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.
Iâ€™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, thereâ€™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 isnâ€™t the bottom.
My views on sweatshops are shaped by years living in East Asia, watching as living standards soared â€” including those in my wifeâ€™s ancestral village in southern China â€” 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.