Libertarian Party: ‘Say yes to sweatshops’

Posted by Andrew Davis at LP.org. Reposted to IPR by Paulie.

"But, sweatshops are evil!" you say.

Tell that to the kids collecting plastic out of smoking piles of refuse in the landfills of Cambodia for $.05 a pound.

At least in the sweatshops you don’t get run over by garbage trucks.

In a nation where minimum wage is $6.55 (and more than 98 percent of all workers in the U.S. earn more), sweatshops have earned the same reputation as deathrow inmates.  However, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says there’s a…softer side…to sweatshops.

"I’m glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories," writes Kristof. "Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty."

Not everybody across the world has a neighborhood McDonald’s that’s hiring, and when your options are a factory paying $1.25/hr or digging around in a landfill, it doesn’t take a Harvard economist to figure out what makes better financial sense. 

"When I defend sweatshops, people always ask me: But would you want to work in a sweatshop? No, of course not. But I would want even less to pull a rickshaw. In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn’t the bottom," Kristof says.

Our hat goes off to you Mr. Kristof, for saying what everybody knows, but is too afraid to say.

Please read the rest of Kristof’s article here.

(h/t, Greg Mankiw)

125 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: ‘Say yes to sweatshops’

  1. Trent Hill

    While I agree with the general idea of the article, they dont make the point forcefully enough. It isnt jsut THIS particular situation that makes sweatshops better. Sweatshops are basically universally better. People line up for jobs at sweatshops because they are overwhelmingly better jobs with better conditions (or equal conditions) and more pay.
    No one MAKES them goto these jobs, they sign up for them because they’re better.

  2. Jeremy Young

    What a disgusting point of view. “It’s fine to abuse foreign nationals because we’re just barely less abusive than some other people.” Great. LP members ought to be really upset about having this posted in their name.

  3. Steven Druckenmiller

    Mr. Young, when you say “we’re barely less abusive”…who is the “we” in that sentence?

    Anywho, this argument is not new. I believe that Stossel wrote a defense of sweatshops a while ago and it was a lesson we learned in international economics.

  4. Trent Hill

    Jeremy,

    Disgusting how? Increasing the living standards, wages, and opportunities available to foreigners is a BAD thing? Since when?

    And how is it AB– USE? These people wait in long lines and fill out applications to have these jobs because they pay FAR better.

  5. Steven R Linnabary

    Disgusting how? Increasing the living standards, wages, and opportunities available to foreigners is a BAD thing? Since when?

    I have had this conversation many times. What it always comes down to is the romantic notion that brown people should be happy toiling in the fields.

    When you attempt to point out the inherent racism of the notion, YOU are accused of racism.

    PEACE

  6. Henry

    I am a recently converted libertarian (much due to stossel) and i must agree, jeremy your very naive in the way you look at the world. Nobody forces people to work there. If conditions in a “sweat shop” were worse than the industrys which have served their people for generations than NOBODY would work there. Same reason why chinese work in factories. In our view, miserable working conditions, in their view, much better than farming in the countryside.

  7. Trent Hill

    For the record, Jeremy, it isnt that I WANT people to work in such deplorable conditions–but there alternatives are even worse. I’d be very happy if paying Indians as much as Americans were a real-world possibility, but that would negate the purpose of out-sourcing the labor, wouldnt it?

  8. Jeremy Young

    Steven, the “we” is certain American corporations who employ overseas labor at rates that they would not countenance back home.

    Trent, what it comes down to is that if American corporations are going to get involved in foreign economies at all, they have an obligation to treat foreigners as well as they treat Americans. Anything less is abuse; it doesn’t matter what the alternative is for the foreigners. If the corporations can’t afford to do that, fine, but they shouldn’t employ foreign labor if they can’t pay that labor what they’d pay in the United States.

    This is not an economic position, but a moral position. Economically, it’s probably unfeasable at the present — and as such, we shouldn’t engage in free trade until we can ensure that American corporations will live up to moral standards overseas.

  9. paulie cannoli Post author

    Jeremy, when you say American corporations, what is it that you think compels these corporations to remain headquartered in the United States?

  10. Trent Hill

    “Trent, what it comes down to is that if American corporations are going to get involved in foreign economies at all, they have an obligation to treat foreigners as well as they treat Americans”

    So you want even tomato pickers and seamstresses to be paid $8 an hour,eh? And then you’re going to bitch when your clothing prices skyrocket from $20 t-shirts to $80 t-shirts. It just is not economically POSSIBLE Jeremy. Here are the two possibilities Jeremy. Mine and yours.

    Mine: An American business pays Hajib $2/hour, about 4x what he would make at a similar job in Pakistan. He makes far more money, and therefore has more social and economic mobility.

    Yours: The American business is barred from paying below $8 an hour, so he doesnt bother to export the job–because he can probably now pay an American just as much and make more money (because he doesnt pay for shipping, etc). Now Hajib has to work in the factory made by a Pakistani business that pays him only 50 cents an hour for 8 hours. At $4 a loaf, Hajib can pay for only 1 loaf of bread after a whole days work. Under the American job, he could’ve bought 4 loaves.

    My position is the moral, AND economically feasible, one.

  11. Steven Druckenmiller

    Mr. Hill, to jump off of your point, there are a whole mess of other hidden costs by forcing the employer to remain in America:

    1. Inefficient allocation of resources to the 8-per-hour T-Shirt manufacturer in America, bogging down resources that could have gone to:
    2. The bogged down resources are not reinvested in the community, technology, more labor, additional capital or increased wages and
    3. The most oblique cost of all is that the child of that factory worker will continue to think that factory work is a good idea rather than see he needs an education to get ahead in Western Society.

  12. Jeremy Young

    Paulie, very little. Essentially the size of the American consumer market, which is currently indispensable to any multinational corporation, but which probably won’t remain that way for long.

    Trent, yours sounds great, but you’ve misstated mine. My proposal is: place strict minimum limits on what American multinational corporations can pay foreign workers, and provide massive foreign aid through a strengthened and redesigned UN, paid for through sharp tax increases in the United States. Foreign workers shouldn’t have to work for equality of opportunity; that equality should be given to them, and then they should be allowed to work from the same starting place as everyone else, and may the hardest worker win. That’s the moral position.

  13. Prospective Advertiser

    The minimum wage is racist. It interferes with the economic freedom to work for a living. Like all wage and price controls, it is designed to protect the established order, especially those who already have jobs. Its victims are those who are least able to gain education and job skills. The higher the minimum wage the more difficult it is for a young worker, especially from an impoverished background, to get a job.

    Say yes to freedom of choice. Given the alternative of suffering deprivation and hardship, most people are quite eager to work, to better themselves, to cooperate in the market, to find a market clearing price for, e.g., their own labor.

    Government has no proper role in compelling individuals with regard to payment for services. The minimum wage has many alarming consequences, and I’m hard pressed to suppose that they are unintended, since they are very well known.

