Some of these don't meet legal requirements, but that doesn't stop landlords from trying and budget minded renters from renting.
One friend paid about $2500 a month for about 300 sq ft in a nice location (West Village). It did have a bathroom, but was very old and terribly designed. Heating and cooling were major issues. Another shared a place with at least a half dozen others and rented rights to a shelf in the 'fridge, a place to store a couple of suitcases and use of a couch for half a day (someone else got to sleep on it during the other half).
After Sandy the term resilient seems to be coming into general use - mostly replacing sustainable. In this part of the country (NJ) a huge number of small electric generators have been installed. Being without electricity for a week or two in freezing weather was not particularly fun and many came to see them as extremely desirable necessities. Permanent natural gas generators are frequently in the $5,000 to $10,000 range and are a very expensive and inefficient power source. Perhaps this should be viewed as an additional cost burden on families who can no longer trust the power infrastructure.
I caught a KUED Forum piece on cheap clothing and the Bangladesh Disaster. A lot of finger pointing and blame to go around. A very difficult problem. One has to wonder how supportable cheap consumerism is...
Jheri has recommended Overdressed for information on the scale of the problem and a suggestion that people should buy less, but high quality.
It isn't surprising listening to the apologists who always defend actions of companies and consumers as necessary to supply employment to the third world. Not unlike the defenses of slavery. So far there is very little movement towards a better system. A strong consumer reaction could threaten the brands and bring action, but I wouldn't count on it.
Perhaps this is an area where Google could move in and offer to monitor all of the elements of the supply chain as a third party and collector of "all the world's information":-)
Over the past decade glasses have become very expensive - particularly the frames. Jon points ot a 60 Minutes piece that notes a near monopoly - the Italian firm Luxottica. The markups are enormous - hundreds of percent.
Even some of the insurance companies.
I wonder if online companies like Warby Parker can offer meaninful competition?
I did manage to visit a few garment and textile factories in and around Dhaka, the capital city, on whose outskirts in the industrial suburb of Savar the collapsed Rana Plaza building was located. They looked to untrained eyes like any other factory I’ve seen. Nothing stuck out as unsafe or exploitative. Herein lies the problem. Currently, big fashion brands audit their suppliers a few times a year at most, hiring someone to walk through with a checklist—fire extinguisher, check; clearly marked exit signs, check; code of conduct and workers’ rights posted on the wall, check. At an Umbro factory I visited in downtown Dhaka, the emergency fire-exit plan was posted in English, which the workers could not read. Does any of this do any good in a country lacking in basic building codes and things like fire escapes?
Bangladesh is an extremely poor country, separated by great swaths of geography from the modernized, developed world. Dhaka is a winding, bustling snarl. The power lines look like balls of yarn, and at the time of my visit, the electricity was cutting out an average of six times a day. The roads are so clogged with rickshaws, buses, animals and cars that it takes hours to travel anywhere. When brands like Walmart and Benetton said they didn’t realize their clothes were being made in Rana Plaza, it didn’t surprise me at all. When I visited, I scheduled a meeting with a labor leader who was traveling from the factories in Savar to Dhaka, but the gridlock was so bad he eventually called and said he wouldn’t be able to make it. Benetton later admitted to placing a single “one-off” order with Rana Plaza. Who knows what else happens in Dhaka once the brands’ representatives leave? The garment industry, just like the city, is unregulated and haphazard.
Josh Eidelson writes more about Walmart specifically, but the problem is common throughout the industry. In return for very cheap essentially disposable clothing we are supporting something close to slavery. There are the rungs on a ladder argument, but do they really hold up in light of the suffering and death - or is that irrelevant?