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Globalization, a blindfold to assist in achieving willful blindness

cross post from IfLizWereQueen

Photo from Affordable Housing

Yesterday Reuters reported that the SEC regulators are struggling to craft a rule that sheds light on companies that use certain African “conflict minerals” but avoids a compliance nightmare that hurts manufacturers.

The rule, which was tucked into the Dodd legislation at the last minute, will require companies to disclose whether they use tatalum, tin, gold or tungsten from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Why? Well among other things, mining companies all over the world, including here in the USA are known for their abusive disregard for the lives of their workers. Those in Africa are the worst.

AT&T who use materials that come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are already yelping like a stuck pig, claiming that the rule is “over-reaching.” Did it ever occur to these people that they might invest a little into the safety of these workers and a little less into the bottom line for their wealthy investors?

This all started me thinking about the evils, in fact, the real reason for globalization in the first place. . .

Did you every consider why Wall Street and its Congressional servants promote globalization?

It’s not because they “love” the people of the world and want to help them. It’s because they want to “protect” their investors from the truth of what is happening in their factories so people continue to throw money at Wall Street.

We know that. These are the same people who clap when someone suggests that a person who hasn’t been able to afford the premiums of Wall Street health insurance should be left to die.  Wall Street promotes globalization because, in order to get the cheapest labor possible, you must regard workers as dispensable insects.  They know that if the factories manufacturing their products were located in the USA or in western Europe that people would not stand for their treatment of the workers and they would have few investors.  Why? Because willful blindness at a close proximity is difficult, not not impossible, to maintain.  There are no blindfolds thick enough to forestall the truth.

However, distance provides the perfect blindfold.  When crimes are being committed against human beings half way around the planet, who knows?  The truth is that many Wall Street investors are accomplices to murderer and don’t even know it,  thanks to globalization. They don’t know, for example, that Bangladesh’s Fire Service and Civil Defense Department reported that 414 garment workers lost their lives in 213 factory fires between 2006 and 2009.  Few in Europe and even fewer in the USA are aware of what is happening in Bangladesh.

For example, take the fire last December 2010 in a Bangladeshi garment factory. The blaze engulfed the ninth floor of the 10-story Ha-Meem Group’s sportswear factory in the Ashulia industrial area at lunchtime on Tuesday. Flames later spread to the 10th floor, a dining area, where about 150 workers were having their lunch. Most of the 6,000 workers were outside, preventing the death toll from being far higher.

Abdul Kader, who escaped from the fire, told Asia Times Online that he saw 50-60 workers forced to jump off the tenth floor because “the emergency exits were closed.” Other factory workers also said the doors were locked. The Independent, a Bangladeshi newspaper, reported: “As the fire spread fast on the top floor, the workers tried to rush to a safer place, but they found the collapsible gate on the top floor locked. Later, the workers tried to come down from the top floor using fabrics as ‘rope’ but many of the workers fell down and received injuries.”  Don’t even ask if their employers [slave drivers] provided health care insurance.

This fire that killed more than 30 workers near Dhaka, the capital was bad enough.  But two days later the bloody crackdown by the Awami League government  in which police fatally shot four striking workers was almost as horrid.

Thanks to pressure from members, several of the USA  brands (including J.C. Penney) doing business with the factory owners – the Hameem Group – signed a commitment to ensure fair compensation for the injured workers and surviving family members of the workers who died and to take meaningful steps to stop the epidemic of workplace deaths at US brands’ apparel factories in Bangladesh.

Now, however, according to,  J.C. Penney has broken this pledge and dropped out of its agreement to provide compensation for the workers and their families.  J.C. Penney , according to plans to walk away from workers in Bangladesh.  After all, nothing’s too good for the investors–besides, most of the them will never know.


SOURCES: ICFIInternational Labor Rights Forum

Never heard of Ha-Meem Group? Neither have I. Did you ever hear of the next degree of separation for the Wall Street investors, ”That’s it sportswear”? I didn’t.  Well no wonder.  They are just another layer to the Wall Street blindfold thus ensuring the ease of their investors’ willful blindness by adding two degrees of of separation from the better known corporate brands. There is Ha-Meem Group and then there is  That’s it sportswear who make items for brands such as JC Penney, Gap, Kohl’s, American Eagle, Old Navy, Squeeze, VF Corporation, Migros, PNC, Celio, Zara, Hema, Target Stores.  Now the blindfold is removed.

And the most pitiful thing of all is that many investors, even upon learning the facts, would still clap and cheer.  Sometimes I wonder if that is not the overall goal of those who run Wall Street and Washington–to make the public so callous to human suffering that we don’t give a damn what they do to deliver their quarterly dividends and to build their own personal wealth.  It certainly seems to be working in some quarters.

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Liz Berry

Liz Berry