Cotton Business Starts From Texas Cultural Studies Essay

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Rivoli explains the reason why Texas is a biggest producer of cotton which is due to its culture and political situation not natural condition. U.S has a strong historical base. Colonization of the U.S. South was organized to supply cotton to British mills and the American cotton industry has been strongly protected by the government and they takes good care of Texas cotton farmers. If cotton prices drop, subsidies kick in at a floor that is regularly above the world price. Unlike other industries, government insurance payouts protect the farmers when natural disasters or other normal business risks occur. Cotton enjoys impressive scientific support funded with public dollars. University studies, scientific methods, labs, and subsidies create a protective cocoon for Texas cotton farmers. Without this cocoon, nothing would be growing in West Texas because it is not a natural agricultural place.

Cotton exported into china

Most of the cotton grown in Lubbock, Texas goes to China because of its politics and history and cheap manufacturing. In China, hukou system was initiated in the 1950s as part of the economic development plans of the new Communist China, to support urban populations and factories, and supply raw materials and foodstuffs, rural China had to remain rural. This huge supply of potential labor was not invited to share in Chinese economic growth. More recently, some rural workers have been allowed to come to the cities, but with restrictions to full citizenship. The men who go from the farm to the city are relegated to jobs in construction. Rural women coming to the city are placed in textile or other low-tech factories, stitching T-shirts. Most of these young women can read so they are more productive than illiterate workers would be. But their rights are limited. They form an immobile, captive pool of labor in a hukou system that is based not on the market but on Communist party controls. The cotton comes from US is transformed into the T-shirt with the cheap usage of manufacturing machines in china.

Return of T-shirt back to US

For the United States, access to the best t-shirts at the best prices is like boosting their incomes and for developing countries like china, exports of textiles and apparel provide a route from rural poverty and a first step onto the development ladder. Even though the U.S. textile industry is dwindling, it remains very powerful in the form of quantitative limits, high tariffs, and political clout. The Chinese imports are among those most heavily restricted. Thus, the value of Chinese apparel exports to the U.S. is about $9B as opposed to about $53B for Chinese exports to the rest of the world. The size of the textile and apparel employment base is about 5% of total U.S. manufacturing employment. The American public is nervous about trade, especially trade with China, and especially when the trade is believed to have severe effects on small American communities. The T-shirt comes again back to US market after getting manufactured by Chinese manufacturing plants.

T-shirt forwarded to Africa

This stage of the t-shirt life which is also called textile recycling has positive environmental implications, when U.S. consumers are finished with wearing their t-shirt and it is damaged or worn, they typically donate them to charitable organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army to be recycled. U.S. consumers don't like wearing used t-shirts so if they are wearable, Goodwill will bundle the t-shirts and other clothing into 2-ton bales and shipped it to Africa to be resold. The exploding supply of castoffs from the rich meets the incessant demand for clothing from the poor. Used clothing is by far America's largest export to Tanzania where it enters the mitumba, the market for reselling the cloths. Tanzania continues to be one of the poorest nations in the world, and T-shirts are priced according the condition of t-shirt for $1 or $2.

T-shirt comes to an end

When the T-shirt has been purchased, worn, and thrown away it enters a brand new market in Africa where it's been used by someone else and when it is not for anymore use by anyone they put that remaining material of t-shirt into the trash or use the material for throw rugs and furniture padding throughout the world, and this is where the life of the t-shirt ends.


What aspects of this book did you find most interesting or surprising or troubling? Why?

Ans. Rivoli did the fabulous job in exploring the history, economics and politics of the world trade which is easily understandable. I like the issues which she covered up in most of her chapters like development of cotton industry (pg. 9-10), history of labor laws (pg. 11-14), labor rights, tariffs, and limit of imports and outsourcing (pg 144-149). There are some of the interesting topics which I liked while I was reading the book, firstly Rivoli doesn't put much of her own interpretation and has no bias at all into her book which makes book readable and lets the reader interpret the book the way he/she wants and she provides the good and bad about controversial issues like the exploitation of labor (pg 122-130), quotas used as political currency and lets the reader determine whether or not the cost was worth the benefit. The perfect example of this is the description Rivoli gives of the life of a young woman in China (pg 114-116). 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 (pg 105-109). I also learned how picky African buyers are with everything USA donate (pg 220-222) and She also includes a few unexpected or we can say surprising photos that help me to gain more understanding of globalization as it really happens to a product so familiar to us all (pg 2,53,75-76,141-142,213-214).

Is this book relevant to today's world economic, political, and business situations? Why or why not?

Ans. The author of the book had traveled to several places of the world to explain the life cycle of the t-shirt which costs only $5 and the attributes which is connected with t-shirt like production of cotton in US (pg24-26), exported to China (pg 77-80), manufacturing in China (pg 92-95) and again imported finished product back to US (pg143-146) and then forwarded to Africa (pg 215-217). She also explains the economic, political and business conditions of USA, China and Africa which are different in every country and difficult to control them while you are doing business in other country (pg 9, 106,216). This book helps reader understand the political and economical situation in US and china (pg 55-59, 120-125) which helps them to start their business if they are planning to globalize their product and also helps in understanding the business process which occurs and explains the life cycle of the product.

How do you feel this book relates to the country you have chosen to study for the course? Be sure to mention your country's name.

Ans. Research Country: Poland

This book explains the whole procedure of making a t-shirt from its production of cotton in Texas to the t-shirt life ends in trash in Africa and she also illustrates how the boom in the textile industry was a leading cause of the Industrial Revolution in many countries and Poland is one of them. It helps in understanding the culture, economic and political condition of other countries, the culture, economical and political condition of Poland is totally different than American and Asian condition (pg 17-19), and it is one of the European countries whose textile industry is working very well and produces the high quality of product which are gladly accepted by US market. As Poland has joined the European Union, their market growth is wide and they can exchange the goods and services in most of European countries without tariff which is an advantage for Poland, so if author wants to learn more about the culture of Europe she can go to Poland and examine the life cycle of t-shirt in Poland manufacturing plant.

Critique of book: What is your overall opinion of this book? Is it a book you would recommend to other business students? Why or why not? Do you feel the author did a good/bad/fair job of relating his/her ideas/positions? Why or why not?

Ans. The book is interesting, real based story and fantastic. It contains entertaining, educational, and eye opening stories of real people. This book is a great way to gain a basic understanding about how the global economy came to be what it is today and also gives me a brief explanation about the global economy and free trade (pg 143-145) There is only one point which I don't like is that Rivoli provides so much history behind cotton, the Industrial Revolution (pg 24-28), and the politics behind free trade, but she does not provide as extensive of a history about China. She only provides a detailed history of China starting after the 1960's with the Cultural Revolution (pg 92-96) and nothing else. I would like to recommend this book to other business students who are interested in gaining knowledge about globalization and world trade and the one who wants to do business or interesting in fighting for a cause or interested in U.S. politics, or anyone who owns a t-shirt should make it a point to read this book because this books gives brief explanation of production (pg9-12), manufacturing (pg pg 77-80), tariff on export & import (pg 156- 160), and Labor working conditions (pg 105-109) which are useful tools for the management student. Rivoli does a great job of taking an extremely complex and debated topic, and turning it into an unbiased, readable story. I think she really accomplishes what she was set out to do. She was able to investigate and teach others how something as complex as people, politics, and markets were responsible for creating something as simple as her cotton t-shirt. Whether or not someone's opinion of globalization is that it hurts or helps them, they will most definitely understand it better after reading this book. Rivoli concludes that problems arise not because of the structure of the market, but because of the suppression of the market.