Behind the Label

Sweatshops have been a major controversial issue around the world. The question of whether or not these sweatshops are morally right is commonly in the spotlight. This group of essays is an attempt to explore the different perspectives of sweatshops.

Blood, Tears, and Sweat

By: Youna Chang

Sweatshops are defined as factories in which workers do their jobs for low pay and do so in harmful conditions. These sweatshops have existed for over one hundred years, but complaints of sweatshop labor began in the 1960’s during the Civil War when the wives of the soldiers were employed to make uniforms. But the problems of low wages and harmful conditions greatly increased during the twentieth century industrialization period, and the numbers of sweatshops in Latin America and Asia were off the charts. However, with the rise in sweatshop labor, public awareness grew as well.

Many of the factories that manufacturing companies purchased are located in other countries in an attempt to save money. These money saving tactics cause problems later in the worker’s life because of the poor conditions that they are constantly in can lead to death. This kind of practice was first introduced in North America during the industrial revolution as a basis of cheap labor. While big corporations gain huge profits, citizens continue to suffer working for a stingy five to ten dollars a week for an eighty to a hundred hour week. Sweatshops continue to hinder the progress of workers’ lives because of the economical and political challenges it presents to the nation in which it is located in. But one of the problems is that even if they get caught, these corporations never face bankruptcy. Fines have such little impact on companies that profit from billions of dollars every year. As citizens, we have the authority to sway this ever so increasing form of slavery.

Sweatshops still exist all over the world today for numerous reasons. Corporate greed is clearly a major culprit. Very often, some countries are actually forced to choose sweatshop labor as it is a necessity to increase their economy. Governments and international trade agencies, the World Trade Organization for example, are responsible for the creation of trade laws and lending policies that require developing countries to support first world nations’ economies. In order to accomplish this, these countries have no choice but to create export industries, and as a result, come to ignore the problem of social injustices.

Works Cited

(1) DoSomething.org. Background On Sweatshops. DoSomething.org. <http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/background-sweatshops>

(2) Scholastic. History of Child Labor. Scholastic. 1996-2010 <http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=5428>

(3) USAS. About Us. USAS. 1997 < http://usas.org/about-us/&gt;

Garment Industry: A Human Rights Violations

by: Sun Hee Han

Sweatshops are a hot topic in today’s modern, global economy. The word sweatshop, which is derived from a middleman or “sweater”, is defined as a working environment with unhealthy conditions and low wages. Because of the rise globalization in the 1980’s, multinational companies have a been using sweatshops to save money. But sweatshops can even be found in the U.S., where firms employ illegal immigrants. Some of the best-known U.S. brands in the world have used sweatshop labor.

Popular brands like Nike, Gap Polo and Levi’s use third world manufacturing in an attempt to keep up with the rest of the retail world in order to maximize profit. The manufacturing sources of these famous brands have terrible working conditions. According to an anonymous survey, workers must work while standing for 12 hour work shift without bathroom breaks. They breath in poisonous chemicals all day long causing  workers to develop skin conditions and lung problems because they have been exposed to harmful materials, hazardous situations, extreme temperatures, and also from being abused by their employers.

In conclusion, to get rid of sweatshops, consumers should know they have the right to refuse purchasing clothes that are produced in sweatshops. We can also ask for laws to be made that restrict the option and use of sweatshops. Abusing people on the other side of the world for the benefit of global companies cannot be justified. This is why we should be against sweatshops and try to prevent these terrible working environments and conditions in order to protect human rights.

The Price of Cheap Products

By: Mark Lin

Workers in Asia do not have amenities the way American workers are guaranteed. Conditions are worst to the point where there is no air conditioning service in the factory; they are limited to using the bathroom facilities; workers inside the factories don’t have privacy due to being under surveillance. Workers in the factory hardly get treated like human beings. They are seen as machines that are being bought with money to do work beyond what machines are able to do in reality. Workers are required to work 75 hours a week and they get paid about 45 cents an hour. Besides worse working conditions, low wages for workers, and sexual discrimination, the environment in these areas, where factories are located are usually quite bad. There is water pollution, air pollution, heavy metal pollution, dust pollution and soil pollution. No one is willing to take responsibility for causing the pollution.
Lots of famous companies like the western brands, including Levi’s Adidas and Nike makes a lot of money every single year because they get cheap labor. Richard Duncan, chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Management in Singapore, said, “If you sell a pair of tennis shoes for 101 dollars instead of 100 dollars, no consumer in Chicago will notice the difference, but it will totally transform villages in Vietnam.” It sounds pretty scary, but this will only help one village. What about the rest of the workers in other countries? We have to raise every single good that is made from those factories, including shirt, shoes, lamp, keyboard, slippers, umbrella, gloves, skirt, toothbrush etc, one percent higher than it used to be. Consumers will definitely notice and find out once they get to know the logic behind it.

