Globalization and You: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

ship-wreck-rotator-675x450After a welder burned himself to death at a shipyard in Poland, investigative reporters at Vice discovered that there are around 50,000 North Korean laborers working in Europe who live like slaves. Most of their money goes to the ruling party in the dictatorship and the men toil in dangerous working conditions for long hours with no recourse.

A shady network of placement firms works with government officials to ensure that the companies get their manpower. Vice tried to untangle a “complex web of organized exploitation, bureaucratic chaos, official indifference, and political ignorance that extends all the way to the European Commission.”

The plight of the North Korean forced laborers offers an exaggerated version of what is playing out in the United States. The cast of characters includes employment firms that shuttle workers around the world, indifferent government officials who refuse to do anything about the situation and employers who control every aspect of these workers’ lives, including forced 13-hour work days.

One of the shipyards in Poland that employs North Koreans “cites its ‘low labor costs’ as one of the reasons it is ‘an ideal place for repairs of naval vessels for other NATO countries,’” according to Vice.

When proponents of illegal immigration and increased legal immigration into the United States argue that the globalization of the economy is inevitable, all workers should be worried. The desire for cheap labor affects wages and working conditions worldwide.

Illegal aliens and even tech workers with H-1B visas in the United States may not be treated as harshly as the North Koreans in Europe, but they, too, are paid lower than market wages and have no ability to challenge their situation unless they quit their jobs and return home.

The United States learned in the late 1800s that unregulated capital creates a smaller group of wealthy people and a large group of destitute laborers. Perhaps the greatest development in the history of the United States, the middle class, occurred after the government stepped in to ensure safe working conditions and the manufacturing class recognized that well-paid workers could afford their goods.

Testifying to Congress in March, Harvard economist George Borjas said that the only sector of the economy that benefits from illegal immigration are the businesses that hire them. Everyone else, including the workers themselves, the Americans they replace and even the consumers who buy their goods and services, loses.

The rush to globalize is predicated on securing the highest quality labor at the lowest possible cost, which increases the magnitude of immigration across the globe. Industries that used to pay well are cutting corners, hiring people at bottom dollar and treating them with contempt. This all takes place under the watchful eye of governments that can do something about the problem but are also too greedy or too willfully ignorant to stop this inimical trend.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    Our exalted leader is at it again. He decides, never mind Congress. In a Thursday Tribune Newspapers story on the presidential trip to Viet Nam was this quote from him: “But despite sometimes the lack of cooperation with Congress, I seem to be able to get a lot of things done anyway.”

    He was talking about the 12 nation TPP trade deal, of which Viet Nam will be a member, and which is being delayed probably until after the election. It is opposed by many Democrats, but in spite of it’s not being passed yet, according to this story he is “beginning the implementation work with countries such as Viet Nam.”

    Got that? It hasn’t passed and it may never pass given the widespread opposition. But that matters little to him. Sound familiar? As in exactly the same he did when “immigration reform” didn’t pass Congress. He takes the actions he wants. All hail the king.

    And the argument is if we don’t do this deal “China will”. But they have always had the ability to do these deals, but unlike this country, they don’t let themselves be played for suckers. All these trade deals do is increase our trade deficits.

  2. avatar

    We need to bring back domestic manufacturing so that we aren’t getting more in debt to other countries.
    I don’t know how our national dialogue has ignored this issue.During the Holidays the media falls all over itself talking about black Friday, and the importance to retailers. Retailers are just the middlemen transferring wealth to manufacturers, mostly located overseas. The trade deficit with Asia is about half a trillion every year.

  3. avatar

    From the just released Pentagon’s Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016

    –“China continues to leverage foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of Chinese students and researchers, and state-sponsored industrial and technical espionage to increase the level of technologies and expertise available to support military research, development, and acquisition.

    China’s long-term goal is to create a wholly indigenous defense-industrial sector, augmented by a strong commercial sector, to meet the needs of PLA modernization and to compete as a top-tier supplier in the global arms market.

