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Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by jskershaw, Apr 14, 2018.
Edit: Regretting contributing toward a second page.
Ok cool I thought small town America would be cheaper but I guess not.
Easily doable, although a little expensive. Support your local luthiers!
...or build your own guitar. Honestly take every foreign electronic device and throw it away if you’re worried about that...people will buy a flat screen TV and not question who made it, but purchasing a guitar becomes a sentimental affair?? I don’t see how underpaid vs. starving is a better option for these laborers and (coincidentally) where you draw the the line. Unless you live by candlelight and whittle every product you use yourself, you’re really overthinking this...
The electronics argument doesn't really wash because it's not like there's a readily available American made counterpart for the majority of the electronics people use on a regular basis.
Actually, it’s exactly my point...it’s an ignorant position when nearly every foreign product being used is viewed as unavoidable until people decide to cherry pick a certain product, then act like “I’m doing what I can”...but when it comes to their clothes, jewelry, cars and everyday products they don’t think twice about it. You can’t be a price-point buyer and then have a “criteria” when it comes to cheap product labor practices -if you wear clothes or own a cell phone this subject becomes a moot point
We're just talking about guitars right now.
Obviously you're carrying a lot baggage over this, but if you stop projecting on the poor guy, you'd probably see that he asked a simple question.
No one is saying "don't buy guitars from ____", just that they are curious about the supply chain and want to do right. Not sure why that works everyone up so much.
We're not judging anyone, how about you do the same?
If it was clear I wouldn't find much of an issue with "doing what you can", but what you can will be significantly more if you're targeting the goods that are either big purchases or frequent purchases.
And too difficult to understand the ramifications without essentially going to these factory areas and interviewing people, right? You try to be ethical, and you wind up deciding someone's wages were not unfair -- and what do you do? Not buy the product?
And if we subscribed to a sort of aggregate view of ethics (i.e., I won't throw the can in the lake not because I believe that one can makes a difference, but that if everyone followed this action we'd ruin the lake), then unfortunately we don't have a clear cut picture of that effect. In aggregate people stop buying those guitars, the factory shuts, people return to drug use, or working 20 hour days, or...who knows. I just feel like the whole issue is terribly undefined, and pitching it at the country-wide level of Korea is far too broad a brush.
Doing what you can is great... as long as it's well-thought out and doesn't wind up being counterproductive to your goal. Good intentions and all that.
That's beyond the scope of this forum, and thread.
This isn't "how do I only buy all ethical goods" thread.
But, would it be a stretch to assume that someone who cares about where one product comes from may care about others already?
It's pretty condescending to imply that the OP doesn't know that things other than guitars might not be manufactured under the best circumstances.
So only workers at specific factories know if they're objectively good or bad?
If people were privy to the wages, cost of living locally and any safety and environmental reports you'd have a good idea. While I know that information isn't just posted everywhere, most manufacturers who are based in the developed world or work heavily with do disclose a lot of that information through specific channels.
And that's a legitimate view worth discussing, why couldn't we just start here without the BS?
If it can be discussed. That's what I mean by needing to actually be feet-on-the-ground to understand the effects of your decisions in this area. Without direct access to their opinions, in a glassdoor sort of way, I don't think we have any way of knowing. Just looking at relative wage tables, even relative to the area, isn't a suitable substitute for this IMO, and I think could easily steer someone unintentionally towards making the lives of the workers worse than it is.
I think it's not BS to be critical of someone's questions when there are potential risks (here that by trying to buy ethically, you actually create less good in the world) that weren't being stated in the OP post.
I’m not being critical of anyone, in fact the opposite, I’m saying not to be so critical...I’m all for the OP’s intent, but would like to point out that foreign business practices aren’t going to change over ‘budget imported guitars’ when people buy OVER 60% of their products from the same Asian countries ...this is NOT a recommended way to shop for the right guitar...he can get a used Japanese guitar if he’s on a budget and still really concerned. If people want to create economic and social change in foreign countries, that’s better handled by getting politically involved or at the least buying from local people to ensure the maker(s) are being paid fairly...
31 posts in and nobody has posted an approximate wage number yet...
Looking at this, the GDP per capita appears to be approximately half of the US. So making very broad assumptions, we can assume that a Korean factory worker earns approximately half of a US factory worker. Google tells me that an average US factory worker earns $12/hr. UK is approximately £8/hr. So around $5-6/hr in South Korea sounds about right to me.
Depending how you live, the $6/hr could be better than $12/hr in the US. $12/hr is a brutal wage. No idea how anybody survives on that.
Manufacturing work is hard to pin down via averages, there's just so many different jobs with different skill sets that get labeled "factory worker".
Though where are you getting your numbers? I'm seeing an average of just over $21/hr when I search. For USA in 2018. That's more in line with what I see in the real world. I've worked in manufacturing the last 10 years.
^^ This is exactly the sort of math I was hoping people wouldn't get into. It's not worth making "very broad assumptions" -- that makes the conclusions not worthy of motivating a decision right there.
I was hoping to hear from some of the users who live in SK.
I can tell you for a fact that at PRS entry level employees make $11/hr, that's for a body sander. They have good benefits and of course there's opportunity for advancement, but you could still make the argument that they're underpaid.
My dad spent a quarter of last year in Incheon. Shame he didn't get out of his hotel to interact with some people or we'd have a surprisingly local view of things!
If my math isn't too terrible, I make about $14 an hour as an English teacher here in SK, depending on the exchange rate at any given time. To hear Koreans tell it, that's a decent wage. It won't make me rich, but I'm comfortable. I have no idea what a factory worker makes, but I could still comfortably cover all of my living expenses if my wages were cut in half.
Lol, of course it's worth doing. (And now two people have chipped in with solid numbers and it seems we are in agreement.) If a US factory worker gets $12/hr, you know that's the ceiling because they're not going to be better paid in Korea.
Only way you're getting a rock solid figure is if someone who owns/works in a factory chips in, or someone like Chapman, Ola etc who has used their services, and that's a very long shot. Someone who lives in SK isn't going to magically have a better answer.
At the end of the day, SK is a wealthy, westernised and open first-world country and it is *highly* unlikely that employees are being exploited. Guitars are made there because they have already established supply lines, necessary equipment, expertise etc, and they have a track record of pumping out great guitars for a long time already.
Companies are now opening new lines in Indonesia. That's where I'd be a bit more wary, since it is still a developing country. But as others have said, working in a factory like that, with western business partners, would actually be a pretty decent and desirable job for people in that field.
Guitars aren't like clothes. There isn't going to be some sweat shop of children in Bangladesh cranking out PRS SE and LTD guitars, then shipping them to Korea to stick a "MIK" label on them.
If OP is concerned about the ethical nature of guitar buying, maybe he could look into where the wood is sourced, whether it is sustainable etc.
You've made a guess about what people are being paid in a factory in Korea, and then made a guess about how well they live on that imaginary wage. You further guess that the working conditions are pretty good.
Sounds like things are going pretty well for them. I guess.