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OTHER ITA SITES:
Forget About Blood Diamonds, Let’s Look At Wal-mart
Recent sensationalized Hollywood movies have brought the issues surrounding “Blood Diamonds” otherwise known as “Conflict Diamonds” in to question. While these issues should be serious concerns, the US's diamond consumption has little affect on the Blood Diamond trade. Especially when you consider the insignificant amount of Blood Diamonds that actually enter the United States annually. After the implementation of the Kimberly Process, less than 1% of all diamonds sold in the United States are linked to the atrocities being committed in the African nations. Soon it’ll be 0%.
The Kimberly Process requires that all diamonds entering the U.S. be accompanied by a Kimberly Certificate and in a special tamper proof lock box. The Kimberly Certificates can only be issued by governing nations that have agreed to abide by the Kimberly Process. Over 71 nations, the diamond industry, and the United Nations established this process in 2002. Since it’s inception, the percentage of Blood Diamonds sold world wide, has dropped from 4% to 1%. Blood Diamonds are almost non-existent but still Hollywood and the media chooses to sensationalize this issue. Why, because they're glamorous?
Nobody seems to mention that 99% of all diamonds come from conflict free sources. Furthermore, countries like Sierra Leone, Botswana, and Namibia benefit greatly from the revenues supplied by diamond exports. Did you know that 40% of all exported earnings for the country of Namibia comes from diamonds, accounting for 10% of their Gross Domestic Product? As Nelson Mandela said in 1999, "The diamond industry is vital to the southern African economy." You can read more about Conflict Free Diamonds at http://www.andrewsjewelers.com
The general public has no idea how valuable the diamond industry is to the people of Africa. Revenues from diamond exports supply funding for hospitals, schools for children, roads and clean water systems. Diamonds from African countries have also funded the fight against HIV/AIDS by supplying funding for counseling, testing, education and clinics. It would be devastating to the people of Africa if the diamond trade were removed from its exports. I’ve seen some activists calling for the end of the diamond trade, boycotting the sale of diamonds completely. Do you know how ridiculous that is? The people of Africa depend greatly on the exportation of their precious diamond resources.
Wal-Mart is a Bigger Problem
The annual sales for all jewelry products in the United States are $59 billion. That includes over 30,000 jewelry stores and manufacturers making and selling jewelry. Did you know that Wal-Mart sells over $290 billion annually as one company? One company sells $290 billion and 30,000 companies sell $59 billion, keep that figure in mind as I make my next point. The average American jewelry store sells only $500,000/year in jewelry. Yet, the activists picket all day in front of the miniscule mom and pop jewelry store and then head over to Wal-Mart and shop like there’s no tomorrow. I heard a report recently that 20% of all products exported from China are purchased by Wal-Mart. Now lets talk about a serious problem, the exploitation of the Chinese worker.
The average Chinese worker makes .57cents per hour – or $104 per month and is required to work 50 hours per week. Not asked, required! In some situations, Chinese workers are required to pay a fee to even get a job. But we Americans turn a blind eye to their problems as long as they keep providing cheap goods. Its not our problem, its theirs right? Recently, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai contested a proposed Chinese draft Labor Contract Law (LCL) that would improve labor conditions in China. It’s said that the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (a group of American companies, most likely Wal-Mart, Nike, etc.) threatened to pull out of China if the law were passed.
These American companies have no interest in seeing the standard of living rise in China. They prefer that things stay the same so they can continue buying cheap Chinese products and schlep them to the American consumer. The standard of living in the United States is 100x’s that of the Chinese, but it’s still not enough for us because we keep buying and consuming more stuff. Our buying habits have greatly affected the Chinese people and will continue to impoverish them (among others) until we stand up and do something about it.
So the activists continue to purchase cheap Chinese made materials and make their “Boycott Diamonds” sign. They should remember that “Blood Diamonds” in the US are all but extinct.
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Travel Part B