Well, I am not going to answer that question. What I am going to do, though, is to point out some work by Benjamin Powell, the director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, which he discusses in this article in Forbes and in this earlier article at the Library of Economics and Liberty.
One case Powell points out was in 1993 when U.S. Senator Tom Harkin pushed a bill that would ban imports from countries that employed children in sweatshops, prompting one of these in Bangladesh to shut down that had employed 50,000 children. It is reported that, in seeking their next best alternative, once their best option was eliminated, led many of these children into lives of prostitution.
Yes, the conditions in these factories are horrible and the wages are pathetic, compared to U.S. standards, but Powell argues that the working conditions and wages in these factories are better than these workers’ alternatives, and that should be obvious, because if it were not true, the workers would be employed at these better jobs. The problem is that these are the best these workers can find at the moment. Workers will always take their best alternative, unless somehow forced to do otherwise.
Perhaps, we should worry much about instances where workers are forced into employment against their will, such as victims of human trafficking and conscripts, young people who are forced to take up arms for governments they may disapprove.
Should we stop doing business with sweatshops? What happens to those workers then? What do you think?