The Instigator
Daysuit
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Miserlou
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

The use of sweatshops to produce goods is an acceptable practice.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/26/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,848 times Debate No: 2224
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (4)

 

Daysuit

Pro

In a country on the brink of a huge economic downfall (USA), we are in a great need for affordable goods. The products that we rely on everyday are coming from countries that are terribly poor. Employment rates in these countries and quality of most working conditions are low. We are all citizens of where we are from by circumstance of birth, and they are no different. Some people in the US are born in places where there are less education and job opportunities, but it doesn't mean they aren't intelligent or are lazy if they don't have a degree or lots of money. It just means they have to get by with what means they possibly have afforded to them. Same goes in the rest of the world, if you are born in Indonesia to a poor farming family that is your circumstance. If you are offered or forced into a better job, even as a child, at what point is it the consumers fault for buying the product made? Why should blame be on the contracting business and resulting customers purchase when there are people in the country selling the labor that are willing to do so? From an economic standpoint it makes no sense why sweatshops shouldn't be used.
Miserlou

Con

The use of sweatshops is a good economic practice, but it's a terrible moral one and shouldn't be used because of it.

You're argument is that because the standard of living in developing countries is much lower then in the U.S., it's okay to do to them what would be pure exploitation and slave labor to someone here. It's not. Just because someone was born into a circumstance doesn't mean that they have to, or deserve to stay in that circumstance.

The fact is, American companies can afford to give these people more. Dollars go a long way in poor countries, and just by paying them our minimum wage- I think the lowest in this country is about $4- it would improve their lives tremendously. Sure, corporations would lose some profits, but paying workers more, and treating them fairly, wouldn't put them in the red. And no one in these companies, or of U.S. consumers would be happy with the life a sweatshop worker, so what right to we have to impose that life on other people when we have the means to improve it?

And as for consumers and retailers, most of them know that this is going on and make no effort to stop it, so they are supporting those who are exploiting these people. If I saw my neighbor's house getting robbed and didn't call 911, I'd still be to blame because I did nothing when I knew what was happening and had the opportunity to stop it.
Debate Round No. 1
Daysuit

Pro

In the United States of America $5.85 is the National Minimum wage. Tipped wages can legally be as low as $2.13 an hour[1]. In Costa Rica the wages for working in a sweatshop is equivalent to $2.38 an hour[2]. Now taking that into consideration, Costa Rica's national GDP per capita is $12,500 a year[3]. Given an average of a 40 hour work week every week for a year, this sweatshop worker earns $4569.60 a year and is exempt from taxes[4]. The unemployment rate in Costa Rica in 6.6%, roughly 270,000 people. The ratio between the national GDP and this example 1:.36. The GDP per capita in the US is $44,190[6], compared to the American on minimum wage the GDP ratio is 1:.25, before taxes. After taxes its closer to 1:.23.

What do all these numbers mean? It means that someone in a third world country with a high unemployment rate and a large amount of workers that are willing to work, having a job significantly raises their standard of living. Given the alternative between no money per year and $4569 dollars per year is significant. Also, the average GDP workers salary to lowest entry level workers salary ratio is significant to the fact that having any job in a third world country improves their standard of living in that country, not America. Rent, food, health care, and other daily living costs are drastically different then they are in the US so it's hard to see 4500 dollars as a living wage but in a lot of places it is.

People in America have fast food and food service jobs as their entry level work, and these jobs are hardly less degrading as any sweatshop. In fact its harder to make it in America with these jobs than it would be for someone working in a sweatshop to make it in the countries which they live. Certain countries offer tax breaks and other incentives to the companies interested in starting up there. It's not unwanted business, these countries have massive unemployment issues and they are trying to resolve them.

Now it may seem morally reprehensible to have a job with long hours and little pay in poor working conditions, but is working in an Ihop for $2.13 an hour any better. Sure little Wen Yi in China is making Yao Ming NBA jerseys for $0.19 an hour, but are these states of employment are things people must endure and typically don't last forever. Being poor isn't fun and requires a tough lifestyle, but it won't and shouldn't stop big companies from using their opportunities to expand their business. If these companies were to to pay those workers the same as workers in America they would lose out on the incentives for moving there in the first place. Capitalist economies thrive on low production cost and profit maximization. Love it or hate it, doesn't matter, in the world of modern business people are going to try to make as much money as possible. Even though it may be morally questionable, try to stop and think and look about what you buy on a regular basis, ask yourself would I still be able to afford this if someone in America made it? Would people who don't live in America be able to afford it. If a person doesn't like the idea of sweatshops and wants to avoid supporting those products then they don't have to and no one is making them.

