American Gulag

I’m glad to see the burst of news stories about Asian sweatshops. Maybe it’s just a campaign to deflect blame for the high unemployment rate on behalf of President Obama. If so, I’m not so sure that it’s a good strategy. I mean, what did Obama really do to bring jobs home, or put an end to sweatshop production?

In any case, what these stories leave out is that the working conditions in the American Gulag (a.k.a. Asian supply chain) are no accident. The global trading system was EXPLICITLY designed to facilitate “military style” sweatshops where hapless third-world peasants are burned to a crisp in easily avoidable industrial accidents.

The fact is that the multinationals architected the World Trade Organization (WTO) to deliberately have no rules about working conditions or wages.

That’s what happens when corporate lobbyists are allowed to write legislation. It comes out all fascist-y.

So, keep that in mind when you read stories like this one. Companies like Apple wouldn’t be experiencing a good-or-evil dilemma in a properly-constructed global trading system.

On a related topic, I haven’t heard any Republicans advocating the elimination of the minimum-wage laws recently. Maybe I turned them back when I wrote: “There’s a Sweatshop in Your Future.” Prospects for bringing the Gulag to the USA seem to have dimmed.

At least for now.

2 thoughts on “American Gulag


    can’t stand these convenient excuses of “it costs more if we do it without slavery and poeple don’t care as much about slavery as they do about getting our product,” completely ignoring that it only costs more because of government policy that could be changed tomorrow.

    i also don’t buy that people don’t care about slavery; but why should the consumer be admonished for policies it has absolutely no control over creating in the first place? people like to take a way too simplistic view of capitalism that ignores so many other things that make it not capitalism.

  2. That was an amazing quote, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Slaving is incredibly profitable, and the rationalizations come easy. But whoever that executive is, he has a remarkably brazen attitude. At least Kathie Lee Gifford tried to make amends when she was busted in 1996.

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