    China draws from diverse sources to support PLA modernization, including domestic defense investments, indigenous defense industrial development, a growing research and development (R&D) / science and technology (S&T) base, dual-use technologies, and foreign technology acquisition.”

    –“research institutes (RI) and academic institutions (AI)…. serve to focus basic and applied research on cutting-edge technologies conducive to military applications and to groom the next generation of scientists and engineers to lead China’s defense initiatives. They also provide a conduit to international resources and exposure to foreign scientific research networks, as Chinese affiliates regularly attend conferences, present research findings, and publish scholarly articles.”

    –“China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies, including cyber activity and exploitation of the access of Chinese nationals—such as students or researchers—acting as procurement agents or intermediaries. China very likely uses its intelligence services and employs other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls to obtain key national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials unobtainable through other means.”

    –“In November 2014, U.S. authorities arrested a named Chinese national employed by a U.S. defense contractor en route to China with sensitive proprietary documents containing equations and test results used in the development of technologically advanced titanium for U.S. military aircraft. Earlier, after the individual returned from a trip to China in August 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found the individual in possession of undeclared cash, Chinese corporation-establishment documents, and a mostly-completed application for a Chinese state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center. The application claimed work on the engines for the U.S. F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft.”

    –“In May 2015, U.S. authorities arrested Chinese national Zhang Hao based on a 32 count indictment charging Zhang and five other named Chinese defendants with economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets. The indictment alleged Zhang and the other co-conspirators stole source codes, specifications, design layouts, and other documents related to thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) dual-use technology from U.S. companies. The stolen material supported the creation of a Chinese FBAR fabrication facility and joint venture providing FBARs to commercial and military entities.”

    –“In addition, multiple U.S. criminal indictments and investigations since 2009 involve non-ethnic-Chinese U.S. citizens and naturalized Chinese U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens procuring and exporting controlled items to China. These activities included efforts to acquire and to transfer sensitive or military-grade equipment such as radiation-hardened programmable semiconductors and computer circuits, restricted microwave amplifiers, high-grade carbon fiber, export-restricted technical data, and thermal imaging systems.”

    • avatar

      We shouldn’t be letting even friendly countries steal our technology, yet we know the Chinese are basically our economic and military enemy and we’re letting them steal us blind. What do you suppose Truman or Eisenhower would have had to say about this? It’s like we’ve run up the white flag of surrender.

  4. avatar

    Too bad so many voters in the US who call themselves liberals and claim to be for increasing wages are also for open borders. Hopefully more of them will start to catch on that although they are getting more voters for candidates like Hillary, they are also giving greedy businessmen in Silicon Valley and elsewhere an endless supply of cheap labor.

    Indian H-1Bs could be living in cardboard boxes in the parking lots of tech companies and the people running them could care less as long as they are maxing out their Silicon Valley stock options. They are talented business people, but as human beings, they are not so great.

  5. avatar

    This story is astonishing. No doubt these workers are a huge source of income for the repressive North Korea regime, and they have little choice but to put up with it because the regime can take actions against their families. The American middle class never did better or had a bigger share of the economic pie than the 50s 60s and 70s, when immigration was a third or less of now. The past three decades of mass immigration have seen falling wages for the bottom 90% and more riches for the upper crust.

    The so called “free trade” deals always end up with job losses and bigger trade deficits for Americans. The 12 nation TPP was initially supported by Hillary, who called it the “gold standard” for such deals, but she came out against it when Bernie Sanders called her out on it.

    Trump spoke against it repeatedly during the primaries. He mentioned China and TPP and the media rushed to point out his “mistake” that China was not part of it. But what he was pointing out is that a non TPP nation like China can ship up to 60% of the material of a finished product to a TPP nation, like Viet Nam, and they subsequently ship the finished product here. Trump, accurately, called it a “back door” for China to avoid tariffs here. Trump would do well to stick to these issues instead of personal attacks and conspiracy theories.