Resources:

[1] http://www.dol.gov...
[2] http://www.independent.org...
[3] https://www.cia.gov...
[4] http://www.costaricaweb.com...
[5] http://www.state.gov...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Miserlou

Con

"Tipped wages can legally be as low as $2.13 an hour[1]. In Costa Rica the wages for working in a sweatshop is equivalent to $2.38 an hour[2]."

Tipped is the key word there. Waiters in a restaurant can make around 50 dollars or over in the course of a day. And being a waiter and being a sweatshop worker are two very different things; sweatshops are more demanding and workers have much fewer rights. And yes, $4,000 will go farther in poorer countries, but in America if you work 40 hours a week or over you qualify for benefits, and most jobs on the lower pay scale are unionized, which helps protect those benefits. Also, many people who work minimum wage jobs in the U.S. are not supporting families on that job alone; they have other sources of income. Of course there are people who do, however there are government programs like welfare, and the overall standard of living in America is higher; our poor may live in trailers or decrepit city apartment, but the people in other countries have to build wooden shanties. I am not saying that the poor here are not in a bad situation, but sweatshop workers are in a worse situation. And, people supporting families on $2.13 an hour (plus tips) are a minority in the U.S., but in other places there are many more sweatshop workers, aka a poorer population.

Besides that, Costa Rica is one of the richer and most economically stable of countries that have sweatshops. Workers in El Salvador earn $1.38 an hour, in China $0.44 and hour, and in Bangladesh $0.13 an hour. [http://www.independent.org...] Even though these countries have lower costs of living, most of these wages still don't cover the needs of a family. And even if mom and dad and the kids all have jobs and that generates enough income, what does that do to the family life? Most importantly, the children cannot get educations, which pretty much destroys any chances of social mobilization. Never seeing my family and having to work long hours every day for little money doesn't sound like a happy life.

"having a job significantly raises their standard of living. Given the alternative between no money per year and $4569 dollars per year is significant. Also, the average GDP workers salary to lowest entry level workers salary ratio is significant to the fact that having any job in a third world country improves their standard of living in that country, not America."

Of course having a job is better then having no money, that's true anywhere with any job. The point I made before and I'll make again is that even though it's a better standard of living then if they had no job, it's still a bad standard of living. The "it could be worse" argument is a fallacy because pretty much any situation could be made worse by one factor or another, but that doesn't mean that all situations are good, or okay. The choices aren't all or nothing because the employers and companies in power control the choices, and it could be better.

"Certain countries offer tax breaks and other incentives to the companies interested in starting up there. It's not unwanted business, these countries have massive unemployment issues and they are trying to resolve them."

Because again of course, any money is better then no money, but that doesn't mean that workers are satisfied.

"People in America have fast food and food service jobs as their entry level work, and these jobs are hardly less degrading as any sweatshop."

I find that very hard to believe. First off, as a I explained earlier the standard of living in America is significantly higher, so even our very poor are doing better. American workers have a lot of laws at their disposal to protect them; companies and businesses here have to meet health standards and minimum wages among other things. A sweatshops are more then likely dirty or unsafe, especially given all of the equipment that workers have to operate. If a sweatshop worker gets injured they are not covered by health insurance, they cannot sue, and they probably won't get paid leave, or any leave (they'd just be fired).

"but are these states of employment are things people must endure and typically don't last forever."

Just because someone endures it doesn't make it right. People have endured subjugation, prejudice slavery, all around the world, and that fact that it's the standard doesn't make it moral. Actually the fact that such a poor life is the standard in these countries is worse because it means that more people are having a hard time.

"Even though it may be morally questionable, try to stop and think and look about what you buy on a regular basis, ask yourself would I still be able to afford this if someone in America made it? Would people who don't live in America be able to afford it."

I'm going to answer these questions in reverse. Most of the products produced in sweatshops are only sold in rich countries. Sweatshop workers who work in say, Nike factories can't afford Nike shoes. I don't think the international market would be greatly changed. As to the first one, I might because many products are often sold for much more then they cost to make. This would depend on the companies, and even though they're going to try to make as much money as possible, morals are also at stake here. If I knew that no one was being exploited I wouldn't mind paying extra; and if companies who advertise cheap goods want to keep their consumer bases, they shouldn't up the prices too much.

"If a person doesn't like the idea of sweatshops and wants to avoid supporting those products then they don't have to and no one is making them."

