[saymaListserv] Fwd: misrepresentations, innuendos and errors on sweatshops, globalization and economics in Friends Journal article
jhminshall at comcast.net
Sat May 1 17:08:47 JEST 2004
Dear Susan Jeffers, Thanks for your response. I think Jack
partially answered your question in his article. He worked in the
countries he writes about over many years. He didn't just read about
what existed, take a guided tour or quote others to make his case
about conditions in "lands far away". In the pieces I have posted on
the SAYMA list I have talked about my economic development efforts,
supported by monthly meetings and yearly meetings all over the
country, in East Africa. I visited textiles factories in Nairobi and
a paper mill near Lugulu. These would, I think, all be considered
"sweatshops" by those who wish to try to end outsourcing of US
processing and manufacturing to other countries. I have also traveled
extensively in Europe, the Middle East and briefly in Eastern Europe,
Mexico and in Central America. I agree with you about the
shortcomings of tours where people are guided and accompanied by a
person or persons who are "selling" a particular political position.
I understand that some labor unions and others who support them
sponsor such tours of so-called "sweatshops".
I won't attempt to answer for Jack, although I have forwarded your
response on to him. I have said repeatedly on the SAYMA list,
however, that slavery and the traffic in women and children for
prostitution do certainly exist and are most reprehensible. The
dishonesty I see, however, is that when so-called "sweatshops" and
the issue of outsourcing are mentioned they are often equated with
slavery and the traffic in women and children for prostitution.
So-called "Sweatshops" are simply the places where people work in the
rest of the world. Sometimes they are electrified and have plumbing,
sometimes not. Often they have fans and adequate natural lighting.
They are not, to my knowledge, air-conditioned and in many parts of
the world (like Atlanta) there are times when the conditions are hot
and sticky without air conditioning. If visitors are brought to visit
at such times, the working conditions are hot and sticky.
Most people, the vast majority in my experience, who work in
so-called "sweatshops" or for companies under outsourcing contracts
with US corporations do not run the risk of being taken in slavery or
being kidnapped for purposes of prostitution. It is a false
connection which has been made in order to try to keep the good,
high-paying jobs in the US for relatively affluent US-born workers
rather than sending them out into the rest of the world to be filled
by people who are usually considerably poorer than either workers or
the unemployed in the US. The fact that you found site after site on
chocolate slaves while using Google simply confirms that slavery
exists and that there are many, many good people trying to end it.
It has no relevance whatsoever to the focus of Jack's article (see
Jack and I are both Friends. We both take the Gospel-based
testimonies of Quakers seriously. If you wish to look for
publications which proclaim differing opinions and points of view I'm
sure you can find them. Janet Minshall
>Thanks to Janet Minshall for forwarding Jack Powelson's article,
>submitted to Friends Journal.
>I have a long-standing question for Friends (including myself)
>"eager to be of assistance to the less fortunate" and trying to "act
>in light of actual circumstances of various situations in order to
>offer real, long-term solutions."
>My question is -- how do we "know" what we "know" about "actual
>circumstances" in lands far away, involving people we've met only
>through highly developed mediated sources such as organizational
>websites, magazine articles, and even study tours/delegations (which
>are, in the nature of the thing, themselves well-scripted).
>Jack Powelson criticizes David Morse's piece, writing "I know of no
>slave-worked chocolate plantations. These jobs are taken by free
>choice, meaning that the alternative (in the eyes of the workers) is
>I just went on Google and typed in "chocolate slave" and got site
>after site with photos and interviews and of course plenty of
>exhortation about the evils of African children being kidnapped
>and/or sold into slavery to work the cocoa plantations. Who's to
>know what's real? and how can we know?
>Many of us just choose whichever news media we deem "trustworthy"
>and take their word for it; I have a hard time doing that, myself...
>I always feel the urge to go see for myself somehow, and if I can't
>then I just reserve judgment. I seem to have plenty of problems to
>work on that are right under my nose, in any case...
>Grace and peace to you all --
>EMail: susan at read-the-bible.org
>Peace Church Bible Study Home Page: www.read-the-bible.org
>Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association mailing list
>posting address: sayma at kitenet.net
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