This story is a perfect example of applied economics:
In light of news this month that ethical shopping and the success of Fairtrade has grown in spite of the recession, I felt it was about time to defend sweatshops. Outrageous as it might sound, I would rather buy sweatshop-produced than Fairtrade-labeled goods. Far from being evil, sweatshops are a necessary rung on the ladder of economic development and lift millions of people out of poverty across the developing world.
Although the long hours, low pay and unpleasant conditions associated with sweatshops may seem abhorrent to us in the West, it’s pointless comparing their pay and work environment to those in the developed world. If we were to enforce a minimum wage and our work conditions in factories in the developing world, then there would be no reason for manufacturers to build there. The lack of a minimum wage and high labour supply are what give people in these the competitive advantage when it comes to manufacturing. Remove these advantages and sweatshop workers would be forced back into destitution or relying on unpredictable subsistence farming. The choice is between poorly paid work in a sweatshop and terribly paid work in agriculture.
Fairtrade goods mostly appeal to SWPLs, who often emote their way to economic truths. Naturally, they are generally dead wrong in their conclusions, and often hilariously so.
The simple truth of the matter is that bad pay is better than no pay at all. That some are willing to work in these sort of conditions for these sort of wages should be proof enough that these jobs are both good and desirable.
Furthermore, I fail to see how depriving people of jobs, and income, is good for them. Perhaps someone could explain it to me.