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Made in the USA
September 18, 2006 11:23 AM   Subscribe


 
Practically slave labor and "Made in U.S.A." garment labels. What a great combination!

Is this even considered globalization when the place is an American territory?
posted by MythMaker at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2006


The money quote (Delay):
"you represent everything that is good about what we’re trying to do in America"
posted by 2sheets at 11:43 AM on September 18, 2006


In Saipan, Tom DeLay served an Ideal called Capitalism, and a god named Profit. And ultimately, adhering to principles like these matters more than any foolish attempt at nation-building in the poorer areas of the United States. Ultimately, what will make Saipan a better place is belief in Ludwig von Mises, not socialist labor laws that coddle lazy immigrants. The article even admits the women would be fine as long as they worked eight hours plus eight hours overtime, every day.

This article is the typical disingenuous rot you see from the liberal media. It makes it sound as if Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff personally put guns to the women's heads, forced them to work as prostitutes for a single meal a day, drove them to abortionist when they got pregnant, and personally murdered the fetus.

That's just not the case. Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff merely wrote the laws that encouraged the exploitation of women, and then profited on other people forcing women to prostitute themselves and have abortions. Tom DeLay still goes to church every Sunday and gives generously to conservative, family-vales, anti-abortion Republican candidates. And Jack Abramoff contributed to lots of good Republicans, and to charities too. That money had to come from somewhere.

The End Times justify the means.
posted by orthogonality at 11:48 AM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Three bills currently wending their way through the U.S. House and Senate contain provisions that would make federal minimum wage requirements applicable to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

I'm skeptical about how much good these bills will do. It's clear that the garment workers desperately need help--but if, as the article say, "manufacturers are increasingly moving to such places as China, Vietnam and Cambodia, where they can pay even lower wages" won't increasing the Mariana wages drive even more manufacturers away, jettisoning even more indentured workers into the sex trade? Probably the only workable way to correct the situation is for the government to create a fund to absolve the debt of Saipan's remaining workers.
posted by Iridic at 11:50 AM on September 18, 2006


The guest worker plan is working so well there that GW wants to bring it stateside.
posted by caddis at 11:53 AM on September 18, 2006


I dunno, 2sheets, this one is pretty good: (from a worker) “I read from a book that the U.S. has the best law and protections for workers and I thought here it would be better than in China, but it isn’t.”
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:57 AM on September 18, 2006


I first heard about the country and it's strange labour laws when my friend wrote about it. The US complicit in what amounts to a slave trade? Why am I not shocked. I find this sort of stuff very depressing. I'm surprised they can get away with saying these clothes are made in the USA.
posted by chunking express at 12:08 PM on September 18, 2006


Even thought all the garments, those poor Chinese women sew, are mostly for fat american women, they only speak chinese and they communicate only in chinese, Those “recruiters” are also chinese men without scruples that later come to the US and buy properties in San Francisco area at any price since their pockets are full of dirty money.
posted by CRESTA at 12:22 PM on September 18, 2006


Sometimes I find myself feeling generous toward the Delay crowd. I may think, "I disagree with you, but maybe what divides us is just our priorities; at least we all sincerely believe what we're doing is right for America and good for the world." I credit the values of "family" and "life," which can be worthy even when pursued in a manner I consider wrongheaded.

Then I read a story like this and remember they are just assholes.
posted by brain_drain at 12:28 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


“It’s a beautiful island with beautiful people who are happy about what’s happening.” - Tom DeLay.

