In Live Free and Starve, Divakaruni argues that anti-child labor laws actually end up harming the children they seek to protect. Without the jobs that many argue “exploit” the children, the child workers many times end up jobless and homeless and must turn to thievery, violence, begging, or prostitution. Without other programs to provide these children with access to education and basic survival needs, these anti-child labor laws are useless.

In comparison, Javdani in Plata o Plomo: Silver or Lead says that the United States’ methods for combating drug-use are ineffective. Unlike Divakaruni, who says that the US’s actions are hurting the children they are trying to protect, Javdani is saying that the problem is the lack of action on the part of the United States. More specifically, the United States lacks steps that are targeted at the sources of the drug problems. Instead of throwing money at countries that do not have any real political legitimacy and are deeply entwined with illegal or rebel groups, Javdani suggests that the money that is used in foreign countries be monitored closely, and that more money is used for domestic drug-prevention efforts. So, unlike Divakaruni, Javdani is asking for more action by the United States, but both authors include the theme of ignorance in their writings. Specifically, both writers say that Americans are ignorant of how legislation, buying illicit materials, and other actions are truly going to effect other people across the globe.

I find both authors arguments to be very interesting because they draw a cause and effect relationship that is unexpected. However, I question if the US should not pass a law banning child labor simply because it could lead to those children doing other things to survive. On mere principle, I find not passing such a law to be immoral. I agree that passing the law and then supplementing it with other programs would be ideal, but I would argue that the law and the programs are two different things. The law says that the children have the right to not be indentured by unjust labor contracts; this is a right to not have ones liberties infringed upon. However, a program where we gave the children free education is different. This program would be a positive right to be given something, which I do not believe one is entitled to. So, yes, I think that this program should exist, but I would caution against saying that that this program must exist by right.

Similarly, I believe that in the case of the illicit drugs, one has a right to not be taken away the freedom of doing what they want to do (within reason), so I would agree with the argument that drug-prevention programs should exist, but I would oppose any sort of law that made certain drug use illegal. Granted, drug production, possession, and use is a complex issue, but, generally, I see some civil liberties related to the use of drugs that must be upheld.

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1 Response to

  1. I would have to say that I disagree with your last argument about drug legality. You say that people have “a right to not be taken away the freedom of doing what they want to do (within reason)….” To me, taking away the right to use drugs is within reason. First off, these drugs are illegal for a reason – they can be extremely dangerous and ultimately fatal. Two of my brother’s classmates died from heroin use when he was a junior in high school, so maybe my stance on this is bias, but I do not think it is wrong from the government to make drugs illegal. I wanted to looking into the number of deaths caused by illegal drug use in America, and I found this fact sheet from the white house website. If these consequences are not enough, I think that Javdani’s essay also makes a clear argument as to why the drug use should be illegal and why the US government should fight harder to stop it. As Javdani wrote, there would be no supply if there was no demand for the drugs.
    While trying to find more information on the topic, I stumbled across this article. While it doesn’t directly pertain to the US or Colombia, I thought it would also be an interesting read for those interested in this debate.

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