5.29.2008

Is There No One to Help the Powerless Against the Mighty?

I bought a newspaper yesterday and on the front page was a huge picture of a gas station sign that had diesel for $5.11. Gas is not far behind at $4.57 a gallon. I find it ironic that gas and diesel is so high in price but as I was standing in line to pay at the gas station they had Marlboro cigarettes for less than $2.00 a pack. The things that you need to function on a daily basis are staggering but something that is a vice, a vice that kills you, is ridiculously cheap. The people in El Salvador are suffering. Every time gas or diesel or corn goes up in price they suffer.

"Milk prices soar 50 percent. Rice is up 45 percent.

The soaring cost of food, along with other basic commodities, has drastically reduced the real purchasing power of workers in El Salvador, in Central America and across the developing world.

In just the last eight months to a year, basic food prices in El Salvador have skyrocketed. Rice is up 45 percent—from 38 cents a pound in August 2007 to 55 cents in April 2008, a 17-cent increase. Milk is up 50 percent. A liter of milk (1.057 quarts), which cost 90 cents in 2007, now costs $1.35, a 45-cent increase. Cooking oil is up 75 percent. A bottle of cooking oil which cost $1.20 in 2007 now costs $2.10, a 90-cent increase. A pound of dry beans, which cost 45 cents in early 2007 now sells for at least 90 cents, a 45-cent or 100 percent increase.

Another basic staple, tortillas, have risen from a cost of 3 cents each in 2007 to five cents today, an increase of 40 percent--and now they are smaller. Eggs are up 20 percent. In 2007, 30 eggs cost $2.50, but today the price is $3.00—a 50-cent increase. Cheese, which was $2.30 a pound in 2007, now costs $2.80, an increase of 50 cents, raising the price by 22 percent. Sugar is up by 14 percent. A pound of sugar, which used to cost 35 cents in 2007, now sells for 40 cents. A pound of chicken now sells for $1.35, up 45 cents, or 50 percent from the 90 cent-a-pound cost in 2007.

A garment worker’s basic lunch—rice, salad and a tiny piece of chicken—which cost $1.50 last year, now costs $1.75, a 25 cent, 17 percent increase. (A simple lunch now costs the workers 2 ¼ hours’ take home wages—since their take-home pay is 78 cents an hour.)

Public transportation costs for the workers are also up 50 percent. A bus ticket, which cost 20 cents in 2007, now costs 30 cents, a ten-cent increase. Gasoline prices are up 100 percent, growing from $2.25 a gallon in January 2007 to $4.50 a gallon in May of 2008." (http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=560)

Please go to the National Labor Committee website and read about the injustices to the women workers in the sweatshops. They also have a link to write/email The North Face about the situation in their sweatshops and I encourage each and every person who reads this to do that. It takes very little time and if enough people write maybe something will be done. These are not just random people; these are women who may be the mothers of the children I work with, or sisters and Aunts. These are real people suffering.