Many of my relatives used to work in the factories, that manufacture NIKE shoes and clothes. They got paid very low and had to adapt to bad working condition. But they never complained, because the shoes labeled, “Made in Taiwan”, are sold around the world and are worn by Michael Jordan in his every single game. People in Asian countries don’t feel the need for Americans or other manufacturers to sympathize with them. Perhaps they never feel like they were treated unfairly. For all they know they were very proud of being one of the NIKE shoes workers.

Clothes Cover Up

By: Rudy German

In the society we live in everything is about appearance. It is not possible to walk down the street anymore and not be judged by others, due to the clothes on your back. Society is focus so much on clothing, 97% of the clothes in the closet are not made in the US. China, abuses a lot of its citizens by taking no action against the companies that use sweat shops in china.

Many of the workers are female in China. The conditions in China are even worst; they beat up the workers literally, for talking to the person next to them. They’re not allowed to take the necessary time to use the bathroom when it is not their break. Or else they will get fined a dollar. In a world of labor were getting paid 10 to 15 cents an hour, a dollar is more than a day’s work. Most of the time the workers work 15 hours day with only an hour, every day for seven days, in order to survive. If one of the workers happen to get pregnant during the job, the employers will ask, if not force her to get an abortion. What is there to do in this situation? Should the woman keep her baby, but lose her job, without a job, how would she support the baby, without any income coming in?

Many corporations, have been exposed to this kind of bad publicity, have suffer millions of dollars of loses. All the companies say is whatever the public wants to hear, that will put the public to rest.  When the companies say they are going to “improve working conditions,” “pay minimum wage,” give the workers some type of “medical benefit.” The companies do the talk but rarely do the walk. Companies that have their manufacturing in china should actually fix the situation instead of hiding the truth to the world.

Are Sweatshops Solely Evil?

By: Karen Ong

The idea of sweatshops brings about negative imagery. People immediately assume that this is an immoral concept that not only undermines the basic concept of human rights and blatantly abuses the capacity of human beings, shutting the sweatshops down isn’t the solution to this problem.

Sweatshop owners are notorious for treating their workers unfairly since they know that the workers are desperate for their jobs. Corporations and even company management teams are abusing certain rights of the workers to obtain more profit. These worker’s wages are below a dollar and are working several more hours in comparison to hours worked elsewhere. More notably, working overtime all the time is detrimental to the worker’s health. Working vigorously for hours on end not only puts a strain on a worker’s body but also causes mental strain from ceaseless working.

However, shutting down the sweatshops to “save” the people working in them is not and should not be the solution for helping these workers. People blindly think that solely what is morally right and react without further thought of implications. Shutting down the sweatshops so hastily will cause even more unemployment for the country’s inhabitants. With no jobs how would people manage to get the income they need to survive? Eventually, this will just lead to more poverty which makes the situation worst. Poverty, of course, will lead to the desperation of people to try and live at whatever cost, which eventually forces people to commit crime and violence. In essence, the people who are trying to help the workers by shutting down the sweatshops are harming the workers more by doing so.

Sweatshops, on the surface, have immediate moral problems and human beings are being subjected to harsh working conditions to make sub-par wages. Regardless of this perspective, the working conditions are the issues that need to be corrected, not the solution of shutting sweatshops down.

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Local Food Culture, by: Hilda Maciel

Food is a key item to surviving along with water. When it comes to eating, we Americans don’t think about the negatives. All we think about is how good it feels to have food in our bodies. We don’t take the time of day to think about where our food comes from or how it’s made. The food industry is not concerned with health, but with making money. Food companies are only interested in making food as tasty and attractive to you as possible. These are the foods we eat and the products that help us survive. If they’re addictive, so much the better! Yet if they impact the consumer’s body negatively, that’s not the manufacturer’s problem. We need to take responsibility for caring for ourselves by eating properly; no one else will take it for us. That’s were local food comes in. It may not be the most exciting thing, but not only is it healthy for you it’s also healthy for the planet.

The food we eat daily travels thousands of miles just to reach our stomachs. Many of the foods carry preservatives. Preservatives are used in foods so that they don’t spoil. It seems like a good idea, but the preservatives added aren’t exactly beneficial. Lunchmeats are preserved with sodium nitrate, which converts to nitrous acid in the stomach and may cause stomach cancer. They are banned in Germany and Norway, but for some odd reason not in North America. Aluminums can leach into our food when used as packaging. Aluminums are linked to dementia. But not only are preservatives bad for the body, they’re also bad for the planet.

