Monday, 19 March 2007

Responsibility for Sweatshops and Child Labor

When I hear stories, such as the awful conditions under which young teenagers in Guatemala are forced to work to prepare products for export to the United States market, I feel despair that objections to the facilitation of such outrages by lauded free trade agreements are dismissed as the ravings of lefty loonies.

I don't claim to know that such abuses would be less in the absence of these agreements. Indeed that is a question not sufficiently answered by the Democracy Now report. But I don't believe the pretense of ignorance on the part of the corporations in this country about these abuses. At some level it is appropriate that we be bothered by the extent to which our comfort is made to depend on the misery of others.

If free trade can be used as a lever to force changes and better conditions for the oppressed in distant lands, I'll gladly hail that. But the extent to which these stories must find their expression in the alternative media suggest a willing complicity in need of greater exposure. Thank you Amy Goodman, for your role in making these stories more widely known.

Whatever you may believe about what make the best trade policies, it is not extreme to decry the abuse of under aged workers, or any workers, in the service of providing cheaper goods for the privileged among us. If that's how capitalism works, then capitalism is broken.

1 comment:

veda said...

yours was very nice .