How 'Sweatshops' Help the Poor
Written By: Thomas J. DiLorenzo | Posted: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
One of the oldest myths about capitalism is the notion that factories that offer the poor higher wages to lure them off the streets (and away from lives of begging, stealing, prostitution, or worse) or away from back-breaking farm labor somehow impoverishes and exploits them. They are said to work in "sweatshops" for "subsistence wages." That was the claim made by socialists and unionists in the early days of the industrial revolution, and it is still made today by the same category of malcontents - usually by people who have never themselves performed manual labor and experienced breaking a sweat while working. (I am not referring here to the red herring claim that most foreign "sweatshops" utilize some kind of slave labor. This is an outrageous propaganda ploy designed to portray defenders of free markets as being in favor of slavery).
The self-interest of labor unions in this anti-capitalist crusade has always been transparent: Unions cannot exist without somehow prohibiting competition from non-union labor, whether that labor is at home or abroad. Thus, they wage campaigns of propaganda, intimidation, or violence against non-union workers, whether they are in Indiana or Indonesia. They are not in the least concerned about the well-being of the Third World poor. If the labor unions have their way, the poor whose lives are improved by their employment by multinational corporations would all be thrown out of work, many of whom would be forced to resort to crime, prostitution, or starvation. That is the "moral high ground" that has been staked out on college campuses all over America where unions have been successful in instigating "anti-sweatshop" campaigns, seminars, and protests.
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