Monday, November 26, 2007

Two Stories of Modern Slavery

It sounds kind of nice when it is called Free Trade. It isn't so nice when you look behind the curtain at working conditions little different than slavery that are bringing cheap goods into the United States.

Barefoot Forge
Someone at the New York Times noticed that ConEd manhole covers in New York City are stamped with a "Made in India" label. Why, he wondered, was it cheaper to ship these 100-pound lids halfway around the world than make them in Poughkeepsie and barge them down the Hudson River? That journalistic curiosity led to the exposure of the working conditions of the Shakti Industries foundry which makes manhole covers for ConEd. Barefoot, shirtless men wearing cotton skirts and possessing virtually no safety equipment labor in sweltering conditions for just a few dollars a day. While the photographer saw worker's minimal clothing catch on fire, the the company's director boldly heartlessly claimed that they have never had an accident.

Suffer the Little Children

This comes from my other blog, Where God Went Wrong, and before that from the AFL-CIO news blog. The multi-billion dollar American Christian Retail industry is making a killing on crucifixes. The crosses are made in Chinese sweatshops by children who are earning only nine cents an hour (after mandatory deductions for company provided food and housing). These children, mostly 15 and 16 year-old girls, work 14+ hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes, to meet the demand of the faithful, these children are forced to work shifts lasting as long as 25 hours. These working conditions violate even the lax Chinese laws. It's a cruel twist on the biblical verse:
Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. ~ Mark 10:14

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