Sunday, June 30, 2013

Obama Hypes Africa for more Sweatshops

Because Obama is in Africa, the pundits on MSNBC were saying this morning that China has invested far more in Africa than the U.S., and that we should "catch up" (as in, a race to the bottom). They also noted that the Chinese were using their own workers, rather than hiring the local population.

So what the pundits on MSNBC are saying is, American companies should invest more in Africa (more than Chinese companies), and hire the local workers --- rather than U.S. companies investing more in America, and hiring American workers. The American "mainstream media" is now advocating for the propagation of more globalism.

And as far as the Chinese using their own workers --- maybe the Chinese are using their own slaves, rather than enslaving and exploiting foreign workers.

During the 1800's the American Colonization Society began sending black volunteers to the Pepper Coast of Africa (the present republic of Liberia) to establish a colony for freed American blacks. It was supported by prominent American politicians such as Abraham Lincoln, who believed that repatriation was preferable to emancipation of slaves.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 18, 2000 as part of the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The trade agreement allows businesses in West African countries (such as Liberia) to export to the United States duty and quota free, raising interest from U.S. clothing manufacturers that have seen increases in the cost of hiring workers in China --- where much clothing manufacturing now occurs.

It's been a while since Kathie Lee Gifford learned that her Walmart-sold clothing line was produced by Honduran children working 20-hour shifts. But little has changed since then.

At Classic, the largest factory in Jordan, management hired young women from Asia, stripped them of their passports, forced them to work grueling hours for awful pay under a managerial regime that subjected them to routine rape. After an exposé, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Lands’ End stopped doing business with Classic, but the factory’s chief customer, Wal-Mart, was unfazed (75 percent of Classic-made apparel is still going to Wal-Mart and Hanes.)

Penney’s and other big name U.S. brands insist their companies had no responsibility for the factories where their products were made because they did not directly own them. This is much like "plausible deniability", and the factories are called "contract manufacturers --- just like the ones Apple and others use in the tech industry.

After fierce activism by anti-sweatshop groups, wages in Indonesians rose, but companies like Nike responded by shifting its production to other low-wage nations, such as Vietnam. Nike egregiously exploits hundreds of thousands of workers on a daily basis and have a global sourcing model that is the most extremely destructive and inhumane of all others.

President Bill Clinton’s 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) merely included a side agreement that required adherence to local labor laws, no matter how weak. The more recent trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, South Korea and Peru require compliance with the International Labor Organization's standards, but these improvements aren’t adequate either, as there's no effective way to enforce them.

As major U.S. corporations (from apparel to computer manufacturers) constantly seek out the lowest wages, the lowest taxes and the least governmental regulations (concerning worker's rights and other labor laws) --- as these corporations hop from one country to the next --- will Africa be their next "emerging market"?

Now Obama is in South Africa saying that America is moving beyond just aide, but will open up trade and investment to promote new "opportunities" in Africa. And he spoke of "lifting people out of poverty" --- a typical globalist's goal --- someone who advocates a policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.

Should American companies invest more in Africa (building factories) and hire the local workers --- rather than investing more in America and hiring American workers? If so, will the descendants of America's emancipated slaves in West Africa eventually become corporate America's new labor force? Will the free people of Liberia once again become slaves for American industrialists like they once were in the cotton fields on those huge plantations back in the 1800's?

Of course, more American investment in Africa will also mean an increased U.S. military presence --- to "defend America's interests abroad".

According to a recent CRS report by Linda Levine (Specialist in Labor Economics) that was prepared for members and committees of Congress, 29% of American jobs are currently prone to offshoring. At the current rate of globalization, babies born today will live to see when America becomes "the next emerging market".

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