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January 17, 2005

"Free" Trade Screwing Countries, Esp Their Female Breadwinners

Economists will tell you that the free market is the panacea needed for all the world's problems. They try to sweep under the rug the negative effects of their free markets. They call it "transitional costs" instead of massive unemployment and social upheaval.

This article in the LA Times by Evelyn Iritani, Marla Dickerson and Tyler Marshall details the problems caused by the end of apparel import quotas. I knew that these "structural changes" in the world economy were hurting Bangladesh, but I had no idea how far reaching the problem is.

See, men can't handle the reality of working in garment factories: the long hours, monotonous work, and constant pressure to produce more finished product in less time. So, the majority of the workers are female, and the economic freedom they gain from working allows them to expand their freedom in general. Also, studies keep showing that when you put money in the hands of the women of the developing world, more money is spent on food and education and less on cigarettes and alcohol.

Women make rational choices based on a desire to strengthen families and society, whether they live in Cambodia or the United States. It's a shame that the vast majority of voters here in the U.S. can't recognize the simple truth that women have the strength and ability needed to lead society towards a better future. We must continue to fight for equal rights and equal access. Until women are fully represented in board rooms, legislative, judicial, and executive public offices we will continue to be forced into pointless wars and filled with lies about an "ownership" society, where every individual must fend for herself.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. May this and every day fill you with a burning desire to work towards economic and social justice.

Posted by cj at January 17, 2005 2:20 PM

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