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Sweatshops: Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by SaroDarksbane, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. SaroDarksbane

    SaroDarksbane IncGamers Site Pal

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    Sweatshops: Good or Bad?

    Recently, with all these threads about Bush, I may have gone too far in criticizing our Glorious, Divine Emperor in the Whitehouse, and I think some people may feel I have slipped too far to the left. Therefore, I feel the need to firmly re-assert myself as a heartless, exploitative, capitalist pig. With that in mind, the topic is about:

    Sweatshops! (Where a sweatshop is defined as the production facility for a major corporation, located in a poor, third world country, that offers low wages and quite possibly employs children. Forced labor is specifically excluded from this definition.)

    Good or bad? That is, if we abolished these so-called sweatshops in a country, would this benefit the average citizen of said country?
     
  2. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    The arguments used for supporting sweatshops could easily be used to support child prostitution: it brings the family much needed income and improves local economy.
     
  3. Stoutwood

    Stoutwood IncGamers Member

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    I'm fine with them. A crappy job with low pay beats no job.
     
  4. SaroDarksbane

    SaroDarksbane IncGamers Site Pal

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    Ironically, when sweatshops are closed down due to misplaced western outrage, the children often do become prostitutes.

    But at least they aren't making shoes anymore. That's what matters, after all.
     
  5. Stevinator

    Stevinator IncGamers Member

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    I like cheap shoes. I bought $13 dress shoes from payless that look exactly like the $175 pair I nearly bought from somewhere else.
     
  6. Bortaz

    Bortaz Banned

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    How is this question supposed to convince us you haven't fallen to the Dark Side? You didn't express your views, and simply asking a question doesn't mean you're a capitalist pig.
     
  7. SaroDarksbane

    SaroDarksbane IncGamers Site Pal

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    1. Even having the audacity to ask whether or not sweatshops are a good thing would indeed raise eyebrows on the left, I would think.

    2. I haven't bowed out of the thread yet; I intend to post more tommorow. I just wanted to get the thread out there so it could hopefully garner some replies overnight.
     
  8. Bortaz

    Bortaz Banned

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    1. Naw. You can be a leftist, and still be open-minded. It's rare, but it could happen.

    2. Admit it, you're just waiting for Smeg to post.
     
  9. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    Indeed, that's what happens when things are done simply to placate emotions and without proper study of the consequences.

    However, the point is, just because sweatshops bring income to poor families does not automatically make it a good thing. At the very least, it is an indication of corporate inhumanity, where the only concern is for the bottom line.

    On an ethical level, the practice of sweatshops in developping countries is completely morally untenable, because they grossly violate established business ethics of those countries where the companies are based.
     
  10. SaroDarksbane

    SaroDarksbane IncGamers Site Pal

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    Which presupposes that making a good profit is the moral opposite of "humanity".
    Only if you accept those "established business ethics" in the first place.
     
  11. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    No, it presupposes that making a profit at the exclusion of all other concerns is the moral opposite of "humanity".

    Presumably, they do, as they are established in their home countries. I'm pretty sure we don't allow for sweatshops in North America. (Except maybe mexico.)
     
  12. WildBerry

    WildBerry IncGamers Member

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    It's not like I could make them go away if I wanted to.

    However, what's important is that if we Westerners enjoy the products of the said shops, the shops adhere both to laws of the country they reside in and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Notable articles are 3, 4, 5, 9, 13, 20, 23 (especially subpoints 3 & 4). You also should be wary of that the child labour is in direct conflict with article 26, subpoint 1 - the compulsive education. Children forced to work and left without an education will stay unskilled and sire a social group of coolies inheritable by birth. This stagnates the society. And Saro, if you think working and prostitution are mutually exclusive (just because of the long days) I suggest you go and take a look at Kolkata. My fiancée's been there helping the streetchildren for 3 months. I know you're very rational - some would go as far as call you jaded - but if she weren't under an oath of silence, I could tell you things that make you cry from that trip.

    Agreed, many a sweatshop pays their workers more than the locals. But we can well afford that, and treat them like humans as well. 12-hour days without a loo break or hour for meals is pushing it. Detaining the workers and not letting them out of the fenced facility as long as they're employed is snapping it. We need to be aware of what happens there, we need to hold on to the principles we have (I'm not meaning "they're just some ragheads and probably deserve it" -kind of principles here) and the owners of the sweatshops must either enforce the Declaration or admit culpability. Not one of the previously mentioned things can be, as a blanket statement, said to be in effect at the moment. As it stands, 'shops are evil.
     
  13. Moosashi

    Moosashi IncGamers Member

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    I'm generally with Saro on all things economic. This is no exception. However, it get's a little suspicious when children are involved because they might be easier to passively coerce. Laborers must be able to consciously agree to their wages, hours and work environment. It might be difficult for a child to accurately assess his own needs and the value of his work.

