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Author Topic: Jesus Christ - Made in China?
WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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Title is by me, Article is from:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/21/1520248

As from Democracy Now!:
--------------------------------------------------
With Christmas just over a month away a new report by the National Labor Committee accuses US-based Christian retailers and churches of selling crucifixes made under sweatshop conditions in China. The labor rights watchdog announced Tuesday that the crucifixes were made by young women working 14- to 25-hour shifts for less than half of China’s legal minimum wage. The report implicated the New York City-based St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity Church, and, at the national level, the $4.63 billion dollar Association for Christian Retail.
The Association for Christian Retail rejected the claims in the report and called them “irresponsible and unfounded.” They noted that the report lacked specific evidence and said that their retailers had recently found cleaner factories, improved living conditions, and increased wages at crucifix production centers in China.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral did not respond to Democracy Now! but has reportedly joined Trinity Church in pulling crucifixes from their gift shops. Trinity Church told Democracy Now! that they “do not support manufacturers who are associated with sweatshop labor.” Trinity Church had thought the crucifixes had been manufactured in Italy, they added.
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It's a great story exposing once again the Hypocrisy of "the Church". I would have though that AT LEAST they can sell something made without the use of "slave labor" in a far away country.

I wish democracy now had a full transcript of it, so I can post it, but not in this case...

Listen to the story (or watch) at Link

Another Link:
NY Times -

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scifibum
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I'm not sure how I feel about holding retailers responsible for how their products are produced. If the contract is with a country that does have labor laws, then why should it fall to the US based company to enforce those laws? The report alleges that workers were being paid less than the Chinese minimum wage. I think that is China's problem, not companies in the US. I don't know enough about the labor laws in China to know if the other abuses that were alleged are already prohibited - but if they are, again, China's problem.

If the laws don't exist - if we are dealing in countries that don't protect their own workers - what's the impact of trying to enforce our concepts of fair labor laws abroad? If it means we in the US pay a little more for useless stupid trinkets and accessories, then fine. If it means that the market for these items goes away, then...perhaps we just put a bunch of hungry workers out of jobs. I don't think that's quite what we would aim for, but if we refuse to buy goods because we don't like the workers' situation then it is a possible outcome.

Should we try to dictate the terms between foreign laborers and their employers? Can we be sure that we don't eliminate jobs as a result, instead of improving them?

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RickyB
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Well, the retailer has a responsibility once they have convincing evidence. It's not a question of legal obligation, but of what you as a person are willing to be a part of.
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Jesse
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quote:
I don't think that's quite what we would aim for, but if we refuse to buy goods because we don't like the workers' situation then it is a possible outcome.
Not if we're willing to pay a little more.

Really, it goes one way or the other, unless you believe that any significant number of industrialists love abusing workers so much that they will just get out of the business if they can't do it.

We've seen Nike improve conditions under pressure, just as a hundred years ago we saw conditions in American sweatshops improve when worker demands were supported by the public.

To mangle Swift -

Refusing to purchase plump Irish babes for the dinner table is immoral, as it deprives the mere Irish of their best means of gaining capital.

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Richard Dey
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Savior's Blood, Body Biscuit, and a thigh of Irish babe to gnaw on! God shines down and we all hark, All's right with the world.

One can buy rivieres strung by child slaves in Phuqueland, import them to the USVI, use illegal migrants from St Vincent to pinch Chinese crucifixes on them, and sell them in the US market marked Made in USA to avoid all import duties.

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kenmeer livermaile
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You mean Slightly Dis/Re-Assembled in USA?
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scifibum
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Jesse, I don't think that industrialists are going to shift their business investments elsewhere if they aren't allowed to stomp their workers. I'm concerned about whether we really are willing to pay a little more.

You can't expect demand for certain things to remain constant. Nike is one thing - they can adjust their business practices, cut other expenses, and people who already paid ridiculous prices for sneakers can pay a few dollars more. But what about doodads (I'd consider cheap crucifixes to be one kind of doodad but certainly only a tiny portion of the doodad market)? I might buy novelty drinking straws for my birthday party at $2/dozen, but I'm not going to pay $5/dozen. There's an entire retail industry built around buying things for $1. Who wants to shop at a $2.31 store?

Also, you can't really expect consumers to consistently choose ethically superior products when they are poor by local standards themselves and just getting by. If the price goes up, for whatever reason, they will either seek a cheaper alternative or just not buy it.

That's what I'm not convinced about: that demand for cheap-azz products will support higher prices. Some things we'll buy anyway, because we actually need and want them. But there are lots of products that only exist because they are dirt cheap. This kind of thing might simply go away if it costs more.

I'm in agreement that when we can use some leverage to ensure that people are treated ethically and we know that it will simply cost a bit more to buy their stuff...we should do it. I just don't know if we can expect this kind of leverage to actually work in every situation.

WAAJLC: "Hypocrisy of 'the Church'" is a bit much, IMO. One thing if they RAN these sweat shops, a much different thing when they purchased some goods without knowing in exhaustive detail how they are produced. Do you know the provenance of all the goods you purchase?

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LoneSnark
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quote:
We've seen Nike improve conditions under pressure
We also saw them close their factories and relocate them to Japan where the shoes are made by robots under appalling working conditions (72 hours without a break!). Thank god those Malasians don't have to work making Shoes any more. I'm sure they are much happier dying of starvation. </sarcasm>
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WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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I'm sure a good chunk of the goods I or my family uses are made by sweatshops. But then again - I never stated that I am or ever will be as holy as The Holy Church.

It's the absolute lack of trying (on their end) to check where their goods are made which I detest.

What is better - to have cheap crucifixes (made in a sweatshop in China) or to have more expensive ones, but which com with a statement (that they were made in the US without the employment of cheap illegal immigrant labor for example).

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Jesse
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It's unrealistic to expect that kind of price increase - check the cost of Fair Trade coffee or chocolate at your local Trader Joes.

Now, a lot of these doodads, say your novelty straws, involve very, very little human labor. Improving conditions/raising pay will therefore result in a tiny increase in unit production costs.

Doubling the pay of tomato pickers in Florida cost Taco Bell once cent a pound for tomatoes.

Passing along that entire cost to consumers means, what, about .01 cents on a seven layer burrito?

Is anyone going to make up their mind on whether or not to purchase a cheap cross doodad based on five cents?

Also, we're dealing in false dichotomies on another lever here as well. If sales of cheap crap go down, and fewer workers have jobs making them but ALSO have more disposable income to spend in their own communities, how are the communities that "lost" jobs worse off?

For the sake of argument, let's say that 10 girls have jobs threading the chains onto cheap crosses, and make exactly enough to survive with no disposable income.

Their pay doubles, but this reduces sales volume and three of them get laid off. The seven still working, however, now have 50% disposable income.

Gosh, I wonder what will ever happen to the other three [Smile] Looks like a great time for them to learn to sew or cut hair or set up a food stand.

Edited to add -

It's not productive to lambast companies, OR churches, that do the right thing when made aware of the effect of their conduct.


LS-

Care to source the claim? Is it your contention that Nike did NOT move most of it's production from Malaysia to Indonesia, and is not now moving production from Indonesia to Vietnam?

Would you claim that it has not always been Nike policy to move production whenever local labor costs increased?

[ November 21, 2007, 05:23 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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