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#1 Posted by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -

Please note that in no way am I saying that sex discrimination is not a thing. It is a thing that is bad when it happens.  
 
However, I wanted to discuss another issue related to video games. I was wondering how you guys feel about how the consoles that we play on are made? The big three (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft) are all pretty ok with exploiting workers in order to have there consoles made. Do you think we as an industry should be talking a look at the exploitation that goes on and say "hey, we are ok with paying higher prices for consoles if it means that you will stop subjecting human beings to such horrible working conditions." Would you be willing to pay more for consoles if it meant that nobody was going through hell to get it to your living room?  
 
Is this an issue of that's just the way it is, there is nothing we can do about it? We as gamers will bitch about the ending to Mass Effect 3 or the redesign of Dante in DmC and create these huge petitions but we won't say "hey stop taking advantage of people". Is this too big a problem so we decide "fuck it?" Should we just not even worry about it, and just tell ourselves that everything will be alright eventually?

#2 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -

It's easier to look the other way about cheap labor. Child workers usually don't have Twitter accounts.

#3 Posted by McGhee (6075 posts) -

I agree, but until the U.S. does things to draw businesses and factories back home, it will not change. And even then, it won't change because there will still be people buying that low-priced shit.

#4 Posted by believer258 (12177 posts) -

The thing is that so much of what you own is made in terrible working conditions that, were you to get rid of it all, you'd most likely have to become nearly self-sufficient and it wouldn't even solve a damn thing.

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@DarthOrange said:

We as gamers will bitch about the ending to Mass Effect 3 or the redesign of Dante in DmC and create these huge petitions but we won't say "hey stop taking advantage of people".

Because that would cost money.

#6 Edited by Rowr (5824 posts) -

Well we could give up our high standard of living and cheap electronics but...........yeh

#7 Edited by Ryuku_Ryosake (217 posts) -

*Lights up his cigar comprised of nothing but hundos and put on his Capitalist hat* That's just the price of doing business in the global market. At least you can sleep a bit easier for the fact that exploited workers generally are there by choice and are not slaves. Also working in the factories is probably for them a much greater improvement in quality of life for them. It surely is much better then the agricultural lifestyle where a bad summer or winter kills off a sizable portion of your family.

So sure a company in the industry could move their factories to a place where their workers would be treated much better. Then they can put out a box that's $300 more then their competition with equal specs. Sure some people would buy that box because it was a good thing to do but many more people wouldn't and the company wouldn't make anymore per console then before. So that company goes out of business and even more people are out of jobs across the world. And the cherry on top is all those people who used to work at the old factory died because it was a bad year.

And that my friend's is how Captialism works. Sure it sucks but it does work and eventually quality of life goes up for all just at extremely variable speeds.

#8 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4284 posts) -

Yeah this is actually a horrible thing.  This is why I like paying more for certain products from companies where the products are made out of poor countries.  I dont know, I hate how society just accepts that cheap labour is alright just so we can save a few dollars.  

#9 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4486 posts) -

@McGhee said:

I agree, but until the U.S. does things to draw businesses and factories back home, it will not change. And even then, it won't change because there will still be people buying that low-priced shit.

Unless American workers are willing to work for minimum to less than minimum wage to entice businesses to get factories, otherwise good luck with that. You simply can't beat cheap labor and unless you're Apple who can afford to build and operate a plant in the US then I just don't see that changing.

#10 Posted by pakalolobro420 (42 posts) -

i dont care man

#11 Posted by Zomgfruitbunnies (888 posts) -

Unequal distribution of resources.

#12 Posted by konig_kei (667 posts) -

If the only thing standing in the way of human trafficking was the moral issue, you can bet your ass big companies would want a slice. If they can save a few cents they'll do whatever it takes.

#13 Posted by beeftothetaco (426 posts) -

The article only mentioned Sony. Did you read the whole thing through?

#14 Posted by crusader8463 (14428 posts) -

It sucks, but it doesn't bother me because I don't let things I can't change bother me. Pretty much everything has some part of it that's made by exploited workers. So as stated above, it would be impossible to cut those things out plus there's no way to really know how every product we buy is made. Sure you can do it for some big ticket item, but that just seems silly when every other thing in your house doesn't get the same treatment.

