Travels of a Global T-Shirt Book Report
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade explains the story (and politics) behind what it takes to produce a T-Shirt to be sold in America. The author, a college professor at Georgetown University was inspired to take this journey after observing an anti-globalization protest in 1999. The first step in her journey was the cotton fields of Texas. Technology and subsidies means that a lot of cotton is grown right here in America. Then the cotton gets graded through a very scientific process and shipped to China. In China, the state-run factories must cope with producing for a market not a quota. They get help from the workers, who despite having limited mobility feel very happy to work in a factory over a farm. This is similar to the long-gone British and American textile industries. Coming back to America, the shirt encounters many tariffs and quotas. Despite promising free trade, the politicians have developed thousands and thousands of laws regarding textile imports. However, when she is done with her shirt, it finally encounters a free market in the highly competitive fabric recycling industry.
This book was interesting. All of the problems with T-shirts today stem from our long problem with protectionism. The problem is that all of the non-market activities drive up the cost and complexity of making a shirt. The story of how the US producers have always tried to avoid free markets is extremely interesting. In addition, the fact that Chinese workers rather work in a factory over a farm for independence surprises me. The activists should consider this when they talk about "sweatshops." I also learned how picky African buyers are with everything we donate. This book should be read by every person against the concept of globalization.
I was doing a report on globalization in World Cultures so I was interested in the topic. In addition, we learned about the dangers of tariffs and quotas in The Choice as well as in class. This talks about the effects which these protectionist policies actually had and sort-of continue to do so because of the one powerful "alphabet army" of lobbyists.
The author of the review liked the book. He said that "has all the makings of an economic classic." I agree. We should give up the protests against global trade and focus on giving these people a free market to trade these goods. "She uses the T-shirt to tell the story of progress." Again I agree. The textile industry has always tried to avoid free markets. Especially with the cotton industry, it tells how the market adapts and changes. He said other books have made these points, but this one tries to work at a level anyone can understand because it tells the actual stories of people which the T-shirt industry touches.
- Rivoli, Pietra. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005.
- Lowenstein, Roger. "Travels With My Florida Parrot T-Shirt." The New York Times. 21 Aug 2005. 20 Jan 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/21/business/yourmoney/21shelf.html?ei=5088&en=c67a9b6f553eec47&ex=1282276800&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print>.