Often I wish I were someone else or that I were in very poor health or my leg was gone or something. It would be at least one more excuse not to put a serious hurt on bastards like this. As it is I’ve only got the ethics working for me and the knowlege that violence isn’t going to help those folks. I know that there are other better things I can do to help, and that knowlege is comforting. I know a life spent in vengence is wasted. (But that doesn’t prevent me from really, really wanting to.) More on free the slaves (and news)here.
(Un?)Fortunately if I ever give in to the temptation, there are plenty of slavers in the U.S.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:36 PM on September 18, 2006


"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
posted by ND¢ at 12:50 PM on September 18, 2006


An old bull and a young bull were looking over a meadow full of cows. The young bull said "hey, lets run down there a fuck a couple of those cows." Then the old bull said "hey, lets walk down there and fuck them all."

moral: fuck everything.
posted by obeygiant at 1:38 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I sent this article to a friend of mine who thinks that he is an economist, and he replied thusly:

my heart is bleeding. read [this] article... for the real truth. free trade is slowly making the world a better place for all.
posted by ND¢ at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2006




ND¢ friend writes "free trade is slowly making the world a better place for all."

Starting with great deals for whoremongers in Saipan.
posted by orthogonality at 2:04 PM on September 18, 2006


my heart is bleeding. read [this] article... for the real truth. free trade is slowly making the world a better place for all.

Yes, because aspiring to bad is okay as long as its not something worse. We should always look to worse examples to prove how unhuman conditions are okay!

Instead, why the fuck aren't we aspiring to no joblessness and no sweatshop labor?

I think the important part is less about the fact that this island is a sweatshop than it is that the US has sheltered and encouraged these sub-civilized conditions.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:12 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


There were these two fellers standin' on a bridge, a-goin' to the bathroom. One feller said, "The water's cold" and the other feller said, "The water's deep". I believe one fella come from Arkansas. Mmm-hmm.

These problems can be remedied. Just not by violence (or nihilism). It’s not some abusive gordian knot in some small town that needs cutting. Destroy the environment which makes this possible and it will cease to thrive. If I thought putting a bullet into someone would fix the problem I wouldn’t hesitate. Viscerally - I’d like to be the Punisher. As it happens it won’t help, and typically, one can in the course of things become part of the problem. (What’s that line from Nietzche - be careful fighting monsters lest you become a monster - that and distrusting the impulse to punish).
Plenty of ways to donate or get involved (I posted one).

ND¢ - tell your buddy he’s really, really missing the point.
Krugman redub: “You may say that the wretched of the earth should not be forced to serve as suckers of cocks, anal sex recipients, and sick pedophile fantasies for the affluent. But what is the alternative? ... to oppose it means that you are willing to deny desperately poor people the best chance they have of progress for the sake of what amounts to an aesthetic standard--that is, the fact that you don't like the idea of workers being paid a pittance to supply rich Westerners with sexual gratification. ”

Hell, I’m irritated that foreign aid is being sent instead of setting up markets and a better state of affairs, but I recognize the insanity of waiting to build the new jail because you are using solely the materials from the old jail.
But it’s not about economy or the state of the poor, it’s about human exploitation and dignity. Wages and arguments about foreign affairs and economics are one thing, slavery - company store kind of operations - and human degradation are something entirely different.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on September 18, 2006


2sheets nails it: The money quote (Delay):
"you represent everything that is good about what we’re trying to do in America"


I say we take that drunken bug killer DeLay at his word. This is what the Bush Administration is trying to do in America.

We should see the island of Saipan as the basic Republican plan for American labor. It should be exceedingly clear that Neocons would love to see workers in the United States competing on the world market for slave wages.

If Republicans are not soon driven from power, our next generation can hope to become a rag pickers in the dump, street whores, or sweat shop slaves.
posted by BillyElmore at 2:34 PM on September 18, 2006


I hate to argue my friend's side of this, because we have an ongoing free trade versus fair trade argument (which is why I sent him the article) but his point is basically this: the reason that you can't both abolish terrible working conditions and provide jobs to people in undeveloped areas, is because we live in the real world and not never-neverland.

The goal for (most of) those that advocate for free trade and fair trade is to improve people's standards of living and give them jobs and homes and what-not. One way of doing that is for employers to move into these places, and hire them at terrible wages, and treat them poorly, but over time for the marketplace to improve the conditions of their employment, and for their children's children to see the benefit of them being exploited. The other way to provide a higher quality of life for people in undeveloped areas is...

