Re: Made in China

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 08:11:32 MDT

From: Chuck Kuecker <>

>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.

You find exploited child labor acceptable?

>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

For a pittance of a wage and a great deal of abuse? I doubt your
case is even remotely applicable.

>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.

The fact that they have little choice doesnt make it right. By
purchasing these goods you are ethically the same as the sweatshop
boss who mistreats these children.

>"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.

That would make me the jingoist Hal's accusing me of being. To buy
these goods is to make yourself the ethical partner of those who do
the exploiting.

>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.

Bad plan, back to the subject.

>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

When you buy the output of a sweatshop, you are not "investing" in
the third world.

>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.

Good for you, now make the connection, children who are forced to
work in sweatshops or starve are slaves.

>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 options.

Excuse me? Read the history books, those who've tried to form
unions have been killed in droves. Children forced to work in
sweatshops are slaves.

>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 open.

Travas has posted some excellent links.

Lets draw a distinction here, there is a BIG difference between
workers producing things in various countries at various wages and
the output of sweatshops, especially those who use child labor.


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