Many people argue that we need to care for and protect what is left of our planet. Our once lively planet is slowly dying due to the selfish fact that we humans don’t care enough to protect it. As many people know most of our food is packaged and imported. By importing food we generate large amounts of CO2 and it also burns up a lot of fossil fuel which contributes to global warming. Because of this many countries will experience drought which won’t allow them to farm. The most affected countries will be those we import from but that’s not to say our country won’t be affected. Reducing transportation doesn’t save much in terms of dollars and cents, since total transportation costs amounts to only about four-percent of food costs. However, the ecological savings may be far more significant. Energy for transportation is virtually all derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. In addition, transportation is a major contributor to air pollution, particularly carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. So eating local can make a significant contribution to sustainability, even if only by making a strong personal statement in favor of reducing our reliance on non-renewable energy and protecting the natural environment. Global food systems effectively threaten not only local foods systems but also the cultures that are deeply intertwined with those systems.

The local food culture values wholesomeness, nutrition, freshness, and flavor. It values foods produced in ways that protect the natural environment and respects the farmers, food industry workers, and other living things involved in food production process. Eating local improves food quality. Local foods can be fresher, more flavorful, and nutritious than canned fresh foods shipped in from distant locations. Eating local also encourages eating seasonally, in harmony with the natural energy of a particular place. Virtually all of food items in supermarkets and franchise restaurants today are produced using the same mass-production, industrial methods, with the same negative consequences for the natural environment and for civil society. In addition, the variety in foods today is largely cosmetic and superficial, contrived to create the illusion of diversity and choice where none actually exists. By eating local, food buyers can get the food they actually prefer rather than accept whatever is offered in the supermarket. They can buy foods that are authentically different, not just in physical qualities but also in the ecological and social consequences of how they are produced. They can choose to pay the full cost of food, rather than support the exploitation of society and the environment.            Eating isn’t always good for our bodies, it can help destroy it, but eating locally is good for our bodies and good for the environment.

But the damage we’ve done to our bodies is not irreparable. By cleansing the toxins from our body and replacing our normal diet with a healthful, natural diet filled with raw fruits and vegetables and small quantities of lean meat or tofu for protein, we can transform our health and our bodies. If you are the type of person who wants to know where your food comes from and how it is produced, local food is something you should look into. And if you’re not that person you can still give it a try. Local food is for anyone and everyone.

Works Cited

Craig, Geoffrey, and Wendy Parkins. “Culture and the Politics of Alternative Food Networks.”

http://docserver.ingentaconnect.com/deliver/connect/berg/15528014/v12n1/s4.pdf?expires=1273731240&id=56746622&titleid=75000119&accname=Guest+User&checksum=6E65D5F5C0624179E2ECE330E521AE7E

“Food Additives.” Web. <http://www.foodadditivesworld.com/preservatives.html&gt;

Are You Really Getting Healthcare?

Are you covered if an accident occurs to you or your family? No matter if you do or don’t sooner or later you will be forced to have healthcare if you live in America.  If you can’t afford healthcare America is nice enough to give you only 3 months until they slap a fine on top of the original price to buy healthcare.

Why is the Healthcare System Corrupt? by: Sebastian Lafo

Knowing these new diseases that are sprouting in recent days, I always thought to myself that the healthcare system would be able to take care of me and reassure that they have my back in whatever illnesses or sicknesses that I may contract. But now as I look more into depth with how this healthcare system works, it worries me and makes me think twice if this system really wants to be there for me during my circumstances. Looking at it now, I have become too paranoid to even catch a small fever or just a common cold. I have realized that these “fat cats” of these healthcare companies are more greedy than I thought, seeking only my money rather than genuinely wanting to help me. So knowing this, I realize now that the healthcare system of America is corrupt and immoral.

One reason why this Healthcare system is corrupt is because of the fact that these companies deny healthcare to people that are in desperate need of it because it saves the company money. Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko” shows a prime example of what I mean. In the documentary, he interviews a medical reviewer of the healthcare company Humana, and she tells him about the ways they did business. She goes on to tell him that the medical reviewer with the highest denial rate of medical claims would receive a bonus, because of the fact that the company feels that any claim that is approved is considered a medical loss on their part. So another way you can put it is by saying that the more you deny the people of their health insurance the more money you save the company, thus having a better chance of receiving a bonus in your salary. Just looking at how that system is built really opens my eyes and makes me realize that these companies are not really interested in helping me at all. Since we are looking at it from a moral standpoint, it seems that these companies are really denying people the right to live longer. That of course is morally wrong because we have no right as people to tell other people whether they should live or die.

