Sunday, February 9, 2014

Free Trade/ Child Labor

Comments on Free trade and Child labor:

Many people believe that Free Trade (trading with other nations without restrictions such as tariffs) is somehow a net loss for the US economy. Many also believe that US companies are somehow exploiting 3rd world workers by giving them sweatshops to work in or by utilizing child laborers in those countries. Here are some things these people should know:

- 93% of economists advocate free trade. [1] Even Paul Krugman, a hero among leftists, has written articles praising globalization/free trade. [2]

- Sweatshops and child labor are goods alternatives in comparison to starvation, prostitution, subsistence farming, etc. Anti-sweatshop activists are essentially trying to destroy 3rd world families livelihoods. 

-Child labor exists in poor countries because if the children didn’t work, their families would likely starve. As countries become wealthier and workers become more productive via Free Market Capitalism, workers receive higher compensation and can afford to withdraw their children from the labor force.

-Some people believe the US should not trade with countries utilizing child labor. However, this can be disastrous for the very children they wish to help. According to Wikipedia:

"Concerns have often been raised over the buying public's moral complicity in purchasing products assembled or otherwise manufactured in developing countries with child labour. However, others have raised concerns that boycotting products manufactured through child labour may force these children to turn to more dangerous or strenuous professions, such as prostitution or agriculture. For example, a UNICEF study found that after the Child Labour Deterrence Act was introduced in the US, an estimated 50,000 children were dismissed from their garment industry jobs in Bangladesh, leaving many to resort to jobs such as "stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution", jobs that are "more hazardous and exploitative than garment production". The study suggests that boycotts are "blunt instruments with long-term consequences, that can actually harm rather than help the children involved." [3]

-Additionally, when Bangladeshi factories stopped employing children as a result of pressure from the US, the British charity Oxfam found that the children ended up in worse conditions. Many were starved, forced into prostitution, etc. [4]


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