Archive for Friday, June 8, 2007

Global workers

June 8, 2007

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To the editor:

Next time you consider buying clothes, coffee, chocolate or imported fruit, please take a moment to consider the conditions in which these items were produced. From sweatshops to forced child labor, the people of developing nations are being exploited, all in the name of capitalism and maximizing profit. These people work at so-called "competitive wages" that are far below the salary needed to sustain life and preclude children within these families from going to school - even if the education itself is free.

Because the United States market is driven by the consumer, it is important to be acutely cognizant of what we are buying. In such a globally connected world, it is disappointing that citizens of the United States remain largely ignorant of the processes employed in creating the final product available for purchase in stores across the country.

The problem propagating this situation lies in the fact that United States-based companies are not required to disclose many of their overseas practices - that are tightly regulated in the United States - relating to labor, environment and basic human rights.

To the people of the United States, I say this: wake up! Think beyond your shopping cart and acknowledge that it is, in fact, time to embrace the global consumer mentality.

Allison Edwards,

Lawrence

Comments

Ragingbear 8 years ago

But it's the child labor that makes the coffee so tasty!

Rightytighty 8 years ago

Great letter! Wish people did look for more American made products. But let's go back to wal-mart which pushes companies to lower the cost for them to sell at a lower rate. Which in turns makes companies to go overseas (such as Rubbermaid) to be able to keep up the with wal-marts "competitive prices". It's not only the consumers that are causing these problems.

kansas778 8 years ago

This person is ignorant of the situation. No one is holding a gun to these workers' heads, they CHOOSE TO WORK THERE. It is the best choice they have. These foolish liberals forget that these people are better off than if they had no job at all.

jeanc 8 years ago

kansas, it's not simply a matter of whether or not people are forced to work in a certain place. Alot of times they have no choice. They are working the farmland of their home. But what's really harmful is when a government saps all of the natural resources, labor, and wealth of a people, exporting it and leaving nothing for the people who produced/farmed it. Local farmers are paid a pittance and then the product taken from them (beef, coffee, etc) is sold abroad for many times what the companies paid for it. Some countries like Chiapas produce most of the hydroelectricity for Mexico, and yet the majority of the people of Chiapas have neither drinking water nor electricity.

This isn't a matter of being liberal or conservative, and I am so tired of people making this a political issue. Since when did human suffering become something only SOME people are concerned about? This is a matter of paying people for what they produce. Even if it's just a matter of pennies, at least those pennies will go to someone who needs it. It doesn't cost you more, it's just a matter of taking the time to pay attention to what you're purchasing.

If you choose Fair Trade products, you'll pay approximately the same amount of money and you will KNOW that money will go to support the people who produce it.

www.globalexchange.org

DaveR 8 years ago

The solution is tariffs. I am, frankly, tired of incessant worries about overseas child abuse, overseas labor abuse, as if that was our problem. Our problem is getting good jobs for our own people, so that WE are not abused, so that WE do not go hungry.

Wal-Mart is Made In China, Inc. I presume that when it suits them, the Chinese will simply buy the place outright & get 100% of the profits to which they are entitled.

Confrontation 8 years ago

I love how Allison can tell everyone else to "Wake Up," when I seriously doubt she knows where all of her purchases come from. I bet she even buys her imported clothing from local thrift stores. Afterall, that makes her innocent, right?

Ragingbear 8 years ago

Fair Trade products are a scam. They don't prevent slave wages and child labor anymore than Kathy Lee Gifford's shoe factory.

altarego 8 years ago

Does anybody remember Walmart's "Made In the USA" marketing scheme?

Does anybody remember Ross Perot and his "giant sucking sound" theory?

Does anybody know where Jimmy Hoffa is?

deec 8 years ago

How does buying used clothing manufactured in third-world countries, thus keeping them out of the waste stream, make one culpable in global exploitation? If you are not spending your money buying new third-world garments, you're not contributing to the profitability of exploitation. Additionally, you are helping fund charitable organizations in the U.S.

Godot 8 years ago

I encourage Allison to start her own manufacuring company to make something, anything, that is 100% made in America. It will be a challenge.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Allison,

A heartfelt plea, and totally misguided. Why don't you go live in these countries as a young woman, maybe underage by Western standards, working for what you call "non-competitive wages". Then, have that miserable job suddenly taken away by bleeding heart liberals that boycott products from your country. Your choices at that point? Prostitution, until you're older and unattractive, then you starve.

Human rights is not a governmental concept in many of the countries you reference. Those evil American businesses that go overseas to get their goods manufactured cheaply are doing the people of these countries more of a service than it seems. They're not doing it out of the goodness of their corporate hearts, and the wages are not the best, but they're better than the alternative.

BorderRat 8 years ago

altarego, I think they spotted Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis on JFK's private island off of Baja, Mexico.

RogerPaulMartin 8 years ago

A fine letter, I think, Allison. Two facts about the human imagination make change extremely difficult: We can't think very far ahead in time or imagine lives very far away in space. Because of the inability to imagine, say, a generation from now -- 30 years -- we continue to rack up debt as individuals and as a nation, continue to commute alone to our jobs, squandering petroleum and polluting the environment; and because we can't imagine, or empathize, with people very far away or unlike ourselves, we don't, as a rule, give a damn about the children of those people, whether they are living among us or working in a distant sweatshop. To project ourselves, by imagination, into others' lives or into the future is what distinguishes human beings. There is always the risk of fear and pain in this projection, as well as the burden of nagging complexities and nuances.

Thanks for asking us to change some behaviors that are very resistant to change. It won't be easy for most of us, but it's right to ask for it.

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