Which leads me into my last point, which is the fact that these denials that these companies carry out could very well be the reason for the death of people here in the United States. There are so many stories across this country that talks about how the healthcare system put their loved ones in a serious health predicament or also caused the death of them as well. There was a story that stood out to me the most as I was reading different stories, which was the story of Tracy Dion Pierce. He and his wife had continuously fought the healthcare system to get approved to be able to carry out the procedures necessary for Tracy to fight his kidney cancer. Every different procedure that they had heard about was denied the funds by their healthcare insurance because of the fact that they felt the procedures were “experimental” even though that these procedures were successful time and time again with other patients. Looking at this story, it seems as if the healthcare company is trying their best to make an excuse for them not to pay for the operations. Knowing that this is not the first time that this has happened really makes me doubt our healthcare system even more. If there are tons of stories of how healthcare has been corrupt in more ways than one, then it is obvious and it gives me more incentive that these companies cannot be trusted.

Looking at the corruption of this system, I also look at my mother and the situation that she is going through with her kidney failure issues. It gives me daunting chill down my spine because I fear that this healthcare system could just turn on my mother at any moment. Realizing this, it drives me to want to create a better future not just for me, but also for my family. It also has taught me that even though you think something looks enticing there is always some kind of catch to it too. But I encourage those that know the corruption of this system to open the eyes of others as well because America needs to see the system for what it is.

Work Cited

1. Dir. Moore, Michael, _Sicko_. The Wienstien Company.2007

2. Pierce, Julie. “Tracy Pie.rce Sr-his fight for Life.blogspot. 18 Jan 2006. Web. 22 July 2007.

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Is the health reform bill constitutional? By Parker Arnold

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed his comprehensive health care bill, H.R. 3590, into law (Condon). The Bill contains vast amounts of insurance reforms, Medicare and Medicaid changes, and even claims that it will lower the deficit. The bill has merit and many good insurance reforms, such as insurance companies can no longer deny children with preexisting conditions (Condon). In this bill Medicaid will be expanded to include 133 percent of the federal poverty level. This will have a huge impact on state budgets because of the increase of state spending required by the federal government. Florida’s budget will be constricted enough that Florida’s attorney general is filing a lawsuit against the federal government because he believes this bill encroaches on state sovereignty. The bill also contains an individual mandate to buy health insurance or to face a fine. This individual mandate has called the bill’s constitutionality into question. Having the Federal government force citizens to engage in business with a private company is unconstitutional because it is a power that is reserved for the state government, not the federal government.

The Constitution does not authorize the United States to mandate that all citizens have qualifying healthcare coverage. By enforcing this mandate, the federal government is exceeding the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution (CITE). The Tenth Amendment states that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (CITE). Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the federal government the power to force citizens to purchase healthcare.

This forcing of citizens to engage is business is not outlined in the federal constitution and is there for at the states discretion or the peoples. For example, auto insurance is mandated if you drive a car. Auto insurance and healthcare insurance differ in two very important ways. First, it is mandated at a state level and not a federal level. This is because the federal government does not have the power to do so and thereby leaving it up to state governments. Second, auto insurance is imposed by states on the privilege of driving. A person who chooses not to drive can choose not to purchase auto insurance. A person would be required to buy healthcare insurance solely on the fact that he or she is a living breathing American.

This act is also unconstitutional in the fact that it would heavily restrict some state budgets and by doing so encroach upon their sovereignty. For example, Florida’s budget is already bogged down my Medicaid and because of this act the federal government will require them to further increase their spending. By heavily restricting the budget of Florida the federal government being unconstitutional.

Works Cited

Condon, Stephanie. “Health Care Bill Signed by Obama.” CBS News. CBS Media, 23 March. 2010. Web. 19 April. 2010.

State Of Florida, by and through Bill McCollum, Attorney General Of the State Of Florida. Vs. United States Department Of Health And Human Services; Kathleen Sebelius. Case No. 3:10-cv-91. n.d. web.

United States. Census Bureau. “3.6M Floridians uninsured in 2008.” South Florida.bizjournal. South Florida Business Journal. Last modified 11 Sept. 2009. Web. 19 April. 2010

United States Constitution. 4 March. 1789.

United States Bill of Rights. 15 December. 1791.

An Excuse For Abuse By David Castillo

A pre-existing condition is often defined as a health condition that exists before you receive health insurance and therefore is defined as untreatable as by the Health Insurance Standard. This has been The Health Insurance Companies’ biggest tool against customers and their illnesses; basically it’s just another method for the companies to control you. At first the original purpose of insurance companies was to help people receive expensive surgeries and have their medical problems taken care of, but on the contrary just like any business the health insurance companies are trying to make a profit. In 2010 a reform was passed that is slowly eliminating the pre-existing condition rule and I feel that although changes are being made it’s still not what America needs right now.