Krugman in his article stipulates that westerners prefer the horrible poverty of the rural poor over the horrible poverty of the sweatshop laboring poor because we feel unclean because we may be using the goods that the second category have produced. However, some rural poor obviously prefer being poor and working in a sweat shop to rural poverty, because they (or most of them) choose to work in them.

So, that is my callow economist-wannabe friend's argument. In all fairness, I don't believe in the argument above, so I don't know if I summed it up very well.
posted by ND¢ at 2:45 PM on September 18, 2006


Even if we solve the problem in Saipan through better labour laws, there will be thousands of similar places worldwide offering even less pay.
Why? Because people don't want to pay $20 for a tshirt.
Because if everything you eat, wear or use was made by fairly compensated workers you couldn't afford it.

Our civilization (and it's not just USA) is built on what amounts to slave labour. All great civilizations are, to some extent - starting with ancient Greece.

Maybe the only thing that can stop this sort of thing permanently is robotization.
posted by spazzm at 2:52 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]



Maybe the only thing that can stop this sort of thing permanently is robotization.


No, because then if robots did all the work for us, you'd have a bunch of puritans and right-wingers constantly grumbling about how no one works for a living anymore, and how the robot-supported welfare state is making us morally and spiritually degenerate, etc.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:02 PM on September 18, 2006


Well at least we're finally discussing practical solutions.
posted by ND¢ at 3:04 PM on September 18, 2006




posted by ND¢ at 3:09 PM on September 18, 2006


One problem: how would the people replaced by the robots be able to afford the goods produced by the robots?
posted by Iridic at 3:10 PM on September 18, 2006


ND¢, if you have a more practical solution that won't create
high prices and unemployment or requires millions of capitalists to act contrary to their own short-term benefit, please let us know.
posted by spazzm at 3:12 PM on September 18, 2006


Iridic:
1. They can't afford it now, so they won't be any worse off.
2. If robots can produce things more cheaply than humans (which we can assume to be true, otherwise they will never be used in the first place), more humans can afford more merchandise.
posted by spazzm at 3:15 PM on September 18, 2006


Hm. Replace "more merchandise" with "a higher standard of living".
posted by spazzm at 3:17 PM on September 18, 2006


One way of doing that is for employers to move into these places, and hire them at terrible wages, and treat them poorly, but over time for the marketplace to improve the conditions of their employment, and for their children's children to see the benefit of them being exploited.

I wonder, though: What is the mechanism by which the marketplace is meant to improve the conditions of their employment? Correct me if I'm wrong, but here in the states, that mechanism was the labor movement. With capital being so mobile now, it's hard to imagine how labor organization could hope to succeed in a place like Saipan. Even if workers were able to organize successfully without being deported or killed, wouldn't the companies simply pack up the tent and move to another location?

I don't mean to sound defeatist -- I ask this because I'm sincerely wondering how the free-market champions would expect this improvement to happen in a place like Saipan.
posted by boredomjockey at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2006


Without addressing the merits or flaws in whatever economic argument - there are sharp differences between paying someone a very poor wage and exploiting them. If I front someone a sum of money they can never pay back no matter how hard they work because I’ve rigged the system that way while profiting hugely from it - that’d be exploitation. And, really, we can debate that topic all we like.
Argue, however, that we cannot or should not do anything about those exploiters raping women and children, forcing them to abort children and the like, and we will have a serious fight on our hands.
There is no connection that can possibly be made between forced sexual slavery and some ultimately beneficial system of economics.
To be clear - I am of course not asserting anyone is making that argument at all. But I will point out that it is not the central matter under consideration, and considering the piece, I think it should be.
I’m astonished that anyone could consider themselves a conservative and not be outraged at the kind of behavior going on there. (And indeed, where are the bleeding heart liberals?) How could one possibly think abortions are right and proper when it comes to economic forces and management profit concerns?

Do I have an answer? Not a hard and fast one. That would involve investigating the perpetrators here and executing them.