#15 Posted by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -
@beeftothetaco said:

The article only mentioned Sony. Did you read the whole thing through?

Yea I didn't feel like putting up articles for all of them, I assure you they aren't too hard to find :P  

Here is one for Microsoft:   
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1266643/Microsofts-Chinese-workforce-tired-stay-awake.html 
Here is one for Nintendo: 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/10/18/nintendo-investigating-underage-workers-at-foxconn/ 
 
 
Seems like based on the responses here that this quote from the Forbes article above answers my question:  

For the time being, it appears that the price efficiencies from the working conditions are a devil’s bargain Western customers are willing to make.


#16 Posted by StarvingGamer (8546 posts) -

There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.

#17 Posted by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -
@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.
#18 Edited by Jams (2966 posts) -

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

#19 Posted by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -
@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

    

 
I don't have a solution but I think that just not doing anything and saying the problem will solve itself is a shitty thing. 
#20 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

This is neo-liberal bullshit. It is an unserious and unconvincing argument. Even if you believe his unsubstantiated and contextually empty assertion that sweat shop workers are there by choice, this does nothing to defend sweatshops on an ethical level. The fact of the matter is that poor people who work in conditions that would be intolerable in our country are the ones facilitating our consumer culture. "If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

Also he's a ginger.

#21 Edited by Manhattan_Project (2173 posts) -

@DarthOrange: @boj4ngles:

I don't know if you guys listen to This American Life but this episode deals with this. Free to stream, one dollar to download.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction

The episode they talk about is titled Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. Its no longer available to stream or download on their site, but you can probably find it with a few Google searches.

#22 Posted by Wampa1 (739 posts) -

@Ravenlight: #starvingfornike ?

#23 Posted by StarvingGamer (8546 posts) -
@boj4ngles

@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

This is neo-liberal bullshit. It is an unserious and unconvincing argument. Even if you believe his unsubstantiated and contextually empty assertion that sweat shop workers are there by choice, this does nothing to defend sweatshops on an ethical level. The fact of the matter is that poor people who work in conditions that would be intolerable in our country are the ones facilitating our consumer culture. "If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

Also he's a ginger.

I'm on the mobile site so I can't embed or hyperlink, but if someone else would be so kind. I didn't watch the video above but I'm 99.9% sure the one here is better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc2wVyl8RLI
#24 Posted by Subjugation (4740 posts) -

@StarvingGamer said:

@boj4ngles

@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

This is neo-liberal bullshit. It is an unserious and unconvincing argument. Even if you believe his unsubstantiated and contextually empty assertion that sweat shop workers are there by choice, this does nothing to defend sweatshops on an ethical level. The fact of the matter is that poor people who work in conditions that would be intolerable in our country are the ones facilitating our consumer culture. "If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

Also he's a ginger.

I'm on the mobile site so I can't embed or hyperlink, but if someone else would be so kind. I didn't watch the video above but I'm 99.9% sure the one here is better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc2wVyl8RLI

I gotcha.

#25 Posted by Jams (2966 posts) -

@Subjugation said:

@StarvingGamer said:

@boj4ngles

@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

This is neo-liberal bullshit. It is an unserious and unconvincing argument. Even if you believe his unsubstantiated and contextually empty assertion that sweat shop workers are there by choice, this does nothing to defend sweatshops on an ethical level. The fact of the matter is that poor people who work in conditions that would be intolerable in our country are the ones facilitating our consumer culture. "If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

Also he's a ginger.

I'm on the mobile site so I can't embed or hyperlink, but if someone else would be so kind. I didn't watch the video above but I'm 99.9% sure the one here is better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc2wVyl8RLI

I gotcha.

That's a good watch, thanks. I was looking for a video like that but I guess I wasn't using the right search terms.

#26 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5978 posts) -

Shit just got real.

#27 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@Jams said:

@Subjugation said:

@StarvingGamer said:

@boj4ngles

@Jams said:

@DarthOrange said:

@StarvingGamer said:
There are some pretty interesting articles and videos out there by people who actually took the time to talk to the workers in these factories. It might be worth the time to get to know the people you're trying to champion. A little perspective can be a wonderful thing.
Why are these people actually assholes? I'm not trying to champion them, I'm just wondering why this issue isn't discussed more. Every video I have seen of these factories seems like the people go through hell but if you have a rebuttal I'm totally open to checking it out.

