MARINA DEL REY, CA -- The goal of college students and union workers who want to end the economic "exploitation" of so-called "sweatshops" is actually to rob economic opportunities from the poorest in the Third World, said a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute.
"This is the vicious contradiction behind the recent campaign against so-called 'sweatshops': The activists scream loudly about 'workers' rights' -- but their actual goal is to deprive poor people in the Third World of their right to work," said Robert W. Tracinski. "Activists use the term 'sweatshop' as a catchphrase to rouse the hearer's emotions, but not to convey information. The result is to smear Third World factories as slave camps in which workers are somehow coerced into unpaid labor."
Tracinski noted that the anti-sweatshop complaints ignore several crucial facts:
||Workers voluntarily accept jobs in these factories.|
These factories -- even though they pay as little as 60 cents an hour represent an economic step forward compared to the desperate poverty of the Third World.
Work in the "sweatshops" provides better conditions than the back-breaking toil of subsistence farming.
"Why all the outrage, then, from the 'progressives'?" Tracinski asked rhetorically. "The anti-'sweatshop' campaign is driven, not by concern for Third World workers, but by hatred for American corporations. The activists' real complaint is that Third World factories are run for the purpose of making profits and not as a form of foreign aid. The activists' campaign is driven by the dogma that anything motivated by self-interest is inherently evil -- no matter what the actual facts. In service to this dogma, any benefits gained by workers from industrialization and 'global capitalism' must be ignored, rejected, and eventually outlawed -- even if it means more poverty for those whom the 'progressives' allegedly want to protect."
Robert W. Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute between 1997 and 2004.