Thursday, September 16, 2010

Consistency Check

One not infrequently encounters defenses of so-called "sweatshop" labor that proclaim that factories thus described are only able to find employees because they represent the "best available option" for residents of their localities.

Consequently, goes this line of argument, any bleeding-heart's personal boycott (or public campaign exhorting widespread boycott) of companies using these types of facilities is counterproductive, making the lives of the workers the would-be do-gooder claims to be looking out for worse off by hurting their employers.

It strikes me that for a moral person who truly believes this, it should not be enough to stop at "don't boycott" as a response to sweatshops: indeed, there is a moral obligation to actively seek out and prefer sweatshop products over alternatives, and to agitate for others to do the same.

The purchase of "fair trade," artisanal, or other "humanely manufactured" items takes food from the mouths of those who need it most to line the pockets of well-heeled hobbyists and lazy union "workers."

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