    The minimum wage generates unemployed persons, increases the amount of crime, drives the impoverished into activities for profit such as prostitution and drug sales, limits educational opportunities for those who have to work to pay for education, and is generally coercive. It is very wrong.

    The fact is, I don’t regard sweat shop wages for foreigners as something I wouldn’t countenance here. I believe that individuals should be free to choose. They should be free to choose whether or not to bargain collectively, whether or not to work in dangerous jobs, whether or not to work for a given offer of pay.

    The government cannot protect people from their own choices. It tries to do so, and in trying, sets up an authoritarian system with disastrous consequences.

  14. Carol

    If you are not convinced that more capitalism is the answer to poverty then I suggest you read Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus.

    For those here who would like to help the hard-working but utterly impoverished of the world get themselves out of gut-wrenching poverty via means other than aggressive soul-sucking governmental coercion may I suggest you visit http://www.kiva.org and help finance a future primary capitalist. You’ll even be re-paid for your effort — or you can recycle your loan to another entrepreneur….

    While there, please consider joining the the Kiva Capitalists lending team! 🙂

  15. paulie cannoli Post author

    My proposal is: place strict minimum limits on what American multinational corporations can pay foreign workers, and provide massive foreign aid through a strengthened and redesigned UN, paid for through sharp tax increases in the United States.

    So then American multinational corporations will become foreign multinational corporations, and you will get massive unemployment in the US. Given the general lack of economic education, the US government might then retaliate with protective tariffs, further worsening the problem. Are you sure that’s what you want?

  16. Steven Druckenmiller

    Mr. Young just wants my money to be transferred to foreign countries as a giant redistribution program.

    Sorry, guy, but that plan can suck it.

  17. paulie cannoli Post author

    I think Jeremy Young’s plan is well-intentioned, but I think it would not work well at all in practice.

    American companies would move their headquarters overseas, and Americans would lose jobs.

    The US government would impose tariffs to punish foreign companies and to try to prevent American companies from leaving, and other countries would retaliate with tariffs against anything that is still made in the US.

    The US would have massive unemployment, and the government would create massive public works programs, further crippling whatever limited private enterprise remained with such high taxes that very few would be able to stay in business.

    Martial law is likely to be imposed to control the armies of unemployed from looting.

    Banks would probably collapse and be nationalized, and the dollar is likely to collapse as well.

    What happens then? Well, the people will be angry, and the government will seek to harness their anger so as to stay in power – either against internal enemies, external enemies, or both. Internal enemies might include Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Asians, homosexuals, drug users, or some other scapegoat group, or perhaps those who are relatively well-off compared to the people who are starving, as happened in Russia.

    External enemies will not be hard to find: countries on the other side of the trade wars, neighboring nations, nations which are the origin of illegal drugs and terrorism, nations which have natural resources – the list is long.

    The government would try to create a quick fix for the depression by ramping up the munitions factories, and solve the unemployment problem by expanding the military and by employing civilians in the weapons factories.

    The only end result of this could be a world war.
    If we are lucky, it wouldn’t end worse than the last couple of world wars, but I don’t think we would be so lucky.

    All this, stemming from the best of sincere humanitarian intentions.

  18. Trent Hill

    “My proposal is: place strict minimum limits on what American multinational corporations can pay foreign workers”

    -Stupid. This will only put people out of work or force them to work in their native businesses,which pay far less.

    “and provide massive foreign aid through a strengthened and redesigned UN, paid for through sharp tax increases in the United States.”

    Ridiculous. This will not help foreign workers and it will harm American workers. You obviously know nothing of basic economics.

    “Foreign workers shouldn’t have to work for equality of opportunity; that equality should be given to them, and then they should be allowed to work from the same starting place as everyone else, and may the hardest worker win. That’s the moral position.”

    The hardest worker already does win–he gets a job (or the best job available). Your proposal limits the number of workers and would create widespread unemployment because American companies would simply displace all of their factories overseas while Americans rapidly lose jobs, because the difference between the wages would be paid for by American tax money. So inaddition to losing their jobs, the Americans will be taxed to death (1939 anyone?).
    In the process of trying to achieve quality, Jeremy, you’re going to make everyone equally poor, destroy the middle and upper classes while creating a broad lower class (See Cuba or North Korea).

    Socialism doesn’t work. Please read FA Hayek.

  19. Jere Shocly**+ **

    Thank you ^#13 and 19 ! You Sirs are CORRECT .

    The founders set up the correct form of funding the federal gov’t it included NO personnel income tax. They also had NO wage and price controls !

  20. Libertarian Joseph

    Paulie,

    you know, what you said in such a scenario is exactly what’s going on right now.

    companies closing down, while others are moving overseas

    “I’ll biggest export is our jobs”

    massive unemployment, yup

    plans for massive public works projects, yup

    increased tariffs? likely

    nationalizing banks? they’re talking about it

    it’s getting ugly out there

  21. Libertarian Joseph

    On a comcast cable interview, a democratic congressman, from NJ, just said, and I paraphrase: “since the private sector has failed, it’s the right time to create hundreds of thousands of jobs with public works projects. it’s time for the government to step in and fix the economy”

    ugh. what a joke

  22. Trent Hill

    Even if you WERE a construction worker you wouldn’t benefit. You would only benefit if you were a construction company OWNER who was making deals with the government.

  23. Catholic Trotskyist

    Yes, I am happy that the economy will be restored through socialism, now that Our Lord President Barack H. Obama II has been successfully elected and inaugurated. At least one Libertarian, Steve Kubby, wrote a gracious statement, but probably Joseph and Trent and Stephen Linabary and Gere and Prospective Advertiser and Steven Druckenmiller are all quaking and shaking in fright, and that’s why their going after each other now. It is disappointing that Obama did not call the Founding Fathers war criminal terrorists like he was taught to by Jeremiah Wright, but when the New World Order arrives he will be reeducated on this point. Yes. Amen.

  24. Brian Miller

    Jesus fucking Christ.

    I don’t know what’s worse — applauding sweatshops, or citing that idiot Nicholas Kristof.

    Sweatshops are horrible, exploitative places. Saying that they’re wonderful because they’re better than the alternative is like insisting that life in prison for Jews in Germany isn’t so bad because it’s preferable to the Dachau death camp.

    What the LP SHOULD be doing is decrying conditions in sweatshops, while pointing out that individual action — refusing to buy exploitatively produced goods — is preferable to government action and would have a more immediate impact.

    Instead, it’s taking the conservative Republican line. Again. What a surprise.

  25. Steven R Linnabary

    I dunno, Brian. My family moved to a Jewish neighborhood when I was in my early teens. I am sure that my friends at that time would have loved to know their Grandparents.

    And ALL jobs are exploitative. Even mine. But it beats living off my kids. And at my age, I’m not going to go back to school and get another degree. I’d just find another level of being exploited. Besides, I hope to retire in the next ten years.

