Archive for May, 2015

How Big of a problem is Child Labor? What ten countries have the greatest youth labor issues?

Sunday, May 31st, 2015


Everyone should be entitled to a childhood.  In the U.S. this statement may sound like common sense, even though many American children are subject to trauma and abuse, which is obviously awful, they don’t have to spend their childhoods working longs hours in a factory.  But in many countries children spend their youths doing hard labor.


Child laborers are often favored over their adult counterparts because they’re cheaper and easier to exploit.  Many economists contend however, that child labor has a net negative effect on economics because they will fill jobs that adults once took.  So not only is child labor detrimental to the well-being of the individual child, it can be negative for the society as a whole.


In India six-year-olds can work legally.  Indian Labor Minister Bandaru Dattatreya says it breeds “an entrepreneurial spirit.”  When Dattatreya was ten-years-old he worked in the family onion business and sees nothing wrong with young people holding challenging jobs.  India has many child labor laws in place but this doesn’t save children from living unfathomably difficult lives where they rise at 4 AM for work and then school and don’t finish their labor until 10 PM.  This is no way for a child to live.  India is not alone in having high rates of child labor.


In Pakistan children are rented, purchased, and sold.  Famously Nike was busted for having countless child laborers making their sports products.  In Ethiopia 60% of children hold some sort of job.   These numbers are all part of a disturbing uptick in child labor worldwide.  For information on the ten worst countries to have child labor click the link here.


We are not completely powerless to stem the flow of child exploitation.  Fortunately there are numerous organizations that are making serious efforts to stop child labor, human trafficking, and exploitation.  Here is a list of some pertinent links:–en/index.htm




Grazie Mille and Garibaldi’s Thousand

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Garibaldi 2

Many times I have sat in the English Gardens of Palermo, gazing up at the triumphant figure of Giuseppe Garibaldi.  I marvel at the man he was and contemplate his contributions to Italy and the world.  He was a figure who cut his teeth fighting for the underdog and there is no doubt he would have been a formidable opponent for the Man if he were alive today.


After gaining his military chops fighting in the Ragamuffin War in Brazil.  He moved to Montevideo, Uruguay where he rebelled against former Uruguayan president Manuel Oribe in that nation’s civil war.  These feats would later earn him the reputation as a “hero of two worlds.”  It was living among the rough Gauchos of the region where he adopted his trademark red shirt, which he brought to Italy to fight for unification.


In 1860, Garibaldi started his war with the Bourbons, which would eventually lead to the unification of Italy.  He stealthy maneuvering of two ships, containing a ragtag group of 1,089 volunteers (a number disputed by some), into Marsala on the island of Sicily.  The plucky “Spedizione dei Mille” (Expedition of the Thousand) wore red shirts into the Battle of Calatafimi.  Although they were outnumbered two to one by the French troops in this first battle, Garibaldi led his mille to victory.


The improbable army, led by Garibaldi, was joined by new Sicilian volunteers and used the momentum to take control of Palermo from the French occupiers.  After a successful campaign in Sicily Garibaldi moved on to historic victories on the mainland, which would play a key role in the unification of Italy, solidifying the place “Spedizione dei Mille” as legendary.


As one walks the streets of Italy it is not uncommon to hear a kind act met with the phrase “grazie mille.”  This utterance of deep gratitude remains in the language as a living tribute to Garibaldi’s brave army of volunteers.


Read more about Garibaldi here:



The Final Stand of the Anti-Man

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

It was some time ago that I began a series of blog posts for Can the Man that revolved around my employment by a multi-national industrial corporation. In these posts I shared my enduring misery, depression, and overall dislike for the job I held along with the mental ebbs and flows it brought. Following eight months away from the business after my initial stint, I returned, as the prospect of easy money and resume building seemed to be, “in my best interest.” After another nine months slaving away in front of a computer and crying through conference calls – my time working for the Ultra-Man has finally come to an end.


On May 1st I made the ultimate decision to hand over my two week notice to my now former business with the dream of pursuing the ever-elusive goal of happiness, fulfilment, and freedom. I have never felt such relief in my life as I did making that decisive phone call to break free from something so soul-wrenchingly awful. I’m 25 and experiencing what many may call a “quarter-life crisis.” But let me tell you, dear reader, this feels less like a crisis and more like an awakening.


