[saymaListserv] Fwd: Globalization and the Poor: Do Quakers have a realis...

Janet Minshall jhminshall at comcast.net
Fri Apr 8 09:34:59 JEST 2005

Hi Charles Schade,  Thanks for your note.  Sorry for the delay in 
responding. I have been indisposed.  I understand your comments, but 
cannot provide the point of discrimination between "sweatshops" and 
normal conditions of employment in less developed countries.  Many of 
the materials from the US and Western European labor movements have 
generalized the use of the term "sweatshops" so broadly that I, 
personally, have visited sites in East Africa and Eastern Europe 
where there was production referred to by them as being done "in 
sweatshops",  where the conditions of employment were standard for 
less developed countries, not substandard.  I have written about that 
extensively on this list in previous messages. My recommendation to 
those who really care to find out for themselves about working 
conditions in other countries is to go there and visit.  Make sure 
you get together with ordinary people from the community  -- not paid 
NGO or union reps/agitators.  Then ask the people themselves about 
their jobs,  the conditions, the hours, the facilities, and the 
policies concerning breaks, days off, bathrooms, lighting and 
heating/cooling/air circulation, the wages, and the benefits.  Then 
ask about comparable places of employment in the area/region. Find 
out if there is a difference between the conditions of domestic 
employment and the conditions of employment in multinational 
production and outsourced contracts.   Those  of us who go instead on 
organized union-sponsored visits must do so with the understanding 
that everyone we talk with and speak to will have been "prepped" on 
what to say and how/when to say it. What comes out of such visits is 
propaganda, not economic analysis.

I understand fully that child labor continues but is being 
dramatically reduced year after year.  Many cultures have a 
millenia-old tradition of sending their children out to work when 
they reach a certain age to contribute to family income. Reducing 
child labor has been a focus of The World Bank and the World Trade 
organization and employers face sanctions.  The pressure of world 
sentiment is being felt and acted upon.  Jagdish Bhagwati writes 
about it in a whole chapter in his book, in Defense of Globalization. 
Please read it.

The primary issue for me is that many people who have read 
union-produced materials automatically tie "slave labor" with 
standard conditions of employment in both the US and in other 
countries.  It is not connected. Slavery has existed all over the 
world for thousands of years, and it has been a criminal activity for 
hundreds of years. Criminal activity (as in "the war on drugs") is 
far harder to root out than child labor because criminals control the 
use of slaves for labor and prostitution, not ordinary business 
people. That is the distinction that many NGOs (non-governmental 
human rights organizations) fail to point out -- in some cases may 
not even have noticed because of the pressure and funding from 
organized labor.

Therefore, Friend, I think sweeping statements such as you quote from 
me are quite appropriate.  Truth is always better then 
propaganda-based prejudice and it is especially appropriate for 
Friends to seriously seek the Truth.
				 Janet Minshall

Charles Schade's note sent 4-02-05:

>Yes, Friend, I am sure you are correct about many of the points made 
>in your note.  But some of it sounds as if you are denying the 
>existence of sweatshops and forced labor.  We know they exist in the 
>United States.  We know they exist in third world countries 
>undergoing globalization.  China, for example, has extremely high 
>economic growth, but is also well known to have numerous abuses, 
>including slave labor.  We know that slavery (under other names) 
>goes on in both the US and third world countries.  So sweeping 
>statements aimed at critics of globalization such as, "Similarly 
>they say any places and conditions of employment which do not meet 
>the standards of those in the US and Western Europe are sweatshops. 
>Further, anyone who works in production in  countries outside of the 
>US or Western Europe is said to be at considerable risk of being 
>kidnapped and forcibly enslaved."  are not particularly helpful, and 
>detract from the thoughtful tone of the rest of your note.   A 
>better approach might be to help Friends distinguish between those 
>practices in places where globalization is "working" that genuinely 
>lift individuals out of poverty and those that merely benefit a 
>ruling class or outside exploiters.
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