Thursday, August 5

Sweatshops and available choices

If the choice was between working in a sweatshop and working at a computer in an air conditioned office — well, that choice isn’t available to many people. But they do usually have a choice between working in a sweatshop and an alternative much worse. This video from, a project of Institute for Humane Studies explains:

Sweatshops should all be shut down because of the terrible working conditions and unfair treatment of workers, right? But what about the people who choose to work in these conditions? If we look at sweatshops from the perspective of the world’s poor, we may find that we should not be trying to close their doors after all. Professor Matt Zwolinski explains three reasons sweatshops may actually be worth keeping: sweatshop jobs may be better than the alternatives, closing sweatshops just reduces job options for the poor, and it is better to do something to end global poverty than to do nothing. From the perspective of the world’s poor, which looks better: an American company that outsources to sweatshops and provides jobs in developing countries, or an American company that hires only U.S. workers?