    I have nothing against YOU “taking individual action” and educating people about “exploitative working conditions” and urging boycotts, etc. But I’ve got better things to do with my time than standing in front of WalMart with a sign.

    I would hardly consider myself to be a “conservative republican”, let alone Nicholas Kristoff. Have you ever read his other writings?

    Kristoff is absolutely correct that while some things are bad, the alternative can be worse.

    PEACE

  26. Trent Hill

    “Sweatshops are horrible, exploitative places.”

    Exploitative how? My company pays 6 indian workers 4 times what they’d get in the same field of work. Because of that, they’re able to keep food on the table and im able to actually produce the product I want to produce.

  27. Ross Levin

    This IS a disgusting point of view. It ignores the human side of things and favors a few dollars’ profit over the life of a person.

    However, I’m not sure that government is the answer in this situation. Labor standards might actually impede progress, as Kristof points out. And as someone here in the comments pointed out, one of the most successful tools for alleviating poverty has been microloans, a private venture.

    What’s surely needed is more companies like No Sweat Apparel, who sells union-made clothing from places where sweatshops run rampant (along with the US and Canada). They sent in this letter to the NY Times in response to Kristof:

    Nicholas D. Kristof is absolutely right. Sweatshops are much better than a sharp stick in the eye. But when jobs aren’t a pathway out of poverty, they create an asymmetric, unsustainable global economy of producer countries and consumer countries that can stand on its head only so long.

    In fact, the sweatshop workers of China were the canary in the coal mine, the starting point in a vicious circle that has impoverished us all.

    A managerial ethos that tolerates the exploitation of workers in sweatshops won’t hesitate to exploit consumers with deceptive mortgages and melamine-tainted milk and, finally, bilk investors with bogus “securities.”

    The neoliberal daydream of sweatshops leading inevitably to a prosperous future has brought us to our current global nightmare. It’s time to wake up. An injury to one is truly an injury to all.

    Adam Neiman
    Boston, Jan.

    15, 2009

    The writer is the founder and chief executive of No Sweat Apparel, producer of union-made clothing and sneakers in the United States, Canada and the developing world.

  28. Ross Levin

    I forgot to add that social pressure against companies that use sweatshop labor is needed. Other than that, I’m not sure what to do. It’s certainly within the power of the companies using sweatshops to raise the workers’ wages and improve conditions.

    I try to buy fair trade as much as possible because I hate to think that my goods are causing suffering.

  29. Ross Levin

    Brian and Steven – while on may be preferable to another, that doesn’t justify either.

    And individual action doesn’t mean protesting. It could mean buying fair trade or simply giving up some excessive purchases.

    And all I know of Kristof is his writing in the NY Times, but from that he’s a hero of mine. He is usually an adamant champion of human rights and points out stories that are missing from the mainstream media, other than his coverage and other limited coverage.

  30. Trent Hill

    “This IS a disgusting point of view. It ignores the human side of things and favors a few dollars’ profit over the life of a person.”

    Disgusting how? It in NO WAY ignores the human side of things. Raising minimum wages in those countries or demanding that American companies raise prices will lead to LESS job for those foreign workers, whereas “sweatshops” lead to more more, higher pay, and better conditions than the alternative. It does NOT ignore the human side–it emphasizes it.
    You people want to “feel good” about buying products that wont “cause suffering”–but you dont use your brain. These sweatshops provide upward mobility to foreign workers, cheaper prices to Americans, and higher profit margins for companies–it is mutually beneficial to EVERYONE involved.

    “I try to buy fair trade as much as possible because I hate to think that my goods are causing suffering.”

    Causing suffering how? If you DONT buy those goods (that you say cause suffering), then the American company will have to close, Americans and foreigners will lose their jobs, the foriegners will have to take lower paying jobs and THAT will cause them suffering.

    You want to help them? Buy free trade products.

  31. Ross Levin

    I don’t understand how my buying fair trade will cause people to lose jobs.

    What I’m saying is that sweatshops don’t need to have terrible conditions and wages. If a company like Nike made $100 profit instead of $105 profit (numbers pulled out of my ass), that doesn’t hurt them that much. And that $5 could go to the workers who put the shoe and the packaging together.

  32. Trent Hill

    “I don’t understand how my buying fair trade will cause people to lose jobs.”

    If you (and others) buy only “fair trade” products, then those foreigners who work in “sweatshops” (American companies which pay at least 1.5x better than the other companies in the are) will lose their jobs.

  33. Ross Levin

    That’s not necessarily true. Some foreigners move from sweatshops or other not fair trade jobs into fair trade jobs. And while some sweatshop workers may move back to the dump, there are dump workers moving into conditions better than a sweatshop. Isn’t that an overall gain?

    Plus, American-made goods are fair trade, if that’s what you’re saying with the stuff in parentheses.

  34. Trent Hill

    “What I’m saying is that sweatshops don’t need to have terrible conditions and wages. If a company like Nike made $100 profit instead of $105 profit (numbers pulled out of my ass), that doesn’t hurt them that much. And that $5 could go to the workers who put the shoe and the packaging together.”

    By this logic, I ought to be paid 35$ an hour because my boss makes big profits. The man who takes most of the risk, starts the business, or works more (or harder, or with more talent) earns the bulk of the money. You are advocating “voluntary” socialism Ross.
    Frankly, though, I’v no REAL objection to your actions (suggesting companies pay more and just cut into their profit margins/buying fair trade) because they don’t involve government action. But–your actions do not correspond with your goals. Your actions lead to upward mobility for less foreigners, more unemployment in foreign countries, and higher prices here in the US.

  35. Trent Hill

    “That’s not necessarily true. Some foreigners move from sweatshops or other not fair trade jobs into fair trade jobs.”

    A far smaller amount will move to “fair trade” jobs. While the “sweatshop” could afford to employ 20 chinese people, the “fair trade” place can only afford to employ 5 (or maybe 10, with higher prices here at home). Reproduce this one a massive scale and you’ve put tens of thousands out of jobs and doubled prices of shoes, shirts, etc here in the US (which will only hurt the poor)

  36. Trent Hill

    “Isn’t that an overall gain?”

    No. More people will be out of jobs, more people will have lower paying jobs, there will be higher prices here in the US

    But—a small minority of those sweatshop workers will get “fair trade” jobs.

    Is that a net gain?

    Seriously Ross–some level of economic knowledge would be great.

  37. Ross Levin

    Do sweatshops necessarily result in “upward mobility?” Sometimes they are just another poverty trap.

    No, that is not the same logic. I’m saying skim a bit off the top of a company like Nike’s obscene profits, and give it to the workers. Call it what you will, but I call it basic human decency. In 2008, Nike’s CEO got a salary of $7.6 million. To me, it isn’t an ideological matter – I really doubt he would miss $100,000 of that as much as the people making shoes for him are missing that money.

