Why Furniture Is Destroying America


In a nutshell, this is a blog post on why furniture is destroying America. It looks at the effects on our economy and environment of the furniture industry's heavy reliance on cheap labor. It discusses how companies have found new ways to exploit laborers by offering minimal benefits and no job security.

The author uses a variety of sources from interviews with those who have been affected to articles from reputable sources that back up her thesis. She also discusses the recent United Nations report that found lack of affordable housing as one of the top threats to global health, along with how Americans fly off to China just for furniture shopping vacations. She also looks at how the town of Bassett, Virginia has seen its population dwindle to three hundred full-time residents while producing more than half of the furniture in the United States. This points to the lack of jobs due to offshoring and the rise of automation in the furniture industry. The article draws a strong link between job loss and a staggering suicide rate among former furniture workers, citing a statistic that "one out of every four suicides nationally is by a person who's worked in furniture."

According to a report by the nonprofit group Global Exchange

The article has one factual error: "According to a report by the nonprofit group Global Exchange , 870 million people in China and India alone would like to become furniture buyers." American consumers and Chinese and Indian producers may demand lower prices for furniture, but it's not because they've "wanted" to buy furniture. The word should be "would like." Sometimes mistakes like this can indicate sloppy writing rather than ignorance on the part of the reporter. In the case of this article, it's a non-issue.

The article's tone is too calm to effectively communicate the urgency of the situation. This may be because the author is not emotionally connected to the issue, or because it's a blog post and not an editorial.

I don't like how this article doesn't go into detail about why furniture jobs are disappearing. There's mention that it has to do with "offshoring" and "automation." These are vague terms for readers who may not know what they mean. It would be more effective if this information were explained in layman's terms (along with pictures). Readers should be able to understand how these factors affect their own economy, instead of having to do outside research.

One big challenge for this article was that it's inherently difficult to get people emotionally invested in furniture. It's an inanimate object that most people don't think about very often (if at all). Also, globalization is a tough topic, especially when large corporations are involved. Readers may not care about the lives of laborers in the developing world because they can't relate to them personally. A way around this could have been to focus on the impact on local communities in America, rather than globally. For instance, the effects of globalization on the workforce in Bassett, Virginia—which is so reliant on furniture that it has fewer than three hundred year-round residents left.

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