The consequences for granting exemptions to U. S. federal labour laws to garment subcontractors operating in Saipan was that they could pay the workers a fraction of the minimum wage, work them harder in poor conditions and for longer hours.
This proves that the neoliberal agenda breeds the growth of inequality as the multinational corporations will naturally move their factories to countries that allow exploitation of third world workers.
Free trade only benefits the one percent, the other ninety nine percent are left without jobs in their own countries because all the factories have moved to third world countries to save the companies money by subjecting their workers to squalor and pay them next to nothing.
Suicides at Apple’s main supplier in China, in 2010 Foxconn has been reported for labour law abuses such as child labour, forced overtime and unsafe working condition and violations of minimum wage laws, when in actual fact Apple’s profit has reached an amazing $13 Billion. This contrasting with Apple’s image as a forward thinking innovative company that produces the latest in the most sort after electronics.
Regarding the factory owners in Saipan, one of their main concerns is that their employees can work and women cannot work if they’re pregnant, that’s the reason they force female employees to take birth control because they don’t want them to have time off work.
Their profit matters more than their workers family and in some cases they tell pregnant workers to have abortions so in that respect, the business is more important than the life of an unborn child. If this happened in a first world country it would be a disgrace, your job should have no say in what you do to your body.
Opposition to sweatshops had limited chance of success up to this point but Apple has differed in circumstances from that of campaigns against the garment industry. Apple is so rich and so high profile and its products are now central to modern life and so much in demand it seems that pressure from consumers might actually affect the likelihood that there will be change for the conditions at Apple’s suppliers in China.
Whether this means that increased demands leads to continued necessity for labour abuses to secure high profits or whether this means that for the sake of their image they will improve their labour ethics is yet to be made clear.
The only way consumers could take action against these multinationals is to stop consuming but that’s almost impossible, as consumers by their namesake are programmed to consume. There’s really no way of stopping corporations from not following labour laws as long as there are countries with lax labour laws.
Where there is a will there’s a way, as they say and as long as companies can save money outsourcing to third world countries they will because profit means more to them than the suffering of others, so the only way to combat that would be to tighten the labour laws and unionise the third world countries so their governments can’t allow the workers to be exploited by multinational corporations.
It’s retailers’ responsibility to research who they get their products from and where the products are made, and if they’re made in a sweat shops at the expense of a third world worker, it’s their responsibility not to stock those goods so the callous corporation do not profit from other peoples misery.
The federal government’s duty to not allow goods to be imported into the country that comes from third world sweatshops. Until it can be established that those exporters follow US labour laws and their workers are treated fairly.
On the other hand China is actually a great example of the benefits of globalization; Investment from foreign countries has increased over the last twenty years, which has resulted in a great deal of economic growth. Wages has been increasing ten percent a year over the last ten years.
Joan Robinson, a British economist, half a century ago stated, “ the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.”
Karl Marx in his analysis of transition discusses the result of feudal society breaking down. People are essentially thrown off their land which in turn creates a surplus of labour. This results in the exploitation of these desperate masses when they are inevitably forced into cities.
The capitalists own the means of production and they and want you to be dependent on their money so that they can pay you whatever they deem your labour to be worth, of course Marx realises that without this labour, industry would grind to halt so it’s in fact worth far more than the capitalists want to pay but of course to stay rich they have to steal your labour and pay you a fraction of what its truly worth so you’re easier to dominate.
This of course has sparked off the antagonistic relationship between the working class and the capitalists who own the means of production, because the workers realise they deserve more but capitalism dictates that to stay rich and powerful you have to pay as little as possible to your labour force.
In a sense it’s the same in government because although we could protest we’re essentially preaching to the devil because the worker wants more money and better rights and more power but the people he’s asking for these rights from are the people who own the means of production i. e. the people that don’t want the exact opposite.
This generally devolves into a sickly compromise if anything comes of it at all and even then they’re more likely just to out-source their labour to a country that allows them to pay their workers whatever they want.
Riots as a form of dissent get the point across better than a protest because in most cases it stops the means of production, as in it stops their money flow and that’s when the capitalists pay attention, not when workers die, not when disasters happen but when the means of production are damaged.
People are just numbers to them but for the workers the numbers are on their side, so they should use these numbers to cause riots not just to cause social change on a small scale but to be the start of a full scale revolution that has been too long in coming.
Jeremy Bentham, founded utilitarianism which put simply is the desire to dissipate the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. He basically saw people as moral calculators and for every action they should do a mental calculation of how much good as opposed to bad each action might cause.
The reason I like this approach is simply because it’s fair. The punishment isn’t left to a jury or a bias judge to decide it’s calculated empirically, so that everyone is measured out the same justice, I also think this model takes the focus off the monetary value of crime and onto the victims of crime where it should be. For instance if someone embezzles money they should be treated more leniently than someone who has killed someone because the embezzler has caused no harm to a person, no lasting pain or grief to the family.
This obviously draws us to this situation, how can you punish a corporation for causing that wide scale pain and suffering? In terms of utilitarianism they are doing the right thing in regards to creating the most happiness for the largest number as the country they are exploiting is being developed gradually but why should capitalism have to thrive through exploitation? How can you create happiness through suffering?
Henslin. J. M. (2012) Social Change and the Environment Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Census Update, Tenth Edition. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Pearson Education, Inc.
Schmalleger, F. (2012). Criminology today: An integrative introduction (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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