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Sweatshops: Good or Bad?

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

  1. KillerAim

    KillerAim Diabloii.Net Member

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    dondrei:
    A claim that you agreed to in the last thread.

    So what am I on about? How about the fact that you continually make an argument which conflicts with both history and theory but you have yet to back it up with any concrete evidence.

    So let's try a different approach: formal logic. (Now, it's been decades since if taken any logic courses and I could have totally screwed up my argument below. Please feel free to correct me if that is the case.) :undecided:

    Statement: If we do not have minimum wage laws then we will have sweatshops.

    Logical Argument: If not P then Q, where "P" = Minimum wage laws, and where "Q" = Sweatshops.

    Logical deductions from such a statement:

    1). If not P, must be Q
    2). If not Q, must be P
    3). If P, may or may not be Q
    4). If Q, may or may not be P

    -

    The most applicable deduction to look at in this case is #2. That translates into "If sweatshops do not exist, then minimum wage laws must be in place."

    But that is not the case; therefore, your statement is not logically sound.

    Remember the old adage: "Ask a stupid question expect a stupid answer."

    Did these documentaries say that that was the case? More than likely, the speaker just compared their wages to those of the workers in the United States or other developed countries. Again, a comparison that is totally meaningless by itself.

    -
    Another thought on this subject. There are few, if any, jobs in any manufacturing plant that do not require the company to spend a significant amount of time and money on training new employees. This is especially the case in cultures where the bulk of the new workers have no previous experience working in an industrial based economy.

    I remember reading an article back in college that went into great detail about how difficult it was for people who had only known farming to adapt to factory work. Farm work is geared around the seasons rather than a clock. Many transplanted workers had some difficulty in making the transition.

    The cost of training new workers because the old ones are either sick or dying far outweighs the cost of paying experienced workers at least a subsistence wage. Even if there is not a moral reason to pay workers enough for them to survive, there is an economic one that would ensure that it would happen.

    I agree. However, the situations where the concepts supporting the Free Market do not work are in the minority. Therefore, the onus is NOT on the people who advocate using a Free Market solution for a problem to prove their case; the onus in on those that advocate that another approach would result in a better solution.

    When the Market fails, the majority of times it is do to one party wielding monopolistic powers. A major problem with solutions that do not rely on the Market is that the alternative solution usually involves governmental involvement and most times it involves outright governmental control. The biggest monopoly in any country IS the government; therefore, the alternative solutions are themselves subject to the same inequities caused by monopolistic control.

    I was hoping for a certain level of intellectual honesty and sophistication from you when I linked to those two sites.

    The intellectual honesty I expected was that you would not exclude one entire article's viewpoint completely and cherry pick the one phrase that supports your view from the other.

    I also thought that your intellectual sophistication would allow you to realize that I had intentionally linked to those two articles because they had the opposite opinions on why certain economic events happened. While these opinions were in dispute, the facts supporting them were not. Both of them agreed that these so-called sweatshops used to be in places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea during the 1980's.

    I also assumed that you were knowledgeable enough to realize that these places currently have some of the highest standards of living in that entire geographic area.

    So what do we know for certain? (1). The locations of these so-called sweatshops throughout the world changes over time with the majority of them following low priced labor. (2). In the 1980's the sweatshops were located primarily in places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. (3). These sweatshops no longer exist in those places and; in addition, those places have among the highest standards of living in the entire region.

    Now, let's look at our conclusions.

    You said that sweatshops never have to increase their wages because they have an infinite number of people available who are willing to work at the existing wage. The logical deduction that one can derive from that statement is that the standard of living in that area will never improve. No manner how many companies are started no one will have to pay anything more than the first one did. If the country raises its minimum wage to try to force the sweatshops to pay their workers more, the article says that the company will just move the sweatshop someplace else. Even if they don't move, minimum wage laws do not create wealth; they just re-allocate it. While a minimum wage increase may very well help one individual’s standard of living, it does so at the expense of someone else's, be that another worker or boss.

    I argued that the standard law of supply and demand that supports all economic pricing applies to workers' wages as well as it does to any other product or service. The more people who want a product or service, the higher the price for that service or product. Wages must go up as long as new companies come into existence that require more labor. Based on this fundamental conclusion, the standard of living in a country must go up if the demands for its labor goes up.

