"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
The story dates to the 1990s, when the Clinton administration tried to crack down on the importation of cheap Chinese labor to the islands and to ameliorate conditions under which the guest workers - mostly women - toiled. Brokers - traffickers, really, in human beings - brought thousands to work in sweatshops for as many as 70 hours per week. They lived in crowded barracks; some were locked behind guarded fences. And because the territory is a U.S. possession, garments bore this seal of approval: "Made in the U.S.A."
Some who failed to get work were forced into the sex trade, though they may not even have been paid for prostitution since they still owed the brokers.
By 1992 officials of the first Bush administration expressed alarm, and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who then chaired a House subcommittee on labor, held hearings. The Clinton White House tried to apply U.S. minimum wage and immigration laws to the islands. The effort had bipartisan support in Congress. Then DeLay, who by the late 1990s was House majority whip, stepped in to halt it. The Northern Marianas, DeLay said, was no haven for cruelty but a "perfect Petri dish of capitalism."
I'm not sure, but I think "perfect Petri dish of capitalism" was intended to be a compliment.
It's well past time to send the Bugman home, with no return ticket.