Rivoli Questions Ch. 4

1. How do your consumer choices, and the choices of the rest of US consumers, explain the rapid recent rise in exports of US cotton to China?
"demand by Americans for cheap clothing from China leads to demand from China for cotton from America.

2. Why does Nelson's cotton travel to China?  That's where the cheap laborers are.
And, which represents a greater portion of your T-shirt's price, the cotton or the labor involved in making cotton into a shirt? Labor, more than 50% of cost.

3. Write a few sentences in which you characterize Shanghai of 1920-1949 and the role of cotton.
Shanghai was China's most important port and manufacturing center during this period.  A main import was US cotton.  A main manufacturing activity was textile production.  The city was also China's Las Vegas, its Sin City.  Beyond its recreational activities, Shanghai was notable for the close association of poor, overworked mill workers and fabulously wealthy mill owners. Cotton worker unrest in Shanghai helped to fuel the Communist Revolution of 1949.  

4. When did China begin making T-shirts for the US market? 1970s

I like her summary description of the landscape of Shanghai: 

"southeastern China is a giant factory floor.

5. Rivoli's description of the processes that transform baled cotton into cloth are vivid.  Learn the sequence from bale to shirt.
blow apart bale, smooth into blanket, carding, slivers twisted into yarn (spindles),  yarn wound onto bobbins, yarn knitted by machine into fabric, fabric cut into pieces, sewing of apparel items

6. How is sewing different from the other processes in the sequence?  It has not become almost fully mechanized.

7. How has T-shirt manufacture changed since the privatization of industry in China? Workers and managers have had to learn new ideas about quality and production.  No longer do they operate as cogs in a machine with no decision-making responsibility.  They have had to adapt production to compete.

8. What is Shanghai Knitwear? Shanghai Knitwear is China's "state-owned apparel export-import company."
How much do they charge per dozen of T-shirts? $13.

9. When did China become the world's apparel export leader? 1993 
When did their emergence begin? 1970s
What has happened the US's share of apparel exports during this period? It's stayed fairly constant with a couple of fluctuations.

10. Summarize "the race to the bottom argument". 
The race to the bottom refer
s to the export apparel industry being a global competition in which laborers' wages, and working conditions are sacrificed by corporations in the pursuit of less expensive production of a commodity demanded by consumers in the rich countries of the world.

12. What's your opinion of this argument?