  38. Ross Levin

    I’d be happy to take up this discussion in five to ten years after I’ve learned a bit about economics. I’m still happy to have it now.

    How do you know more people will be out of jobs? Maybe the fair trade company hires more people than the sweatshop – at this point it’s just speculation.

  39. Trent Hill

    “Do sweatshops necessarily result in “upward mobility?” Sometimes they are just another poverty trap.”

    Explain how. Sweatshops neccesarily pay more money than the competitors in that country. This is why foreign workers LINE UP to work there. Higher wages=upward mobility.

  40. Trent Hill

    “No, that is not the same logic. I’m saying skim a bit off the top of a company like Nike’s obscene profits, and give it to the workers. Call it what you will, but I call it basic human decency. In 2008, Nike’s CEO got a salary of $7.6 million. To me, it isn’t an ideological matter – I really doubt he would miss $100,000 of that as much as the people making shoes for him are missing that money.”

    So long as you arent advocating government intervention–great.

  41. Trent Hill

    “How do you know more people will be out of jobs? Maybe the fair trade company hires more people than the sweatshop – at this point it’s just speculation.”

    No it isnt. The Fair Trade standards require higher wages, and therefore–less actual employees.

  42. Vindex

    Let’s not forget if sweatshop workers started making $5 and $6 an hour, you’d see massive spikes in the prices of goods that put other people who don’t work at thrift-shops at a horrible disadvantage. The buying power of $1/hr in Cambodia is sure a helluva lot bigger than $5.15/hr in America.

  43. Jeremy Young

    It’s not a matter of “read some economics.” There are plenty of economists who disagree with you. However, I will readily concede that you are better-read than I on this subject.

    I actually have been reading some Hayek, but not anything directly relevant to this subject. It’s on my to-do list to read more.

  44. Zeleni

    I buy shirts from American Apparel for about $15-$20 in the store. I’ve purchased them in bulk screenprinted by a union shop for $8 a piece.

    American Apparel operates in Los Angeles and pays their workers about $12.50, plus health insurance, an on-site medical clinic, “parking, subsidized public transport, subsidized lunches, free onsite massages, a bike lending program, a program of paid days off, ESL classes and much more.”

    I don’t have the figures on hand for No Sweat, but their clothes and shoes are affordable.

    It doesn’t have to cost $80 to buy a shirt printed by someone getting decent wages, even by American standards. If you’re paying a worker in a developing country $5/hr, there’s no need for it to cost a ridiculous amount. Sure, you won’t be able to get $3 shirts, but I think that’s way too low anyway.

  45. Ross Levin

    Exactly, Zeleni. And there’s no reason why fair trade companies hire less people.

    Trent, even if sweatshops provide very limited upward mobility (maybe moving from the dump or just not working in the dump anymore), that doesn’t mean they are a good thing. They still have terrible working conditions and wages that are barely enough to live on, if they are enough to live on at all.

  46. Steven Druckenmiller

    Some people here think that “good” exists in the ether, as some sort of Platonic Form to be plucked from the clouds and applied or not applied to certain concepts or institutions.

    This is just not so. The reason sweatshops are good is because the alternatives are bad. You may not like the conditions of these factories, but good as a measure is to be compared to other things. Relative to working in a dump, sweatshops are good. Relative to working in an American office, sweatshops are bad. But, TANSTAAFL, folks…not everyone can have a pony.

  47. Steven Druckenmiller

    if they are enough to live on at all.

    A meaningless phrase. Of course the wages are enough to live on: the person is not dying while working there. This isn’t a concentration camp.

    They may not be living well or living on American standards, but they are living…they survive, right?

    A “living wage” or “wages to live on” is so meaningless. What does that mean, Mr. Levin? What are your standards for that?

  48. Trent Hill

    “I actually have been reading some Hayek, but not anything directly relevant to this subject. It’s on my to-do list to read more.”

    Good. Keep up the reading. Hayek, Mises, even the Chicago school and Objectivist-school guys have good things to say on the subject. Public-choicers,too. Only the Keynesians really think sweatshops should be shut down.

  49. Trent Hill

    “Trent, even if sweatshops provide very limited upward mobility (maybe moving from the dump or just not working in the dump anymore), that doesn’t mean they are a good thing. They still have terrible working conditions and wages that are barely enough to live on, if they are enough to live on at all.”

    And the alternative is…?

    A native workplace which pays half or one-fourth of the wages, has worse working conditions, no days off, etc.

    Not everyone can have ponies and butterflies–but capitalism allows everyone to eat who wants to.

    Ross, let me apply your same logic to America. Some people say $6/hour isnt a living wage and that everyone ought to be paid at least $10/hour. Is this feasible? Not in the slightest. Nor would it fix the problem. The standard of living and amount of wealth owned by the average human has risen dramatically since 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago. It will continue to, thanks to the free market.

    Put it in historical perspective, Americans use to be paid $2 an hour to sew for 10 hours a day too Ross. Real wages rose, though, continue to rise today, and will continue to rise into the forseeable future.

  50. Trent Hill

    “A “living wage” or “wages to live on” is so meaningless. What does that mean, Mr. Levin? What are your standards for that?”

    I am not yet able to own a house, buy a car, or ride ponies into the sunshine–do I not have a living wage?

  51. Ross Levin

    Steven – to think that sweatshops are the only alternative to bad is wrong.

    And I don’t know enough about living standards, etc. in third world countries to judge what a living wage is. But I do know that sweatshop workers are suffering (even if most of them are surviving, and even if they have low life expectancies) and fair trade workers get better pay and better conditions.

  52. Ross Levin

    From what I read (and yes, Trent, I’m no economic expert), wages for the average worker have pretty much stood still over the past few decades if you take inflation into account.

    And the alternative is fair trade. How can we afford that? Like I said earlier, cut profits.

  53. Trent Hill

    “Steven – to think that sweatshops are the only alternative to bad is wrong.”

    The only workable, realistic alternative. I suppose there are other alternatives where we can say, “CEOs ought to send every worker a pony” but that isnt how it works. You have already said that you dont endorse government action–and this is an admittance that governments do not, cannot, control wages. So wages must rise naturally–since they have done so consistently over the past couple of decades or centuries.

    “But I do know that sweatshop workers are suffering”

    Less so than those who cannot get jobs in sweatshops.

    Here is my question Ross. Why aren’t you aiming your vitriol at native Chinese/Indian/Pakistani businesses? They pay less than 1/4th (usually) or 1/2 of the wages paid by sweatshops, but you don’t go after them, why?

    The fact is this–your “solution” is not economically viable, nor would it help sweatshop workers if it was viable.

  54. Trent Hill

    “And the alternative is fair trade. How can we afford that? Like I said earlier, cut profits.”

