Last week’s This American Life podcast tells the story of John Nash Pickle, who ran a factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He went to India, hired 52 skilled and experienced workers with the promise that they would work in the USA for two years and eventually get green cards. When they arrived, he and his wife took their passports, provided them food for 27 men (rather than the 52 there were), forbade them from leaving the factory premises, paid them $2 an hour, and on and on.
This is terrible. But what I find amazing is that many people – including some of the Indian guys – really believe that Mr Pickle believed that he was doing these Indian guys a giant favor, that he was saving them from starvation in India. If this is true, then either Pickle is delusional or it is a demonstration of wild ignorance: this assumption that everyone in poor countries is starving. (It’s like in that Do they know it’s Christmas? song when they sing about Africa, where “nothing ever grows.” Most people in Africa are subsistence farmers. Hello?) I fear that some form of this ignorance (thankfully not the extent that it brings people to human trafficking) is too common among us.
I highly recommend this podcast.