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Saturday, 07 October 2006

American Sweatshops

There has been an active Republican effort to keep wages down and labour laws lax in US territories like the Marianas. It's something to think about the next time you hear some wingnut rhetoric about how soft-hearted liberals are perpetuating poverty while it's the Randian Republicans who are really the ones with the hearts for the poor... (and sadly, also something to think about the next time you look at the label and see "Made in the USA" -- thanks to Abramoff's pals, that's not synonymous with made according to the generally accepted labour practices of the United States... you know, things like workers not being beaten at work, that sort of thing.)

Let's take a look at some of the mechanics of how that came to be. Susan Ralston recently resigned when it became clear that White House ties to convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff were far more numerous than previously reported.

continue reading...

posted at: 02:28 Sat 07/Oct/2006 | /politics/globo | permalink | 0 comments | trackback

Wednesday, 29 September 2004


I think Brad DeLong's grossly misinterpreting this Seth Stevenson (update: fixed URL) article.

Suppose that all of us who would otherwise buy coir doormats for $26.99 at Cost Plus World Market read Seth Stevenson's article in Slate, obey his injunction to become 'better than Debbie" by not buying our coir doormats--or "any other products made by Third World labor." What happens then?

Demand for coir doormats drops through the floor. Cost Plus World Market stops selling them.

... he goes on to equate this call for a boycott to just smashing the rugmakers' looms.

I guess I'm unduly answering for Stevenson here, but the point is not to drive demand for coir doormats through the floor. Why would he want that? The point is to drive demand for coir doormats made by exploiting* labour to zero. The fix by a rational company would then be to sell coir mats that meet their consumers' ethical concerns. Without legal requirements (sigh), Jack in the Box instituted a major HAACP program to cut the threat of e.coli -- because that's what their customers wanted. People want fair trade coffee and shoes from non-exploited workers and fair trade rugs -- and we can get all those things (see below for the part applicable to coir rugs.). I think Stevenson just wants everyone to have those ethical concerns when they buy.

(By the way, if Stevenson really does want to not ever buy Third World produced goods, if no ethical standard could meet his, then I apologize to the Prof.)

In comments, Eli points out that one of Brad's proposed alternatives to the boycott ("Figure out a way to generate alternatives to Mr. Shady Middleman") is already a reality.

* (and I don't mean "exploiting" in a non-prejorative technical sense)

update: Mark Kleiman gets to the core of Brad DeLong's argument:

His point is simple: however bad it is to be exploited as a third-world producer for first-world markets, not being exploited is worse.

... how is this not a false dilemma? No, seriously.

posted at: 07:02 Wed 29/Sep/2004 | /politics/globo | permalink | 6 comments | trackback

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