But - more clear headedly - perhaps a hefty tax on companies/goods/etc. found to be guilty of these kinds of human rights abuses (whether they’re subcontracted or not)? Maybe a fine at least? Or are we just so ‘liberal’ that abortions are an easy economic choice or so ‘conservative’ that unborn lives must bend under market forces.
This isn’t some touchy feely bullshit about how we feel bad that some woman somewhere is only getting 30 cents an hour and working 16 hours. Or how we need to do this for cheap prices or any underlying economic forces and better future crap.
This is about trapping people in a situation with lies and malice aforethought and depriving them of their human rights and dignity.
And people do that all the time - the money is only an excuse. So it’s not about the fucking money.
Granted - maybe the answer to fix it involves money - doing something with that would dry up the environment that makes human rights abuses possible.
Then those people would scurry back to their ratholes and go back to drug running or pirating like the criminal scum they are instead of getting away with masquerading as businessmen.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


/including Tom DeLay
posted by Smedleyman at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2006


Is this even considered globalization when the place is an American territory?

No.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on September 18, 2006


What's kind of disgusting is how cheap it is to buy our politicians. I mean, These companies make billions of dollars, and how much goes to the politicians keeping 'em in business? A few tens of thousands at most? Pathetic.

Here's my solution to government corruption: Every year a politician is in office, $1 million goes into a private account they can't access. After they leave, if they haven't committed any crimes relating to their job, they get the money. You can bet none of them would be selling us out for a few grand here and there, that's for sure.
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Speaking of globalization, globalization actually solved this problem. With unrestricted garment imports from other countries, there is no need to make things in Saipan, and the factories are closing.

Of course that just moves the problem, and out of congressional reach, but still.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2006


I don't mean to sound defeatist -- I ask this because I'm sincerely wondering how the free-market champions would expect this improvement to happen in a place like Saipan.

It's easy. They're out of their minds.
posted by delmoi at 5:56 PM on September 18, 2006


The problem isn't the "Free" market. In a truly free labor market, every single poor 3rd world worker could fly to the US legally and take a job here, with all the protection that entails. Unless there is free movement of labor globalization will never be a free market. Today the worlds poor are like serfs, tied to the land they were born on.

The problem is that the market isn't free, but rigged by the rich to screw the poor.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on September 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


delmoi, if you can bang out shirts like you do comments, you'll make one hell of a line worker.
posted by brain_drain at 6:14 PM on September 18, 2006


Yeah, but does he put out?
posted by Smedleyman at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2006


delmoi, if you can bang out shirts like you do comments, you'll make one hell of a line worker.

Yeah sorry about that.

Yeah, but does he put out?

Damn straight I do.
posted by delmoi at 6:54 PM on September 18, 2006


Here's my solution to government corruption: Every year a politician is in office, $1 million goes into a private account they can't access. After they leave, if they haven't committed any crimes relating to their job, they get the money. You can bet none of them would be selling us out for a few grand here and there, that's for sure.

No, they would keep selling you out. More importantly, they would keep selling the rest of us out when we had no say at all in putting them into positions of power. They aren't on the take to amass wealth directly but rather to fund their reelection war chests. It's holding office and the connections they can make and the deals that can be struck for their post-politics life that make them immensely wealthy. The political contributions they receive are a pittance compared to what they would make if they remained lawyers or went into finance.

A better solution would be to provide public funding for candidates and then prohibit donations from corporate and special interest sources. Those reduced funds would then only be available for producing minimalist, talking-head style spots on television, radio and newspapers, where the airtime and space would be given gratis to candidates.

Expensive, slick scare campaigns, direct mailings and many of the other things that make campaigning today so expensive (and poisonous) would be banned. However, the million dollar a year scheme would only provide another relatively small incentive to fight even harder to remain in office. They would continue with the unethical but legal practices to acquire the funds for it.
posted by Jenga at 12:21 AM on September 19, 2006


delmoi :-)
posted by Smedleyman at 10:02 AM on September 19, 2006


Saipan Sucks
posted by mokujin at 2:57 PM on September 19, 2006


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