    There’s a good little socialist. Do you want me to make any profit? what about my boss? We both outsource work to India/Pakistan at a rate that is about 4 times the average rate. Our workers like us, are fiercely loyal, and are able to live in “luxury” compared to their neighbors.
    AND, my boss still makes very good money. Why? Because he is taking all of the risk, the company was his idea to begin with, etc.
    Everyone is benefitting,Ross, but you want to take the jobs away from these Indian workers to give them to American workers? Sounds very nativist to me.

  55. Trent Hill

    “And the alternative is fair trade. How can we afford that? Like I said earlier, cut profits.”

    Picking lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and the other menial labor associated with making a salad would need to be paid at least $6/hour,right? How much do you think your salad would cost,Ross?
    Now apply this to every industry. Salads, t-shirts, socks, farming, etc. Prices will skyrocket, the economy will drop, etc.

    Besides…you DO realize that those “fair trade” workers who are getting paid $6/hour will now be contending with overall higher prices because of that right? They will have gained nothing. In the end, their purchasing power will be roughly the same (or possibly much less) and the major companies (Mcdonalds, Wendys, Walmart) will all come crumbling down–and the economy with them.

  56. Ross Levin

    If you and your boss are paying those workers farily, I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, if what you’re saying is true (that they live in relative luxury) then that’s a confirmation of what I’m saying.

    Fair trade doesn’t only have to do with wages. It is also about working conditions.

    I’m not going after any company in particular. I just used Nike as an example because they price their products so much higher than the cost of production.

  57. Trent Hill

    “From what I read (and yes, Trent, I’m no economic expert), wages for the average worker have pretty much stood still over the past few decades if you take inflation into account.”

    HAHAHAHHAAHHAHAAHA.
    In 1950, very few houses own TVS. Now the household average is 2.73.
    In 1950, you could not buy a car unless you were at least upper-middle class. Now even the “lower class” has at least one in the family.
    In 1950, going out to eat was a rare thing. Most middle class families eat out once a week now.

    This is becasue prices have fallen, which means purchasing power (real wages) rose.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/reisman/reisman14.html

  58. Trent Hill

    “If you and your boss are paying those workers farily, I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, if what you’re saying is true (that they live in relative luxury) then that’s a confirmation of what I’m saying.”

    Im not going to say numbers, but we pay them at least double what they’d get paid in India for the same job. This allows them to own houses, have computers and internet access, etc. They work in their own houses.
    And no, its a confirmation of what im saying. The wage rate is not some minimum wage standard, it is still what we would consider “impoverished”.

  59. Ross Levin

    Our standards obviously can’t be applied to developing nations.

    I wasn’t arguing for a minimum wage. I was saying that more companies should be doing what (you say) your company does.

    I wasn’t talking about the 1950s. I was talking about the 1970s on, or about there.

  60. Trent Hill

    Ross,

    The timeline doesnt matter. Everytihng is cheaper than in the 70s, 80s, or even 90s, across the board with few exceptions.

  61. Steven Druckenmiller

    Companies respond to market pressures. However, I feel no moral pressure to purchase “fair trade” products, primarily because they are usually more expensive and end up being junk half the time. Also, I don’t trust that symbol; how do I know what is being done with the surcharge?

  62. Trent Hill

    “I wasn’t arguing for a minimum wage. I was saying that more companies should be doing what (you say) your company does.”

    This is precisely the point. Almost ALL “sweatshops” pay 2x, 3x, or 4x the wages of the typical worker in a similar industry in that country. This is how they attract the hardest, most talented, easiest going, workers.

  63. Steven Druckenmiller

    Mr. Levin, you said:

    And I don’t know enough about living standards, etc. in third world countries to judge what a living wage is.

    After you said:

    They [sweatshops] still have terrible working conditions and wages that are barely enough to live on, if they are enough to live on at all.

    Color me confused.

    Anyway, like I said, “living wage” is silliness. If you’re alive and working, you have a living wage. You might not have an adequate wage to achieve the standard of living preferred by Ivory Tower types or airheads, but you’re alive.

  64. Ross Levin

    I don’t know enough to precisely judge what a living wage is, but I know enough to see that people are suffering.

    Trent – I’m saying that 2x or 3x isn’t enough. We shouldn’t be satisfied with that.

  65. Trent Hill

    “Trent – I’m saying that 2x or 3x isn’t enough. We shouldn’t be satisfied with that.”

    But you just said that it was enough when I relayed a PERSONAL story from the business I work for.

  66. Trent Hill

    “I don’t know enough to precisely judge what a living wage is, but I know enough to see that people are suffering.”

    People suffer under wages that are much higher. 6/hour. 9/hour. 12/hour. How much is enough?

  67. Michael Seebeck

    Gee, nobody mentioned the hidden tax increases of paying a “livable wage” or increasing the minimum wage?

    🙂

  68. Zeleni

    For the most part, we shouldn’t be buying our salads from overworked labor overseas anyway. When in season, I buy from the local farmer’s market. The workers are paid well and my salads prices haven’t starved me to death. Of course, produce isn’t as available in the winter, so I eat canned and fair trade produce as much as I can. My stomach and pocketbook aren’t suffering.

    Your scare tactics of skyrocketing prices doesn’t hold any water.

  69. Steven Druckenmiller

    Zeleni – neither do your guilt trips that imply that there are workers chained to the wall with TEH EVIL CAPITALISTS whipping them.

    For the most part, we shouldn’t be buying our salads from overworked labor overseas anyway.

    Shouldn’t? On what moral and ethical basis? So far, Mr. Hill is at least willing to say that he’s providing jobs where there were none previously by patronizing businesses that run so-called “sweatshops”; the only thing I’ve seen from the hipster crowd is mewling that the wage “isn’t enough”…enough for what?

    Of course, it does impress your liberal friends when you talk about the fat-cat capitalists eating caviar while the little guy drips his blood into the shoe machine…thanks Upton Sinclair.

  70. Trent Hill

    “Your scare tactics of skyrocketing prices doesn’t hold any water.”

    I dont need to “scare” you with skyrocketing prices. A simple look backwards in history can demonstrate my point. Free trade has made everything far cheaper.

  71. Steven Druckenmiller

    FWIW, Mr. Hill, if people want to voluntarily pressure Nike to give up profits to increase wages, or they want to shop at their local hipster farmer’s markets so they can pimp what good little environmentalists they are, more power to them.

    The problem, of course, is that too many people coming that particular point of view want to develop their preferences into the rule of law, which is unacceptable.

  72. Trent Hill

    Ross, Zeleni, and Jacob

    I would like all of you to consider this.

    Imagine I ran a charity for…battered women…and stood outside holding a bucket for donations to be placed in. Mr. Weatherstone, who is worth approximately $100,000/year, walks by and drops $200 in the bucket. I, in a fit of moral outrage, shout at him “Is this all you can afford? Dig deep!”

    This is outrageous and stupid behavior, right?

