Who is Accountable for Child Labor?


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It seems crazy that child labor is still a problem around the world but when you really think about it, many children work because they feel like they have to. Some governments, like in Uzbekistan require child labor to harvest cotton and other countries are so impoverished that families feel there is no choice but to have children add to the family income. The problem is that child labor actually perpetuates poverty and violates basic human rights. Unfortunately, these violations and poverty cycles are only made worse by Western economies that literally buy into the cheap items it produces. Continue reading

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TechnOlympics


I found in the quiz that I am an ambivalent networker – I have allowed technology to help me in my everyday life via interactions and entertainment, but I still find too much digital communication to be intrusive. This seems perfect for me as I know I’m not the fastest texter and I like having a face to face conversation or telephone communication before typing one out. But, I also use the computer for EVERYTHING from school work to Netflix. So I like to think I am ambivalent towards technology, at least for now.

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When I read the prompt, I knew I wanted to look at how sports was changed by technology and then remembered that it was an Olympic year. So I did a little research about how the Olympics has changed because of technology since the last Winter Games. Continue reading

The Gap (Inc.) in Utilitarian Thinking


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Child labor seems to be an ever-existing problem. We hear of it in the news constantly and while the issue has been slowly decreasing, there is no sign of its eradication in the near future. One industry that seems to have the majority of issues is the textile and retail industries with massive amounts of outsourced production in third world countries. One such company is Gap, Inc. (Gap), which has been a popular source of casual and business clothing throughout the world, which, in addition to the Gap also includes branches like Old Navy and Banana Republic.   In 2007, Gap was accused of using child labor in their Indian factories and while it seemed clear that is was a misunderstanding and was strictly being addressed, it was not the first time Gap had been faced with children working on their clothing overseas.  Fortunately, we see that Gap realized their past mistakes in dealing with child labor and had put in place a new management style addressing such issues. The following review will provide a look into the story behind Gap’s influences and decisions, as well as analyze the ethical dilemmas that required redress. Continue reading

Made in India


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In figuring out what type of book I wanted to use for my second paper, I decided I needed a bit more background on my major focus: child labor. I plan to write about Gap, Inc and their extensive program against child labor. This idea is interesting to me considering children as young as four were discovered in their India factories. It seems to me that child labor then must be hard to detect and monitor, but I wanted to find out more. So I used our library catalogue to find a book about child labor, particularly in India. I also made sure the book was relatively recent, as I assume and hope that regulation has changed significantly in recent years.  Continue reading

26 Year Old Children


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I scored a 5 out of 10 on the quiz. I found that the five I answered correctly were provisions I have heard about over and over and some of the others are ones I have never heard any discussion about. In choosing a topic to focus on, I thought about how Obamacare relates to me. There is a new policy that allows “children” to say on their parents’ healthcare plan until they are 26. Previous to this, insurers could drop children from their parents’ plan regardless of student or job status. The Department of Labor answers some basic questions about this nicely. Continue reading

A Ploy or Politics ?


I always knew I leaned to the right but being labeled a “Main Street Republican” seemed a bit far to me. But after reading an article from The Nation, it was easy to side with the Republicans. Being from New Jersey, I was drawn to the article about Chris Christie. It was written about the special senator election after the passing of the former NJ senator, Frank Lautenrberg. Cory Booker was, a Democrat was elected. John Nichols writes that Christie planned this special election in an attempt to curb the gubernatorial election at the beginning of next month. It apparently was a ploy to keep voters from going to the polls by confusing them with a date change. Changing the voting date from a Tuesday to a Wednesday is what ruined the election – except it didn’t. The Democrat won. Even though Christie rigged the election by confusing voters, the opposite party won the election, sending another Democrat to DC. Yes the turn out was low and the Democratic candidate would have safely won the election, but the article suggests that this is not a positive for the Democratic Party. It is instead an “atrocious abuse of political process,” simply because Christie changed the Election Day.

The way Christie set up the election day is was smart way to win an election. Being a Republican in a primarily Democratic state, Christie used the means he had available to help him in the up coming election for governor. It was a strategy, not a ploy. Any politician makes things work in their favor. In doing this, he still helped the democrats too. A Democratic senator was still elected. There is no need to blame him for abusing power or using manipulation when all he did was try to help himself in his upcoming election. This article was “atrociously” exaggerated and based on assumption.