They're not assholes but they are trying to champion someone who they have no idea about. The thing I really worry about is if we did close the factories down that those "slaves" would have nowhere else to work and make money for their families.

It's that whole, "who are we to judge" kind of thing. What might look like slave labor to us, feeds their whole family.

This is neo-liberal bullshit. It is an unserious and unconvincing argument. Even if you believe his unsubstantiated and contextually empty assertion that sweat shop workers are there by choice, this does nothing to defend sweatshops on an ethical level. The fact of the matter is that poor people who work in conditions that would be intolerable in our country are the ones facilitating our consumer culture. "If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

Also he's a ginger.

I'm on the mobile site so I can't embed or hyperlink, but if someone else would be so kind. I didn't watch the video above but I'm 99.9% sure the one here is better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc2wVyl8RLI

I gotcha.

That's a good watch, thanks. I was looking for a video like that but I guess I wasn't using the right search terms.

More neo-liberal bullshit. Let me try to brake this down for you guys.

Ms. Chang, and the guy in the other video are not making a case for the moral integrity of sweat shop labor, and they are not even trying to. Rather, they are saying that sweat shop labor is just a small part of the complicated process of globalization, and there is nothing we can do to stop it so we shouldn't bother trying. Plus it's not as bad as everyone says. Her own lack of perspective is mind boggling. In one breath she acknowledges that the women she was living with, (and I don't believe for a minute that she was actually living with these women or that she was meeting with people that the Chinese government had not signed off on) moved to urban centers to escape abject poverty and ended up in dormitories not so different from a US prison. In the next breath she boasts about how one of these workers gave her a $300 purse for free. She doesn't seem to want to realize that people are making multiple $300 dollar purses a day for less than minimum wage. And these are people trying to escape abject poverty. If this disconnect is not obvious to you than I really don't know how to help you understand. They are being exploited.

She wonders what Karl Marx would have thought about this situation if he could see it. If he would have been surprised by the humanity of the workers she saw. This is a fascinating question and I wonder how much she has really thought about it. Of course China is a Marxist country (or at least claims to be), the most economically powerful communist country in the world. It makes most of its money by selling products to the most powerful capitalist country in the world. I suspect that Marx would not be happy. I suspect that he would be happy to see that the women Ms. Chang met in China were optimistic about their lives and futures, but he would realize they are being exploited by an authoritarian government in their own country, and a neo-liberalist global economy.

I know that most Giant Bomb users are young men who are probably attracted to alternative or contrarian arguments, but this stuff is BS. Just because Ms. Chang is trying to challenge white guilt does not make what she says convincing.

I don't have snazzy videos for you guys but I recommend you read the news. You can start here. And bear in mind that this is coming from the same newspaper Ms. Chang used to work for.

#28 Posted by dudeglove (8262 posts) -

The pre-production process is more worrying, as is Nintendo's shrugging off of the fact (all the while attempting to maintain its "family company" reputation)

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/criticalintel/10039-Conflict-Minerals-and-the-Game-Industry-The-Problem

If you can't be arsed reading the above short essay, the basic point is that the stuff that goes into the processors and other widgets inside our consoles has to come from somewhere. And those somewheres are usually very cheap, and dangerous.

#29 Posted by LikeaSsur (1586 posts) -

So, let be get this straight.

Sexism in gaming:

> This is an abomination! This must be changed! Even though posting on the forums doesn't seem to do much, at least we're talking about it and acknowledging the problem exists!

Exploitation in gaming:

> Eh, what can you do? At least they're paid workers and not slaves.

Giantbomb priorities.

#30 Posted by Mageman (349 posts) -

I'm pretty sure that every developed country had to go through a phase of "sweatshops" and other labour institutions before the average standards of living gradually improved.

#31 Posted by Ryuku_Ryosake (217 posts) -

@LikeaSsur said:

So, let be get this straight.

Sexism in gaming:

> This is an abomination! This must be changed! Even though posting on the forums doesn't seem to do much, at least we're talking about it and acknowledging the problem exists!

Exploitation in gaming:

> Eh, what can you do? At least they're paid workers and not slaves.

Giantbomb priorities.

