Date of publication: 2017-09-05 07:43
Sweatshops may indeed be preferable to poverty. But instead of taking poverty for granted in the first place, we should question the processes that produce it the policies that make people desperate. Sweatshops are an easy, unthinking solution, and only make sense if we are ready to bend to the dictates of &ldquo market efficiency&rdquo and accept exploitation as economically rational. What we need is a new economics, one that can think beyond the limited boundaries of neoliberal ideology and make an effort to construct a more humane and democratic world. The question is not whether we have the ability to do this, but whether we have the courage.
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The point here is that companies do not have to use sweatshop labor to earn profits, just as workers in third world countries do not have to be desperate enough to work in sweatshops. None of this is natural or inevitable, despite what sweatshop enthusiasts are so eager to have us believe. Sachs&rsquo and Krugman&rsquo s absurd conclusion that we should promote sweatshops as a solution to the problem of global poverty derives from a profound deficit of historical perspective. It is a shame that the most cherished priests of progressive economics have nothing to offer beyond a world of sweatshops justified beneath the banner of &ldquo market freedom&rdquo and comparative advantage. That this has become the utopian vision of our time is tragic.
--> Rethinking Sweatshop Economics Instead of giving two cheers to sweatshops, we should alter the policies that cause poverty in the first place
While Timmerman agrees that such factory jobs are incredibly important to the workers, he worries that Kristof&rsquo s column &ldquo encourages apathy&rdquo among consumers through it&rsquo s bottom line.
These arguments all turn on one simple idea that often vanquishes critics with its apparently unassailable economic logic: that sweatshops exist because people are willing to take sweatshop jobs at sweatshop wages. People have a choice in where they go to work, the thinking goes, and sweatshops are often the best deal in town certainly better than no job at all. If sweatshops didn&rsquo t exist, then millions of people would be hungry on the streets.
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Standard 65: Students will understand that: Investment in factories, machinery, new technology, and the health, education, and training of people can raise future standards of living.
This view rests on the assumption that countries that attract sweatshops have always been populated with masses of poor people desperate for wages, that poverty is somehow an a priori condition. In such a world, sweatshops can only be a boon.
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