    So which of our conclusions fits the facts?

    The assumption you have to make here is that the term "low" refers to a comparison to the pay at a comparable job in a developed country. If the sweatshop came into an area and only offered wages that were considered low in that area, they wouldn't be able to fill their positions.
     
  2. Dondrei

    Dondrei Diabloii.Net Member

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    1) You have never provided any evidence of your historical claims and this is the second time you have avoided it under direct request. The "history" you claim may or may not be true but I will not accept it until you make some attempt to back it up, preferably with proper context.

    2) The statement "if we do not have minimum wage laws then we will have sweatshops" is not equivalent to my original statement "minimum wage laws prevent sweatshops". You do indeed need to brush up on your logic.

    3) The statement "if we do not have minimum wage laws then we will have sweatshops" does not imply "if sweatshops do not exist, then minimum wage laws must be in place". P implies Q does not mean Q implies P.

    I thought the question was perfectly clear, it's not my fault you didn't understand it. I'll apologise for the ambiguity if you insist.

    Yes they did, and no it was not relative to any other nations. These people were earning subsistence or starvation wages in the sense that they could only just (or even not) afford to put food on the table. And that food was only just enough to live on even in the cases in which they could afford it, they were all malnourished.

    That's a crock of ****. It takes bugger all training to teach a garment worker how to push clothes through a sewing machine at a rate of a hundred shirts a minute. They work on a bloody factory line, that's the whole point. Each person has one very specific, very simple task to do over and over again.

    I agree that the instances in which the free market principles should not be applied are very much in the minority. Indeed this is the status quo in my country and even more so in yours. Personally, I would like to change things little from the status quo (certainly compared to you) but on balance my views would want an increase in the instances of free market philosophy in our society. However not nearly so much as you; I'm more moderate, you are highly idealistic. That's a philosophical difference we're always going to have.

    The rest however is your usual "blah blah blah the onus is on everyone else blah blah blah it's always the government's fault blah blah blah". Spare me.

    You're really rambling here. What are you trying to say, that sweatshops in a country gradually find themselves paying more and more for labour due to free market forces? That's not what happened here, the raise of or increase in the minimum wage is of course nothing to do with the free market. And I was quite correct about there being a enormous supply of people willing to work for the existing wage - I never said they had to be in the same country. That's exactly what happened. Not only did the extra demand for labour fail to drive up the price (this was done by decree of the government instead), but as soon as the price did go up the companies left to find a place willing to work for the existing wage. So yeah, my argument fits the facts where yours doesn't.

    And although it is a tangent to the argument you're trying to make, I'll point out to you that the person at whose expense the raise in the minimum wage is in this case is the international company, which is precisely what I wanted.

    I never said that. And saying that wages that would be considered low in that area wouldn't attract workers is stupid if the area has high unemployment. It's not hard to compete with $0 an hour.
     
  3. Moosashi

    Moosashi Diabloii.Net Member

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    Your syllogism is only 2/3 complete. You're missing a premise: the nature of logic.

    Free market capitalism is logical precisely because its conclusions always obtain from it's premises. If its premises are valid, you cannot logically deny its conclusions in any situation whatsoever, no matter how much your heart bleeds. That is the nature of logic.

    To abandon capitalism in a particular situation without becoming illogical, you must abandon the assumption of its premises in that particular situation. That's a problem. For one thing, its premises do not depend on its conclusions, yet its conclusions are what you really base your decision upon. For another, your position requires that you cherry-pick when the premises are valid. Free-market capitalism assumes only that man is rational and self-interested. What logical reason could you have for assuming instead that there are some instances with relevance to economics in which man is always*** rational and self-interested (the logical basis for your professed acceptance of the free market) and other instances in which man is not always rational and self-interested? If his rationality and self-interest can vary, why don't they always vary?

    You either grant that for all intents and purposes, man is always rational and self-interested or that he is not. There's no reason to assume he is sometimes always rational and self-interested, let alone assume he is definitely not rational and self-interested in situations to which you'd like to apply a minimum wage and a bunch of social welfare. AND another thing. The entire economy is connected. Capitalism is not optimally efficient if you disrupt it in certain situations: yet another reason to avoid favoring it in some circumstances and condemning it in others.