    Now lets set aside the VAST amount of sweatshops who pays 2 times the going rate, or more, which I contend is the vast majority of those sweatshops–because American businessmen are generous and want to have the absolutely best workers in the area.
    Assume, instead, that I am a greedy capitalist. The going rate in India is 43 cents an hour. I pay 50 cents an hour. My conditions are not pleasant, but slightly more pleasant than the local Indian businesses.

    Before you criticize this “greedy capitalist” and tell him to cut into his profit margins and such–you ought to recognize a few things. First, he has created new jobs and therefor–new opportunities for prosperity. Secondly, his jobs are higher paying.

    The difference between the Bucket/Walmart scenario and the Greedy Capitalist scenario is this: The Bucket/Walmart scenario only benefits battered women (excluding existential feelings and such), whereas the Greedy Capitalist scenario benefits the Indians (who replace the battered women as repressed members of society), the greedy capitalist, and consumers here in America.

  73. Trent Hill

    “FWIW, Mr. Hill, if people want to voluntarily pressure Nike to give up profits to increase wages, or they want to shop at their local hipster farmer’s markets so they can pimp what good little environmentalists they are, more power to them.”

    I agree completely.
    Although I do find the indignant criticisms of Nike executives to be connected to an anti-capitalistic mentality–so long as it remains a mentality and not a law–I dont care.

  74. NMilluminati

    It is unpatriotic to farm American work to another country for cheap labor. It cuts our throat, as evidenced by our current economic mess. If these companies expect us to buy their crappy products, they need to do something for our society, like provide jobs. All they are is a bunch of vampires if they do not.

  75. Trent Hill

    NMilluminati,

    That is literally the most economic illiterate statement I’ve ever read.

  76. Trent Hill

    Ross isnt braindead, he’s put up the staunchest defense of progressive-views on sweatshops that I’ve thus far seeen–and is advocating no government intervention. This, at least, is something a libertarian can agree with, even if it IS coupled with an anti-capitalist mentality.

  77. Prospective Advertiser

    “It is unpatriotic to farm American work to another country for cheap labor.”

    Patriotism is an idiotic concept, a refuge for scoundrels and fools.

    It is sensible to buy products with similar quality and a lower price. People choose to economize. That’s as true of people hiring labor as it is of people buying shoes.

    Being a socialist, NMIlluminati wants companies to do something for American society, such as provide jobs, pay taxes, lobby Congress, may be do some corrupt allocation of contracts to benefit someone in political power. Of course, Americans want to make it difficult for companies to hire them by setting very high wage rates, failing to learn anything in school, and imposing very high taxes and regulatory idiocy on employers. Or, at least Americans in government want to do those things.

    Most Americans individually, I suspect, based on the economic prosperity of companies like Wal-Mart that import great gobs of stuff from foreign countries, want low cost goods with some reasonable assurance of quality (the Wal-Mart guarantee, for example). Shopping for low cost goods is a choice, not an act of treason.

    Of course, authoritarians always want protectionism.

  78. NMilluminati

    You can argue politics all you want, but the bottom line is that none of it matters. The only real politics is what we choose to do with our money. If you wish to support companies that do nothing for us but sell cheap crap, I consider that a treason against our society. Remember, in the end, you are all just slaves to the corporate entities anyway. Does it matter what name is on the office door?

    The real meaning of life is like this… We are born and bred to enter a society where we are conditioned to spend a life consuming and buying more crap. Actually doing truly creative things, or making a meaningful impact is frowned upon and discouraged, as it upsets the order established by the organizations we have created. There is no profit in this. These organizations have become self sustaining entities, if you will, sending out memes, and egregores to sustain their very existence and draw more into the fold. An individual is an individual, but put together in a group with common goals and purpose, they become more than an individual, and come to be the closest thing to a deity as we will ever know on Earth. It matters not what name is on the door, as this is what really controls our world. The vast majority are slaves and do not know it. They could not grasp it if they did.

    Socialist I am not. The only Socialism I see is the socialism created to support our corporate world, and the automatons out to defend it from change.

    The only true freedom in the world is the freedom to buy more crap. There are no real choices. Just for one week, try to live doing the opposite of what is expected of you and see what happens. What profits the individual does not profit the organization.

    You guys can go on and keep pretending that politics and the economy actually mean something. It will keep us entertained for years to come.

  79. NMilluminati

    Never seen it. You boys have your memetic fun. I am going back to do really important things with my time.

  80. Libertarian Joseph

    “You can argue politics all you want, but the bottom line is that none of it matters. The only real politics is what we choose to do with our money. If you wish to support companies that do nothing for us but sell cheap crap, I consider that a treason against our society.”

    And I consider you a moron.

  81. Prospective Advertiser

    “If you wish to support companies that do nothing for us but sell cheap crap, I consider that a treason against our society.”

    Well, treason is a crime, punishable by death. Buying goods and services does not make war on the United States, nor does it give aid or comfort to anyone except the buyer and the seller. You ought to learn to keep your fucking snout out of other people’s business.

    A willing buyer and a willing seller make a market and find a price. If you don’t like that, I suggest you get a gun and start killing people. Or, get your government to do it for you, if you are too timid to do the work yourself.

  82. Libertarian Joseph

    “sweat shops” are one way to get on the right track. puts money in your pocket, teaches you a trade, and gives you experience, so that you can go to the “next level,” no matter what it is. start your own shop. freelance. do something else. People want to make some money and get started. why fuck it up for them, assholes? I would do it, too. no doubt.

    Half a loaf is better than none!

  83. Anonymous

    At Quality Garment in Phnom Penh (in Cambodia for those who don’t know), the president of the union complains to management about a requirement for all workers to stand at all times which is resulting in workers’ feet becoming so numb that they have difficulty walking—and she is put on internal suspension where she is required to sit for two months in front of the factory and publicly humiliated as an example to other “trouble-makers”.

    Is this ‘right’ for you?

    So what if the wages are more than what they would otherwise get. They are still not enough for that worker’s children to go to school and be able to get even a BASIC education. Without an education, what ‘prospects’ can these children have? How can they ever find a better job?

    I don’t think that children as young as 13 should have to work 16 hours a day just to be able to get food.

    And sweatshops dont always provide money. Some workers have to get the job through debt bondage and they won’t get wages until they have worked off this debt, which takes years. Workers are abused, both physically and through sexual harrassment.

    People don’t seem to be thinking about those actuall involved in sweatshops. They are exposed to dangerous machinery and poisonous chemicals without protection!

    Teetering piles of fabric overshadowed each workbench. Metal cage doors sealed the entrance to each workroom. We spoke briefly, in Spanish, to some of the women working in these locked cages. Many of the young women were working to support families. They expressed a guarded dissatisfaction with their pay and working conditions.

    None of the workers would speak unless spoken to. Punishments for speaking during working hours, one of our guides told us, could range from physical punishment to firing. It was apparent that workers were afraid to talk to us. Later in the day, during the workers’ lunch hour, when we distributed leaflets about workers’ rights on street corners all over the garment district, one worker refused to take a flyer, pointing out that his boss was watching from a few feet away.