Too Big-headed to Fail


After watching “Too Big to Fail”, it is clear to me that this notion still exists today. The last piece of information you are left with is that 10 banks hold 77% of all American assets. Wow. These banks own more of our tangible country than the government does. These banks cannot fail. With our nation’s money invested in keeping them alive, another downward spiral will cause the government to loose all the money they had to save the banks this time around. The banks failing in the film were too big because they were responsible for pensions, salaries, life’s investment, college funds, etc. If these banks went under, too many lives would be affected. But now, it’s not very different. All of those same concepts apply but now the government’s money is invested. The banks cannot fail, because then our economy fails. The government would be too low on cash.

An issue I also saw at the end of the film was that the banks are not the only entities that are too big to fail. Our government seems the same way. Only the government seems too bigheaded to fail. In the movie, Paulson “stuck to his guns” about not giving bailouts and instead placed government investments into the banks, just so that he could keep his word. We even see it today with other issues as our government is “taking a break”. People cannot compromise and find solutions because they are stubborn. Yes, it is important to stand up for what you believe, but when your position effects the lives of an entire country, sometimes you need to think of the best interests of the general good, not what you personally believe to be good.

Aiding a Cause or Causing Agony?


The end of the play was my favorite part. The professor’s real life experience in China was enlightening. I liked her description of the jobs as being mundane and boring but not in horrible conditions. When she says that, “value judgment isn’t as simple as it seems at first,” I truly thought about my reaction to our original introduction to Daisey. I could not believe the conditions people worked in and that we accepted it by buying these products. But the realization that people know what the working conditions are like before accepting jobs and willingly working in these factories makes a bit different. It’s still not completely fair or right, but the jobs in these factories give workers their well-being. It’s hard to know where to draw the line between being forced to work and working willingly when conditions are bad. In a way, these people are forced to work in order to sustain their lives and the lives of their families and factory jobs are the only ones they can get. On the other hand, they apply for and accept these jobs that happen to bring us these great products. I have a hard time deciding whether or not buying the product is buying into a belief that it is okay and we are just giving people jobs or if it is in fact our consumerism that is adding to a horrible world practice. The professor in the play helped me to lean toward the former with her statement of economic purpose, but I find myself still hesitant to except either position.

Last semester I worked with a student from China in a group project in which we had to do extensive research on a public company. We chose Gap, Inc. He was very passionate about exposing the child labor scandal Gap had in Indonesia. They apparently were using sweat shops similarly to how Daisey explained Apple to be. So we were interested in asking if he was concerned about similar cases in China. Being from Hong Kong, he did not have any direct connection to the“sweat shop” like factories and seemed more interested in discussing that poor working conditions are not just in China, but all over the world. It was almost as if he was upset China was labeled this way.

In Journalism, Opinions Can’t be Facts


The retraction of Dasiey’s article was very surprising. When someone is reporting statistics that are extreme and frightening, it is hard to believe that they would take matters of fact into their own hands. The worst part about such a moving article presenting incorrect facts is that now, the public cannot truly appreciate and believe all the information they previously absorbed. It is hard to realize what was true and what was false and to have faith in any of the information Daisey presented. It was especially inappropriate for Dasiey to present such false facts on a public news station acting as a journalist. When he was asked to present the piece on such a station, he gave up the right to formulate his own story rather than present the public with true and factual information.

I was partially sympathetic to his explanation of “shaping” the story. He wanted to raise awareness of the horrific conditions of Chinese factories by including all the shocking anecdotes he heard from factory workers. Even though he had not personally spoke to those affected by the Hexane gas, for example, he wanted to spread awareness that issues like that exist. Unfortunately, he added such extreme aspects to the story that were untrue for anywhere in China, not just at Foxconn. With allegations of guns at the gate and underage workers that were confirmed as false, the shock factor of most of his story vanishes. Yes the conditions are poor and the pay is terrible, but these facts are known. The discussions with workers did not reveal much more information than we have already heard. Daisey needed to add a theatrical value to the piece that just could not be corroborated.