    *** The efficiency produced by capitalism is robust to occasional violations of its assumptions. The odd rash decision is not going to doom the economy. Maximal efficiency is approached as long as man is generally rational and self-interested.
     
  4. Dondrei

    Dondrei Diabloii.Net Member

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    That's all illogical rambling. Free market capitalism is a desirable thing in some circumstances and not others, we only differ on which fields exactly that would be.

    You haven't even stated any criteria for what is the "best" system to be applied in a given circumstance. Best in what sense?

    You seem to think that I'm either a puritan or a heathen, but that's a false dichotomy.
     
  5. KillerAim

    KillerAim Diabloii.Net Member

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    dondrei:
    Let’s look at some of your actual quotes.
    So was that your original statement? I'm not sure. But did you continually argue, "if we do not have minimum wage laws then we will have sweatshops"? Definitely.

    I might be rusty on my use of logic, but compared to you, I'm an expert.

    The statement in question contains a negation. When that type of statement is translated into a logical format, that Statement becomes "If NOT P then Q".

    While it’s true that P implies Q does not mean Q implies P, what it DOES mean is that its contrapositive (NOT Q implies NOT P) must be true. In logic, a statement is true if and only if its contrapositive is true. The contrapositive for your statement is "NOT Q implies NOT NOT P"-- simplified that becomes "NOT Q implies P" -- and in English that translates as "if sweatshops do not exist, then minimum wage laws must be in place".

    Would you mind giving me some information on these documentaries that so conveniently supported all of your statements? The reason I ask is that their "facts" are in stark contrast to the results of this study.
    Now, the abstract contains multiple tables and charts that show that the average wage in a sweatshop is greater than the average wage earned in countries all around the world. You can see why I question the documentaries that you claim you've seen.

    So the wages paid in one country are directly affected by the amount of available workers in a completely different country??? :shocked:

    It is amazing how deep a hole you are willing to dig to avoid admitting that you’ve made an error. France and Germany have perennially high unemployment rates. Are you saying that wages paid in both the United States and Australia have been directly affected by the fact that there are so many people in Europe looking for a job?

    The article I sited showed the average hourly rate for garment workers in 10 third world countries. Why do they vary from a low of $.13 to a high of $2.38 per hour? Why aren’t these workers who earn only $.13 an hour quitting their jobs and moving to the place where they're paying $2.38 an hour? If your answer is that they just cannot get up and move then you should realize that that type of a reply negates your initial premise. A factory hires workers from the local labor pool. If a worker is unavailable for the job for what every the reason he is, by definition, not part of the employment pool.

    Also, remember the initial scenario that I presented? I said that if one company in an area were making as big of a profit as you suggested then soon there would be other companies eager to build their plants in the same area to also reap the rewards of such cheap labor. Soon after that, there would be a third, a fourth, etc., until the labor costs would rise enough to eliminate this economic advantage. Your reply? That won't happen because there are plenty of available workers who could fill all of these positions. Please tell me how an available worker in another country is going to help me keep my payroll from going up when two more factories move into the area where my factory is built.

    My god, dondrei, you’ve just discovered the solution to a problem that has been bothering the best minds for decades. How do you get a third world country to evolve into a developed country? Just raise the minimum wage!!! :thumbsup:

    Think of it, no more poverty and no more starvation in the world accomplished by doing nothing more than signing a paper that demands that everyone get paid a living wage.

    But what a second. Why stop there? Let’s make the minimum wage $1,000 an hour for everyone in the world and then we all could earn more than a million dollars a year. We'd not only get rid of poverty, we'd also get rid of inter-class conflicts. Everyone would be rich! Hey, I betting that at least some terrorist recruits would have second thoughts if they knew that they would be giving up millions.

    --

    The article also quoted one economist response to those who say that sweatshops are bad for the Economy.
    He was talking about people like you.
     
  6. Moosashi

    Moosashi Diabloii.Net Member

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    Dondrei, "that's all illogical rambling" is not an argument. Just because you disagree with something doesn't make it illogical rambling.

    Quote for me the instances in which I've used the word "best".

    I think you believe in a gray scale for the sake of believing in a gray scale. I don't think you've considered the logical fall-out out of that position in an economic context.
     

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