Following our 5 months in Asia on this trip, backed up by several years travelling/living in Asia previously, I would like to explain to you how the world works!

How The World Works

The big corporations like Apple, Nike, Adidas and the like, driven by growth, pursuit of profits and answering to their share-holders, lay off their own country’s workers and produce their goods in the poorest nations, like Cambodia, China, Thailand, The Phillipines, Bangladesh, etc

The corporations sub-contract production to foreign-owned companies to avoid scrutiny and distance themselves from the horrors of their factories.  For example, one factory producing Nike goods in Cambodia is Taiwanese owned.  The companies pretend it is not their responsibility when they are not directly employing their workers.  They hide behind things like ‘Codes of Conduct’ where the conditions are never adhered to anyway.

Their workers, mainly female, are paid unbelievably poor ‘salaries’ under the guise of ‘minimum wages.’  For example in Cambodia the minimum wage is $66 per month, including a $5 health allowance.

They pretend to care about safety and conditions in their factories but do almost nothing, even when their workers are starving, overworked, abused, fainting, being injured or even killed.  The internet is full of such examples.

The wages are so low that they do not constitute a ‘living wage’, but there are no alternative employment opportunities for the poor, generally female workers, other than prostitution.

Unable to provide for their families, or even themselves, on their meagre salaries, they must find alternative employment.  They are generally on short term contracts so can’t complain or attempt to unionize, or they will lose their jobs.  They are not really workers, they are clearly slaves.

Desperate for more money, the impoverished women often finish up in prostitution anyway.  Then they are really screwed!

Meanwhile, the corporations, selling their goods at inflated Western prices, return massive profits.  The shareholders are happy.  The CEO’s typically earn more than the entire foreign workforce in the impoverished country’s factories.  For example the entire wage bill for a factory of 5000 workers in Cambodia is less than $4 million a year.  The typical American CEO made $9.6 million in 2011.

Back in the home country, people from the manufacturing industry who have lost their jobs are also unable to find gainful employment, so they are screwed as well.

Unemployment rises, particularly youth unemployment, because, strangely, there is no manufacturing sector to employ them.

The home country’s  trade balance blows out horribly.  The economy, with manufacturing no longer a possibility, is screwed as well.

Governments are unable to make the necessary improvements because the voters will not accept higher taxes or loss of working conditions.

The rich still get richer, the poor still get poorer.

An observation

A few million dollars from the billion dollar profits would provide the workers with a living wage.  This in turn would provide support for families in poverty and keep many of the women, and girls, out of prostitution.

Some questions

Can the rich sleep at night?

For how long can the rich continue to exploit the poor without dire social consequences?

Do CEO’s need such mega salaries when their workers are starving?

What are we, the citizens of the world, going to do about it?

Some suggestions…..

  • Research this stuff
  • Tell your friends
  • Write to your politicians
  • Teachers, expose your kids to this very real issue
  • Find companies that produce goods ethically
  • Boycott companies that are unethical
  • Demand a living wage for the world’s workers.  We are talking only a few dollars a day here.
  • Live a frugal life and support those living in poverty.  There is enough wealth and food to go around.