In the beginning of health insurance clients were getting denied on almost a clockwork pace with little or no explanation ever being given. Receiving medical care in a hospital that you aren’t listed for could cost you up to $200+ with no appeal or way to get your money back. To be honest it seemed like one big trap waiting to wrap its money hungry jaws around your throat and around the throat of your children. It is a deathtrap in fact, “The report,…. shows that the United States spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. But it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing deaths through use of timely and effective medical care (Abelson)”. America needs to get CEO’s out of the health insurance bandwagon, before this murders the U.S. and more shameful is that we are the last ones to come to this conclusion. The problem it is not advancement of technology, which is holding us back, but how accessible we make it everyone. A cure for cancer would be wonderful, but if no one could get it, then what purpose would it serve and who would it benefit?

Works Cited

Abelson, Reed. “The New York Times Log In.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 17 July 2008. Web. 31 May 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/business/17health.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1275390033-yMGL cxgKFKC0GIKenDc2g>.


Health Care: “To Be, Or Not To Be…”

Greetings and salutations! Healthcare in the United States is an issue that has been talked about since the 1920’s, and the debate is still ongoing. should there be healthcare, why or why not? This post will expose three different viewpoints on the subject that is still at hand today. Hope you enjoy and God bless!

Health Care: From “Me” To “We”, By: Alexander Alonso

Health care, in America, is a huge benefit for those who have it, but for those who do not, their lives are spent worrying about so much as a cold, for fear of the financial burden that will follow. Should one in the “land of the free” worry about becoming a slave to debt because of one hospital visit? Was health care not built to help the people? I believe it is possible to have a better health care system in America; like the Canadians, we all simply need to stop thinking about ourselves and care for our fellow citizens.

The number of uninsured Americans is steadily increasing from 46.6 million in 2005, to an approximated 56 million by 2015 (Jost 3). If you are insured, who cares, right? But for those who are not, it makes a difference. In a movie produced by Michael Moore, titled “SiCKO,” he tells the story about Larry Godfrey, a Canadian citizen who came to the States for a vacation. Larry was golfing in Florida when his left bicep detached from his radial bone and flung up through his arm and into his chest, like a rubber band contracting after being stretched. Having out of the country medical insurance he was not worried, little did he know that it would have cost him $24,000. Larry returned to Canada and had all necessary surgeries for a total of zero dollars. Moore asked him, “Why do you expect your fellow Canadians, who don’t have your problem; why should their tax dollars have to pay for a problem you have?” Larry responded, “Because, we would do the same for them…”(Moore). There is the solution! If we, the individual citizens of America, would simply care for each other as a whole, instead of caring only about the self, we could change the paradigm of our current health care system.

Only in America, it seems, have we lost sight of that family “we would do the same for them” feeling. We simply need to care, take the “me” spirit out and bring the “we” spirit back, and we would be off to a resounding start. Having the same mentality as Larry Godfrey, by doing what our parents and grandparents told us to do when we were five, following the golden rule; treat others the way we want to be treated.

Works Cited

Jost, Timothy Stoltzfus. Health Care at Risk: a Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement.

London: Duke University Press, 2007. Print.

Rick, and Larry Godfrey. Interview by Michael Moore. SiCKO. Michael Moore. 2007. DVD.

Health care: what should be done?, by: Ashley Hawkins

In America more than 9 million children lack health insurance (Sicko). Is it because parents don’t think there kids will get hurt? No, it’s because people cannot afford it. The average cost of health insurance is difficult to measure precisely. According to Kaiser, the mean cost in 2008 of insurance from an employer was $4,700 per year for an individual and $17,700 per year for a family of four (Wright 1). In countries like Canada and the United Kingdom individuals do not have to worry about the high cost of medical insurance that they cannot afford. They can go to any facility and know that they don’t have to pay for anything. In an effort to help the American people, they U.S needs to take on a more effective health care system like Universal health care system of England and Canada.

In other countries like England and Canada they have free health care. “Canada has a universal health care system that’s paid for through income taxes and sales tax. All Canadians are covered under their country’s healthcare system. doctors are available for them to see with no co-pays or deductibles. Some things aren’t covered such as: optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs. In order to pay for these services many Canadians have private insurance. England’s health care system covers all types of health issues including disabilities and serious health problems. In addition, “Overall about 86% of prescriptions are provided free by the English health care system”. While there is many advantages to the system many people complain about the emergencies services and there slow reaction time.

When it all comes down is our United States health care has a lot of faults. And we can do several different things to try to improve our health care system in 2010 President Barrack Obama is trying to change the health system so everyone well have insurance and thats great effort in fixing the health care system but I feel would be a more efficient way would be starting from square one and start all over again and seeing the health care systems and trying to improve those then that work already then make the new and improved one ours. Because continuing to go in the same direction we are going with these unaffordable health insurances will lead us unto a downward spiral to nowhere. So change is inevitable if it’s now or later. We say America’s the best country in the world so we need to start acting like it.

Thanks Obama, and I’mma Let You Finish…., by: Andrew Cortez

After countless fights between those against and for the controversial healthcare bill, it was passed on March 23, 2010. Some think it’s the first big act of the socialist antichrist while others think that Barak Obama is a god and he is raining his grace upon America. I agree with some aspects, but there are some things that really worry me.

