What the hell.... [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]
I think the die has been cast a long time ago here. The Chinese didn't spontaneously decide to make and export cheap clothes (their culture doesn't tend to breed entrepreneurs) - no, Western and Japanese manufacturers have set-up and managed factories in China to take advantage of the low(er) wages. This has been going on for decades. The driver is the financial performance of the companies concerned as judged by stock market speculators.
The nature of the gambling den that is the "city" is pure greed: Whatever is delivered one year must be exceeded the next. Moving manufacturing to 'low wage economies' is an easy way to achieve this, on paper at least.
China (etc.) are capable of producing whatever quality of goods we will accept - if B&Q think that we punters will be happy with sh1tty cr*p, that's what they order. I do accept that once you've put a design into China that you've lost all control of it. I get the impression that castings (for example) that don't meet (say) Honda's standards will go out another door to someone who assembles look-a-likes.
The people working in Chinese factories are HAPPY! (at least the ones I've visited) and are regarded as reasonably affluent (on $30 a month, or so ISTR). The salaries reflect the cost of living.... and they are salaried staff, not grubbing away growing veg to sell.
Getting warmed up now!!
And another thing!
Those that claim that China is wasteful of energy could learn a lot from them:
How warm is your office?
In the places that I visited, there was NO general heating. People wore the same clothes sat at their desks as they did walking through the snow outside. Rooms not in use were in darkness (shock horror!) and virtually every light bulb was a low energy one. Owning a car was a rarity.
I'm not against Julian's sentiment, but I really don't think there's anything you can do about it - things have gone too far. Say you decided to pursue a 'buy British' stance - I doubt you could, as even if the clothes were cut and sewn here, I'm pretty sure the cloth would be from the Far East, as would the sewing machine, needles, etc. You could take a stance against cheap tools, but some of them are really very good! It's a small miracle that you can buy a decent angle grinder for a fiver, including a couple of lots of profit and shipping it half way around the world.
We need to prepare ourselves for being hairdressers, accountants or undertakers.