Are Global Sweatshops Exploitative?

572 Words3 Pages
Author Information: Radley Balko, a former policy analyst for the Cato Institute specializes in vice and civil liberties issues. He is a columnist for and has been published in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Forbes, and other well known periodicals and magazines. Balko attended Indiana University and graduated in 1997 with a BA in journalism and political science. Sweatshops are a safe haven: Proponents of globalization note that most anti-sweatshop efforts actually hurt the very people they intend to help. The reason is that workers in developing countries have no other alternatives, and represent the best of a bad situation. Shutting down of these sweatshops takes money out of their hands and sends workers onto the street, in which they starve to death or turn to illegal activities, i.e. prostitution. Sweatshops are an important part of a developing nation’s journey to prosperity. Some defenders cite the theory of comparative advantage, which claims that outsourcing and trade can make most parties better off. The theory suggests that developing countries improve their condition by doing something they do "better" (in this case, charging less to do the same work). The developed countries also gain because the labor force can shift to jobs that they do better. These are jobs which usually entail a level of education and training which is exceptionally difficult to obtain in the developing world. In so doing, the developing countries get factories and jobs that they would not otherwise have had. The theory also asserts that developed countries will be better off because not only can they buy goods more cheaply, but they can produce more valuable good as well. Although wages and working conditions may appear inferior by developed-country standards, they are actually improvements over what life in developing countries had been like before
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