I agree that people shouldn’t be cheated out of healthcare just because of preexisting conditions or age. Jobs should all have healthcare benefits, but I also know how Americans think. Because everyone will have healthcare, this will give the unemployed and all out lazy people even less motivation to get a job. I find it quite a bit un-American that healthcare will be mandated to all citizens.

In the capitalist America I know and love, you got a job and worked hard so you would be able to buy a house, a car, and insurance for various things; including healthcare. Those who were less fortunate and unemployed were sadly unable to afford some if not all of those things. But through the years, insurance companies have become more and more corrupt, and it has become very hard for most people to obtain basic healthcare. In fact, a poll taken in July 2009 showed that sixteen percent, or one in six Americans, are uninsured (“16 percent of Americans”).

Then President Barak Obama came along with his new healthcare reform to “revolutionize America.” Some of the highlights included, “Individuals purchasing plans through the exchanges would have to pay for abortion coverage from their own funds,” and my personal favorite, “Illegal immigrants would not be allowed to buy health insurance in the health insurance exchanges.” (“Highlights of Healthcare Compromise Bill”). There is also a statement saying that Americans will be required to buy healthcare or pay a fine of possibly 2.5 percent of your income by 2016 (“Highlights of Healthcare Compromise Bill”).

Those first few sounded pretty great, but this fine clause really bothers me. It’s like they’re saying, “Our healthcare is so wonderful and it will help the economy and be equal to all, so you had better buy it…” It really makes me wonder what the next few years will hold for our country.

I hate to take a side in this Democrat/Republican War, but it’s really starting to sound like President Obama is trying to slowly turn our capitalist, freedom-loving country into a Socialist Republic. The America I grew up in believed in the Stars and Stripes, not the Hammer and Sickle. It was a country that believed in freedom of speech, religion, and to bear arms, among many other things. But that America has slowly disappeared to little more than just a fond memory. The freedoms we once had, diminished. Our previous healthcare was corrupt and focused a large bit on capitol, but this new bill doesn’t look too promising. I’m not trying to say the end of the world is here. All I’m saying is America is changing, and not for the better. It changed way too much after 9/11, and now even more so. Maybe the change we can count on isn’t the change we really need or want.

Works Cited

“16 Percent of Americans without Health Insurance.” Medical News 22 Jul. 2009: n. pag. Web. 4 May 2010. .

“Highlights of Health Care Compromise Bill.” CNN Politics 19 Mar. 2010: n. pag. Web. 4 May 2010..

The Garment Industry, by: Andrew Cortez

In today’s world, fashion is all about brand and the profit manufacturers can make rather than quality. And with lower prices comes cheaper manufacturing. With cheaper manufacturing comes outsourcing. With outsourcing comes loss of Human Rights and breaking child labor laws. All of these things create sweatshops, and as Sonic the Hedgehog used to say, “That’s noooooo goooooood!”

So why do “good” people like Wal-Mart and Forever 21 do such a horrible thing? The answer is simple. They are a capitalist corporation, and like a lot of capitalist corporations, they care about one thing and one thing only: money in their pockets. Sadly because of this lust for greenbacks, ethics are thrown out the window. But the worst part is that even though they have been found out, people still shop at Wal-Mart and Forever 21. In fact, Wal-Mart is one of the few department stores that didn’t weaken or fall apart during the recession. I still shop a bit at Wal-Mart if I’m in the Loma Linda/Redlands area. Why? Because we blind ourselves to the ugly truth behind corporations of this country. I know I do it. And I know that many Americans do it as well. When we see a nice pair of sneakers in a department store, that’s all we see. We refuse to realize that those shoes were most likely made by some little Chinese boy or girl in a sweatshop making little to no money. And yet the price tag says anywhere from $19.99 to $29.99. Now that’s a deal for us as the consumer and for the manufacturer. The question is, if we get the deal and the company gets the deal, why doesn’t the creator get paid? I mean, are they worth less than us? No! They make a lot of our clothing among other things; therefore, they should get a cut. An actual cut; not whatever minuscule pennies, yen, or pesos they’re making now.

In America, capitalism is the form of economics we have. People obtain jobs, thus making an income to survive with. The harder you work, the more you make. If that be the case, sweatshop workers should be some of the richest people. Though in the countries where these sweatshops are located, the people in power don’t understand this concept, and we see this as a business opportunity to take advantage of. America, who imperially barges into other countries to cram democracy down the throats of the people, does nothing but indulge immensely in it.

