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Drew, while I agree with all your points, and what you are saying, I think the point that Laura Germino of CIW is making about the imbalance of power between the employer and the employee is a very important one to include in the human trafficking discussion.

The largest human trafficking case in the US involved workers from Vietnam and China working in a garment factory on an island in the America Somoas. These workers had guest worker Visas. To my knowledge, none of them had to sneak into the country, they all had legal residency status. I have not done the research yet, but I am pretty sure their guest worker visas is similar to the types of guest worker visas that President Bush has been promoting to address the immigration debate.

None of this is an argument against your points, but issues that I think need to be more prominent within the human trafficking discussion.

longer series on the America Somoas case

by aden on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 03:05:23 PM EST
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I'm not disagreeing with you, but, if I'm not mistaken, American Samoa, while technically a US territory, is run by its own government.  I believe it's, on paper, under the authority of the Department of the Interior.  To say that this example constitutes the largest trafficking case in US history is, in my opinion, stretching the definition of the US a bit -- not that America isn't responsible to some extent.  (I'm sure we are.)

The balance of power between employer and employee certainly plays a role in those sorts of cases.  I don't disagree with you on that at all.  But the balance of power is not the be-all, end-all of human trafficking.  It's a symptom of a larger problem.  With the rise of China and India, clearly power has shifted to employers in the case of manufacturing, but that doesn't mean we can't support basic worker rights here.  Whenever there is a case of many workers being able to do a job, power is going to shift to the employer, just as power shifts to the employee when the employer needs him.

That's simple economics.  We can work to ensure that a shift in power doesn't translate to abuse of human rights by one party to the contract over another, but we can't stop shifts in economic power, because they result from forces that are generally outside of our control.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 11:11:37 AM EST
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