It makes a whole lot of sense. The solution to sexism in gaming is pretty much "Don't be a dick." That has worked pretty well for sexism, racism, and prejudice in general so far. The more people calling someone an asshole for being a racist or sexist then the less of those there will be.

The solution to the global exploitation of workers is pretty much the entire upheaval of the global economy. We've seen what some bad loans have done to the global economy. Imagine what happens when you change most of the world's production for the worst, economically speaking, to feel better morally. It would not be pretty and the technology sector would feel it the worst.

Most of the technological innovation of the past 20 years directly comes from low prices and large scale of production. Improving the living conditions of the workers would cost more and lead to higher prices. Which you only have to look at what $599 did to Sony's sales to see how much price effects sales. Lower sales will mean you would have to scale back production which further increases costs which either leads to a price increase or your company bears the loss until scale of production breaks even. Pretty much only console manufacturers are in the unique situation to do something like that since they can also break even with software sales. But they most likely not survive trying it. Also computer parts manufacturers, which provide parts for the consoles, couldn't so there would still be "blood" on the console manufacturers hands even if they did change their ways.

That or computer parts manufacturers also improve their manufacturing practices increase their prices enough that they can scale back production and still make money. Then you could probably look forward to the $2000 Orbis and Durango coming to a store near you. Not to mention the countless business that wouldn't be able to afford to equip their work force with computers which would almost cut productivity back to pre-PC revolution levels. Nor will people be as likely to afford computers themselves anymore and there goes a large portion of the internet along with most economic progress since the 90s.

#32 Posted by imsh_pl (3309 posts) -

@Ryuku_Ryosake said:

*Lights up his cigar comprised of nothing but hundos and put on his Capitalist hat* That's just the price of doing business in the global market. At least you can sleep a bit easier for the fact that exploited workers generally are there by choice and are not slaves. Also working in the factories is probably for them a much greater improvement in quality of life for them. It surely is much better then the agricultural lifestyle where a bad summer or winter kills off a sizable portion of your family.

This is essential to realize. It's wrong to look at workers who work for a shitty pay and compare them to workers in a more civilized society. It's crucial to understand that the alternative for these guys is to either starve to death or be a prostitute, and they'd much rather work for scraps. Does that mean that all of these alternatives are bad? Compared to our standards, yes. But if they work voluntarily it might be a hint that their alternatives are way worse (unless they're forced to, then it's wrong, of coursre).

@boj4ngles said:

"If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

How can you even make the comparison between someone working because it improves their quality of life, and someone working because they are forced to WITH THREATS OF VIOLENCE (like in colonialism)? These are two opposite scenarios. Slaves were working not to improve their quality of life but because they were threatened with violence if they didn't comply.

#33 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

Okay let me try to make this simple for you to understand.

@imsh_pl said:

This is essential to realize. It's wrong to look at workers who work for a shitty pay and compare them to workers in a more civilized society. It's crucial to understand that the alternative for these guys is to either starve to death or be a prostitute, and they'd much rather work for scraps.

There is another option as well that doesn't involve starving, prostitution or economic exploitation. They could be paid a decent wage that reflects the retail price of the goods they produce.

@imsh_pl said:

@boj4ngles said:

"If they weren't working hard in sweatshops then the might be prostitutes!" This guy thinks you are stupid, and maybe you are if you believe him. He is making the same argument that was prevalent throughout colonialism. The third world cannot be trusted to make its own economic determinations because they are poor. It is a circular argument and it is designed to be. It is an argument meant to facilitate a permanent status quo where we are rich and they are poor and never will it change.

How can you even make the comparison between someone working because it improves their quality of life, and someone working because they are forced to WITH THREATS OF VIOLENCE (like in colonialism)? These are two opposite scenarios. Slaves were working not to improve their quality of life but because they were threatened with violence if they didn't comply.

I think you are confusing Caribbean style plantation slavery with the broader concept of European colonialism. For the most part, European colonialism did not utilize slave labor, at least not in the traditional notion that Americans are used to. Colonialism enabled local governments that were corrupt and exploitative by paying them with European goods and currency. In exchange the local governments exploited their own populations and resources. The idea is that if you can enable some very bad dudes to do the work for you then you don't need to get your hands dirty. This is mostly how it worked in India, China and much of Africa. Those countries had functioning governments when Europeans showed up, we just got those governments to take advantage of their people on our behalf.