In the 1998 film Basketball, the main characters decide to make a clothing line for fans of the sports team they play on as well as own. Like most sports apparel, it is made out-of-country. It’s brought to the attention of the two owners/players that their clothing line is being made through child labor in Calcutta. Almost immediately, one of the characters is on a plane to Calcutta to fix the problem. A news report gives the story of how he has changed the manufacturing of their clothing line from child labor in a sweatshop to an all-adult, normal business setting where the workers make the clothes and receive adequate pay and healthcare benefits. Though the film is a satire of the corruption in sports business, it shows exactly what should be done: you have children/lower class people working in sweatshops, so change it! It’s not that hard. Sure there will be a few precious dollars being lost, but at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

In conclusion, the problem is solvable, it’s just the corporations need to actually want to. That’s the biggest battle. We need to put sweatshops out of business. If we can force democracy on people who don’t know or care about it, we can do something constructive as well.

Sweat Shops, by: Stephanie Hardyway

How can we tell if the product you are about to purchase was made by a child, by teenaged girls forced to work until midnight seven days a week, or in a sweatshop by workers paid 9¢ an hour? The sad fact is that most of the time we can’t. Companies do not want us to know, so they hide their production behind locked factory gates, barbed wire and armed guards. Many multinationals refuse to release to the American people even the list and addresses of the factories they use around the world to make the goods we purchase. The corporations say we have no right to this information. Even the President of the United States could not find out where these companies manufacture their goods (Zwolinski 6). To shop with our conscience, it is our right to know in which countries and factories, under what human rights conditions, and at what wages the products we purchase are made.

The terms “sweatshop” and “sweating” were first used in the 19th century to describe a subcontracting system where the middlemen earned their profit from the margin between the amount they received from a contract and the amount they paid workers. This margin was “sweated” from the workers because they received minimal wages for excessive hours worked under unsanitary conditions (Mason 33). This concept of sweating came alive again in today’s garment industry which is best described as a pyramid where big-name retailers and brand-name manufacturers contract with sewing shops, who in turn hire garment workers to make the finished product. Retailers and manufacturers at the top of the pyramid dictate how much workers earn in wages by controlling the contract price given to the contractor. With these prices declining each year by as much as 25%, contractors are forced to “sweat” a profit from garment workers by working those long hours at low wages (Mason 34).

In the U.S, garment workers typically toil 70 or 80 hours a week in front of their machines, often without minimum wage or overtime pay (Lessin). In fact, the Department of Labor estimates that more than half of the country’s 22,000 sewing shops violate minimum wage and overtime laws. Many of these workers labor in dangerous conditions including blocked fire exits, unsanitary bathrooms, and poor ventilation. Government surveys reveal that 75% of U.S. garment shops violate safety and health laws. In addition, workers commonly face verbal and physical abuse and are intimidated from speaking out, fearing job loss or deportation, since many of the workers are immigrants (Department of Labor 2).

For many, the word sweatshop conjures up images of dirty, cramped, turn of the century New York tenements where immigrant women worked as seamstresses. High-rise tenement sweatshops still do exist, but today even large brightly lit factories can be the sites of rampant labor abuses. Sweatshop workers report horrible working conditions including sub-minimum wages, no benefits, non-payment of wages, forced overtime, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, corporal punishment, and illegal firings. Children can often be found working in sweatshops instead of going to school. Sweatshop operators are notorious for avoiding giving maternity leave by firing pregnant women and forcing women workers to take birth control or to abort their pregnancies (Taylor 52). Sweatshop operators can best control a pool of workers that are ignorant of their rights as workers. Therefore, bosses often refuse to hire unionized workers and intimidate or fire any worker suspected of speaking with union representatives.

In the garment industry, the typical sweatshop worker is a woman (90% of all sweatshop workers are women). She is young and often missing the chance for an education because she must work long hours to support a family. In America, she is often a recent or undocumented immigrant. She is almost always non-union and usually unaware that, even if she is in this country illegally, she still has rights as a worker (Taylor 66). In December of 1998, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 50th Anniversary, and the governments of the world have pledged to honor the basic rights we are all born with. Unfortunately, for too many people these promises have no meaning, and so that is why so many of these women are subject to work under these circumstances. Not only the women, but hundreds of millions of other people are robbed of their basic human rights simply because of racial or economic status.

The U.S. has always been a big participant in the use of sweat shops and with a government that advertises freedom it is hard to believe. So people lose the rights guaranteed to them for the simple fact that low wages, with poor conditions, is better than nothing at all. Everyone has their own questions of morality when it comes to the garment industry. Some might say that yes there are poor conditions, but at least these immigrant workers can get paid, and that the workers should be happy. However, not all people think this way and a lot of people might want to know which stores implement sweat shops as a way of making there clothes. It is won’t be easy to find out which stores use sweat shops, but for now being educated can be enough to hopefully stop production in sweat shops, or at least make the conditions and wages better.

