Not that we should be all that terribly surprised by the urban gliteratti’s disgust at the pleasures of the proles but still, this is astonishing. They’re talking about how clothes are cheap these days. This being one of the great achievements of capitalist free marketry of course. We know when Queen Elizabeth I got a pair of stockings – it was something remarked upon even for a Queen. It was those Satanic Mills which led to the girl working in one also having a pair. This has now carried on to the £1 t-shirt and the £2.50 dress. Along the way we gained that huge human enrichment of the switch from woollen to cotton underwear and even the possibility of a change of them.
We can of course just marvel at the stupidity of this:
In Britain, a parliamentary environmental audit committee inquiry into the social and environmental impact has been probing the treatment of workers in British factories: “You’ve got fabric, heating and lighting, council tax, business rates and wages … How can you buy a dress for £2.50 that’s made in Leicester when the minimum wage is £7.83?” the committee’s chair, the Labour MP Mary Creagh, asked this week.
Well, lessee, perhaps logic or even knowledge might aid here? A box of matches costs less than £1 and the British minimum wage is £7.83. We’ll have to assume that there’s less than an hour of British labour used to make a box of matches. Note that this is even more true if you’re a Marxist, the value of something is the value of labour than has gone into its creation.
An Aston Martin costs more than £7.83 and the British minimum wage is still £7.83. We’d strongly suspect at least that an Aston Martin uses more than one hour of British labour in its construction therefore.
So, the £2.50 dress? Given that the minimum wage is still that excessive £7.83 our conclusion will be that it takes less than one hour of British labour to make the £2.50 dress. Either that or the capitalists are losing money hand over fist and thus subsidising both the British worker and the British consumer.
But this is the contempt:
Many of these clothes are bought by shoppers indulging themselves with outfits worn a handful of times and thrown away: on some estimates, the number of items bought per consumer has doubled in a decade.
The poor are getting richer, to where the poor might have more than just the one change of clothes for their Sunday Best. Consider how appalling that is for the already privileged. If and when the poor gain the same access to goods as their betters then what marker is there to distinguish those betters? The horrors of a mere shopgirl being able to dress up for an evening with her beau, eh?
But more than this there’s that use of “indulge”. This is the very point of our having an economy at all. That the average blokess gets to have more of what pleases her more. In formal terms utility maximisation but that’s what it means – you get more of what you desire, you’re richer, the point of an economy is to make the average peeps richer. This process, the poor getting richer, is met by The Guardian with a sneer about “indulgence”? When do we plough the site with salt and sell the journalists into slavery?
How about we start planning that already?