companies that use child labor should be punished.
I'd like to welcome Pro to DDO. Please make your case.
drsyjeon forfeited this round.
I think DDO may have been encountering an error of some sort, because neither myself nor my opponent observed a countdown on this debate; the clock was at 00:00:00. I assume she was unable to post, but since this is a long 5 round debate, as long as she is able to post her arguments in the next round, I ask that voters just ignore this round and not penalize her conduct.
Thank you, Pro.
The economy of the 21st century is a mind bogglingly complex phenomenon filled with new technologies and processes, but many aspects of it have been with us for a long time – and one of those is child labor.
I’d like to start by clarifying to readers exactly what my position is, what it is not, and why I think my opponent is mistaken. I would prefer that every child will be born to loving, responsible, kind, and educated parents, and guided into prosperity and happiness. However, that is not at all the reality of this world. Some of us were so fortunate as to have had that experience, but there are millions who live on the edge of despair. Both children and adults are exploited around the globe on a tragic scale, many of them taken as sex slaves. There are even some places so poor that parents actually give their children away for free; perhaps these individuals consider slavery to be a superior fate than starvation .
Do we as human beings have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters who are in such dire straits? I think it is safe to say that both my opponent and I would answer that question with a resounding “yes”. Our disagreement comes not with respect to the importance of this issue, but rather over the course of action that would best address it. My position is that some policies intended to help the misfortunate can actually end up hurting them worse, and my opponent’s suggestion falls into that category.
Abolitionist Benjamin Skinner discussed a recent example of a Scandinavian evangelical group that raised 3 million dollars to buy Sudanese slaves during their civil war in order to set them free, but in the course of doing so they 1) incentivized the taking of slaves further, which induced slavers to go out and capture even more slaves, and 2) potentially prolonged the conflict by providing currency to the violent rebels . He also mentions that there are 300,000 slaves in Haiti. If an organization went down there and purchased them all in order to free them, that would send a signal to suppliers that business is good, and in no time at all there will be 600,000 slaves available. Sometimes the action we take to try to solve a problem ends up making it worse; it is like struggling in quicksand.
Most major American Corporations benefit from using low cost inputs which have at some point in the chain involved child labor. Companies like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Apple, etc… have all been dragged into the spotlight to be vilified . My opponent would like the government to crack down with tougher laws and penalties against corporations using products traceable to child labor, but here’s my question: what happens to those kids once the corporations leave and business dries up? The $0.65 per day that they receive doesn’t sound like much to me or you, but that could mean the difference between eating and not eating. Education and schools aren’t going to magically appear once these corporations are forced to pack up shop. Rather than them starving, I suppose the best case scenario is that a Chinese corporation will take up that turf instead, and start paying $0.55. I submit to readers that governmental regulation that punishes American corporations will only pave the way for either diminished commerce, and thus the deepening of impoverishment in those places, or for less scrupulous companies and countries to gain from harsher exploitation. Perhaps there are no easy or perfect solutions, but there clearly are ways to struggle in the quicksand and make things even worse, such as what my opponent proposes.
Thank you, Pro.
My assumptions were that we are talking about the US government and US corporations using labor abroad, since there are already child labor laws regarding the use of child labor here in the states. None of this was disputed, so I think it is fair that I understood her meaning correctly.
My opponent has failed to counter the points that I made in round 3 in any meaningful way. To review, my position is essentially that penalizing corporations for having inputs that used child labor somewhere in the supply chain places an expensive and cumbersome burden on them that doesn't actually solve the problem. In fact it makes it worse by discouraging corporations from even wanting to do business at all with less fortunate countries because the inputs might be contaminated by child labor, which they will be punished for. As uncomfortable as this may make some, such as my opponent, even in cases where we know for sure that child labor was involved, it is still better for everyone that there should be commerce rather than no commerce.
I agree that education is a better use of a child's time than labor, but that isn't what we're debating. We are debating whether or not corporations should be punished for buying products and materials that were in part produced by child labor. I argue that it is the responsibility of corporations to obtain inputs at the best value, refine or manufacture them further, and then distribute them to end consumers at a profit maximizing price. By contrast, the responsibility of providing for the well being and education of children falls primarily to parents and governments. As my opponent argues, sure, for the sake of argument let's say that it is the US government's moral duty to give aid to other governments and peoples who are in need. But what does that have to do with punishing corporations? Nothing. In fact, corporations, through their taxes and the employment they provide, are largely the entities that fund the US government and make those aid efforts possible.
Child labor is both a symptom of and a perpetuating cause of poverty. I am not a fan of it, by any means. But I am pragmatic enough to know that if child labor is to be ended, it won't be by bans and regulations punishing companies. It will be by aid efforts, such as the kind my opponent mentions, and by economic development and progress in poor areas, which already is pulling more and more people in the world out of poverty each year . In other words, it will be by giving poor people better options than sending their kids to work, not by removing the only (albeit undesirable) option they currently have.
Thank you, Pro.
I am left confused by Pro. In round 4, she was telling us that "...we can stop child laboring, and give them money and food instead." Now she is telling us in round 5 that "...this is the last thing that they can do, and we can help only few people that are poor." I don't understand. Which is it? Are those different "we's"? If so, I would advise her to be more specific in the future.
While I agree that relying on distressed governments to look after their own people is problematic, my point throughout this debate is that it is even worse to rely on American companies to look after people in other countries. It isn't their responsibility. Trying to force it to be their responsibility damages commerce for both rich and poor, because American companies would find it too risky to do business in poor areas that could later be found to have used child labor, leaving the American companies exposed to punishment. That means poor areas would be more likely to stay poor, isolated, and separate from the global economy, thus exacerbating child labor, not eliminating it.
Throughout this debate, my opponent and I have agreed on many points, among them that foreign aid should be provided to people who need support in order to build basic institutions for education and public health, and that child labor is undesirable. The point we still strongly disagree on is that American corporations should be punished by the government for using products that were produced through child labor. Note that consumers could still boycott if they want to punish especially abusive or callous companies; the topic of our debate is if the [American] government should punish [American] companies. My opponent asserts that it should, but through this debate provided absolutely no rationale whatsoever for thinking this should be true. Round 5 was especially confusing, because we were talking about foreign aid one minute, and then the last sentence comes out of nowhere with "Companies that use these families and children's things should be punished." Why? Even voters who tend to agree with her have to admit that there were no warrants provided by Pro in this debate.
Thank you all for your interest, and however it turns out, congratulations on completing your first debate, Pro. I hope you'll keep practicing.
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