Sunday, January 31, 2010

Santa's Sweatshop week #5 Mason Mallory

Labor conditions have been something UC Davis students, as well as students around the country have become aware of ever since high school. Altough it's only touched briefly upon and so late in our learning lives, it's truly amazing to see how most everything material that we consume is produced in another country. What we take for granted is the fact that the United States is an outsourcinng economy. We as a country don't produce anything ourselves anymore. The US economy solely depends on the production of goods outside of the country in order to maximize profit and appeal to the consumer. But how does these things happen without someone paying for it?

Well the low wages that companies pay to laborers keeps getting lower and lower due to contractor competition. But even this isn't the real problem with outsourcing to sweatshops that this article tries to get at. The working conditions of these low wage laborers have a necessary standard that should be witheld at all times. The reasons why they aren't are particularly beceause these big companies like Levi Jeans and Guess Jeans can't possibly keep a tab on all the contractors they outsource to. So why bite off more than you can chew? Well Levi Strauss & co, who have been an "acknowledged leader in imposing higher standards on its contractors"(pp 154) have cut down on the number of countries it outsources its labor to produce their goods. Burma is one of the main countries companies like Strauss have stopped working with simply because "Burmese authorities had not discontinued the practice" of forced labor and poor working conditions, and Burmese authorities said that they would stop cooperating with the ILO".** Other companies have started to do the same, in order to tackle this working condition issue. But its important to note that this problem is also hard to address because the time and money spent monitoring these conditions at all outsorucing contractors isn't worth it to the company. So in my opinion, the culture in this capitalist and globalized economy has simply dissolved into one simple ideal: Money is the priority. There is simply no respect for the common individual, even when the head of these companies pockets plenty of money to begin with.

When you have "as many as 15,000 children in Pakistan working long hours stitching together soccer balls" (pp 160) its hard for me to believe that monitoring costs for laboring conditions aren't worth facing.

There are upsides to this outsourcing labor, in the sense that it does provide jobs for third world nations, and simultaneously it helps the American economy as it provides cheaper goods, as opposed to nations like Japan and the UK where goods are on average more expensive.

Thus, it's important to bring back this ideal of human respect and monitor and check working conditions, even if it does take the 30,000$ out of the 1,830,000$ salary of the head executives of major companies that outsource.

It's hard for me to believe, but it blew me away to think about all the christmas presents I've received from family over the years and realizing that they all came from poor third world nations. I collected sports jerseys ever since I was seven years old, and the countless number of football and baseball jersey I have, ranging in quality and size paint a completely different picture for me, in regards to how I think now.

These sort of memories help me get through this compact challenge much easier, yet its still hard not to buy any clothes or accessories. wow..that last sentence made me sound like a girl..'like, totally' 0_0

But I have been true to not buying any clothes or excessive luxuries simply to challenge myself. It's worked pretty well, but then again I already have too many clothes, shoes, hats, even hair dye and nail polish...damn.

Article: Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito Santa's Sweatshop: In a global economy, its hard to know who made your gift, and under what conditions

Images: #1


Outside Source: **