Where Sweatshops are a Dream

Nicholas D Kristoff has done a op-ed piece in NYT with the title ‘Where Sweatshops are a Dream’ today. Very touching and very real description of a situation.
He states:

I’m glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories. Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty. At a time of tremendous economic distress and protectionist pressures, there’s a special danger that tighter labor standards will be used as an excuse to curb trade.

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.

My views on sweatshops are shaped by years living in East Asia, watching as living standards soared — including those in my wife’s ancestral village in southern China — because of sweatshop jobs.

Having grown up in India and visiting there frequently — and having just watched “Slumdog Millionaire” — I know that what Mr Kristofstates is true. I hate to see those kids working in the situations that they have to, but that is better than the alternative. I know this is one of those problems that do not have a short term solution, but one should not just consider the superficial aspects or see a growing impoverised society thru only the experiences of living in a developed country.

2 thoughts on “Where Sweatshops are a Dream

  1. Rob


    I really appreciate your thoughtful blog and I agree with you whole heartedly on the sweat shop factories. Having lived in a privileged country, I cannot right say whats best for those who have not. You have a very nice way with words. I’ll stop by again soon.


  2. Philippines Vacation

    Many Americans, and others, may be repulsed, but why do we have sweatshops in the first instance? We all love a bargain, especially in these times when we want to be careful with how we spend our income. When companies think they can outsource to Asia for example where labor costs are much less, AND can sell their cheaply produced goods back in the West for a huge profit, there needs to be a market in the West for these. I agree with Mr Kristoff and would like to add that tackling the root cause for positive change we may need a paradigm shift from competition to co-operation.

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