Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 14, 2011

Ikea Standards Of Living

A standard IKEA Billy bookcase (80cm wide, 202cm high, white) costs $59.99 in the United States. The same bookcase sells in Germany for €38.00, that's $52.82.

The IKEA bookcase factory in Danville, Virginia pays its workers $8 per hour and has rather horrible anti-union worker policies. The IKEA bookcase factory in Sweden pays $19 an hour which come with quite likable union controlled worker policies.

A spokesperson of the IKEA subsidiary Swedwood offers this explanation:

"That is related to the standard of living and general conditions in the different countries"

That statement is correct. With lower wages and higher prices the median U.S. standard of living is now below the western European one. One wonders if/when this will get acknowledged.

Posted by b on April 14, 2011 at 6:26 UTC | Permalink


in spain 35 euro

Posted by: an idiot | Apr 14 2011 9:23 utc | 1

Ikea in Germany is not a good example:

translation: part of the workers have to supplement their wages by social security.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 14 2011 11:28 utc | 2

This is a very rare example of consumer goods which are cheaper in EU than US.

Posted by: Michal | Apr 14 2011 13:07 utc | 3

What's the difference in price for the Swedish Meatballs and Lingonberry Jam?

Doesn't matter. The saps here in the U.S. will pay the difference gladly. Ikea is all the rave over here. It's a madhouse on the weekends....crowds that make Wal-Mart blush and there products are shit.....nothing but compressed sawdust glued together.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 14 2011 13:37 utc | 4

For about 30 yrs. now, there has been a constant drumbeat of anti-unionism here. Union membership has gone from about 40%, down to around 7%, and prevailing wages and working conditions reflect that. Public worker unions are the last bastion of big labor, and they're under attack from forces on right, who want to take away their right to collective bargain. If big money can cripple the unions ability to donate to progressive politicians, the way is clear for the wealthy elites to force wages/working conditions even lower. Our entire standard of living is going to hell here, and too many saps don't have a clue. The media treats us like mushrooms, they keep us in the dark, and feed us shit. With public awareness reflecting that absence of information, our standard of living will continue to shrink, and most people will be oblivious until we end up in the third world. If I was young enough to immigrate north, I think I would.

Posted by: ben | Apr 14 2011 14:32 utc | 5

IKEA is a Dutch Holding Co. and pays “little or no” taxes (?).. The structure as a familyco. seems not to be on the net.

The groups of companies that form IKEA are all controlled by INGKA Holding B.V., a Dutch corporation, which in turn is controlled by a tax-exempt, not-for-profit Dutch foundation.


Ingvar Kamprad, “owner”, and founder of IKEA lives not far from me. He is a tightwad who contributes nothing to the local community.

In his home he has a lot old IKEA furniture and he drives an ancient car, Volvo I heard, but don’t quote me on the make. Still he is despised, normally one gives to sports clubs, to other associations, and lends oneself as a figure for town meets, municipal politics (of whatever brand) and generally make a show of participating and distributing some largesse.

Not him. He is despised and ignored.

One of the things IKEA likes to hide is that there have been deaths in the stampedes at the openings of their stores.

Even the BBC had some reporting on that:

Plus the deaths 20 or more ppl were gravely injured.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 14 2011 14:37 utc | 6

Ben, it's why the worker's movement of the late 19th and early 20th century should have gone all the way and prevented their cause form being co-opted and usurped by corrupt forces. They settled for FDR's compromise. They cozied up to him and let the wolves back in the henhouse through the back door. Unions should have always been a passing measure on the way to the promised land of employee owned and run businesses with the abolition of Corporations as legal persons.

Too late's another time and another place and there's no going back.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 14 2011 14:47 utc | 7

MB @ 7: "Unions should have always been a passing measure on the way to the promised land of employee owned and run businesses with the abolition of Corporations as legal persons."

Yep, think I agree. With the SCOTUS Citizens United decision, the final brick in the wall, labor in the US is finished.

Posted by: ben | Apr 14 2011 15:10 utc | 8

@Noirette - maybe I'm totally wrong here, but deaths at IKEA store-openings seem more of an indictment of the idiocy of the masses rather than an indictment of IKEA and it's owner, I would have thought

Posted by: hu bris | Apr 14 2011 16:21 utc | 9

It's an indictment of both IKEA and The Masses since they are fundamentally one and the same. IKEA is nothing without the tens of thousands of employees, aka The Masses, that breath life into it's lifeless husk every day.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 14 2011 17:04 utc | 10

IKEA is not only a Dutch Holding Co, but also contains foundations etc, all in an elaborate and effective attempt at paying almost no taxes. Recently showcased in a documentary on swedish television. I would say that it is precisely this ruthless capitalism that makes them a good showcase. They pay as little in wages as they get away with, which apparently is less then half in the US then in Sweden. Unions makes a difference.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Apr 14 2011 18:32 utc | 11

Vittorio Arrigoni is dead

Posted by: annie | Apr 15 2011 2:09 utc | 12

It's an indictment of both IKEA and The Masses since they are fundamentally one and the same

yeah right, whatever

Posted by: hu bris | Apr 16 2011 3:37 utc | 13

@annie - there's only one suspect, irrespective of who it gets pinned on in the end

Posted by: hu bris | Apr 16 2011 3:39 utc | 14

a sick tragedy

Posted by: hu bris | Apr 16 2011 3:40 utc | 15

@14, who would that suspect be? Come on now, don't be a coward, say what you mean, explicitly. Who would that suspect be?

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 16 2011 14:10 utc | 16

@13 leaves out the most important part of the statement, the explanation of why. Employees are customers and customers are employees. It's an empowering statement, not a disempowering implication, which is what we get from @13. Once we realize that we are one and the same, the sooner we can realize the incredible power we possess. The Plutocratic Oligarchy has only the perception of power, albeit it's a very potent perception, and perceptions are difficult to overcome. Once, and if, we collectively overcome that most potent perception we can strip the Plutocratic Oligarchy of its status and position within the hierarchy by eliminating the hierarchical system that has allowed a Plutocratic Oligarchy to flourish since the dawn of Civilization.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 16 2011 14:16 utc | 17

IKEA, by squeezing workers, buying raw material at rock bottom prices, as a big buyer with clout, and smartly manipulating corp. structure / taxation, doing a great job with the flat pack thing, which is an incredible saver re. transport, not to mention design and manufacturing which is top class within the set limits, manages to sell acceptable (or whatever..) goods incredibly cheaply.

So all the ‘poor- previously deprived’ rush to get modern furniture. In a case like Saudi, I suppose, the ‘foreign’, ‘design’ element figures large. Russia was also beset, super fashion thing.

Ikea’s advertising and stores are very cleverly done, and contribute in a big way to a ‘renewal’ kind of feel. So much old furniture has been thrown out to acquire IKEA stuff, prices of 1860 - 1990 furniture have hit rock bottom (barring exceptional pieces and fashionable stuff now very limited). The furniture often can’t even be give away. Some municipalities cannot deal with the glut of throw outs, disposal is difficult and costly.

We are burning cupboards from 1920, 1950, tables from 1800 to 1960, chairs galore, etc.

Trash and burn, baby.

Intended only to point to this aspect, that Ikea replaces what was there before.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 16 2011 17:16 utc | 18

@The Idiot Troll - you really think I have a desire to feed the troll? Really?

Posted by: hu bris | Apr 16 2011 23:24 utc | 19

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