According to the UN global initiative to fight human trafficking, the trafficking of human being is the fastest growing form of international crime and the third largest criminal industry after drugs and arms trafficking. In some cases no doubt, some of the same people are perpetrators. A recent study by the International Labor Organization found that globally the illegal profits generated by human trafficking is $150 bn or 3 times what it was thought to be. It involves 21 million people, and about two thirds of the profits, ($99 bn) come from commercial sexual exploitation. The rest comes from forced labor, including domestic, construction and mining.
Once the shock and cringing are over, the part of the report that ought to stay with us is what we can do to combat this. Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, describing the persistence of slavery as one the modern economy depends on, says “ We have to realize the problem is one that touches us all… in a globalized economy we all buy products likely to be tainted by forced labor. That is why the governments need to take concrete steps to address forced labor across the world.” He suggests, for example, introducing extraterritorial legislation to make business executives responsible for slavery in their supply chains, and supporting a binding protocol strengthening international standards against forced labor.
The point is being horrified is not enough, we must understand that no matter what governments individually and together decide to do, that these are problems can be fought.
Ever since the execution of Clayton Locket went awry and caused what appeared to be extreme suffering, so much so it took him 43 minutes to die of a heart attack after the execution was stopped, some have said it was what he deserved. The victim’s family has been silent refusing to comment, but their neighbors and community in Oklahoma have been quite vocal, and the governor who apparently did not disagree with them called Locket evil. Others commenting on Locket’s execution have shared similar sentiments. What strikes me about the comments from any who felt Locket merited a torturous death is the lack of compassion. He died at the age of 38 after being in prison for 15 years, mainly on death row. The state in the name of the people imprisoned him and took his life because of what he did, which unquestionably is a horrible crime. He contributed to the murder of a 19 year old girl, and then to burying her alive after she was shot. But being civilized means we abstain from cruel punishment or in some way place ourselves above it. Christians, Buddhists, Jews each have their own explanations as to why mercy, charity, kindness, empathy, love, whatever form compassion takes, is necessary in this kind of situation. While the execution has sparked discussion about many topics related to capital punishment and executions, we need to add that of compassion. What does its lack in this instance say about us? Can the lack of compassion make us evil? Can it be said that if those who commit criminal acts had had compassion they might have stopped themselves? Do we have the right to abstain from compassion when someone else does?
A survey conducted near the deadline for the enrollment to the Affordable Care Act revealed that many consumers do not grasp health care concepts as well as they need to. 62% did not realize that an HMO restricts the choice of doctors more than a PPO (preferred provider organization). 42% could not describe what is a deductible and 39% did not understand the relationship between premium and deductible. Given that car insurance has long been a requirement, one may be skeptical, and yet the fact remains that health care is far more complex. Besides if a survey were conducted about people’s familiarity with their car insurance, we may find a corresponding lack of understanding.
While the critics of Obamacare may point to the law’s many provisions as being responsible, we do live in a world that requires a certain sophistication and level of knowledge about things such as computers, cars, cable subscription plans, smart phones and their providers, taxes, and of course now the health care law. The lack of understanding makes some consumers prey to scams and/or it can lead to confusion or overwhelm. In turn these lead to errors and certainly people cannot protect themselves nor safeguard their interest if they cannot make informed choices.
Given that it’s doubtful the society will ease its level of complexity in the foreseeable future, it would seem some means to mediate how many handle that complexity does look necessary.
I became aware quite recently of “gapping”, the practice of U.S. universities to admit students without providing enough financial aid for them. The practice implies that financial aid people are aware that some of the students they admit will, down the road, end up burdened, some unduly. Private colleges are said to be 27% more likely to engage in gapping than public ones. A survey of Inside Higher ED and Gallup published recently found that 53% of public college directors and 74% of private ones said gapping was ethical. It seems that while there may be some in the higher education financial aid community who are conflicted about current practices, their concerns do not extend to informing students of the issues they face and the consequences of their borrowing. As we’ve all heard, student debt is not a small problem for a large number of young people. And now new data reveals that people from higher income, not surprisingly, are not affected by any of this; those from lower income have certain resources available, so the consequences of gapping end up particularly acute for middle income families and students.
It’s troubling that institutions which ought to know better, and who seem so eager to justify their higher and higher tuition, engage in practices at the expense of the future of their charges.