I’m not an economist and I hated studying it. Micro, macro…it all ranked right up there with Accounting for me. My ADD brain could stand about a minute of each and I was off thinking about other things…beer most likely. I have often thought why things happen in a free market economy, how companies are rewarded or punished by the folks with the cash (us).

The now widely accepted notion among the left that Wal-Mart stores are bad for both workers and communities they are in along with the recent news that McDonalds buys little tomatoes for their court induced menu of salads from a convicted slaver got me thinking. Yes, I said slaver…as in the shameful shit we rinsed off of us long before any of us were born. S-L-A-V-E-R-Y. You almost think this is a historial piece until you realize that the McDonalds franchise did not begin until 1955. So what do you get these days for enslaving folks? Not much:

Farm labor contractor Abel Cuello is just one of the slavers brought to justice by the CIW. In 1999, he was sentenced to only 33 months in prison for enslaving 27 people in trailers on his property. Due to a loophole in Florida law, a contractor is entitled to return to work just five years after being convicted for violating worker-protection laws. Accordingly, in October, Cuello legally returned to the fields.

Dude is free and selling tomatoes to Ronald after 33 months. Tell that to your next manditory minimum drug offender! Enslavement might be the worst of it, but not all of it. It seems there have been several cases where these workers were beaten, not to mention the sweatshop conditions they have to endure to make sure your salad is nice and fresh and waiting for you in your over-packaged plastic goodness. Think about someone picking two tons (4,000 pounds) of your little cherry tomatoes for $50/day the next time you sit down and think you are doing the right thing by opting for the salad instead of the Big Mac. Think about 10-12 hours a day with no overtime, no benefits, no provision for sickness, and no rights to organize.

Free markets don’t work in America because most Americans generally don’t give a damn, are under-informed and happy to be in such a state, and even once infomed are usually unwilling to make the change necessary. We tend to only see the self and do what benefits Mr. and Ms. Self at the expense of us all. Free markets would work if everyone reduced their “I” to the size of a cherry tomato.

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  • Eric

    For the record, this is something I really like about Sherrod Brown (I don’t dislike anything about him really – just some of the campaign shenanigans). I know Sherrod works hard for this kind of stuff and we need more Dems and Progressives like him who will.

    I don’t like Hackett making fun of the canary image at all and I think he should temper that shit. It might be an overused symbolism, but it is important that these kinds of fights happen and that we have leaders willing to do it.

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