Sex, Toys and Education: #winning

Sex Workers in China are arrested, and then put into ‘labour camps’, only to be further exploited. Unfree labour is illegal. And here is an exceptional example of illegal acts being punished by further illegal acts: a gendered bias in unfree labour. In jail. (Article from the New York Times)

There are a few posts on this blog that cover similar issues, yet following my “Who Run the World?” post, I see it as important to clarify and further stress the unfairness and illegality related to gendered bias in International Divisions of Labour.

Image

 

 

These arrested sex workers are put into camps that “hold women for up to two years” make them slave away in workshops “seven days a week for no pay, producing toys, disposable chopsticks and dog diapers, some of which the women say are packaged for export.” So while the government claims that these women in jail are being educated and are learning what a ‘proper job’ is, these helpless women are actually being forced, beyond their will, to produce exportable goods. And here we were, worrying about multinational companies going into the less developed countries to practise unfree labour. #losers

A woman, who went by the street name “Little Orchid”  says she had to spend several days at one of these camps, staying up to 11 p.m. making stuffed animals. She, of course, did not make any income out of it. The reason being that any supposed earning she made went right back into the centre as she had to buy essential resources such as bedding, sanitary towels or even food. And when asked about the education provided, it soon became apparent that it only went as far as reciting the regulations that criminalized prostitution.

The article further adds that these female inmates were harassed and abused in jail, with the unjustifiable assumption that ‘that’s what they do anyway.’ 

Image

There have been records of excessive use of force by the police: 

Several men ganged up on beating me. Some hit my head, some my
body, and some pulled my hair. One yelled, “Fuck you, you shameless
thing!” They beat me for at least ten minutes.
– Hong, April 20, 2013   
 
The ill treatment of prisoners, the use of unfree labour and the high representation of gender discrimination, all of which are conducted by the very government of what is considered a developed country today, makes me worried. Very, very worried. 
 
 

A comment posted on this article that was particularly striking to me:
Imprisoned and forced to work long hours, seven days a week unpaid and charging prostitutes for the ‘privilege’? It seems to me that the government is the biggest pimp of them all.

JustAGuy
Neverland 2 January 2014

 

And yet, still, in the eyes of the government of China:

  • Imprisoned prostitutes for illegal activity?  #winning
  • Provided them with a ‘job’ in prison? #winning
  • At the same time, ‘educated’ them too?  #winning

Don’t you see? The only loser here is anybody who thinks that these sex workers are being treated unfairly and are being exploited for their unfree labour. #definitelyme #andprobablyyoutoo

Image

 

Veera Lamichhane

http://asiacatalyst.org/blog/AsiaCatalyst_CustodyEducation2013-12-EN.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/world/asia/for-prostitutes-in-china-jail-with-no-recourse.html?_r=2

 

Advertisements

International Aid, Where does it really go?????

Image

 Almost Half the world, that’s approximately three billion people live under $2.50 a day.
 So that means almost HALF the world is poor!!!

Surely then, it is our obligation to help the half of the world that is poor?
“Why of course it is! In fact we vow to give as much as we are capable of every year to those needy.” claims western governments.
Helping the needy is of course a moral thing to do after all, not to mention also a religious teaching in the major religions.
” We want to help alleviate the horrible conditions these innocent people have to go through and make things better for them so they can deal with the problems themselves later” claims western governments.

This may be the case, but it is not the main focus. Unfortunately as you will discover below, International Aid is a political move more than a ‘Humanitarian’, religious, and Moral obligation.  

International aid is not just about providing recipient countries with money, no, but also includes services, foods and commodities and our dear friend “DEBT RELIEF” which I will come back to in a short while. 

You may not be aware but the majority of the countries that are poor were once colonized and its effects can be seen now in the eyes of poverty. Having gained independence these countries had to start fresh with not a lot of understanding of how to run a country and the implications of ruling in a certain way. They needed money to rebuild their countries, so stuff like infrastructure, education, housing and the whole lot. This struck a light bulb for former colonialist, (which are now the developed countries) and the idea of providing Loans for international assistance was initiated. 
These poor countries had to and still are going through yet another colonialism. This time around it is more politically, self interest motivated. 
In order for for the poor countries to have loans, they have to sign a contract with the IMF and World Bank. On many occasions these contracts are very hard to understand and have a very short time for submission. In a desperate state the poor country will sign the contract, only to later find out that they are now indebted to the World Bank and IMF for a very long time. 

Another point to bare in mind is that, now that these poor countries have indebted themselves to the wealthy donor sending countries they are at a very big risk of being pulled with strings.
Donor countries many a time give aid with an expectation from recipient countries that they will do what the donor country wants.
For example during the cold war, usa and soviet union both used aid as a means to draw countries on their side. The side of either communism or capitalism. 

