 years old.