But that's not the question, it is that sweatshops are wrong period. They exploit workers by not only paying them small wages, but more importantly treating them inhumanely. It would be enough if companies offered sweatshop workers benefits such as insurance, or made their factories safer places to work.
Debate Round No. 2
Daysuit

Pro

Daysuit forfeited this round.
Miserlou

Con

Since Daysuit forfeited I don't have anything new to say, but I stand by the fact that sweatshops are still immoral. Paying workers is different from paying them well, or in many cases even fairly. People working in sweatshops live in conditions that would be unacceptable to any American, no matter how poor. And companies using sweatshops are drawing in huge profit; they can afford to pay workers more and only draw in semi-huge profits. Therefore, sweatshops are not a legitimate practice at all.
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bones 9 years ago
bones
Sorry it took me so long to reply. It would be fine if we took this to a debate.
Posted by C4747500 9 years ago
C4747500
Hrm maybe we should escalate this to an actual debate? It might be interesting. I could keep going in comments but I feel like it would better to upgrade this lol. What do ya say, drop a comment here and I'll send you a challenge, if you want.
Posted by bones 9 years ago
bones
I'm really sorry, it probably seems that I have no idea what you are talking about. I'm involved in several constitution debates; I got my amendments messed up. But anyways, the 13th Amendment was a bad piece of legislation. It supported a good idea, because it got rid of slavery from the US, but it dind't do it the right way. Only two more states needed to actually have legislation to officially outlaw slavery. Slavery was eliminated from most of the US at that point. The real problem was in the Emancipation Proclamation. The Civil War never needed to be fought over slavery, Abe Lincoln wasn't even opposed to salvery. Slavery is a terrible thing. But we have to make smart decisions to get out of terrible messes. There were better ways, like the free market, that could have ended slavery. The free market does allow people to pursue profit, as long as there are no negative externalities. This is what needs to be regulated, if anything. It is a good thing to pursue profit, we do it at all levels. We always are doing things that benefit us most. And this is ok. This doesn't mean that we don't give money to charities, because to some, giving money to those sharities is more worth it than spending it anything else. This is why the free market always works. We have freedom, as long as we don't impeded on other's freedom.
Posted by C4747500 9 years ago
C4747500
I'm sorry, do you have any idea what you are talking about?

"The 13th Amendment was a bad idea"

The 13th Amendment was passed in the 1860's and ended slavery. It had nothing to do with child labor (unless you argue that child labor is a form of slavery and void under the 13th amendment but I guess that doesn't apply). Why exactly was it a bad idea?

Child labor existed up through the 1920's when laws began to be passed regulating the free market. The reason we have a 40 hour work week, safety regulations, the reason there aren't sweatshops in America is because laws were passed that stopped them from occurring.

The free market exists to create profit. If you don't regulate it in some way, it will do whatever possible to create more profit.
Posted by bones 9 years ago
bones
The free market phased out sweatshops in America. By the time the 13th amendment was passed, there was almost no child labor in America. There is no child labor in America now because of the free market. When governments allow people to have private proerty and make parties keep contract agreements, the free market is allowed to work. This will lead to increased prosperity. Then people will no longer work for so little pay per day. The 13th Amendment was a bad idea; minimum wage is a bad idea. We forget that companies have a demand for workers. If acompany is paying more to its employees than another, people will be drawn to the higher paying company. This is true everywhere.
Posted by C4747500 9 years ago
C4747500
So.. the 13th amendment was a bad idea?

Why would the free market ever phase out sweatshops? Companies can make items for a fraction of the price they sell it for. Why would they stop that unless forced to?
Posted by bones 9 years ago
bones
There is a large difference between a child being physically abused and working in a sweatshop. If we let the free market work, it will help to phase out both sweatshops and child abuse. There may never be a total phase out of one or the other. But the best way to deal with these problems is through the free market. An example could be slavery. There are different ways to eliminate it. But we can never make people do things, no matter how much we think we are right. We could make people get rid of slaves, but the better way would be for the people to sell the slaves out of slavery.
Posted by Miserlou 9 years ago
Miserlou
But if you believe that something is immoral, you have a right to do something about it. If I knew about a parent abusing their kids, I would try to help the children even though it isn't my family. Telling a company what products to make is bossy, telling them not to exploit people is helping people.
Posted by bones 9 years ago
bones
You guys don't even understand the basic principles of what you are arguing. Morality as we understand it, is not the same as others understand it. If people don't want to work in sweatshops, they don't have to. The problem is not the companies, but rather the governments of those countries. This is what you have to look at. There is a bigger picture here. We have to realize that the free market does create losers and winners and that there are far more winners. It is the best we can do in this world of scarce resources. We also have to realize that anything less than the free market is, ultimately, communism. This is where the logic leads us. i totally hate the fact that people work in sweatshops. But that doesn't mean that I have the right to tell companies how they should spend their money. We all should take care of our own money and let others take care of themselves. We need to really stop being so bossy.
Posted by C4747500 9 years ago
C4747500
er *sweatshops are legitimate* in the first paragraph there, 2 points for not proofreading lol
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by padfo0t 9 years ago
padfo0t
DaysuitMiserlouTied
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C4747500
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Korezaan
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Miserlou
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