Or more commonly in our day and age, the promise of foreign Aid in return for access to military bases in recipient countries.
Prime example being America and its so called ‘War on terror’.

Therefore ‘DEBT RELIEF’ is not a Victoria sponge cake, it is rather a spell of the dark arts. 

This raises millions of question about the notion of international Aid and debt relief. 
Who is in charge of overseeing these contracts? Is there any regulation? How can we stop this manipulation?

This is a pure example of capitalism which results in individual benefits to the sending countries. 
The losers are the poor countries and the winners are the donor sending countries  

Mohammad Uzair 

MDGs Vs. SDGs?

 

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) is the outcome of the Rio+20 conference. The SDGs is to build upon the MDGs with the post 2015 development agenda with overreaching goals, targets and indicators. The SDGs are the new post2015 international development agenda focusing more on the weaknesses of the MDGs. The SDGs are said to be more comprehensive than the MDGs, outcome-oriented and have more specified indicators. The SDGs assessed the MDGs in three aspect one is that they are not global and that they ultimately put obligations on the developing countries, second is that they are short to medium term and thirdly is that environmental goals are not reflected sufficiently

The MDGs is remarkable successful in given its attention in mobilizing its resources to address the major gaps in human development, they help support poverty eradication and increasing primary education.

MDG’s have their negative lessons, they are considered weak in terms of justice, equity, exclusion and vulnerability. For example the MDG7, which was on environmental sustainability, it is predominantly weak because its neglect land degradation and climate change, they focus on drinking water or sanitation forgotten that climate change has the power to unwrap most of the development achievements. Another aspect is that the MDGs in some cases only commit the developing countries and do not apply to developed countries with an exception of MDG8, which is related to international cooperation and ODA. 

zakiyyah tukur 

Bitcoin or Banks?

Image

Bitcoin is a digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system introduced in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. The use of Bitcoins allows an anonymous ownership and anonymous transaction of values. The digital currency can be sent and received using wallet software on a personal computer, on your phone or a web application. It can be sent to whomever with a Bitcoin-address. The most important aspect of the invented currency is the fact that it is impossible for any form of authority or government to manipulate the value of the currency by creating more of it and further create inflation. The Bitcoin is outside the system, and most importantly – the banks.

But what happens when a part of the system do fail? The Economist reports the disappearance of MT Gox and millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins. MT Gox (On the website you can see it is closed down: https://www.mtgox.com/) is one of many Bitcoin exchanges, but is reported to account for 70% of the currency’s global transactions. The Economist claims that large parts of the trading system are now compromised and that the value of the currency is under half of what it was – all do to the well-known software bug, which have not been dealt with. It is also claimed that many people who has invested in Bitcoins are screaming for help from financial regulators. Although the ‘crisis claim’ on Bitcoin by the economist, the Bitcoin Foundations wrote that the attack from the bug would not affect peoples’ Bitcoin wallets or funds – it only seems like the costumers of the Mt Gox should be worried.

The theory of the Bitcoin do offer a smart solution to those who don’t want to or are afraid be involved with unregulated capitalised banks – and worst of all, corrupted banks. This new invention has gained a lot of critique from the capitalised world – although some constructive. It obviously has a long way to go before more people believe its safe to invest, but could this concept be a winning solution for the people to the pressure of capitalism and globalisation? Are banks the problem? In theory I guess it could be a solution, but we all know theory does not always work in practice. What could be a third solution? 

Anette Stepanoski

Schumpeter (2014) Mt gone. The Economist. Available at:  http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/02/bitcoin-s-woes

We Love Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPoor?

Image

Chao, aged 12, worships his iPad. He has masses of games to choose from; unconditionally spoilt for choice. He plays temple run as if he were possessed. For him it is compulsory to download the latest apps and be more technically savy than his friends at school. On the other hand, Heng who is also 12 years old works 60 hours a week with $1 to $2 overtime pay per hour and receives constant abuse both verbally and physically for polishing the touchscreens of iPads all day. He has to use a chemical n-hexane which in 2011 poisoned 140 child students! Both boys live in China, but both boys have received opposing fruits of globalisation; one sweet, one bitter.

Due to its emerging market China is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the developing world. Whilst multinational corporations benefit from low costs of capital and production they (who also claim to have zero tolerance in supporting child labour) are exploiting the human and labour rights of Chinese Children; creating a generation of precariats. Precariats are a socio-economic group who receive limited social benefits and statutory entitlements; bearing more risks. Companies such as Apple pay wages way below the legal minimum wage and reduce costs further by providing extremely poor living and working conditions to their employees. In 2013, investigations were carried out into the factories that produce Apple products in China and found more than 10,000 under age students had been hired forcefully referring to them as ‘interns’ who were actually blackmailed into the jobs. The students were threatened that if they refused to participate their educational qualifications would be withdrawn.

