by Taylor MacHenry
Today, I read an article about how Nike, Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Apple, Adidas, The North Face, Abercrombie, GAP, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Land Rover, General Motors and several other worldwide corporations with strong China manufacturing ties make a big public show of how they deplore all forms of racism and discrimination, pitching millions into the PR effort, but behind corporate doors are not shy about exploiting forced labor of slaves in China, most notably the enslaved Uighur Muslims of northwest China, a heavily oppressed racial minority of Turkic people.
(For a more extensive list of these companies, go to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center website at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/china-83-major-brands-implicated-in-report-on-forced-labour-of-ethnic-minorities-from-xinjiang-assigned-to-factories-across-provinces-includes-company-responses/)
For many of us, this news is not at all surprising. It is the stock and trade of the “limousine liberal” progressive left elitists. They have lots of money, and want to put on a good face to the flotsam and jetsam of common working people who spend their hard-earned dollars in support these villians’ markets and profits. So, they make a public and highly hypocritical showing of their tender hearts for the plight of oppressed people, and throw money and promises at the causes. But in truth, their hearts are very dark indeed.
Black lives really do matter, in my opinion. So do cop lives and all other walks of society. As do Latino lives matter as well, and the plight of these and other struggling people who seek to feed their families and at least have what America’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence states, and promises. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (happiness meaning that you have your basic human needs met of hearth, home, food and family security). God created all of His children (humanity) equally in His eyes and in His love.
Yet, these progressive left elitists speak with “forked tongues,” much like the prominent Southern Cheyenne chieftain, Black Kettle, said of the American government, after seeing the “great white father” break the Pine Lodge Treaty–broken as a matter of expedience for the way west, the rail roads and other profit motives of the puppet-string pullers.
While talking publicly out of the left side of their mouths, saying how everyone needs to open all the doors for all people, especially those who suffer discrimination (true indeed), yet from the other side of their mouths they probably whisper among their boards of directors, “we need the slave labor of China to ensure that our profits increase while we fleece American consumers and other world markets by charging the people with few competitive options more money for increasingly inferior goods and delivering less and less.”
They have taken out all the screws that they can eliminate and trimmed off all the engineered support parts of their products, resulting in poorer quality but another penny or two in profit. However, their biggest profit gains come from not paying for labor, skilled labor. Skills cost dollars, and workers with greater manufacturing skills bring home more dollars per hour. So the companies close their American factories and go offshore where poor, desperate people, including children, will work for pennies instead of dollars. Skills matter less too, because if the product lasts past its flimsy warranty, that they make purposefully difficult for consumers to use when needed, then that is all that matters. In fact, it is good. The consumer has to buy a new one.
So, these companies not only use slave labor in China, maximizing profits like ancient Egyptians, but they also lobby Congress to keep the slave labor operating and fulfilling their American market needs. Yes!
These are the friends and supporters of the Joe Biden Administration–heavily supporting China. Congress even passed a bill in the House of Representatives that would prohibit the purchase of any goods to sell on the American market if those goods were manufactured by Chinese slaves, like the Turkic Muslims of Northwest China, the Uighur people. Downtrodden souls enduring endless “re-education,” working as slaves in forced labor camps turning out goods for American brands. However, the guilty parties–at last count, 83 major corporations with dirty hands using slave labor to spin out the parts for assembly plants elsewhere, or making shoes, shirts, trousers and other similar goods–put up big bucks in political candidate campaigns to kill the bill. A bill that had passed the United States House of Representatives with only 6 nay votes.
Bottom line–Money is Power.
And while we talk of Slave Labor, let us not forget America’s own version of Slave Labor: The poor people from Latin America who risk their lives to slip into los Estados Unidos (the United States) just to make a living and feed their starving families. Because they do not have legal status in the USA, they must work under the covers of secrecy and subterfuge. False documents and phony identifications that enable them to work and get paid something, usually cash with no benefits. And what do they get paid? Not nearly what the employer might report.
For example, I went to a temporary labor agency in Colorado Springs not that many years ago seeking two laborers to perform cleanup and barn repairs for me. The two men came to my home, neither of them speaking English, so I thankfully spoke enough Spanish to get the job done. During our work, for which I thought I was paying each man $14 dollars an hour, I discovered that each man actually received a little less than $6 dollars an hour, and they were glad to get it.
Yes, the temporary labor service does collect a fee for connecting me with the laborers. It should be no more than a couple of dollars, though. So, I asked the men if they received a pay stub that showed their deductions, such as FICA, Social Security and Medicare. But the truth was ugly.
Both men got paid cash at day’s end when they checked out of work for the day at the service. They got a little less than $6 dollars an hour, for which I paid $14 dollars an hour, and they got no explanation of deductions.
