This blog is a comment on the passage “A Slave World” by Charles Eisenstein.
I read this passage entitled “Slave World” from Charles Eisenstein’s book “Sacred Economics” a few days ago. By the time I read the final paragraph, I was in tears. When I read the last line, I was literally crying my eyes out. Tears of shame and guilt flowed down my face as though it were raining. Why must it be that so many people must abandon, or even worse, never get a chance to discover their innate dreams due to the need to work for life-sustaining resources?
I put the book down and reflected. I recalled the day my “sustainability journey” began in 2007. I was working at Accenture Consulting flying back and forth across the country each week. On my way out the door one week, my brother handed me a book entitled “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins.
Having exhausted the movie options on my regular flight, I decided to give the book a chance. It will turn out to be the first book I had read since I graduated from college five years ago. I read it cover to cover and exited the plane a different person than the one that boarded six hours earlier. John Perkins lived a life “developing” the “developing world”, a practice I felt at the time was noble work. After all, economic growth was the engine that promoted prosperity, happiness, and well-being.
My beliefs couldn’t have been farther from the truth. John Perkins used to work for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank creating “development aid” packages at interest rates (up to 20% annually) that they knew would be impossible to pay back. Many countries would never see the money as it would flow directly to the transnational corporations who would use ex-patriots for the construction work. Inevitably, the interest could not be repaid forcing these countries to renegotiate their debts in a way that lowered protective trade barriers, flooded local markets with cheap imports that destroyed local economies, and created a group of desperate people willing to work for subsistence wages in factories to survive.
What other choice did they have? Their businesses can’t compete with the cheap goods from multi-national corporations operating with large government subsidies. The people have one offer and it is of the “take it or leave it” variety. And when that job is the only means to meet the basic needs of their family, people have no choice but to take it.
It is, in effect, the same as slavery and, in some cases, even worse. Under a slave system, slave “masters” were responsible for the well-being of their slaves and had to provide food, shelter, and health care. Under the “free market” system, if a worker became sick or maimed, they could be easily replaced. The employer is under no obligation to make sure their workers can afford basic necessities. There is little help for anyone unable to work. This is hardly a choice
And why is it that this system exists? It is due to market competition to provide the lowest possible prices. Consumers do not have a choice. They cannot choose to pay more and have those extra dollars flow to people whose lives could be dramatically improved by relatively small amounts of money.
Nor should they have to. Last week, Apple, Inc. became the wealthiest corporation in the world when its market capitalization passed Exxon Mobil. It has $98 billion in cash reserves. Yet the company uses sub-contractors like Foxconn that enforce “long hours and paltry wages” driving many workers to suicide. What is the purpose of hoarding all that money? Just to give an even greater return to the owners of money, also known as investors?
Is this how we want our world to function? Can’t we do better? How does it make you feel to use a product embedded with the tears and blood of so many people?
- See more at: http://sustainableman.org/benefiting-from-the-indignity-of-others/#sthash.HdrboOnw.dpuf