Re: Made in China

From: Steve Davies (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 10:46:12 MDT

I only just joined this list so my apologies for butting in so soon, but I
can't let an argument like this pass. I think both sides are missing
something. For those like Manny you must ask "What is the alternative for
sweatshop workers?" Not to do so is irresponsible, because one thing is
sure, the alternative isn't American or European style working conditions.
It most probably is something even worse such as starvation or sex work. On
the other hand you can't stop there. Having to chose between starvation and
near slavery is technically a choice but !! Moreover why is that the
"choice" on offer? This is where historical perspective (economic history)
come in useful. The fact that there is no shortage of replacement workers
tells us at once that there is a highly elastic supply of labour which has
driven the price of labour down to near subsistence levels. This in turn is
caused by mass displacement of labour out of agrculture by increased labour
productivity. Knowing this tells us in turn what is the best course of
policy, public and personal. It certainly isn't to boycott the products
these unfortunate people are making. It makes more sense to allow freer
movement of peoples, to encourage education of women, to scrap agricultural
protectionism by the US and EU, to encourage foreign investment into China
etc and, above all, to work at making the labour of such people more
productive so they are in a position to charge a higher price for their
labour. I'm not saying this is easy - the Kuznets curve is one of the most
difficult problems to handle historically. The record however is that such
problems last no more than 20 years IF you have uninterrupted development.
Steve Davies
-----Original Message-----
From: <>
To: <>
Date: 17 April 2001 17:16
Subject: Re: Made in China

You know, I sincerely hope that this compassionless guy who sees nothing
wrong with foriegn sweatshops doesn't in any way represent what most
extropians think. Talk about reason without emotion, geez. Some of us
think that human beings have these things called rights, not just the ones
in the first amendment, but also ones like liberty, the pursuit of
happiness, etc.

  I'm sure you think that's very backward and overly-romanticized of me to
say that. But I think people deserve to have a chance to do more than the
same tedium over and over all thier lives, always at the mercy of thier
employers if they say anything or disobey. I mean, isn't that why the west
abandoned serfdom and industrialized agriculture, so we *wouldn't* have to
work our asses off all the time just to survive?

    Grow a heart, for pete's sake.

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