Neither man had a social security number, nor even knew what or where to get one. One man’s wife had an American drivers license, and she drove them out here to work at my place in the country and then drove them home again at days end. A 45 minute drive each direction in an old car that did not get good gas mileage. So, fuel costs were another deduction from their daily earnings.
Learning the truth they innocently told to me, I telephoned the temporary labor service, to whom I had given a check in advance, as they required, to cover the wages–eight hours a day for five days for two men at $14 dollars an hour.
The woman with whom I spoke, a boss there, started out her lies by telling me that the men were legal, documented workers, and that they got paid net wages after federal and state deductions were collected plus the company’s 10-percent commission for finding employment for the men and maintaining the wage and work documents required by federal and state law. To which I responded that I spoke to both men with my admittedly limited Spanish language abilities, but communicated well enough to fully understand that the men were not American citizens, had no documentation and that her company was ripping the men off with false deductions that were greater than the men’s net earnings. How could either man collect any Social Security or Medicare benefits when they became eligible if they had no clue of a Social Security number or even get a tax refund?
The woman hung up the phone without saying another word. And the company never cashed my check. They destroyed the paper trail that led to these two men and to my doorstep. Fine with me!
Next morning, the two men came for work and told me that they were fired, but that they had made a commitment to me to do the work and were keeping their promises. Standing by their word!
I said fine. But I insist on giving you each $10 dollars an hour cash for every hour that you work.
They worked through the week and most of the next week too. I paid them cash each day. Exactly as they wanted me to do. Just like ranchers out here did when I was a boy, and Braceros regularly and legally crossed the border to work, get paid cash, and went home to Mexico at season’s end. What happened to that system that worked well in the American Southwest until the mid-1960s? Politics and corruption.
When the men showed up for work the first day, and it was pretty cold weather, heavy frost covering this part of Colorado, only one of them had a coat. An old Army field jacket with no liner.
“Where’s your coat?” I asked the man in shirt sleeves. He shook his head, no and said, “No tiene.”
The other fellow smiled and showed me his Army jacket with no liner. Little better than him wearing a canvas shirt over his shirt. But he was a lot better off than the other guy.
So, without a word, I went in the house and pulled out two good, warm barn coats, each with wool flannel lining over a layer of insulation, to keep the men warm. After handing each man a coat to put on, I got in my truck while the men now happily worked, saying nothing again, and drove to the Big R ranch store where I bought good winter work coats for each man. Each a gift, not tied to their work.
As I exchanged their new coats for my loaners, that were well worn, I told the two fellows that it was part of the benefits package at my ranch. Everybody that works for me gets a coat. No charity. Just the right thing to do.
Besides, I could not bear the idea of either man working in cold weather without a coat! And what kind of cruel and heartless person would allow anyone to work in the cold with no coat?
Next day, after I had gotten the men coats of their very own. New coats, not worn out or thrown away items. The one man’s wife brought homemade breakfast burritos for my wife and me as well as the men. We ate breakfast together as men with mutual respect, and went to work afterward. Then one day, as a gift, she also brought us a sack full of homemade tamales, which I love. It’s a regular winter thing in a Latin household, making tamales. A family time. It warmed my heart and my stomach too.
When we finished our work, a little more than a week later, after working together and my Spanish language skills improving daily, I asked the men what they would do next?
They said that they had saved a good deal of money during the year and were heading back to central Mexico. The man with his wife would drive there, and give the other man a ride home to his wife and four children. The money would give them a start in a construction business of their own down there.
They hugged me goodbye and I never saw them again, nor have heard from either man.
But the bottom line here is a clear example of doing what is only right in the face of what is blatantly wrong, and remains wrong today: Exploitation of the poor and desperate by the wealthy. It is common in America and openly done in China as outright slavery!
Slavery is the reason for human trafficking. It is big business. Bigger business and even more profitable than the drug business. That is why the underworld of China and the Mexican cartels exploit human trafficking as a major source of their profits.
And these so-called respectable international corporations like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola and all the 80 or so other hypocrites, are not one bit better than the underworld crime organizations in China and Latin America, and in the United States.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. Slavery and exploitation of the poor and desperate people struggling to simply survive and hold their families together is perhaps the most wrong of all wrongs done in the world today.
It stands against the ideals of the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence, the very foundation of America.
And it stands against God! An affront to God! It goes against everything that Jesus Christ stated in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) that begins His Sermon on the Mount.
Mark my words, regardless of whether any of these corporate leaders believe in God, the Lord God Almighty will hold these people who exploit and enslave God’s children accountable. Just as God will hold us all accountable on Judgment Day.
Plus, there is this thing that some people call, “Karma.” I call it, God gets even. And He does. Just stand by.
©Copyright 2020 Charles W. Henderson