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Corruption Chronicles

U.S. Spends $10 Mil To Combat Child Labor In Ethiopia

While Unemployment in the United States remains high the Obama Department of Labor (DOL) pours huge amounts of taxpayer dollars into an international program that addresses the workplace exploitation of “vulnerable populations.”

A division of the DOL, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) ensures that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB’s mission is to use all available international channels to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers’ ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

As is the case with most government bureaucracies of this magnitude, the mission requires generous funding by American taxpayers. In its congressional budget justification for fiscal year 2012, the DOL asks for more than $1.5 billion to fund its various causes abroad. This includes $40 million to combat exploitative child labor internationally, more than $18 million for “program evaluation” and nearly $14 million to implement worker rights programs through technical assistance.

Just last week ILAB doled out $10 million to combat child labor in Ethiopia, specifically in rural areas of the African country and in the traditional weaving industry. Some of the money will likely be handled by Ethiopia’s notoriously corrupt government, which this week was exposed for illicit financial flows totaling $3.26 billion. Corruption, kickbacks and bribery are on the rise in Ethiopia, according to a new report issued this week by a research group that aims to curtail the cross border flow of illegal money.

Never the less, U.S. tax dollars will help “reintegrate” Ethiopian children into education systems and will link “vulnerable families” to income-generating opportunities, according to the DOL announcement. The cash will also “raise awareness” and train labor inspectors, presumably Ethiopian, on child labor laws and health standards.

Surely some of the African-bound millions could be used here in the homeland. Unemployment remains high even though the jobless rate fell slightly from 9% in October to 8.6% in November. A major reason is that many people just gave up the job hunt and dropped out of the workforce.


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