At 04:02 PM 4/16/01 -0700, Neal Blaikie wrote:
> > > Exploiting third world labor to try to maintain our lifestyles is
> > > inherently bad for us.
> > Please explain why...
>It's called ethics. By exploiting individuals we deny them their liberty.
>As a self-proclaimed libertarian, I fail to see why you would have a
>problem grasping this.
I have wondered for quite a while, just how boycotting "exploited" people's
goods, say, Nike shoes, because they are made by "underpaid" children, is a
good thing for us to do.
Ditto "sweatshops". If the choice is between a twelve hour work shift six
days a week, and starvation, I would gladly work those hours. ( I tend to
do this anyway, but then, I am my own "exploiter"!)
Even though these children are "exploited" by the standards of America,
they may well be the difference between their familys' survival and slow
death by starvation. Unless the boycotters are willing to pay the now
unemployed kids' families the difference, they may be causing more
suffering than they are curing.
"Exploitation" of a country's citizens is the province of that country's
citizens and government. Unless you advocate that we invade, overthrow, and
magically raise the standards of living in all impoverished areas, anyway.
The Western world has enforced a blockade of Iraq for quite a few years
now, supposedly to "punish" Saddam Hussein for his invasion of Kuwait and
other antisocial acts. He is still comfortably in power, but millions of
innocent Iraqis have suffered and died because of the blockade.
If we invest in third world countries and help them develop an industrial
base, they will ultimately take care of their own internal problems in
their own way. This is the Libertarian way of handling these problems. US
citizens buying products made in third world countries does not in any way
affect the freedoms of the workers.
There is one glaring exception to this rule. If the country in question
(China?) uses SLAVE labor, then a boycott will not hurt the workers any
more than buying the goods would, since they will not see any profits
whatever from sales, unlike "exploited" workers. I consciously try not to
buy Chinese goods because of this, at least until I see good evidence that
there is no forced labor involved.
Underpaid workers have the options of forming unions, going on strike, or
just quitting, just like they do here. Slave workers have none of these
A useful thing would be a chart showing the labor practices of various
countries. If there is government coercion involved in labor, then I would
consider a boycott of that country's goods. If the workers are paid the
local going wage, let's help them by keeping their employment opportunities
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:46 MDT