Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Rights of Production

When did people start paying attention to the way in which goods and services were produced? When did issues like needing labor rights, being paid a 'living wage', or protection from the use of sweatshops become important to consumers?

Now, I know that these sorts of issues have, for a long time, been important to advocates and politicians, but when did they become important to the common consumer of these goods?

Living wage is an arbitrary guarantee on the amount of wages given to an employee for a period of employment.

Labor rights are "rights" granted to employees to organize and petition their employer. These "rights" can encompass so much more that it could easily take up a few pages.

Sweatshops are the factories, usually overseas, where someone here deplores the conditions there. Other people have particular minimums, but most do not.

Whether they have knowledge of it or not, it is quite often that these altruistic beliefs only serve to worsen the conditions of labor. The notion of a guarantee on wages is absurd. The idea that someone should be paid not on their knowledge, ability, expertise, or experience is ridiculous. Moreover, the living wage only serves those who are employed and makes it more difficult for the unemployed or those individuals just starting out to enter the workforce. This is the same sort of issue with the increase of the minimum wage (pricing out the marginal labor).

Although, I have no particular problems with the organization of Labor, the use of force upon the employer to guarantee rights above and beyond those given via employment has many problems. Not only is there a loss of future productivity and investment on capital, but Big Labor advocates a great deal towards pricing out the competition. If a business consents to enter agreements with a Labor Union, then it should oblige by that choice. If it wasn't a voluntary contract, then there are of course some problems.

The measure of what is and what should be considered a "sweatshop" seems a bit arbitrary to me. Of course the working standards will be lower then they are here, because we can afford to have them higher. Even Paul Krugman, the champion of Left, pointed out the value of child labor. It follows through also to labor standards, work hours, and anything else you can think of, that impedes on growth and advancement by these people and their nations.

I like the notion that people want to know about the inputs used in the production of goods and services. It is a nice idea to want to make sure you are not forcing someone to have to work for fewer wage (of course that's not exactly how it works, but I think that is the opinion). It just seems that sometimes people are so easily misguided and "used" by the local and political demagogues that any opinion contrary to forcing 'help' on others becomes the work of capitalist pigs and the evil Right. The key is that we need to remember the unintended consequences and the long-run!

More: Sweatshops, John Edwards, Living Wages, Definition of a Living Wage, Worker's Rights, and Sweatshop Watch.

Sorry for the length guys
A discussion of the Living Wage:
What I commented on earlier, I think would be a very interesting topic about voluntary interaction with a Labour Union and what all that entails.
Labor Unions and Corporations:

(Sheldon Richman's blog)
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