Re: Made in China

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 09:32:02 MDT

Brian D Williams wrote:
> 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?

As a 15 year old boy, I worked for the laundry company owned by a
neighbor. Not a cushy job either, I worked night shift, for minimum
wage, loading and emptying huge dryers capable of holding 300 lbs of
laundry at a time. Hot work, no air conditioning. Not a fun job. Not
once did I feel 'exlpoited', outside of being miffed at not being
allowed to work more than 8 hours a day...

As for abuse, while the neighbor was a freind of my parents, and I went
to school with his kids, he was a real pain in the butt. Late in the
summer, I wanted to take a week off to vacation with the family. He said
no, so I quit on him.

My next employer owned a farmers market. The sign on his door said,"We'd
like to pay you what you are worth, but minimum wage laws make us pay
you more."

> >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"!)
> 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.

So in the two cases above of my first two jobs, was I 'exploited'? Was
it unethical for people to buy the product of my labor?

> >"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.

So if I bought produce from the same farmer's market that 'exploited'
me, does that make me unethical?

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