Most people say that sweatshops are bad and that since you buy Nike, Hitler will ass-rape you in hell. Well, as it turns out, these sweatshops are actually helping the people who work in them, and buying sweatshop made products helps them even more.
Just The Facts
- Sweatshops are factories that make consumer goods at extremely low prices to be exported.
- Sweatshops are low paying jobs with poor working conditions in economically depressed countries.
- Sweatshops employ children to do hard work with similarly low pay.
- Celebrities, Politicians, and hipsters hate sweatshops.
- Sweatshops are good for developing countries because they provide better wages and working conditions than the alternatives.
What are sweatshops?
Sweatshops are factories where people make cheap consumer goods for other nations to buy. These goods are exported to more rich nations like the United States where they are less expensive than domestic made alternatives. The reason why these products cost less money at the store is because labor and capital costs are significantly less.
A normal sweatshop employee works 10 hours a day, does menial, repetitive tasks, works in generally poor conditions and gets paid less than 5 dollars per day. By American standards, that is not even enough to default on a house you can't afford. Or eat at McDonalds. Basically the conditions are so poor and shitty that interest groups and activists everywhere have declared that we have to stop trading with nations that have sweatshops. That way we can convince them to abandon the sweatshops for more high-paying jobs and everyone can be happy again. Children are often employed in sweatshops because they will work for lower wages than adults, and they can do roughly the same amount of work. Companies like Nike, Adidas, WalMart, and Kathie Lee Gifford have all been known to use sweatshops to make their products less expensive so that you can spend less money at the store. In other words, children work harder than you ever thought possible just so you can be "just like Mike". . .or just like Kathy.
"Make my clothing. Eat later."
But wait....didn't we say that sweatshops were good?
Why Sweatshops are Good
Oh, there you go.
Alternatives for Sweatshop Workers
So if all of that above is true, then sweatshops should be bad right? Wrong. Sweatshops are actually better than the alternative, which could mean working in the fields. Working in the fields out in the hot sun for 12 hours a day and about half as much money as you would in a sweatshop doesn't exactly sound appealing.
And it turns out that working in a sweatshop (because of getting paid more money and working indoors rather than in the farms) puts you in a higher social bracket since you have more money, a higher social status, and actual lunch breaks.
Did we mention higher social status?
Sweatshops become a way to create even more wealth for yourself. Oh and those children that get laid off because countries start to get pressured internationally? One of the more common solutions is prostitution. Apparently, when 50,000 children were laid off because of America's policy, many resorted to becoming prostitutes. Better than the alternative right?
So how good are sweatshops?
Some economics professor Benjamin Powell claims that sweatshops "are also part for the process of development that ultimately raises living standards." His point is that in order to help third world countries get rid of sweatshops, we ought to buy more products made in them. Because then people get more money to reinvest into their own economy, creating more jobs, higher wages, better working conditions and increased growth. Powell goes as far to say that if there are more sweatshops in a nation, that nation is doing well, because it will lead to more economic development. He claims that the movement to end sweatshops by the international community actually does more harm than good. Like before, when people get laid off from sweatshops, because sweatshops are perceived as bad, people try to find other ways to make money. Because if they don't then they will...well....die. So many people either go back to the farms, pick up trash, or become prostitutes. And some become trash picking farm prostitutes. Either route is not a solid career choice. At least when you work in a sweatshop you don't have to worry about getting an STD, or getting bit by a cow.
Fighting Against Sweatshops
Here is the irony in all of this. People who fight against sweatshops and try to stop countries from using them are actually hurting sweatshop workers. By boycotting sweatshops or regulating against them, less money reaches the companies who pay sweatshop workers. And even though that may seem ok if their executive bonuses shrink, what really happens is they lay off workers. Sweatshop workers. Stated above, without sweatshops these workers would have to work in more menial, lower paying, more physically demanding and more dangerous jobs. And because the sweatshops are a major source of capital accumulation in the country, the whole country suffers, and grows at a slower rate. This means that it is even harder to get into the really nice sweatshop jobs than before, because there are less of them available.
And sweatshop workers aren't the only people who benefit from the glory that is cheap labor. Remember at the start we said that sweatshops make cheaper consumer goods? No? Well they do. That means you have more money in your pocket to buy other goods, which helps our economy here. You can even buy more things made in sweatshops, helping them even more!
So the next time a hipster tells you that they don't wear Nike shoes because they are made in sweatshops, step on their Chuck Taylor high tops (made by Nike) and tell them that they are forcing children to be prostitutes.