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6075: Manufacturing (Dorce, Knowles & Burnham) (fwd)
From: Phil Knowles <Phildk@prodigy.net>
If people come to a factory and don't make enough to cover transportation,
lunch, taxes - in other words don't come out ahead, then NONE of us should
support it, ALL of us should lobby against it. Harper's (magazine) had an
in-depth report some months ago on such situations in Central America. The
author said he was threatened with harm just for being near these factories.
Other articles have shed light on conditions in the Far East, and right in
Manhattan. It is amazing that people - 'entrepreneurs' - can stoop so low.
I'm sure they rationalize. So do pimps, loan sharks, and drug dealers.
That said, can we agree that (1) not all factories are equally bad (2)
there is the possibility of manufacturing where wages are low but conditions
are decent and the workers come out ahead (3) the world has a huge demand
for low cost clothing (and electronic gear, toys, dishes, the list is
almost endless..) which WILL be made "overseas" as long as there are places
where it's cheaper to make than at home and tarriffs are low (4) poor and
illiterate countries are competing with each other for these jobs. In China,
production is huge, the trade volume is awesome, and they, like it or not,
unevenly to be sure, are growing richer.
Is it responsible to be against all low wage manufacturing in Haiti?
Frankly, my impression is that those who seek low cost manufactuing sites
don't care where they go, but they do want stability and safety. A country
that doesn't offer that is out of the running, whether some people want
those jobs or not. Haiti has been out of this market, mostly, since we (USA)
imposed the embargo during the Cedras coup years.
I wish, Kathy, that your standard of "enough to support a family" could be
the minimum we'd demand for factory jobs. But that's not even true at home
(US). The minimum wage, which is paid for unskilled work unless a worker
shortage pushes up the actual wages offered, isn't enough to support a
family. I guess at the bottom line, a job isn't offered by a business owner
in order to provide someone a way to support a family; a job is offered at
the lowest legal and competitive wage possible to obtain the services and
skills needed by that owner. At least in our system. In non market-driven
economies, the state decides what is to be paid and how many of what things
are to made. In some cases, no one except some bureaucrats gets rich,
almost everyone has a job and some basic needs met, product quality and
variety are minimal, pollution, inefficiencies and graft are the norm, and
the country is not a world market player.
My only goal here is to debate the options available for Haiti. Can someone
define a program that will create jobs and raise the standard of living in
Haiti? Can we do it without subjecting people to abysmal working
conditions? If so , let's all get behind it. What we seem to have now is
poverty, joblessness, poor schools, and illiteracy. We see small projects
(classes, libraries, tree plantings, etc.) run by charitable foreigners, and
a million or so Haitians overseas sending enough goods and money for
If low cost manufacturing is not to return to Haiti, what then?