Thursday, May 22, 2008

Like most college students here in Davis, I am broke. More often than not my wallet is empty and my checking balance is near or below zero. I can’t even afford the luxury of buying second hand clothes, let alone Seven jeans or whatever overpriced items they’re selling at the mall these days. It wasn’t always like this. At one point when I was working I spent most of my earnings getting some pretty nice “threads”. After quitting my job, however, I reverted back to being a semi-professional hobo. So since I can’t afford anything right now I decided to look through clothes I already own. After going through my closet I discovered all my Guess clothes were made in America. I always thought things made domestically were more expensive because American labor laws prevented sweat shops from being used to produce cheap clothing. According to the article “Forever in Trouble?” (Byun, 2003) that is not necessarily true. If I decide to buy a domestically made item over something say, made in China, I fully expect the premium I’m paying to go directly to an American laborer. Byun points out that some clothing manufacturers make their clothes here but employ illegal immigrants. These sweat shops are then able to avoid labor laws because most of their employees will not protest in fear of losing their jobs or being deported. They pay their employees the bare minimum needed to survive and then sell their clothes at inflated prices. Consumers are willing to pay these prices because they think made in America must mean better quality and better work environments for the laborers. At least that’s what I thought. It’s easy to put all the blame on these clothing companies. They probably should try to follow labor laws because after all, it is the law. But realistically in a capitalist society the prime measure of success is how much profit you can acquire. In this respect, the companies are only finding the most profitable option viable to them. Although the illegal immigrants work in harsh conditions, they do so by their own choice. The options they have besides working in a sweat shop are not necessarily better if not worse. I can go on forever about this so I’ll leave you all with this: maybe it would help if our government made an international announcement showing how life for an illegal immigrant in America really is like. In this day and age, America is only the land of opportunity if you have money.

Enjoy your long weekend homies.

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