    The highlight of the 6th floor was a putrid toilet, one of the 3 that serviced the entire 21-story building. Our guides told us of the long lines that formed for the bathrooms during the lunch break. Anyone who took bathroom breaks during the working hours would be told not to come back the next day.

    On the 10th floor, a huge bin of fabric pieces blocked the narrow hallway. We squeezed past and spotted a toddler peeking through the holes in the door, her tiny fingers curled around the dirty metal strips. She was three, her mother told us. There was no money for daycare so she accompanied her mother to work and played on the floor while her mother sewed.

    On the 9th floor we found more children who were working. Two young boys were standing next to a towering pile of sleeves, turning them right side out, one by one. The boys were eight and ten years old. Women, our guides told us, are encouraged by managers to bring their children into work with them. The managers will always find something for them to do.

    That’s an eyewitness account of a sweatshop. Read it carefully!

  84. Anonymous

    You can all say its great to have this sweatshop job because the alternative is worse. But thats the whole point! They deserve a better alternative!!!
    Say there was a drug that cured a 100% mortality rate disease. But that drug also gave you life-threatening cancer. Wouldn’t you want someone to create something better? Wouldn’t you want that someone not to sit back just because they don’t have that disease?

  85. AntiSweatshop

    How can you support sweatshops????

    With sweatshops the country will never have any basic laws on labour so there will never be any jobs better than sweatshops for the people!!!!

  86. paulie cannoli Post author

    With sweatshops the country will never have any basic laws on labour so there will never be any jobs better than sweatshops for the people!

    Actually, this is not the case.

    Sweatshops, while horrible, are better than pre-industrialization subsistence. They increase the income of those who work in them and gradually raise the standard of living in the surrounding community, thus putting upward pressure on wages over time.

    Unless backed by the state in using violence against workers, companies eventually have to raise wages and create better working conditions or go out of business – or lose their workers to competing businesses that offer higher wages and better conditions.

    This is why, during the process of industrialization, government-connected corporations often turn to police and military to engage in violence against workers, consumers, etc., who organize.

    They also frequently rely on the government’s grants of noncontractual limited liability, and on police, prosecutors and courts in their pay, to shield private security they hire for these same purposes from justice for their use of disproportionate force, as well as their use of force outside of the company’s property.

    Unfortunately, workers and consumers have turned to the very same government to protect their interests. The result has actually been a slowing down of the rate of gradual improvements in worker pay and conditions that were already taking place naturally before they were codified into law.

    The same process is taking place in third world countries today.

    The idea that conditions will never improve on their own has been disproven by mountains of empirical evidence.

    Unfortunately, it has been ignored by workers and consumers groups and most of those who hold the interests of workers and consumers paramount. They keep turning to government as an answer, when in fact government has always been – and still is – on the side of the powerful against the powerless, even when it is not readily apparent.

  87. Anonymous

    There is something faulty in this arguing. Everyone is saying that nooo the workers can’t get fair wages because it would upset our economy and make prices higher. Well doesn’t that happen when the workers gradually get higher wages as well? Which you are arguing is going to happen if we let sweatshops be.

  88. Anonymous

    I though one of the main things behind sweatshops was that workers can’t form unions to protest?

  89. Anonymous

    No one here has mentioned the bad working conditions in sweatshops… I think that’s a very big point. It’s not just about the pay. I understand how that can increase and lead to better jobs etc. but I think people at least have a right to not being crammed into tiny spaces with their 5 year olds working next to them and having no safety equipment…..

  90. Prospective Advertiser

    People have a right to choose for themselves how they want to work, for whom, for what pay, under what conditions, and for how long. You don’t like it, Anonymous? Tough.

    I believe people have a right to choose collective bargaining. They also have the right to reject collective bargaining. They also have a right to choose to work, whether you like the working conditions, the pay, or any other aspect of the situation.

    You want to run other people’s lives and choose for them. You want to say, “no, it’s a sweatshop, we can’t have that,” and condemn thousands of people to poverty. You don’t care about the wretchedness of their poverty, you don’t care about the living conditions when they can’t find work, you don’t care about any of these people. They don’t live in your country, they don’t buy in your shops, and they don’t look much like you.

    So you object when they find work under conditions you don’t like, you object when they accept pay that is less than you’d like, and you don’t do a thing about their poverty. Well, tough. They are doing something about their poverty, which is working, for the pay they can get, from the factories where they can get it.

    When was the last time you built a factory, or hired workers, or even visited a poor country to start a business there? Cry me a river, you lunatic.

  91. paulie cannoli Post author

    There is something faulty in this arguing. Everyone is saying that nooo the workers can’t get fair wages because it would upset our economy and make prices higher.

    No, everyone has not said that. For example, I haven’t. I would say, however, that many workers can’t get what we would consider fair wages because no one is going to pay them those kinds of wages. Their choices are not between 21st century US working conditions and their current conditions; they are between their current conditions and even worse conditions, which in some cases means actual starvation to death.


    Well doesn’t that happen when the workers gradually get higher wages as well? Which you are arguing is going to happen if we let sweatshops be.

    As a matter of fact, yes. Sweatshops have already been moving out of some third world countries – where they put enough upward pressure on wages to put themselves out of business – to others, where that has not yet happened.

    What I would argue for would be to allow the natural process that gradually raises living standards in every part of the world, including this one, to take place, even though it does not immediately do anything like immediately equalizing living standards world wide. This is proven to work a lot better than introducing elements of government central planning and force, which only make things worse, even though they may seem to make things better on the surface.


    I though one of the main things behind sweatshops was that workers can’t form unions to protest?

    The question is to what extent the governments of those countries do things like help companies break up unions off property, and help companies keep competition out by force which would give workers better options.


    No one here has mentioned the bad working conditions in sweatshops… I think that’s a very big point. It’s not just about the pay.

    I agree. But I don’t think it is fair to say that no one has mentioned them.


    I understand how that can increase and lead to better jobs etc. but I think people at least have a right to not being crammed into tiny spaces with their 5 year olds working next to them and having no safety equipment…..

    One thing they do not have the right to is a job. What is their next best option if the jobs are not created at all, or destroyed? You are talking as if the jobs would exist no matter what, and the only question is what kind of wages and conditions they will have. The reality is far different.

  92. Anonymous

    They don’t live in your country, they don’t buy in your shops, and they don’t look much like you.

    Actually they do. I live in a country with hundreds of sweatshops. And how wuld i start a business????? I’m not even in high school!!!!!!!

  93. Anonymous

    Sweatshops will lead to better jobs in the end. But this will not happen by itself. We need to give them a right direction to go in. What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t be arguing about whether sweatshops are good or bad. If we end up agreeing that sweatshops are good we will end up sitting back and saying they can take care of themselves. We should combat of the conditions that cause sweatshops. The countries with sweatshops are CORRUPT!!! I live in a country with hundreds of people living in extreme poverty, and yet I see Lexuses on every street corner (not to mention the way they seem never to have learned to drive. The police? Oh they can just be bribed). We need labour laws and those laws need to be enforced.