That is is essentially what is still going on today. The violent excesses may not be as dramatic, but it is the same story of Western Civilization exploiting the third world.

#34 Edited by imsh_pl (3309 posts) -

@boj4ngles said:

Okay let me try to make this simple for you to understand.

@imsh_pl said:

This is essential to realize. It's wrong to look at workers who work for a shitty pay and compare them to workers in a more civilized society. It's crucial to understand that the alternative for these guys is to either starve to death or be a prostitute, and they'd much rather work for scraps.

There is another option as well that doesn't involve starving, prostitution or economic exploitation. They could be paid a decent wage that reflects the retail price of the goods they produce.

'Decent' by what standards?

I agree with you, the wages are terrible compared to ours. None of us would work for such petty money. But to the chinese workers the wage is 'decent', or at least better than the alternative. We know that because they chose to work there. All value is subjective, don't forget that.

Is it possible for the employers to pay more without losing that much profit? Maybe. But then the employers would lose their position in the market to all the other companies who use the cheap labor. Furthermore, if the workers are paid less then the prices are lower and the goods are more numerous, which means that the buying power of the workers' wage is bigger.

But okay, you brought up the issue of 'paying a decent wage'. How do you propose to do this? By introducing a minimum wage? That would literally slaughter any chance for the poorest workers to even stay alive.

Let's assume that the workers who are worst off bring their employer $1,5/h profit, and the employer pays them $1/h. Now let's say the minimum wage is $2 per hour. This means that all of the workers whose productivity level is below $2/h can't get a job. Furthermore, because workers earn more now, all of the prices will be going up, and even though the workers earn more, the purchasing power of one unit of currency is smaller than before.

I think you are confusing Caribbean style plantation slavery with the broader concept of European colonialism. For the most part, European colonialism did not utilize slave labor, at least not in the traditional notion that Americans are used to. Colonialism enabled local governments that were corrupt and exploitative by paying them with European goods and currency. In exchange the local governments exploited their own populations and resources. (...) Those countries had functioning governments when Europeans showed up, we just got those governments to take advantage of their people on our behalf.

So in the European-style colonialism the europeans bribed the governments who would then force the people to work, and use violence against them if they didn't comply, without the people's explicit consent.

How is that NOT slavery? Does the fact that the whip is held by a government official instead of a private plantation owner somehow make the situation different?

#35 Posted by Ryuku_Ryosake (217 posts) -

@boj4ngles said:

There is another option as well that doesn't involve starving, prostitution or economic exploitation. They could be paid a decent wage that reflects the retail price of the goods they produce.

They already do. It wouldn't be what most first world people would call decent but the wages they are paid are already reflected in the retail prices. Especially in technology where the profit margins on products are razor thin outside of Apple. Console manufactures usually lose money on each unit so by your logic they should be paid even less then they are now or price should be raised much much higher. Sure an argument could be made for the clothing and fashion industry where products are marked up absurdly to give their lines that "luxury" that first worlders crave.

#36 Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY (446 posts) -

Your Iphones have sweat and tears of child laborers its the dam truth

#37 Posted by Pr1mus (3943 posts) -

Is this thread a trap?

#38 Edited by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@imsh_pl:

Look, I'm not measuring the decency of wages against the living that people might eak out as prostitutes or farmers. I am measuring decency according to the profitability of the companies they work for and the wealth of the countries that are benefiting from their labor. The wage is not decent because it could be much much better if western companies and their Chinese contractors were not so greedy.

You say that this is all ok because we're talking about people who are working voluntarily. Then you say that their only other options are prostitution and starvation. That is not voluntary, that is forcing someone to work. Now I don't think that is even a realistic appraisal of the situation, but the point is that the third world could have better opportunities if capitalism didn't treat humans as numbers on a spreadsheet.

#39 Posted by imsh_pl (3309 posts) -

@boj4ngles said:

@imsh_pl:

Look, I'm not measuring the decency of wages against the living that people might eak out as prostitutes or farmers. I am measuring decency according to the profitability of the companies they work for and the wealth of the countries that are benefiting from their labor. The wage is not decent because it could be much much better if western companies and their Chinese contractors were not so greedy.

