The 18th of October is Anti-Slavery Day. Where many, so many, of us from “better off” nations point to others and condemn, rightfully, for forced or indentured, slavery. But in the immortal words of my grandmother: people who live in glass houses have no business throwing stones.
Can we, the self-dubbed “Western World” accuse others of crimes we commit ourselves? We are guilty of blind hypocrisy when we conveniently “forget” the fact that, in the USA we have:
- Approximately 20 MILLION undocumented workers being paid sub-minimum wage to slave away, picking our lettuce. (http://www.rense.com/general72/21st.htm)
- 14,500 – 17,500 or more Women, boys and girls are trafficked (http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/united_states_of_america) to be raped repeatedly, forced to perform all manner of sex acts against their will illegally for porn and even hard labour/domestic servitude. (http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-human-trafficking)
- 1.6 MILLION Americans earn only the Federal Minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Worse still, 2.0 MILLION people made LESS than that amount. (http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2012.htm)
Because, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that when we require our fellow human beings to work for a wage that significantly less than what they would need to be self-sufficient (http://livingwage.mit.edu), we are exploiting them. We are guilty of modern slavery.
And don’t give me that, “but my company cannot afford to pay more,” noise. I call special BS out on national and international companies that say that (I’m looking at you Sam Walton, AKA the ‘hat that birthed Sam’s Club/Walmart/ASDA, AKA scum of the earth) – you’re big enough to have AT LEAST one store in just about every major city in the United States, you’re paying your top level staff six figures or more and you can’t afford to pay the people that actually run your business enough to feed themselves? No, sir/madam f*** you.
The fact of the matter is this, if everyone earned enough to take care of themselves, they wouldn’t need Food Stamps/WIC or any of those other “socialist/liberal” programs that those in the top 10% seem to despise so much but seem more than willing to force the people that work for them to have no choice but to be on said “benefits” if they want to eat and live indoors – and that’s only if they are lucky enough to be living in a location that is “generous” with their benefit programs. I’ll give you a hint: most aren’t that “fortunate.”
Not convinced? Check this out: http://livingwage.mit.edu As the link might suggest, it compares the Federal Minimum Wage in the United States to what a Living Wage would be by state/county.
Oh, and before the UK thinks I had somehow forgotten all about them. All that stuff I listed up there for the United States? Did you read that? Well read it again (caps because it matters) BECAUSE IT APPLIES TO YOU TOO, the only thing different is that it is harder to identify the exact numbers for both Undocumented labourers and those who are victims of human trafficking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking_in_the_United_Kingdom).
In addition to this, you’ve penalised families living in housing that you have dubbed “too large” for their needs, despite the fact that there are simply not enough “right-sized” homes/apartments available for them to move. Those who can’t afford it may be left homeless as a result (http://www.partyofwales.org/news/2013/09/22/bedroom-tax-arrears-point-to-christmas-homeless-crisis/).
But that’s not all, you’ve also cut other benefits, deemed the disabled/chronically ill “fit for work” in with even certain MPs going so far as to suggest that they ought to work for LESS than the minimum wage – and they should be grateful (http://www.channel4.com/news/disabled-people-should-work-for-less-than-min-wage-tory-mp).
Then there are the Zero-hour work contracts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-hour_contract), which are on the rise, and the birth of the UNPAID Trainee/Intern/Apprenticeships. Jobs that used to pay something, now are worth nothing and companies are being rewarded for that in the form of not just what is tantamount to slave labour (http://feweek.co.uk/2013/09/19/kwik-fits-unpaid-traineeship-branded-unacceptable/, http://www.independent.co.uk/student/career-planning/getting-job/five-steps-to-surviving-your-unpaid-internship-8530603.html and http://www.youthfightforjobs.com/wordpress/wordpress/?tag=unpaid-apprenticeships).
If the “Western World” wants to be a leader against slavery, they have to own up to and correct the damage caused by programs/schemes and policies that force our own people into destitution, that exploit minorities and fosters an economy built on the backs of those with the least that suffer the most.
So, US/UK: take a good long look in the mirror, because if you truly want to end human trafficking and slavery, you absolutely must address the hypocritical policies and mindsets that foster it.