You walk into the Apple store and instantly fall in love with the new MacBook Pro. You have to have it. As you walk into the nearest H&M you lay your eyes on their new zip-up hoodie, priced at only $25. Now that’s a deal you can’t pass up! Now, would you pass it up if you knew that the Cambodian women who made that zip-up hoodie were only paid 50 cents/hour? Would you give up your Apple products if knew about the working conditions of their factories as well? Many will make the argument that the benefits of globalization outweigh the costs, but are we really paying enough attention to the health of the workers that are making the products we grow to need more and more every day?
In their piece “The Hidden Promise: Liberty Renewed,” John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge claim that “globalization is delivering enough of [the liberal dream] to make it worth pressing forward” (15). They slightly acknowledge the fact that there are “losers” in globalization, but to me that is not something that can only be slightly acknowledged. As William Robinson points out in his “Nine Theses,” “there are deep and interwoven racial, ethnic and gender dimensions to this escalating global poverty and inequality,” and the hierarchies of labor that are currently in place do not allow for the success of these groups (26). As a result, they continue to be subjugated to inadequate working conditions that barely get their families by from day to day.
In Patrick Winn’s article on slave labor, we come to learn about how young children are treated as if they were adults, working long hours, even into the night. People faint due to the heat. Pregnant women are denied work (not that they should be working in those kinds of conditions anyways). People all around face these kinds of conditions every day. When many people benefit from globalization, rarely do they think of where the products came from, or how they were attained. We cannot continue to reap such benefits while communities are putting their lives at such risk.
Further Reading: How the IPhone Helps Perpetuates Modern Day Slavery