    We should do things like this: put export quotas on products that sweatshops export. Increase these export quotas if the country enforces its labour laws to encourage the country to keep these labour laws in place. In Cambodia this is happening with bilateral textile quota agreements that include (for the 1st time ever) the conditionality of the treatment of the workers.
    And simple safety equipment like goggles or gloves wouldn’t be that hard for companies to provide their workers with. It won’t dramatically increase costs. At least that regulation should be ensured.

  94. Anonymous

    O and Prospective Advisers….dude! u cant diss!!!!

    Question 2 u: Do u eat out of trash can?

  95. Anonymous

    Prospective Adviser: How do u get home from work?

    (if u dont answer this every1 will think you are too scared of my disses)

  96. paulie cannoli Post author

    Actually they do. I live in a country with hundreds of sweatshops. And how wuld i start a business????? I’m not even in high school!!!!!!!

    I started quite a few businesses before I was in high school, including a furniture moving company with over 70 employees at one time, so don’t let that stop you.

  97. paulie cannoli Post author

    The countries with sweatshops are CORRUPT!!! I live in a country with hundreds of people living in extreme poverty, and yet I see Lexuses on every street corner (not to mention the way they seem never to have learned to drive. The police? Oh they can just be bribed). We need labour laws and those laws need to be enforced.

    Unfortunately, labor laws only serve to slow down the rate at which countries evolve past this condition. You’d have to study some economic theory, especially the Austrian school of economics, to understand why this would be.

    Some places to start, if you are interested:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html
    What is seen and what is not seen
    by Frederic Bastiat

    http://jim.com/econ/
    Economics in One Lesson
    by Henry Hazlitt

    http://www.jonathangullible.com/
    The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible:
    A Free Market Odyssey
    By: Ken Schoolland

    http://ruwart.com/Healing/rutoc.html
    See especially:
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap2.html
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap3.html
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap4.html
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap7.html
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap11.html


    We should do things like this: put export quotas on products that sweatshops export. Increase these export quotas if the country enforces its labour laws to encourage the country to keep these labour laws in place.

    This only leads to increased and prolonged impoverishment, especially in the poorer trading country, but even in the richer one – and possibly war, since oftentimes when goods don’t cross borders, armies will.

  98. Trent Hill

    “Around 70% of roads in the US are built without government funds.”

    Paulie, where did you get this number?

  99. paulie cannoli Post author

    Found it. It’s on LP radicals, but i trust this isn’t the sort of thing they want to keep private:

    Montoni sez:

    Roads are an interesting example of where Libertarian public policy is already empirically proven, though the state has hidden the facts and claimed all the credit for new roads to itself. In most states, governments provide **some**
    roads. However, in researching the subject for an op-ed in early 1987, which was printed in the Roanoke (Virginia) Times, some digging through obscure government statistics & DOT reports revealed that about 70% of the road mileage laid down in the United States every year is actually financed privately.

    Think about the last time you saw a new ___ acre development go up. Generally speaking the developer builds all the roads, and upon completion he cedes them to the state. This is where *most* of the new road mileage in the country comes from.

    Some corollary (sp??) thoughts on the subject:

    1. Democrats and Republicans are tripping over each other trying to get public projects into the private sector:

    http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=16558

    2. The nastiest criticism of the very libertarian idea of privatizing government-owned transportation infrastructure [roads, railways, canals, subways, etc) has always come from other “libertarians”:

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2008/02/01/libertarian-party-platform-survey-results/
    #comment-473653

    3. Government spending on roadway projects is a legitimate target for LP candidates running for office. Can you name **any* government-operated transportation entity that builds roads and does it as economically (or as quickly) as their private counterparts? Can you name any that aren’t utterly HUGE taxpayer money pits (cases in point — look up Boston’s “Big Dig”, and just about any government-owned subway system).

    4. “Free” government roadbuilding is a prime contributor to urban sprawl. The roads that governments DO build are large, fancy, limited-access highways. I remember when Virginia built the “free” Interstate 295 pseudo-beltway around the city of Richmond:

    http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Richmond_Beltway.html

    295 was built on large tracts of either forest or farmland. It ain’t farmland any more. As an environmentalist, I would prefer “natural” road expansion — done when simple private-sector economics make such a project make sense. This would tend to make cities more dense and compact, and would have tended to limit
    sprawl or at least substantially slow it down.

    Highway construction, and the predictable explosive development it fosters, drives urban sprawl so much that it is very safe to say that government is probably the single largest contributor to both sprawl and deforestation. My I-295 example above is a six-lane road, with room in most of the median for another eight to ten lanes for most of the road’s length. How many acres of trees and farms did the road rip away? Each acre of trees sucks 2.6 tons of
    carbon out of the atmosphere each year; roughly equal the amount produced by
    driving a car 26,000 miles.

    5. In most states where road construction is mostly financed privately, as mentioned above, there are … well… good reasons to cede the roads you just built in your new development, over to the government. Drumroll…. GOVERNMENT GOONS! Yes, you heard that right. Many developers are required by law to turn over their roads to the state.

    — Marc Montoni

  100. Prospective Advertiser

    I’ve actually been involved in this industry, and Montoni is completely correct. Most roads are actually called “streets” and nearly all of these are built by real estate developers. Often to city specs and along lines the city demands be used for major streets, but built by the real estate developer nevertheless. He builds them, sells the finished lots, and people put up houses or what have you. Generally the real estate developer turns the streets over to a homeowners association for one year, and they turn them over to the city. The city then does no maintenance for 20 years, and when they start falling apart, raises property taxes to do some minimum maintenance.

    If you simply take a satellite photo of the paved roads in the USA and go back to when they weren’t there, you’ll find that the roads (streets, etc.) were mostly built by real estate developers. Often, in order to develop a large parcel that has limited access, the city or county will require a developer to put in a major bridge or do other major work so he can get permits to build on his land. Stinkers.

  101. Anonymous

    Hahahahah!!!!! U guys r soo funnyy!!!!! I was just going 2 diss him and u got into dis argument abut roads…..Lol…

    – (me) How do you get home from work? I c u get home by roads…..?

    – (me) Shoot! I bet my friend 5 bucks that the mental institution sends a special bus 2 pick up their patients!

  102. Anonymous

    U shuld all watch the NatGeo documentary: Inside: The Dark Side of Illicit Trade….it’s great

  103. Question

    I just thought of something. If we get rid of sweatshops it will cause prices to skyrocket, right? But then, if we continue to have sweatshops they will be even more ingrained into the economy…Yes, they may bring money to poor people, but they don’t provide a way forward. If we only support them it won’t get any better.

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