Work Cited

Department of Labor. No Sweat – Help End Sweatshop Conditions for American    Workers. http://www.dol.gov/dol/esa/public/nosweat/nosweat.htm, 2001.

Feminists against Sweatshops. Frequently Asked Questions About Sweatshops and Women Workers http://www.feminist.org/other/sweatfaq.html, 2000.

Mason, Ryan H. Sweatshops in the Twentieth Century. Dame Publications, San Francisco, 1992.

Taylor, Johnathan P. A Global Look at Sweatshops. Burns and Rogers, New York,

1997.

Chaney, Bart. Sweat Shop. New Orleans Review. Louisiana, June 2008.

The Health Care Reform in America, by: Nabeel Fargo

Health care reform is a rubric which includes major health issues and policy creation or change. Health care reforms usually include a number of brief points such as the decrease in health care cost, improving one’s access to a specialist or a physician, improving the quality of health care, making it accessible for everyone and broadening the coverage through public sector programs or private sector programs. Millions of Americans have no form of health care coverage and rarely an ability to pay for services provided to them when they choose to utilize the United States health care system. Therefore President Barack Obama passed a new health care reform in order to improve the system for those millions of Americans who are mainly dependent on health care. Although there tends to be a number of people who do not seem to be very happy with the new health care reform, I think the newly passed health care bill will turn out to be one of the best reforms in the history of the United States.

A top goal for Democrats’ health care plans is to get every American citizen and permanent resident covered by health insurance because it seems to be a necessity for everyone. Despite the fact that Medicaid and Medicare exist, the number of people who lack health insurance in America has surpassed 45 million Americans. The main reason why many lack health insurance is mainly because of the fact that health insurance costs tend to be fairly high, and this is why many families lack health insurance and are not covered by any type of Medicaid or Medicare. However, it is clear that president Barack Obama has thought about that dilemma in the past, therefore, in order to improve the health care system in the United States, he has recently signed a new health reform legislation. The newly signed health reform will make insurance more affordable. It will set up a new competitive health insurance market. It will also bring a greater accountability to health care. It will end discrimination against those with preexisting conditions. And finally it will lead our budget and economy to a new path by reducing the deficit.

According to Marcia Clemmitt “For the first time in 15 years, health-care reform has moved to the top of Washington’s agenda. A new Democratic president and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have declared two major goals: increase coverage to near-universal levels and stop the huge, annual cost increases that are gradually putting health care out of reach for small businesses and low-income families. Most proposals would subsidize insurance for low-income Americans and create new, government-regulated insurance markets for those without employer-provided coverage” (Clemmitt 693).

The United States is the only industrialized country without some form of government- financed universal health coverage. But while some analysts say it is astonishing that the United States leaders do not pay more attention to international experience, free market advocates say increased government involvement would greatly hinder Americans’ freedom of choice. Although the United States health care lags far behind other nations with universal health care, there has been an incredible amount of work dedicated to studying the best possible choices and directions to choose from in order to gain the best possible result and make it possible for everyone to have Medicare or Medicaid in the United States and lower the prices of health insurance companies so that health care and insurance would be achievable for everyone.

For at least 40 years, since the Nixon administration, the United States has wrestled with the problem of rising health costs. Nothing has worked for long to control these expenses, now rising at an annual rate of 6 percent. At that pace, Medicare and Medicaid will be in debt in eight years, and overall health care costs will double in a decade. More than a few analysts have concluded that nothing less than huge cuts in hospital and physician fees as well as drug prices will seriously deal with rising future costs. According to Daniel Callahan “Rationing will be necessary. We are near the end of the road on evasions and magic bullets to dodge that issue” (Callahan 709).

Clemmitt also suggests that “One controversial scheme would create a publicly run insurance plan and require individuals to buy coverage. Congressional Republicans and some Democrats argue, however, that the plan would be too expensive and would allow government to meddle too much in health care. And at angry town hall meetings in August, some even charged, incorrectly, that the arrangement would establish “death panels” that would deny treatment to elderly and disabled patients” (Clemmitt 694)

In conclusion, health care has been one of the most discussed and controversial topics because of the fact that each person has a different point of view when it comes to discussing the issue of health insurance. However, I believe the newly signed health care reform signed by president Barack Obama will have a fairly good impact on many Americans who lacked health insurance due to the fact that it was fairly expensive because now it is more affordable and sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving millions of Americans the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have.  And it brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care. I think the newly passed health care bill will turn out to be one of the best reforms in the history of United States.

Works Cited

Callahan, D. ”Should Government Ration Health Care”. President Emeritus the Hasting center,

CQ researcher. 10 Aug. 2009.

Clemmitt, M.”Health Care Reform”. CQ researcher 19 (2009): 693-716. Print.

United States. The White House. Health Care. Barack O. 22 Feb. 2010.Web.