Quite A Fruitful Discussion Blog #3

Going into the Foreign Policy Presentation, I knew that it was open ended, and I knew that I could do almost anything regarding foreign policy. Business has a large role in relations, and especially big business when they involve production overseas. There is a lot to be said regarding factories overseas, or purchasing resources from overseas, but most importantly farm work in 3rd-world countries. Many large fruit companies hire workers overseas because the rules aren’t as strict, and in some cases a large corporation can have significantly more power than a government. Because of how fast business is growing, I knew that United Fruit Company’s banana production expanding overseas had a lot to be said.

 

In the 1930s, United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita) started to have banana plantations in Latin America. This really benefitted the US (greater revenue and more freedom), but really hurt Guatemala’s economy. Many of the Guatemalan residents blame United Fruit Company for the corruption. A Latin-American author, Marquez, said “Look at the mess that we have gotten ourselves into just because we invited a group of Gringos” in his novel 100 Years of Solitude.

 

Arevalo, the dictator at the time, responded by trying to restore the land for the Mayans (native people to the land). He attempted to redistribute the land that United Fruit Company owned and compensate them. However, United Fruit Company never stopped growing– they secretly bought out small farms in Guatemala in order to continue the cheap labor practices. The Guatemalan government stood no chance of being able to compete with United Fruit Company.

 

When I was doing research, I learned that government in third world countries is quite corrupt, and not just weak. The government had significantly less control than American business owners on Latin American soil. Focusing on United Fruit Company’s story, I learned that it is quite a dishonest company, and can control through money and manipulation. United Fruit Company’s voicemail system was hacked, and this revealed many of their largest secrets: problems regarding labor, pollution, cocaine, and other laws.There were 7 ships that were able to smuggle $33 million worth of cocaine. Eli Black, a shareholder of United Fruit Company, bribed the Honduran military and economic minister with $1.25 million to lower the export tax on bananas.

 

Bishop Gumbleton responded to this outrage by telling people not to accept donations from anything that had to do with United Fruit Company. He did not describe the money as generous donations, but instead- money earned off of the backs of peasants. United Fruit Company responded that they are simply trying to improve the ways of life in 3rd-world countries like Guatemala.
United Fruit Company’s story is one that is completely irreversible, and in my opinion, it is a story with a bad outcome. Guatemala has become reliant on United Fruit Company’s employment, and the farmers will never be able to support themselves. United Fruit Company is a perfect example of one of the many big businesses that is more powerful than a government. This kind of transition supports wealthy people in order to make them more wealthy, but it is more impossible for poor laborers to rise up.

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#2

America is supposedly the land of opportunity, and if one puts in the hard work, their life can be turned around. Many people come to America for a better life for themselves or for their family in their homeland. The transition from nothing to better is the popular notion that we call the American Dream. Many people are attracted to leaving their past behind, and turning their lives around, and that number is rising quickly and continuously. According to Christopher Jencks, an American social scientist, “Post-1965 immigrants and their descendants will make up almost half the total population by 2050.” Immigrants are a growing percentage of the population, and they are having more and more of an impact as a result of it. The number of immigrants plays a critical role in the economy; some people argue that the immigrants are helping the economy while others argue that the immigrants are hurting the economy.

 

The people who are against immigration are the American citizens who believe that the immigrants are directly affecting them and costing them more money. More people are coming into the country both legally and illegally, so it is becoming more expensive for the government to maintain the many services they give to the population. The services are becoming a larger cost, so more money needs to go into the government, and the way this is done– taxes. For taxing people, wages matter for determining how much money goes to taxes. Immigrants are typically paid lower wages, so less of their paychecks go into the government. To have the same amount of money to go into the government from the population, this means that the upper class people have to pay higher taxes. For that reason, some American citizens believe that immigrants cost money, and are driving up taxes. In addition to paying lower taxes, the lower wages make immigrants more likely to be eligible for different types of government aids such as food stamps.

 

While immigrants affect rich people negatively when it comes to taxes, immigrants have more of a positive consumer impact. Immigrants are paid a lower wage, so this means that it is cheaper to produce a product. With a lower cost of  production, the final cost for purchase will most likely be lower.  When workers are paid less, the CEO’s of companies can earn more money because the cost of labor would have gone down.  Because CEO’s can earn more money, and many things are cheaper for the consumer, some Americans citizens make the argument that immigrants are helping the economy.
However, the effects that immigrants have on the economy may not stay the same forever. Every generation of immigrants will have a different experience and role in society. The first generation of immigrants come with many challenges for assimilation and many grounded traditions. The children of immigrants and the descendants of the immigrants will have a vastly different role in society than the first generation immigrants. The later generations would have gone through the school in the United States, and there probably would not be a language barrier. In the long time from now, the immigrants could potentially have very few cultural differences from those of Americans.