Perhaps the worst part of the retraction was Dasiey’s admittance to being fearful of the truth being found out. He lied about his translator and did not allow for all facts to be checked out by a news station. Daisey did not let them do their job: report accurate news to the public.  It is even worse that he says at some point he wished the story was pulled. Daisey knew that it was wrong for this story to be heard but he also feared people looking into his facts. Any notability he would have as a journalist would be, and now is, gone.

It is important in analyzing his original post and his retraction to realize that opinions are valuable and deserve to be heard, but opinions loose credibility when lies are twisted in. Thinking workers are young is different than blatantly stating their ages and thinking the guards are intimidating is different than stating that they are deadly. Yes, most of what Daisey said is true in a sense. He was trying to formulate truth by mixing stories and details from multiple sources. Where he went wrong was including details that do not exist anywhere. He betrayed the trust of his translator, his employers and the public that listened in to his story. Journalism is an art form – using news to captivate an audience, but the art is lost when one cannot make the truth captivating and instead lies to enhance a story.

Conflicting Cultures?


I enjoy watching documentaries and since I have began watching these quick 50 minute informative videos, I have seen quite a few on factories like the one Mike Daisey discusses. Yet this monologue was still striking even though I expected to hear things I have already heard. One thing that stood out to me was his discovery of handmade electronics. Daisey elaborates on finding this out by discussing how so many of us wish things were handmade or had the personal touch that they used to. To think the devices that we use to prevent personal interaction; the devices that give us the ability to find any amount of information without any effort are put together by human hands. Not machines, not computers. Our high-tech computers are not constructed by a higher technology, but by uneducated people. I am completely fascinated by this. All the technology in the world and bare hands built my iPhone and MacBook Pro. And then to think how much money these things cost and think back to how each factory must look. I can only infer from other videos I have watched but I cannot imagine the working conditions are good nor is the pay. Daisey said they are not even allowed to speak in a 12 hour shift!

Later, he and his translator discuss the possibility of the workers being mentally ill. I thought I might agree with that statement but after really thinking about it I do not it is illness, but the culture. The culture is almost unfathomable – that workplaces like this are so common and people work and live in silence regarding such horrific lifestyles.

The piece of the story that struck me the most was when his translator said, “you hear stories, but you do not think it is going to be so much.” That line perfectly summed up my reaction to this piece. I had seen documentaries about slave-like factory workers and have read about them for other ethics courses, but every time I watch or read, something new sticks out to me. Like the handmade electronics and forced silence I heard about from Daisey. I am always shocked that places like this exist and that even with all the media attention given them, the conditions never seem to improve. It has become just as common to hear about a factory like this as it is to buy an iPhone, yet nobody stops buying them. I feel hopeless listening to this feeling like I cannot help, nor have I considering I have a Mac and an iPhone. So does my mom, dad, sisters, and almost all of my friends. I know I will buy the next one too. I would love to say that won’t, but I want to. Even after listening to that piece. Yet I do not feel like a bad person. That is just our culture. I said their culture is unfathomable, but it seems like ours might not be much better.

The Gap, Inc.


Gap, Inc. believes in community investment. On their “social responsibility” page they explain the mantra, “Be What’s Possible”. They focus community investment on under privileged children in the US and women in developing countries. It is clear, according to Gap, Inc. that those they aid in investing are not considered just investments but partners. They can say this truthfully because they do not just contribute cash, but innovation. Problem solving for the Gap involves solving social problems creating solutions worldwide. Gap, Inc. maintains this theory with what they term the “Virtuous Cycle”.  The virtuous cycle delivers a collective benefit to the community, shareholders, employees, and consumers. Gap believes that is all can move forward, everyone wins and that is what they strive for in investing in the community.

I think Milton would have a problem with Gap’s thinking. He would most likely believe it is too unanimous and that social responsibility is not that easy. Milton would argue that community investment must in some way have a negative effect on at least one of the parties in the “virtuous cycle” Edward would most likely find that Gap has found a way to merge the Separation Thesis. In creating meaning for the employees and consumers, the Gap goes beyond the economics of business to create virtue and meaning to the work done and money spent.

With its community investments, Gap, Inc. seems to be a stakeholder manager. They provide aid beyond monetary value to partners worldwide and seem benefit all collectively in the process. While their model is a but optimistic, it is on the right path to creating higher stakes than just economic benefit.