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8945: Re: Re: 8904: Job Creation, again (fwd)

From: Phil Knowles <Phildk@prodigy.net>

Dorce says: "Bad, abusive jobs are not better than NO jobs.  Fix the
conditions then talk about investing in assembly jobs.  Until then, expect
road blocks."

I am not Haitian, and I have no special privilege to give an opinion. But,
like many, I still like to say what I think.  I have thought and talked
about this issue quite a long time.

One Fact:    manufacturing of clothes and of many small commonplace
electronic and electric appliances seems to seek the lowest wages and most
hospitable political places.  It seems to be worthwhile, to the investor, to
move the sewing machines or whatever when it's possible to make a better
profit in place B than in place A.  Even high tech jobs leave the USA and
Japan, going to Mexico and China  -  it is a basic feature of this global

A Fact with an Opinion:    in some of the lowest wage countries it is also
possible to get away with unsanitary, unhealthy, nasty, hardship working
conditions.  When Americans (and perhaps others?) find out, they feel guilty
and may even boycott the product. So although you can get away with gross
exploitation of local workers, there is some awareness -  not a lot - of why
those jeans or shirts are only $4.99 or whatever. I think that awareness is
slowly improving, thanks to certain high profile people getting involved in
the publicity.  So, to some limited degree, it is now better business to
provide passably decent working conditions and wages.

What then, for Haiti?  In my opinion  (1)there are US investors who would be
interested in making clothing or whatever in Haiti, because it is a lot
closer to home than Sri Lanka or Pakistan  (2) but they definitely require a
helpful government, security,  and adequate infrastructure  (3) Haiti has
lots of people willing to work for low (by our standards) wages.  But there
is, as Dorce says, no excuse for tolerating "bad, abusive jobs".

Haiti, then, must establish clear minimum standards for decent working
conditions.  At the same time, the most idealistic among us must realize
that a 500 or 1000 job factory which can be placed in many other countries
will not locate in Haiti if wages are too much above the 'competition'.
Gradually, I hope, conditions - and wages - will improve in all Third World
countries, through the publicity and the understanding in the First World,
and cooperative agreements among the producing countries.  Perhaps, we
should not be able to buy a good telephone for $11 or a good Winter parka
for $24, etc.  simply because no one anywhere should work at pennies per
hour in miserable conditions.

Phil Knowles