The problem with Asian sweatshops is that there aren’t enough of them. (I am not writing about forced labor or child labor, both of which are different cases.) Adult workers take jobs in these unpleasant, low-wage manufacturing facilities voluntarily. So one of two things must be true. Either (1) workers take unpleasant jobs in sweatshops because it is the best employment option they have; or (2) Asian sweatshop workers are persons of weak intellect who have many more attractive job offers but choose to work in sweatshops instead.
Sweatshops are nasty places by Western standards. And yes, one might argue that Nike should pay its foreign workers better wages out of sheer altruism. But they are the symptom of poverty, not a cause. Nike pays a typical worker in its Vietnamese factories roughly $600 a year. That is a pathetic amount of money. It also happens to be twice an average Vietnamese workers’ income.” Wheelan, Charles Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science
So as I read it, the sweatshops with voluntary adult labor are actually raising the standard of living in the areas where they are operating no matter what we in the industrialized nations think of them. I’m sure there are some of you out there who would disagree but let me ask you some questions – What would the economies of the countries with these plants be without them? How much would you be willing to pay for a pair of shoes if they had to pay US union wages? How many people would be unable to buy clothes if it weren’t for the use of global factories? If they are paying the workers double the annual salary, aren’t they making their workers into rich people? What kind of job would you take if you could make 2x the annual salary of the people around you?
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