The Common Good

How many slaves work for you?

Earlier this week, I received an email that stood out from the torrent of mail that flows into my in-box each day.

Screen shot 2011-09-23 at 1.52.01 PMEarlier this week, I received an email that stood out from the torrent of mail that flows into my in-box each day.

"How many slaves work for you?" was the subject line of the note from an organization called Call + Response.

"Jeez, none, I hope," was, of course, my first response, as I clicked "open" to read the attached message.

It began, "If you are reading this on a computer, smart phone or laptop, you likely have at least three slaves working for you."

I was, in fact, reading the message on a laptop, while my smartphone and new tablet computer sat charging a few inches away on my desk.

This unsettling information came from Slavery Footprint, a new web-based campaign from Call + Response, a non-profit group, helmed by filmmaker/musician Justin Dillon, created in collaboration with the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The Slavery Footprint campaign launched Thursday (Sept. 22), which also happened to have been the 149th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, with the goal of personalizing "the issue of modern slavery by providing people with an assessment of just how much their lifestyle depends on forced labor -- and the steps they can immediately take to help end it."

By following this LINK I was able to plug in some basic information about myself and my lifestyle -- where do I live, do I own or rent, how many children do I have, have many diamonds/leather shoes/electronic gizmos do I own, what are my eating habits, what's in my medicine cabinet, etc., -- and in just a few minutes received the upsetting news that, according to the Slavery Footprint campaigns diagnostics, 52 slaves "work for me."

How did the web-bot calculate my number?

Slavery Footprint explains:

"Using rigorous research and data analysis, the creators estimated the total number of forced laborers likely to have been involved in the production of more than 450 products

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