If You Think Hobby Lobby’s Owners Don’t Deserve Constitutional Rights for Trading with China, What are You Gonna Do About Your Cell Phone?

12 CHINA ChildrenWorkers Asianews it


The argument gets repeated a lot these days.

It’s a one-two-three punch that goes like this:

1. Hobby Lobby imports its wares from China.

2. This is absolute evil and means that Hobby Lobby supports forced abortion, the one-child policy, slavery and probably the mass slaughter at Tianamen Square and the Cultural Revolution, as well. It may even mean that Hobby Lobby’s owner are Communists.

3. So … Hobby Lobby’s owners do not deserve and should not have Constitutional Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America.

ta da.

I have a question for those who make this argument. That question is not based on the fact that they don’t know anything about who sells Hobby Lobby its wares. The question doesn’t even address the highly tenuous assertion that people are guilty of the sins and crimes of everyone they associate with in the business world. (That would make all of us guilty of some pretty ugly stuff, you know.)

My question is simpler: What are you gonna do about your cell phone?

I am speaking specifically of Samsung cell phone owners, but that could apply to just about every one of us who owns a cell phone. I mean, Apple’s been in the news a lot because of its China connections.

In fact, whenever someone wants to create a faux moral outrage, or damage a company, they trot out the China connection.

The real outrage — and the one we need to address or die as a  global power — is that we’ve moved our industrial base to China so that our manufacturers could use slave/child labor. This isn’t about one company or another company. It’s about moving our entire industrial base to a Communist regime.

The trouble is, that’s an issue that falls under the corporate control of our government, which, sad to say, removes it from moral discussion for a lot of people. We’ve been sold the rapacious lie that money and how it’s got is outside morality for so long that many ordinary people think it makes sense.

Anyone, up to and including the Pope, who dares to question this money-is-outside-morality cant will be called a Communist by the corporatist-owned media and their talking heads. That’s particularly rich, since what the corporatist media is protecting are corporations who’ve gone to bed with a Communist regime.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to your Samsung cell phone. And your Samsung smart watch/camera/Chromebook/tablet. If you are really truly sincere when you say that about Hobby Lobby’s owners don’t deserve Constitutional rights because you are sure they trade with China and trading with China is anathema, then you need to toss those babies today.

It seems that Samsung has done a bit more than import from China. They’ve been manufacturing their wares there, which means they have a direct contractual relationship with the plants that employ egregious and exploitative labor practices.

It probably also means, given Samsung’s size, that they are the sole proprietor or customer of these plants. We’re talking big money here. Samsung has money power (the only power that matters in a corporatist world) to change what happens in these plants.

This has led to repeated claims by China Labor Watch that Samsung has been using child labor to manufacture its products.

Of course, Samsung is a publicly-held corporation whose stocks are traded in the open market. That means the Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t apply to them. They’ve got to provide abortifacients in their insurance plans for their stateside employees.

So, what about the folks who’ve been jumping up and down like apes in a cage over the Hobby Lobby decision?

If you think they are going to go all moral and righteous over Samsung and its corporate child-labor-using brethren, raise your hand.


Me neither.

From China Labor Watch:

New York – China Labor Watch (CLW) has once again exposed the employment of child labor in Samsung’s supply chain, this time at a factory called Shinyang Electronics in Dongguan, China. This revelation comes nearly two years after CLW first revealed the exploitation of children in a Samsung supplier factory.

The production orders of Samsung are seasonal, and suppliers like Shinyang will alter the strictness of hiring practices in order to adapt to Samsung’s demands. During the busy season and in urgent need of labor, Shinyang hires child labor and underage student workers. These minors will usually only work for a period of three to six months, toiling for 11 hours every day without overtime pay, and the factory does not purchase social insurance for them as required by law. These young workers usually leave when the factory as it enters the off-season, and the factory does not need to provide any sort of severance pay.

On June 30, Samsung published its 2014 sustainability report titled “Global Harmony”. Within, Samsung says that it inspected working conditions at 200 suppliers in 2013 and “no instances of child labor were found”.

After allegedly inspecting hundreds of suppliers, Samsung did not find one child worker. Yet in just one Samsung supplier factory, CLW has uncovered several children employed without labor contracts, working 11 hours per day and only being paid for 10 of those hours.

CLW’s investigation of Shinyang revealed at least 15 sets of labor violations. In addition to child labor, unpaid overtime wages, excessive overtime, and a lack of social insurance, the investigation exposed a lack of pre-job safety training and protective equipment despite the use of harmful chemicals; discriminatory hiring; overuse of temp workers; workers made to sign blank labor contracts; illegal resignation requirements; potential audit fraud; broad company regulations that establishes the pretext to punish workers for almost any behavior; a lack of any union; and poor living conditions.

  • FW Ken

    I’m not going to very into a long thing about child labor, except that the picture above doesn’t resemble a coal mine or sweatshop, which is what I think of as “child labor”. It doesn’t resemble the department store stock room where I worked at age 16, unloading trucks in the Texas summer heat. So before we condemn “child labor”, we should ask about actual conditions and what kids not working would mean to their family finances. We might also think about how we infantilize our kids up into their 20s. But that’s all another topic, perhaps.

    No, the canned complaint about buying from China actually means we don’t want to buy from Chinese businesses, which means Chinese workers won’t have wages. Now let’s discuss economic morality.

    And this is typed on my Samsung Galaxy S5.

    • hamiltonr

      Ken, you might read the full report I linked to and see what you think.

      • FW Ken

        I read it, and part of a linked primary source report. I agree, not great labor relations. I do wonder whoever got severance pay from a temp job? I never got severance pay from full-time adult job layoffs.

