Monday, April 21, 2008


You constantly hear pro free traders say that people in places like Indonesia and China wouldn't move to cities and work at sweatshops if they didn't present a better standard of living than agriculture. Which means that anything is OK if it's marginally better than subsistence or low yield agriculture, because the notion that there are limits to what people should have to endure, even in less developed countries, is totally tossed in this idea. Ideas of different working hours and conditions being unjust or just, those seem to not apply when the people involved are non-white people from the Third World. Because, you know, we're really for development, and if you who are condemning sweatshops weren't such an elitist you might be sympathetic to their plight. In which case anything would be justified as long as it helped development even an iota. It's not that they're advocating a juggling around of ideas of what's just and not but that they're advocating no restrictions on hours or conditions whatsoever that shows where their allegiances really are.

And about that elitism, which is initially what was 'funny', in a particular sense; who's more elitist, the person living in a first world country, particularly in the United States, who believes that people in less developed countries should have benefits and laws similar to what he or she has, or people in the same country, driving SUVs, with their big screen TVs, living in large homes, suggesting that people who slave away for twelve hours a day or more really want to do it?

I could add the glaring fact that these people who applaud ultra-long hours and living in bunk houses are consumers of the stuff that the workers they're talking about make. Without those workers being paid that little their lifestyle would become more expensive.

To some extent, the very fact that a person lives in the United States, regardless of other factors, condemns them, but people on the upper end of the income spectrum, involved with either business or with economics, who benefit from all of this and then glibly endorse near slave labor are a hell of a lot more hypocritical than most.

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