Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slavery in modern practise

Slavery, using the more expansive definition, is still with us.
But what it actually entails is not always well defined.
Quentin Hardy, New York Times, 6 March 2013 (hat tip: Economist's View) Note: sorry about the odd formatting here.  I just can't seem to get the bugs out.

The lifetime profit on a brickmaking slave in Brazil is $8,700, and $2,000 in India. Sexual slavery brings the slave’s owner $18,000 over the slave’s working life in Thailand, and $49,000 in Los Angeles.
While slavery is illegal across the globe, the SumAll Foundation noted, there are 27 million slaves worldwide, more than in 1860, when there were 25 million. Most are held in bonded servitude, particularly after taking loans they could not repay. Slaves cost slightly more now, with a median price of $140, compared with $134 per human then. Debt slaves cost on average $60; trafficked sex slaves cost $1,910... 
On average today, a person is a slave for six years, after which the person usually escapes, repays the debts holding them, or dies. Most of the world’s slaves are in South Asia. 
Fishing appears to be the most common occupation of child slaves — practiced this way in Cambodia, Ghana, Uganda, Indonesia, the Philippines and Peru. In Madagascar, children are enslaved to gather stones.
The various pricing differences are no doubt issues of supply, demand, risks, and costs.  Bodies are plentiful, suitably healthy or attractive bodies are not.
I doubt many are getting out by escaping.  The typical problem for slaves is that they have no place to escape to.  A lot of what you are seeing is debt peonage, where people are working off their own, or their families debts.  So long as their is a plentiful supply of workers, there is no particular reason to keep people forever.  Working people hard, with a mutual understanding that there is a set time limit with good behavior is a low cost incentive.
Child work laws in the United States changed when the factory floor became too complicated for children to work.  There was almost no success in curbing the practise until it was generally felt that education was the better societal investment.  Although there were some partial successes, the Fair Labor Standard Act was not passed until 1938.


Francis Lee said...

Sex trafficking is another form of slavery, very profitable slavery for the criminals.

Anonymous said...

This just in from Bloomberg:

Gun confiscation has begun in CA without warrants and due process. Scary!

russell1200 said...

Francis: Yes, it is mentioned.

Anon: Not completely true. Restraining orders do have an element of due process about them, you just aren't going to win very often. The mentally stable one is the larger likely loophole.

Humble wife said...

Makes me so sick. I have to say that I consider those making the crap we HAVE to have from Walmart kind of fall in the slave role when you see how they are forced to live/work. It is not really an option to not work, they live in deplorable conditions overcrowded and are paid pennies a day...so we can fill our homes with junk.

The numbers are shocking btw...seeing how in the past 150 years we haven't learned much except that only AMERICA is bad when we reference slavery, well according to some in the US.

russell1200 said...

Humble Wife: And let us not forget that various countries lend us money to prop up the strength of the $ so that we can keep buying.

The U.S. record on slavery was pretty bad, particularly when compared to our stated ideals. But we were not the worst of even the time. Mostly because we could not grow the really high dollar items (mostly sugar), and our climate was a little better, the slave death rate was not greater than the slave birth rate. That had its own negative aspects (expansionary slave policies for one), but at least it wasn't a complete death sentence.

Kelly Robinson said...

Anyone who thinks slavery is a thing of the past certainly isn't paying attention, that's for sure.