Dear Michael J. Weber,
I just finished reading your commentary in today's Milwaukee Journal. Your compassion for the world's poor comes shining through. I wonder if you might be willing to offer me some advice.
I own a retail store in Racine. Most of the products that we sell are made in poor countries. I try to buy the best products that I can at the lowest possible price. What's more, I rarely consider the plight of the artisans who are making the products that I buy and sell.
I never really thought that I was contributing to world poverty. In fact, I thought the opposite. I figured that buying products from the poor would help the poor while not buying from them would increase their unemployment and poverty problems. What will happen to the poor if we stop buying from them?
You suggest that we "watch what we buy, learn where it's made and by whom." That sounds good but I am afraid that it is impossible. Even though I am one of the buyers for my store, I can tell you the country of origin of the product and that is about it. With hundreds of different product lines and millions more to choose from, how could I possibly detirmine the working conditions, salaries, environmental records etc... of the workers and companies that I buy from? Which products from which companies are contributing to the problem and which products from which companies are contributing to the solution?
What should I do Michael? Should I close down my store? Should I switch from imports to products made in the USA?
I try my best to be a conscientious person and businessman. I try to do the right thing. What would you advise me to do? Thank you for taking the time to consider my dilemma.