        But that’s not my main point, which is that buying Chinese provides jobs for Chinese workers. No jobs, no income. Starvation.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          That is a silly argument, sorry. It’s as bad as “buy American/ British/ Italian or whatever to protect American/ British/ Italian or whatever workers”, with the extra absurdity that you are not even trying to protect your own people. The only reason to buy something is at the nexus of price, quality, and customer need. It would be nice to be able to cut out all those businesses and sources one regards as irredeemably evil, but – for instance – I loathe Rupert Murdoch from the bottom of my soul, but his movie company is involved in the making of one of my all-time favourite movies, Marvel’s Avengers, and I would be losing something I really love, not to mention failing to reward Joss Whedon, Alan Silvestri, half a dozen extraordinary actors, and a fantastic technical crew, for a wonderful piece of work that enriched my life – and that does not sound fair, either.

  • Sus_1

    My cell phone isn’t made by a company whose owners want exemptions from the law because of religious beliefs.

    • oregon nurse

      That’s because there is no respect for religious beliefs in China even if the owners had them. Just another reason to drop your Chinese phone in the toilet if you’re going to continue your economic ‘values’ argument and not be thought hypocritical.

    • Dave

      So as long as a company is evil across the board, there is no problem, but if a company is perceived to be inconsistent in their choices, they must be pilloried?

  • fredx2

    What this “China” argument shows is the depths to which people will go to slime someone. Even someone like the Greens, who pay their beginning workers almost twice what they have to, and is a company that progressives were touting as the perfect company a while ago.
    Of course, these people have never gotten down on anyone else for trading with China. Only Hobby Lobby.
    But Hobby Lobby has crossed the line, and dared to take positions that the left has defined as evil. And so, as with any set of fundamentalists, the left has excommunicated the Greens and have begun not only a campaign to shun them, but to also destroy their reputation as well.

  • hamiltonr

    Putting all other arguments aside, including the simple fact that the claims being made are not verifiable, hypocrisy does not mean that people do not have Constitutional Rights.

    As for the issue of what I completely missed, I was a talking about self-righteousness and the selected application of standards to support an entirely bogus political position, which you seem to have missed.

  • hamiltonr

    You’re new here, so I’m going to allow this with the caveat that you must not do this again. Name-calling is not allowed on this blog. Also, Sus is a long-time Public Catholic reader that many of us have come to feel we know. She is not a fascist.

    • pagansister

      Well said, Rebecca.

  • FW Ken

    So Chinese workers should starve so that Americans can get their lifestyle drugs free?

  • Colin Gormley

    The problem with the “hypocrisy” charge is that if hypocrisy charge is what determines who has rights and who doesn’t that creates a very problematic position. Basically it means we have anointed ourselves to judge if a person is sufficiently consistent with his religious beliefs before bestowing human rights.

    The only sensible way for the state to approach religious objections is:

    1. Respect that and attempt to find a way to meet the law’s goal in another way.
    2. Be ready to throw that citizen in jail to accomplish that goal.

  • Holly Williams

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that just because Hobby Lobby trades with China that they don’t deserve Constitutional rights. In fact, I doubt I’ve ever heard a more ridiculous argument in my life.

  • hamiltonr

    Even if every conclusion you come to was accurate — and I’m not buying that, not by a long shot — it is not an argument; it is an insult. They also does not address, much less do away with Hobby Lobby’s owners Constitutional Rights. Your rights as an American citizen are not predicated on what you feel down in your heart, and neither are the rights of the owners of Hobby Lobby.

    So … personal attacks and unwarranted claims about sincerity vs insincerity are just that; personal attacks and unwarranted claims which have no merit in the discussion.

    • xJane

      “Your rights as an American citizen are not predicated on what you feel down in your heart” except that, if they are sincerely held and religious, they are protected. As they should be—to a point. The point at which they infringe another.

      The Supreme Court (nor any governmental body) is not—and should not be—in the business of determining the sincerity of a belief. But this does not mean that the law should bend to the whim of a person who believes strongly enough to bring suit.

      The other unfortunate result of this ruling is that religious beliefs now trump facts. At least, for those religions that are more equal than others.

      • hamiltonr

        Do you honestly believe that this is how courts make decisions? You would predicate all our rights on your arbitrary idea of “sincerity?”

        I think you’re just saying these things to keep on arguing to no real purpose.

        • xJane

          I honestly believe that the courts should not be deciding the sincerity of a person’s belief, but yes, I do believe that “sincerity” is arbitrary. And as such, we must walk a fine line—in the courts, in employment situations, and with laws. I also honestly believe that some religious views (those of the Big Three) are treated as more sincere than others. That is, I believe, a bigger crime.

          • hamiltonr

            There is no crime here. Never was criminal, not even under the Administration’s most broad interpretation of the HHS Mandate.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    This is so far beneath contempt that it ought to swim upwards to reach the level of being contemptible; and I don’t mean that (only) on a moral level, but as an instance of thought and of argument. Is that the worst thing you can say about Rebecca’s point? Does it make it more or less wrong if it is American companies, rather than companies from South Korea (a democracy and an American ally), who trade with the admittedly tyrannical and murderous state of mainland China? What do you even mean? You were looking for something, anything, to say against Rebecca, and you could not find anything that even began to make sense, so you resorted to this bizarre kind of reverse flag-waving. To any person of sense, it should be clear that if it is bad to trade with China, it is bad no matter who does it. What are you saying – that Rebecca is in the pocket of American companies? to anyone who knows her, that is hilarious. No, you just wanted to make some kind of statement where no good statement could possibly be made.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Nothing that was not there. In fact, there is a lot more that could be said.