His Friends Our Economy
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              In   the   quest   to   rebuild   Haiti   and   assist   the   country   in   recovery,   international   leaders   are planning     on     expanding     the     low-wage     garment     industry.     President     Obama     and     his administration   are   also   on   board,   encouraging   the   retailers   of   the   United   States   to   purchase   at least 1 percent of their inventory from Haiti. According   to   an   Associated   Press   article   entitled,   “Can   low-paying   garment   industry   save Haiti?”   by   Jonathan   M.   Katz,   the   Haitian   garment   workers   make   a   minimum   wage   of   125 gourdes   per   day,   averaging   about   $3.09   for   eight   hours   of   labor.   Producing   600   pieces   in   a   day used   to   mean   a   bonus   of   $2.47   for   the   worker,   but   now   it   is   only   worth   an   extra   $1.23.   This low-paid wage is not enough to live on, yet factory workers deny running “sweatshops.”          Before   the   earthquake   in   Haiti   that   claimed   over   200,000   lives,   the   unemployment   rate   was estimated   at   between   60-80   percent. According   to   the Associated   Press,   most   Haitians   do   not have   steady   incomes   and   what   little   money   they   make   comes   from   doing   odd   jobs   or   relying on   remittances   from   abroad   that   make   up   a   quarter   of   Haiti’s   seven   billion   gross   domestic products.          The   economic   growth   plan   commissioned   by   United   Nations’   Secretary   General   Ban   Ki-moon last   year   is   centered   on   the   garment   industry.   Former   President   Bill   Clinton   is   promoting   the low-wage   garment   industry   in   Haiti   stating,   “The   rich   will   get   richer,   but   there   will   be   a   much, much bigger middle class, with pour people pouring into it at a rapid rate.”          Haiti   currently   has   a   trade   deal   with   the   United   States   known   as   HOPE   II   (the   Haiti Hemispheric   Opportunity   through   Partnership   Encouragement Act).   U.S.   Congress   passed   HOPE II   in   2008   and   it   allows   Haiti   to   export   textiles   duty-free   to   the   United   States   for   at   least   a decade.   According   to   the   Associated   Press,   $513   million   worth   of   apparel   was   shipped   in 2009,   including   labels   such   as   Hanes   and   New   Balance.   Supporters   say   expanding   the   garment industry    in    Haiti    could    quickly    produce    thousands    of    jobs    and    because    of    the    existing preferential   trade   deal   with   the   United   States   and   the   cheap   Haitian   labor,   they   say   the industry   would   thrive   and   eventually   rebound   the   nation. There   are   currently   25,000   garment jobs   in   Haiti.   The   government   wishes   to   expand   the   industry   with   two   new   sites   outside   of Port-au-Prince.         Instead    of    bringing    manufacturing    companies    to    our    country,    we    continue    to    create “sweatshops”   overseas   in   countries   like   China,   Africa,   and   Haiti,   where   the   companies   pay employees   low-wages,   then   export   and   sell   the   products   in   the   United   States   for   a   high   cost. The   United   States   lost   2.3   million   jobs   as   a   result   of   the   trade   imbalance   with   China   alone between   2001-2007.   In   today’s   society,   we   have   become   too   stingy   with   money.   Instead   of creating   jobs   for   our   own   unemployed   and   paying   a   minimum   wage   of   over   seven   dollars   to workers,   our   nation   is   sending   jobs   overseas   where   they   can   pay   little   money   to   employees and   then   make   heaps   in   return.   An   executive   at   Volkswagen   once   said   "the   cost   of   labor   in China   is   nothing."   It   is   estimated   there   are   760   million   laborers   in   China.   One   Chinese   analyst predicted China would be the main source of cheap labor for the next 30 to 60 years.         Among   these   cheap   laborers   are   millions   of   children.   Child   labor   persists   even   where   it   has been   declared   illegal,   and   the   laws   are   widely   ignored   and   poorly   enforced.   Worldwide, children    work    in    hazardous    conditions,    often    enduring    beatings,    humiliation    and    sexual violence   by   their   employers.   Of   all   the   world’s   children,   approximately   one   in   seven   is involved in some form of child labor.          By   definition,   child   labor   involves   work   performed   by   children   under   the   age   of   18 (depending   on   the   country).   The   International   Labour   Organization   (ILO)   is   a   “UN   agency   that brings   together   governments,   employers   and   workers   of   its   member   states   in   common   action to   promote   decent   work   throughout   the   world.”   According   to   the   ILO,   more   than   200   million children   in   the   world   today   are   involved   in   child   labor.   Children   work   to   survive   and   because their families financially depend on it.          According   to   the   Child   Rights   Information   Network   (CRIN)   the   highest   numbers   of   child laborers   are   in   the   Asia/Pacific   region.   However,   the   highest   proportion   of   child   laborers   is   in Sub-Saharan   Africa,   where   26%   of   children,   totaling   about   49   million,   work.   Across   Africa, there   are   an   estimated   80   million   child   workers,   a   number   that   could   rise   to   100   million   by 2015.          According   to   the   ILO,   41   percent   of   all   African   children   between   the   ages   of   5   and   14   are involved   in   some   form   of   economic   activity,   compared   with   21   percent   in Asia   and   17   percent in   Latin   America.   Among   girls,   the   participation   rate   also   is   the   highest:   37   percent   in   Africa, 20   percent   in Asia   and   11   percent   in   Latin America. Also,   in   China   there   are   an   estimated   10- 20 million child workers under the age of 16.          President   Obama’s   administration   and   members   of   the   United   Nations   are   advocating   for   the low-wage   garment   industry’s   expansion,   calling   it   an   “economic   growth   plan.”   However,   if   the low-wage    industry    continues    to    expand,    more    people    in    our    own    country    will    become unemployed   because   of   the   outsourcing   of   these   jobs.   In   addition,   more   children   in   those countries   will   fall   victim   to   child   labor,   despite   what   the   laws   say.   Society   is   too   caught   up   in the love of money to realize the seriousness of the issue. What happened to equality?
“The write-up on Haiti below is a prime example of what is happening to our economy in today's society. The large corporations are becoming money hungry and creating sweatshops, like the ones talked about below, that hire for little pay and mass produce to make back millions. The problem is even bigger than most imagine, with most sweatshops hiring underage children as workers and letting all the rules be swept to the side and forgotten.