Day 306: How The Rich Drive Poverty

Darkness has descended on the murderous Mexican border city of Tijuana, and the drug cartels and people traffickers are furtively plying their trade.

And in a hillside ghetto, a five-year-old girl toils with her mother in another, more subtly exploitative industry.

Stumbling through the pot-holed front yard of their wooden hovel in Tijuana, I find Monica Villegas and her daughter Stephanie in a dimly-lit kitchen crammed with all manner of craft materials: boxes of tinsel and coloured tissue paper, star-shaped cartons, saucepans filled with white sticky paste.

Mother and daughter are making pinatas — those colourful cardboard figures filled with sweets which cascade out when their cardboard casing is broken with a stick. They have become a popular source of amusement at middle-class birthday parties, weddings and other celebratory events in Britain.

Among the companies that sell them in sizeable quantities is Party Pieces, the Berkshire-based business run by the Duchess of Cambridge’s family, which offers more than 40 types on its website, in all manner of designs, from lions and castles to Minnie Mouse.

Since Carole and Michael Middleton have never been slow to cash in on their royal connection (last year they launched a range of regally-themed trinkets to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee), they now include giant pinatas in party packs called Little Prince and Little Princess: blue for a boy, pink for a girl.

Can it be pure coincidence that their daughter is expecting her own little prince or princess?

Such matters are of small concern to 38-year-old Monica Villegas and her daughter. Each week, she must make a set number of pinatas, which varies according to how big they are and how intricate the design.

They are among the many thousands shipped to Britain via a chain of distributors and sold to retailers including Party Pieces.

To meet her target, Monica invariably works ten hours a day, seven days a week — and even then she needs the help of her 18-year-old son, Jonathan, and little Stephanie, who assists her after nursery school by sticking on the bar-codes and labels.

While the Middletons sell their pinatas for £12.99 each, Monica sometimes earns as little as 10p an hour. - Mail Online

Poverty is not a natural occurrence - it is man made. So say a few prominent people and a whole lot of Facebook walls. The article above is a perfect example of how the elite are actually creating and perpetuating poverty in 3rd world countries. Obviously it is much cheaper for the elite to have their production line in a country that does not impose health & safety regulations or a decent minimum wage. Cheaper manufacturing means a larger profit margin, which means that the rich get richer.

Obviously the elite have the power and influence to improve living and working conditions for the poor in these third world countries, but that would not benefit the rich in any way - oh no, it would probably cost them a pretty penny - and that is not what they want. They want to continue living their luxurious lives with private jets and expensive cars.

What do you think would happen if the elite were to increase the wages (and improve on health and safety regulations) for the currently impoverished workers they employ? Well, the products being manufactured would have to be sold at a substantially higher price in order to cover the increased production expenses. The worker making the products may improve their living conditions - but this is subject to what kind of ripple effect may or may not happen due to the increased production costs. Say then that the company goes bankrupt because no one is able to afford to buy the high-priced products, then all the workers lose their jobs and are even worse off than their current position. It is simply impossible for the prices of products to remain as they are if the workers making them were to receive decent living wages.

This is a common dilemma, which is becoming more and more common, especially in the "1st world countries" that previously did not have this problem (well, at least they didn't have it so extensively). Look at America now: How many employed citizens are earning minimum wage, with no chance of ever having better prospects? Just because they live in a first world country does not mean they are not living in poverty.

So what kind of solution would be best in our situation, one that the current elite could help to promote and implement? Obviously we need a total overhaul, because the current system simply does not allow for equality in living standards (or even opportunity). We have had some decent ideas in our history (I will include capitalism in here), the problem is that these ideas always get corrupted by greed and the self interest of a few (power hungry mongrels). We just assume that greed is in our nature and that we have no control over the success, or even the management of a system that we implement. This is the first thing that must change: we must realize that we are all responsible and must therefore all play our part in the successful implementation of a system that is best for all of us.