At the same time, many Westerners believe that such factories are opportunities that lift people out of poverty. Poverty being the utmost solitary factor responsible for children moving into the workplace, instead of getting involved in stealing, begging and the black market it is preferred for them to work in factories of international corporations. How justifiable is this theory? Is it really better for Chinese children to be occupied in precarious employment than criminalities and corruptions?

Nevertheless, workers like Heng occupied in unskilled work are bound to lose motivation and lose any prospects of occupational promotion. They will experience increased insecurity and inequality in the long run whilst becoming socially isolated and physically impaired; their psychological health will deteriorate due to monotonous work and high pressure surroundings. Therefore, it is imperative that consumers around the globe stand up for these abuses which are being completely disregarded and demand fair labour and decent work in order for Chinese children to be saved from a future of precarity.

Shaafi Sayed

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/forced-labout-china-economic-miracle

Free Trade with China: ASEAN’s Winners and Losers

Image

This article focuses on the competitive aspects of trade and the benefits and losses that accrue from these aspects that come from the expansion of free trade relations to capture China. What makes this article desirable in research is the fact that it captures the concept of integration and globalism from a higher level by pulling in China as the probable economic power in Asia.

What is the economic implication of the extension of the inclusion of China in the free trade agreement by ASEAN member states? This is the main question that is explored in the article. The author notes that sour lessons are bound to be witnessed by countries in the region, particularly when it comes to the capitalization of China’s potential in the region. The article argues that given the fact that the Chinese economy is larger than most of the other economies in the region, Chinese companies, which are larger in size, are bound to invest more in the other economies in the region. This will make China the main gainer in the free trade agreement. At the same time, China will limit the economic potential of the states that seem weaker in the ASEAN trade bloc.

It is worth nothing that the author does not take a uni-directional approach in assessing the possible implication of including China in the ASEAN free trade agreement. At this juncture, it is critical to bring out another dimension of the article to explore the benefits accrued by the other countries. Thought not directly, the article points to nationalization of the globalized economy in the region, where other national entities from other countries can draw a lot of economic benefits from China. An example that can be drawn from the article is the existence of a vast market in China, where other benchmark organizations in the region like the HSBC can take advantage of the vast investment opportunities in China. Nonetheless, the author points to diverse resource endowments by the countries in the region, which points to competitive advantage and the probability of all the economies in the region to benefit when they centre on the production and exchange of products and services in which they are more competitive than China (Chowdhury 2010).  

Though the author points to optimism, more so when it comes to deriving the benefits of the domestic economy in China by the members of the ASEAN, he does not expand the discussion to completely bring out the impediments to investment in China, more so by weaker economies in the region (Chowdhury 2010). 

Chowdhury, N 2010, ‘Free trade with China: ASEAN’s winners and losers’, Time World, Friday, Jan. 22, 2010, viewed 13 February 2013, <http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1955863,00.html> 

Aga Rianta

Neoliberalism, and Winners and Losers of International Debt Crises

The global financial meltdown and the Great Recession of 2007-09 have brought into sharp relief the uneven distribution of gain and pain in economic crises. The 2009-10 debt crisis of Greece has resulted in a windfall for financial institutions at the expense of tax-payers, a rollback of welfare systems, and impoverishment of the working classes.This result is in tune with a pattern evidenced by the global international debt crises of the last three decades, including the Latin American crisis of the 1980s, the Asian crisis of 1990s. The repeat of international debt crises of the last three decades and the resulting transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich are the products of the neoliberal restructuring of economics that aims to rollback the gains made by the working classes under Keynesian welfare compromise, and to establish the hegemony of finance capital. These objectives have been facilitated by an extensive refashioning of the United States and the international mobility of finance capital. Global financial institutions channeled access global liquidity in ways that created unsustainable international debts, followed by global international debt crises. These crises are managed to displace welfare systems with neoliberal restructuring. The end result is transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, further impoverishment of working classes, and enhanced power of finance capital. A collective moratorium on debt servicing by the Global South is a viable path towards a new global financial order that is sustainable and gives human beings priority over capital.

Please take a look of a clip that causes the real cause of the Greek financial crisis.

David Bah

Bonus Street: The life of the banker

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/weve-had-benefits-street-so-how-about-bonus-street-a-gritty-look-at-the-grim-reality-of-life-with-an-unearned-2m-windfall-9065238.html

 

Image

We’ve had Benefits Street now I will introduce to the media sensation which everyone is talking about; this is of course Bonus Street.  Media outlets have coined the term “Bonus Street” to parody the lives of millionaires that sponge from the State mainly through tax evasion. Especially with the bankers who have received at least 6 figure bonuses on top of their salaries have managed to create a recession which has been so devastating to people since the Great Depression.  Some of these banks have been nationalized and the public have received the burden for the bankers greed and ignorance though high risk, low return investments. But through all the damage this group has caused the economy and the affect this has had on ordinary people so they can still keep their bonuses.

