Grob1o61's Blog

October 28, 2009

DumpDiving vs SweatShops

Filed under: Uncategorized — grob1o61 @ 12:28 am

Hello one and all.  Papa Dondervogel here. Todays topic? DumpsterDiving, Cambodian style.

Mine 34In January of this year, Nicholas Kristoff of Newsweek published a story about the people who live on and from the garbage dumps of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Children wandering barefoot over mountains of garbage searching for plastic cups which they can sell for five cents american per pound.  Families live in shacks, on top of, these mountains of garbage. Talk to these people and , to them, a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream.  A 19 year old woman says that she would love to get a job, in what to them is just a factory, “At least that work is in the shade. Here is where it’s hot.”   Another woman dreams that her 10 year old son may get such a job.  He has never seen a dentist or a doctor and has not bathed since he was two.  A factory job is far more peasant and safer than living here and searching garbage for a living.  She has seen children run over by the dump trucks.

     It’s good that americans are repulsed by people working under sweat shop conditions, but sweat shops don’t cause poverty.  They are a symptom of poverty.  The best way to help the poor in third world countries isn’t to campaign against sweat shops.  Manufacturing needs to be promoted in these countries to raise their standard of living, thereby raising their views of themselves.

     Would I like to work in one of those factories?  Heck no.   I also wouldn’t want to make a living as a rickshaw driver or a garbage dump scavenger either.  But, if that is what was necessary to keep my family alive, you know I would do it and so would most parents.  Ask 13 year old Neuo Chanthou. She earns less than $1 per day scavenging in the dump.  She worries about her sister, who lost part of her hand when she was run over by a garbage truck.  Neuo wears a ‘playboy’ shirt and hat that she scavenged out of the garbage.

     I hope I’ve given you all a little to think about.  Why do you think that Walmart gets away with how they treat their employees in the U.S.?  Besides a little money slid here and there, and the fact that most people don’t care, those employees are doing what they have to, to feed themselves and their families as best as they can. If that means working two or three rotten jobs and getting no sleep, that’s what it takes.  If you’re concerned about worker treatment, look in your own back yard.  You don’t know enough about the world yet to judge anywhere else.

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