It is safe to say that American's way of living in terms of material products is directly associated with the trade relations between the United States and Asia. Chances are that the clothes you wear, the toys you give to your kids, and the device you're reading this from, was produced somewhere in Asia.
Trade with major developing nations like China and Indonesia is ostensibly vital for America's own continued economic prosperity, since US's overall manufacturing investments in developing nations are in tens of billions of dollars and huge numbers of plants there operate on a contract basis with American companies. However, majority of Americans are unfamiliar that their appetite for consumerism incite a profoundly controversial industry, and just as foreign-manufactured goods are often more than meets the eye, the sweatshop debate is highly convoluted.
The actual definition of what a sweatshop conveys remain wide-ranged. It's describing any plant which have domineering overseers, abhorrent working conditions, and extensive hours with minimal pay. The term is also frequently used as a synonym for a factory that employs child labor. Many already developed nations has at some point operated sweatshop production facilities on a large scale, and a major segment of the world’s remaining sweatshops are located in Asia. As the Western world advance its long-standing custom of fostering what many would equate to slave labor, an ethical examination of these business proceedings becomes exceedingly important.
The brutal labor conditions associated with sweatshops are often frowned upon by the average person in the developed world. Approximately a decade ago, a movement to boycott sweatshops became an eminent force on social media, with protests urging that large U.S. corporations withhold trading goods that came from hazardous, underage, and under-paid labor. MIT graduate, Jonah Peretti, attempted to order a pair of shoes from Nike through their campaign which gave the customers the ability to customize their order — he chose to have the word “sweatshop” embroidered on them. Needless to say, he ended up not getting the shoes he requested.
It seems obvious as to why sweatshops would be frowned upon. However, is this revulsion of sweatshops justified? Furthermore, is it a rational response? "My concern is not that there are too many sweatshops,” said Economist Jeffrey Sachs, “but that there are too few." Sachs and other advocates of free trade and the global movement of capital cite the economic theory of comparative advantage, which states that international trade will, in the long run, make all parties better off.
When asked about the working condition in sweatshops, advocates express that although wages and working conditions seem to be inferior by the standards of developed nations, they are actually superior to what the people in developing countries had before. If jobs in such factories did, in-fact, not improve their workers' standard of living, those workers would not have taken the jobs when they emerged. Raveena Aulkah, a journalist for Mail Online News, went undercover as a sweatshop worker and documented her experience. Though working conditions were not optimal, the families could now afford "goats, schooling, and clothing for their families.”
In conclusion, the quarrel about sweatshop labor is emblematic of the ethical challenges the Western world and Asia has to confront, emphasized by the need to negotiate incompatibilities between the relative costs and advantages that result from their interactions, and more broadly, between the practical and normative perspectives on such issues. Humans are the fundamental components that establish and give meaning to nations and economies. Even as U.S.-Asia relations aim at advancing overall economic progress, it's crucial that one's moral obligation is taken into account. Nonetheless, it's crucial that one analyzes the problem at hand in a rational manner.
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Myerson, Allen R. "In Principle, a Case For More 'Sweatshops'" The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 June 1997. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Reporter, Daily Mail. "My Life as a Sweatshop Worker: Undercover Reporter Tells of Crushing Hours and Terrible Pay in Bangladeshi Clothes Factory Where She Worked for Girl Boss Aged Just NINE." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.