Sunday, October 20, 2019
A T-shirt Epic Essay Example for Free
A T-shirt Epic Essay ? Pietra RivoliÃ¢â¬â¢s delightful narrative, The Travels of A T-Shirt in the Global Economy , goes about a surprising journey around the global village to discover an entangled web of economic and political forces that move this piece of clothing around. The book is split into four parts of a t-shirtÃ¢â¬â¢s life. Ã Part one of the book deals with the cotton industry. Ã RivoliÃ¢â¬â¢s own surprise at learning that the cotton used for her shirt comes from Texas opens up this chapter on the continuing dominance of the American cotton industry. Ã The book then continues to explain the reasons for theseÃ¢â¬âaside from government subsidies, the larger part of AmericaÃ¢â¬â¢s continuing competitive advantage is its Ã¢â¬Å"virtuous cycleÃ¢â¬ of governance. Ã Ã¢â¬Å"In the United States, the farms work, the market works, the government works, the science works, and the universities work.Ã¢â¬ (Rivoli 7). The second part of the book is about the textile industryÃ¢â¬â¢s so called Ã¢â¬Å"race to the bottomÃ¢â¬ . Ã Industrialization is ushered in by the textile industry, and Rivoli gives examples from 19th century England to the Asian economic powerhouses Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong in the 20th century. Ã The third part is about the complexity of getting a textile import into the United States, with all the confusing legislation brought about by decades of political control held by textile manufacturers in America. Ã In the final part of the book, Rivoli examines the global market for used t-shirts, which she concedes is the final place where markets actually determine its origin and destination. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The author is not making an argument for either protectionism or free trade. Ã Obviously, as a trained economist, Rivoli favors free trade, as do all her colleagues in an almost unanimous voice. Ã However, the book does not argue for either side, and instead illustrates that both sides of this policy divide unwittingly spur economic development. Free trade policies encourage more Ã¢â¬Å"races to the bottomÃ¢â¬ as production shifts to low cost countries; however protectionist policies also contribute to another type of race.Ã In the battle for quota imports to the United States, for example, investment has flowed into areas where there is less restriction on trade with the worldÃ¢â¬â¢s largest consumer of textiles and apparel. Ã In the modern-day case with China, the relatively low quota limits that China has for its exports to the US before the expiration of the Multifiber Agreement (MFA) (Rivoli 121) has encouraged investments in other developing countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Sub-Saharan Africa. Ã As the book notes, the exclusion of one creates opportunities for another, and the humble textile industry is the first step towards industrialization for many developing nations. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã As Rivoli further notes, when the MFA was scheduled to be taken down, a lot of other developing countries were scared of China eating everyoneÃ¢â¬â¢s share of the textile pie. Ã It represents one of the few actually plausible pro-protectionist arguments in the book, which are not really argued for but just explained. The role of politics in international trade ItÃ¢â¬â¢s a given fact that politicians will listen more often that not to their constituents first instead of to common sense. Ã Unfortunate as it may be, politics more often than not counter the market forces that power the global race to the bottom. Ã Rivoli puts it as Ã¢â¬Å"While the market forces powering the race to the bottom are strong, the political forces pushing back against the markets are strong as well, particularly in the United States.Ã¢â¬ (Rivoli 115) This clash between the two has made importation of textiles a very complicated business in the United States, and changes the face of international trade with it. Ã If an item cannot be imported from China, it is imported from Mexico instead, giving an artificial advantage to some countries that will not be there if market forces were solely in control. Ã The decisions that politicians like congressmen and senators in Washington make often influence the very futures of some countries in the world. Rivoli characterizes American industries that are aging as trying to escape market forces by clinging on to their political supports. Ã Instead of a paradise of no intervention and perfect competition, what happens is that more often politics exert a big unpredictable force that tilts the equation over completely. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Another example was 18th century England, where to no avail Parliament tried to pass acts that would protect their domestic wool producers. Ã Instead of having the intended consequences (i.e. eliminating imported cotton), it just pushed international trade to adapt to the circumstances. The Ã¢â¬Å"race to the bottomÃ¢â¬ phrase used so much in the book is one of the most intriguing ideas of Rivoli. Basically it says that the textile industry, like all industries is governed by market forces. Ã On the supply side, producers seek more and more productivity for lower costsÃ¢â¬âa reaction that sparked the original Industrial Revolution. Ã However, as wages go up along with production costs, producers are keen on reducing costs and preserving low prices with huge markets. Ã These trends doom an industrial countryÃ¢â¬â¢s textile production after it becomes less competitive than another aspiring country who is not the leader in the Ã¢â¬Å"bottomÃ¢â¬ of production costs. The fire of the Industrial Revolution spread to the United States, and then in the last century to Asia, where during the past twenty or so years China has held the spot as top in this ubiquitous Ã¢â¬Å"race to the bottomÃ¢â¬ . The other side of the argumentÃ¢â¬âthose activists who bring about higher minimum wages and better labor standards, hasten the fall of a country from the Ã¢â¬Å"race to the bottomÃ¢â¬ , but at the same time also hasten industrialization and the development of other more value-added industries. Ã It also makes another country leader of the race to the bottom, ready to start the cycle all over again. This Ã¢â¬Å"history repeats itselfÃ¢â¬ phenomenonÃ¢â¬âfrom Britain to Taiwan leaves the reader enthusiastic of the future, and of how economics will eventually make all the people of the world feel a little bit better. Rivoli, Pietra. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy . New Jersey :Wiley, 2005. A T-shirt Epic. (2017, Mar 03).
Posted by Cody Pearson at 12:14 AM