Sunday, August 07, 2005

Don't sweat it

I've been a long-time defender of sweatshops. Simply put, if a person decides, of their own free will, to work in a sweatshop, then who am I to say they can't? The alternatives to working in a sweatshop are often poverty and hunger. Of course, it would be great if sweatshops had higher wages and better conditions--but if we mandate these, the sweatshop will a) higher less people or b) move to another country.

The Christian Science Monitor has an opinion column detailing the results of a recent study on sweatshops in foreign countries:
The apparel industry, which is often accused of unsafe working conditions and poor wages, actually pays its foreign workers well enough for them to rise above the poverty in their countries. While more than half of the population in most of the countries we studied lived on less than $2 per day, in 90 percent of the countries, working a 10-hour day in the apparel industry would lift a worker above - often far above - that standard. For example, in Honduras, the site of the infamous Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal, the average apparel worker earns $13.10 per day, yet 44 percent of the country's population lives on less than $2 per day.

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