Sweatshops are Good for Everybody

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There are two sides to the issue of using cheaper labor in other countries. Some can argue that using cheap labor in developing countries constitutes exploitation. In some extreme cases, this is potentially true. For example, by making empty promises time after time, diamond cartel De Beers has repeatedly taken advantage of the lack of governmental regulations and communication in African nations. It could be argued that the developing countries house factories that not only use cheap (though market rate for the area) labor, but unfairly exploit employees. Examples of this exploitation could include using physical force to detain workers to make them product more product, or promising them a certain pay, but reneging come paycheck time. Some could also make a case for the prevalence of human rights violations, such as the recent case when the life of a Chinese factory worker mysteriously ended just days after an iPhone prototype went missing.

The aforementioned hypothetical or one-off scenarios, while serious, are far from being the norm. The truth is that by using cheaper wages in developing nations, we are not only improving our standard of living, but are improving the goodwill of the planet as a whole. For example, if a laborer in China is able to put an American out of work, it would, at first, be viewed negatively. However, due to the advanced research and development facilities the United States possesses, that worker could, potentially, work as a pharmaceutical researcher – an option unavailable to someone in a developing nation.

Many seem to forget that the impoverished today are, in many ways, better off than the rich of the nation were less than 100 years ago. Much of this is due to our globalized econom...

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... by groups that convince Americans that “sweatshops” are terrible – while unaware of the true picture (an important fact to consider is that many anti-sweatshop groups are heavily funded by organized labor groups).

The strongest argument against artificially high wages for foreign workers is, however, the distortion this would cause local economies. For example, after the public relations storm that caught Nike off guard, they immediately doubled the wages of many of their employees. In doing so, “sweatshop” work suddenly became more lucrative than jobs such as medical care, teaching, fire fighting, and engineering – due to a higher pay without needing a college education. After local officials voiced their concerns, Nike quietly reverted to the prior pay scale, though ripple effects of the temporary drought of educated professionals continued for several years.
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