There are of course plenty of Neo-Liberal ideas that these people are an asset to the economy and if they left we would be penniless without them. This is what the Coalition Government has done, by pleasing their sponsors; they have been able to persuade the public that benefit claimants are responsible for the economic crash. People are now more concerned with welfare budgets, who should claim benefits and how much benefit people should receive. Programmes such as Benefits Street have been shoved in the public face which many spectators have called “poverty porn”. By creating a smokescreen where benefit claimants are demonized by the government and the media, many of the Banker’s mistakes have gone unrecognized and unaccounted for.

Banker’s bonuses are still as strong as what they were before the recession. The Royal Bank of Scotland according to the Independent’s article are having “a multimillion pound, 200 percent bonuses” increase. The bank has been nationalized and now is not lending to its customers but will still give themselves million pound bonuses. It must be really rewarding for the bank to give themselves bonuses at the expense of their customer’s interests.

As for political parties, the Conservatives seem pretty open to bankers’ bonuses which in itself isn’t a great surprise because they are basically funded by the city; Labour’s Ed Miliband thinks that a “million is enough” which is disappointing especially with the party’s realignment with leftist politics. With these parties taking such as relaxed approach to the Bankers it is inevitable that the public will lose out again and again.

With the sheer lack of accountability, responsibility and modesty by Bankers, people will continue to suffer as policies, initiatives and tax regimes will continue to benefit these people. The taxpayer will continue to lose out with nationalized banks such as RBS when their bosses give themselves huge bonuses each year. Whilst the bankers keep winning rather obscene and frankly unacceptable bonuses; the taxpayer will continue to foot their bill. It looks like Bonus Street is here to stay at the expense of the taxpayer.

Amy Milliken

   

 

Link

CAPITALISM GIVES YOU A CHOICE, SUUURE IT DOES.

CAPITALISM GIVES YOU A CHOICE, SUUURE IT DOES.

One of the main arguments often used to “defend” capitalism is choice. It gives citizens’ a choice. 

Often, Capitalism does not provide you with any sort of fully accessible quality education, but it will give you a whole range of very nice and expensive schools to chose from. Sometimes it will put down the price of a pint of milk and bread; unless you want to eat better because in that case Capitalism offers you an option too. There is this lovely organic food shop in Picadilly, five pounds the pint of milk from happy and healthy cows! 

So? Do we all get a choice? and if that ever happens.. is it really a choice?

HAVE A LOOK!

 

Ana Maria Franco Combita.

 

Millennium Development Goals: Helping or Hindering?

MDG

Adopted in 2000 by the United Nations the Millienium Development Goals (MDGs) set out to achieve the eradication of many severe issues currently facing the global community issues ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to ensuring environmental sustainability. There are currently 8 MDGs with the many of the goals being assigned the target date of next year. While many will discuss whether or not the MDGs can be achieved by next year I will take a different approach, the following paragraphs will analyse who emerge the victors and losers as a result of the MDGs

While it is praiseworthy that states and international organizations have committed to the improvement of the many issues faced particularly by people in the developing world we must not be so passive to assume that everyone will benefit from the MDGs.

Let’s take MDG 8 for example. MDG 8 states a commitment to develop a global partnership for development. Praiseworthy indeed but let’s look at it a bit more closely target 8F states that to achieve this it will co-operate with the private sector, what they are effectively saying is ‘we will provide more privatization to the developing world’; because clearly to eradicate inequality one must inject more inequality.

MDG 3 too, just like MDG 8, is admirable. MDG 3 states its commitment to ‘Promote gender equality and empower women.’ Firstly anyone can promote gender equality through verbal rhetoric so the MDG is arguably not significantly momentous. Putting that aside for a moment let us look at how it will be achieved. Education is how. The aim is to ‘eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education’. As is evident MDG 3 does not go far enough because gender inequality is not simply confined to the classroom it also exists in the workplace and in life. So MDG 3 is effective enough so it benefits women.

So who emerges as the winners of the MDGs? Well there two ways to look at it; optimistically or pessimistically. The optimist side will conclude that despite the MDGs not being perfect they have benefited many people for example MDG 1a- the target to halve, from 1990 levels, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015- has been achieved ahead of schedule. So we can say with confidence that those people affected have merged as the winners. On the other hand the pessimist, and I, will say that the private sector has emerged as the winners they are effectively profiting from poverty, the collaboration with the private sector is counter- productive for it is simply pumping more neo- liberalism in the world which aggravates the very same severe issues that the MDGs are trying to solve. Meaning people in poverty continue to emerge as the losers of the global economy, it is important to point out that women too are emerging as the losers of the MDGs as they simply do not go far enough and ignores the many other forms of gender inequality.

Marte Vokshi