After Memorial Day, I’ll be packing my bags and heading west as many of my friends and family have over the last few decades. I’m doing so without a concrete plan for the future and without any clear direction of what lies ahead of me. What I do know is that my life will no longer revolve around two-hour conference calls discussing corporate accounting codes and finance IT programs. What is more puzzling about this situation is the fact that the job that made me so miserable is nothing more than a semi-satisfactory, ever-present reality for many of my peers. How can people take a job so seriously that is ultimately beyond meaningless? What I’ve done for the last two and a half years has not made anyone’s life better, especially my own. Surely the experience bodes well on a resume and the money has been great – but at what expense?


Aside from the fact that I have not been wrongly convicted of murder – I cannot help but see some similarities between my decision to quit and the legendary character of Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption. I’ve been unjustly imprisoned to a life of meaningless bullshit work and I’ve made the decision to tunnel my way out. Like Dufresne, I’ve been left wondering if there is any hope for someone like me. Whether there truly is a better life waiting for me at the end of this sewage pipe of passionless jobs and empty conversations – I do not know. For the moment though, I am determined to come out of this a better man and to arrive at the realization that I am free to make my own path in life. Hopefully, travelling westward will bring me to the same type of freedom and joy Andy Dufresne found on his idyllic Mexican beach.


-Spencer James-

What We Take For Granted

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

We often forget, that there are few places in the world as diverse and rich with athletic opportunities as the United States.
Our country has a dark litany of serious cultural and political problems, many of which have conspicuously on display this week in the streets of Baltimore – we still have a long and difficult road to travel.
And we certainly have no shortage of scandals and issues when it comes to sports, but let’s take a moment to not forget exactly how lucky we are in comparison to the rest of the world.
Today before I headed into the office of The Post Journal, I went for a ride on my bike through the trails at Harris Hill State Forrest in Gary, about a 15 minute drive from my house.
It was, in all sincerity, as good of a day riding through the woods as you can ever hope to have in Western New York before May 1, and entirely free of charge.
Things may have been different though, I could have played tennis if given the opportunity. Had someone asked if I wanted to hit the golf course and play nine holes, I might have done that instead.
The point being this – we often forget just how good we have it at this time in this country. If doesn’t matter if you don’t like football, or baseball, or basketball or any of the “Big” professional leagues, because there are opportunities to be a spectator or a participant in at about a million other things.
In the local Jamestown area alone there are countless leagues and clubs for everything from golf, to horseshoes, to cycling, to running to ultimate frisbee.
It’s the same all over the rest of the country-a complete over-abundance of interesting and athletically challenging activities.
If you haven’t found something that you enjoy yet, chances are you haven’t been looking.
There are a lot of excuses for enjoying sports in some way, even though most of them are garbage.
But to not take advantage of any of the opportunities around you is a real problem, because most of us already take the sports paradise around us for granted.
Following the riots in Baltimore, the Orioles were forced to play a game without fans on Wednesday. But of course that didn’t stop lines of people from gathering outside the stadium, and watching from outside the bars of center field.
To those diehard fans the day must have seemed almost tragic, like a senselessly lost opportunity that they remember with sadness.
I’m willing to bet that most of them didn’t have the perspective to recall that getting a chance to watch a professional baseball game, or any other pro sport for that matter, is unfathomable to many other people around the world.
The people of Baghdad, I would wager, have mostly forgotten what it is like to sit down and enjoy a sporting event after the city was yet again devastated by a string of car bombings early this week. Refugees and citizens living through warzones in Nigeria, Yemen and Syria would have a hard time imagining all of the possibilities of sports that we take for granted every day.
Millions and millions of people all across the world could not imagine the possibilities of America’s sports culture in their wildest dreams – let’s try and remember that.



Bernie Sanders – For the Good of America

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Someone brave enough to challenge Hillary Clinton, the presumed shoe-in candidate, has finally stepped forward.  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced his intentions to run for the highest office in the last week.  With his odds running at a long shot 66/1 Sanders has already solidified himself as the dark-horse in the race for the democratic nomination for President.  Sanders is a staunch opponent to Wall Street and would work hard to eliminate the slew of loopholes that protect corporations more than citizens.  He voted against the Iraq War in 2002, has openly voiced his support of legal marijuana, and voted against the privacy invading Patriot Act.


There is no doubt that Hillary is the person to beat here, but as Sanders boldly states, “Do not underestimate me.”  There is a very real chance that Sanders could challenge for the nomination – and if nothing else, he will be present on national stage to call attention to the issues our current leadership not only benefit from but actively hide from the American public.


Below is a brief informational video of Sanders, the self proclaimed Democratic Socialist, and his relative chances at seeing the Oval Office.





-Spencer James