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Use of sweatshops
The fact that sweatshops allow consumers in wealthy nations to buy cheap products does not make the practice morally justifiable. This argument stems from a duty-based ethical perspective. In other countries legislation has ruled child labor illegal because it denies children their right to education. In the case presented the laborer, Anh, a 16-year-old girl is forced by circumstance to work for a living. In addition to this, the work hours are not commensurate to the pay received, the working conditions are inhumane and the treatment of employees is equally deplorable.
Exploitation in other populations
If Americans and other wealthy nations refused to buy products from the sweatshops the economies of these wealthy nations stand to benefit. On the other hand, the economies and populations of the poorer nations stand to suffer a serious setback due to the lost income. The high cost of labor and taxation in the wealthy nations encourages exploration of such options which from certain perspectives serve the “greater good”. However, noble intentions are unlikely to be felt by those who most deserve them if there are inadequate systems to monitor the process. The absence of required checks and balances often leads to exploitation in other populations.
All countries should put in place legislation that is similar to that enforced in the US while making the necessary considerations. Standardized labor law will not only protect its population from exploitative entrepreneurs, but it will ensure the bidding for these contracts does not drive its business community to revive slavery. It is in part due to lack of such measures that business people trying to outbid each other that gives rise to such practices. However, a 40-hour working week may be a bit of a disincentive for would-be manufacturers and therefore the hours may vary to lure clientele. The minimum wage offered should also reflect a realistic wage and not necessarily reflect the actual situation in the country. The fact that some people live below a dollar a day does not mean surviving in abject poverty is an option worth considering.
The main advantage of using an international treaty is in its ability to limit the effect of Gresham’s law. Mobility becomes less of an option when all parties involved must comply with a treaty. Also, treaties provide mechanisms for punitive action against multinationals who may attempt to promote unfair practices. Treaties also allow for negotiation to attain a balance that is suitable for all parties which are difficult in their absence due to lack of consensus. One disadvantage of treaties is they will only take effect in member countries. This acts as an incentive to remain unallied thereby allowing some culprits to continue with business as usual. This disparity normally breeds dissent within the body unless the body can provide sustainable alternatives. Another disadvantage is the parent bodies tend to favor the countries with more leverage on its operations.
One of the advantages of the market monitoring approach is that it increases consumer awareness. In addition to possessing the money to buy a product it empowers the consumer to control who gets to receive his or her money. This approach is very useful in bringing people closer to the issues around the world and spurring them to act accordingly. Also advantageous is the fact that the third party groups involved are less likely to be swayed as would be the case with the government which will consider lost income and may be inclined to bend the rules. On the other hand, this is also a disadvantage since these third party groups may be unable to keep constant attention on the process. It may lead to situations where a play is acted out during inspection then it’s back to business as usual. Another disadvantage is that these groups may apply their influence to varying degrees with one being extremely strict and others being lax.
Though it appears harsh this approach has some advantages. For example, since customs vary from region to region this approach will allow the participants to eventually root out only those practices they customarily feel are unsuitable. Thus instead of imposing a 40-hour working week on them, they will eventually choose the hours that suit them. Another advantage of this approach is it allows the governments to maintain their dignity in carrying out reforms. However, all this takes place at the expense of innocent people, and here lies its greatest disadvantage. A duty-based perspective requires the stander to speak out against injustice. Also, the stress and discomfort of this option are likely to create other problems, such as corruption. In Anh’s case, it was clear other people were prepared to take her job and such desperation would sooner or later lead to bribery. In summary, this option would be disadvantageous to humanity as a whole because it suggests that people others plight.
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