    I don't understand the corporate inhumanity argument. If there was a higher paying job available to sweatshop workers, and the workers aren't forced to work in the sweatshop, wouldn't they just take the higher paying job? What's so wrong about offering the best overall value a worker can get for his work? It's completely unfair to demand that corporations pay more than what people are willing to work for. The corporation would ultimately fail in competition and then everybody loses.

    Money and capitalism are not cold, inhuman things. These concepts epitomize fair play and the value and strength of individual people.
     
  14. plasmo

    plasmo IncGamers Member

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    "Free trade gives millions of poor people a step up the ladder. Yes, that may mean working in a sweatshop. But these people manifestly prefer that to their prior condition. It may come as a shock to some suburban American liberals, but for children in Pakistan, the alternative to stitching Reebok soccer balls is not being driven to soccer practice in a Volvo station wagon. It's deeper poverty." - Robert Wright
     
  15. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    Children only work in sweatshops when told to by their parents.

    Is it? Then how come there are things like minimum wages and workers unions in developped nations? Why aren't the corporations failing here?

    I guess you could argue that they simply outsourced their exploitative practices to 3rd world nations, but not all corporations run sweatshops, and corporations certainly don't fail because they don't run sweatshops.

    By your logic, I could be a complete sociopath and go around emotionally exploiting everyone I find for my own benefit, and as long as it's within the boundaries of the law, it's perfectly fine?

    You could argue that corporations aren't human beings, or moral agents, but they are considered "individuals" with regards to laws. Ethically speaking, corporations are a group of human beings/moral agents, and hence the actions of a corporation is the actions of a collective of moral agents. If those moral agents must be ethically responsible individually, why shouldn't they be responsible collectively?
     
  16. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    So far, the only argument supporting sweatshops is that they're better off with it than without it.

    So why are you against child prostitution then? (If, presumably, you are...)
     
  17. WildBerry

    WildBerry IncGamers Member

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    Sure, the pay's better than what they've used to. But the working hours and discipline are often draconian even by 1800's Industrial Europe's standards. Just because they don't share our concept of human treatment just because they've not used to expect it is no reason to neglect it from the counts. And there is no excuse for it. We don't suddenly suffer a run-out of goods if we start taking a peek at what's taking place in the 'shops and acting on it. There's no point in trying to place the blame over the local directors and bullying shiftmasters. They work as they're expected. It's like having a dog. If Reebok owns it, Reebok is responsible of it's doings.
     
  18. Dondrei

    Dondrei IncGamers Member

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    If you support sweatshops in foreign countries, why not your own?

    Paying someone less than the cost of living is indentured servitude. Not all slavery was involuntary, you know. Many slaves opposed abolition, to take the American example. People figure that starving to death next week is better than starving to death this week, so they are willing to take a job that doesn't pay them enough to live on if they are desperate enough.

    Tut-tut, that's tangential.

    Not if no-one is allowed to do it.

    I can't believe you just used the word "coolies".
     
  19. Moosashi

    Moosashi IncGamers Member

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    I disagree with minimum wage. If it works at all, it's because everyone must comply. Except everyone doesn't have to comply. They can hire undocumented workers or relocate outside the U.S. Companies that don't while their competitors do lose money. They pass this loss on to consumers, many of whom are ... workers! Their "minimum wage" has to pay for crap that cost too much to produce.

    There's nothing wrong with workers organizing to bargain for better wages and nothing about a sweatshop in the terms set out by Saro that prohibits it. However, some union practices, like mandatory membership and harassing scabs are unfair.

    1. The ones that are forced to pay their workers more than the work itself is worth are failing. Look at a domestic airline, Delta for instance.
    2. Successful corporations may succeed in spite of wage floors, but not because of them. Usually they just produce a great product and are able to turn a profit. Without unfair wage laws though, they'd turn a bigger profit, develop better products and pass savings directly to consumers.

    If they pay their workers more than their labor is worth, they'll lose money to a competitor who pays the actual value of the labor, all else being equal. It's just math. These companies might not fail, but they could be doing better.

    What does "emotionally exploiting" someone even mean? There is certainly no economic exploitation if both employers and employees agree to the wages. Both parties entered into the agreement to make money; not to play footsie and tell each other bedtime stories.

    Also, it's not The Law that we're interested in upholding, it's Free Trade. It used to be legal to own slaves for example, but that practice is inconsistent with the idea of free trade.

    What is "ethical responsibility"? What responsibility do corporations have but to honor their agreement with labor and provide a product as advertised? Individuals aren't under any ethical obligation to do more or less than that, why should corporations be any different, "ethically"?
     
  20. Moosashi

    Moosashi IncGamers Member

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    That's just silly. You're simply bumping up the price of goods proportional to the wage floor. People have more money in the absolute sense but the stuff they buy is that much more expensive. They're just as poor as they always were. The only way to actually create more value in the economy is to satisfy demand with better products (labor itself being one such product). Amazingly, working better and harder makes more money. Imagine that.
     

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