This Week in Financial Blunders: Fire and Booze

This Week in Financial Blunders

It’s a wild, wild week in the world of financial blunders as the city of Detroit made history by being approved for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. This interesting but sad story nonetheless inspired This Week in Financial Blunders to focus on things outside of the country. One story is a bit of a downer and the other one is a bit uplifting; it should be obvious which is which, but maybe our lives have wildly different perspectives.

Hot Fashion

The Gap, American Eagle, Wal-Mart and other retailers took an unexpected hit earlier this week when a garment factory was set ablaze. This factory, run by the Standard Group, was one of the biggest factories for garments in Bangladesh, until last week when it met its fiery demise. The blaze allegedly started after an announcement came on the loudspeaker: A worker had been killed after police fired to disperse a blockade that factory workers had built. Workers gathered together and began to do everything short of a riot. Another blockade was built, this time in front of the factory, and the building was set on fire shortly after. The cause of the fire is still being discerned, but the ten-story building was destroyed regardless. The financial damage is severe as well: Standard Group, Gap’s largest supplier in the country, estimates that the firm could lose over $100 million from the fire; the factory also employed roughly 18,000 workers who are now unemployed. The whole situation adds to the already-stressed Bangladeshi garment industry which suffered a horrific building collapse in a factory earlier this year.

Will Beer for Work

Amsterdam, a country known for its debaucherous activities, is testing a new work program for chronic alcoholics. As the New York Times reported, Amsterdam is currently testing a “beer-for-work” program which gives workers five to seven beers during the work day, as well as half a packet of rolling tobacco, lunch and ten euros a day (about $13.55). “This is not a beer project – it is a cleaning project,” said district mayor of eastern Amsterdam, Fatima Elatik. The project was started almost a year ago by the Rainbow Foundation, a government-funded group that focuses on rehabilitation through work, and the NYT article points out that despite mayor Elatik being a practicing Muslim who does not approve of drinking, she remains enthusiastic about the program. The people who enroll in the program act as a cleaning crew and pick up trash as they go. There are people who criticize the program, calling it a waste of government funds, but many remain on the waiting list hoping to get a job that will help them cope with their addiction. Fred Schiphorst, a worker in the program, said “I’m not proud of being an alcoholic, but I am proud to have a job again.”

That’s all the international stories we could muster this week, but if you have another one feel free to post it below.


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