May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Migrant Labor Benefits residents of China, UAE, and the United States

 Here's a story about China investing in surveillance technology, and prototyping it into a network in one city, for further eventual roll-out to the rest of the country. They are spending loads of money to keep track of people who are dissatisfied with the opportunities available, instead of spending those loads of money to create more opportunities. In the process of embracing some type of totalitarian communist capitalism, they've been creating migrant workers by razing villages, and then taking advantage of their migrant status.

From the article:
While migrants can live for decades in big cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou, their residency remains fixed to the rural community where they were born, a fact encoded on their national ID cards. As one young migrant in Guangzhou put it to me, "The local people want to make money from migrant workers, but they don't want to give them rights. But why are the local people so rich? Because of the migrant workers!"

But its not just limited to China. Waste of resources that could be used toward equalizing economic injustice, and the creation/exploitation of migrant labor seems to be a trend.

I think I previously blogged on the world's tallest building in Dubai, the Burj Dubai, and commented on how amazing it was that they were able to build it for only $2 billion dollars (U.S.). Since then, I've learned that they have a very divided class system there in Dubai, UAE, with about 60% of the population in the city as non-citizens and migrant labors. These migrant labors can be paid and exploited so that the investors can end up with awesome buildings, purchased at a cut-rate. The fact that hundreds of poorly documented day-laborers die constructing these buildings doesn't matter much in this context, since they're expendable and disconnected from their home communities.

In the United States, the whole ambivalence about undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America is similar to this. Having an exploitable unempowered labor force allows for less production costs (and potentially cheaper goods) in any industry able to employ undocumented workers without having to pay the going rate, or give them benefits.

In short, we are culpable, even if we don't want to be.

The solution? Change public policy regarding immigration, commerce, and re-create the social welfare network that has been undermined during the last 25 years.

When we see people wandering around, looking for work, begging for work, it becomes an employer's market, encouraging the system to keep people hungry and homeless, and denying them citizenship and its benefits if possible.

To sum up: In a society built on a social contract, whenever an individual is left to fend for him/herself, it shows a breach of the contract, and a failure of the communities that the individual is within. If a subgroup of people are left to fend to themselves, it shows a breach of contract and a failure of the greater community groups the subgroup is a part of. In this case, displaced migrant labors (in addition to being real suffering people) stand as representatives to a system that pits people against each other, and encourages abandonment.

The numbers of those abandoned by our societies is growing! From the article: "Every rural village that is successfully razed to make way for a new project creates more displaced people who join the ranks of the roughly 130 million migrants roaming the country looking for work. By 2025, it is projected that this "floating" population will swell to more than 350 million.' That's greater than the entire population of the United States. The idea that there could be a billion homeless people on this planet by 2025 mortifies me so deeply.

How deep must we dig to find the love to bind our communities together, to pool our resources, and take care of EVERYONE in a cooperative fashion? Surveillance cameras are not an answer to that question. They are an answer to the question: "How can the people who are benefiting from inequity and injustice and oppression continue to do so?" That's the kind of us vs. them thinking that exists in the kindergarten sandbox when the child won't share his toys. We need to move beyond that. Its much more complex than that, but at each level of complexity is a simplicity based on sharing and cooperation. That unravels the complexity, and we still see those who benefit from creating and sustaining competition. Many of us are unwilling/unknowing/cooperating participants. But there are many who are not participants who are only shut outside of the system, to be used, exploited, and used up. That's not the love I'm talking about. But I'm afraid if I keep rambling on, you will stop reading, so I'll stop here. Find the love and embrace it. Okay.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

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