You say that this is all ok because we're talking about people who are working voluntarily. Then you say that their only other options are prostitution and starvation. That is not voluntary, that is forcing someone to work. Now I don't think that is even a realistic appraisal of the situation, but the point is that the third world could have better opportunities if capitalism didn't treat humans as numbers on a spreadsheet.

Okay, I apologize, I didn't explain how I use the word 'voluntary'. A choice is voluntary when it was not made under a threat of physical violence. So, by this definition, there's a world of difference between 'the chinese sweatshops' and slaves.

Slavery doesn't mean 'a decision made because all the alternatives were worse'...

Second of all... are you really trying to suggest that China is anywhere close to a capitalist society?

By the way, have you heard of what the life in China looked like when they had (more) socialism?

#40 Posted by Ryuku_Ryosake (217 posts) -

@boj4ngles said:

@imsh_pl:

Look, I'm not measuring the decency of wages against the living that people might eak out as prostitutes or farmers. I am measuring decency according to the profitability of the companies they work for and the wealth of the countries that are benefiting from their labor. The wage is not decent because it could be much much better if western companies and their Chinese contractors were not so greedy.

You say that this is all ok because we're talking about people who are working voluntarily. Then you say that their only other options are prostitution and starvation. That is not voluntary, that is forcing someone to work. Now I don't think that is even a realistic appraisal of the situation, but the point is that the third world could have better opportunities if capitalism didn't treat humans as numbers and zeros on a spreadsheet.

The problem with your logic here it that you are saying the workers should be treated and paid in a manner that westerner's would consider decent but if western companies were going to pay Chinese workers like western workers then they would not go to China at all. At that point patriotism kicks in and most people would rather pay people a decent wage from their own countries than pay foreigners do it. So then you would have a Chinese economy without manufacturing and they would be left with pretty much nothing but agriculture.

So they would have pretty much one option which is to become subsistence farmers. Which is much worse then any factory job where you have dependable wages access to things like running water, electricity, heating, food, shelter, and educational opportunities. I mean right now at this very moment China is pumping out more graduate students then any other country to the point where U.S. Universities have to have a control on how many Chinese students they accept otherwise they would pretty much exclusively only accept Chinese students. So that doesn't sound like a country with zero opportunities and a gun to its head.

#41 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1765 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

It's easier to look the other way about cheap labor. Child workers usually don't have Twitter accounts.

thats funny ... and true ... and sad ... and terrible ... all at the same time.

#42 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@imsh_pl said:

@boj4ngles said:

@imsh_pl:

Look, I'm not measuring the decency of wages against the living that people might eak out as prostitutes or farmers. I am measuring decency according to the profitability of the companies they work for and the wealth of the countries that are benefiting from their labor. The wage is not decent because it could be much much better if western companies and their Chinese contractors were not so greedy.

You say that this is all ok because we're talking about people who are working voluntarily. Then you say that their only other options are prostitution and starvation. That is not voluntary, that is forcing someone to work. Now I don't think that is even a realistic appraisal of the situation, but the point is that the third world could have better opportunities if capitalism didn't treat humans as numbers on a spreadsheet.

Okay, I apologize, I didn't explain how I use the word 'voluntary'. A choice is voluntary when it was not made under a threat of physical violence. So, by this definition, there's a world of difference between 'the chinese sweatshops' and slaves.

Slavery doesn't mean 'a decision made because all the alternatives were worse'...

Second of all... are you really trying to suggest that China is anywhere close to a capitalist society?

By the way, have you heard of what the life in China looked like when they had (more) socialism?

Is China a capitalist society? Well the traditional answer is no but on the other hand its economy is fully integrated into the global capitalist system. Keep in mind that capitalism is a very broad concept and once you have money you have capitalism. Do average Chinese citizens orient their lives according to capitalist principles? I really have no idea, I've never been to China and only know what I read in the papers. Do Chinese companies and their American partners make economic decisions according to capitalist principles? You bet your ass they do. And no I'm not suggesting they become more socialist or anything like that. I don't have any answers I just see a problem.

@Ryuku_Ryosake said:

@boj4ngles said:

@imsh_pl:

Look, I'm not measuring the decency of wages against the living that people might eak out as prostitutes or farmers. I am measuring decency according to the profitability of the companies they work for and the wealth of the countries that are benefiting from their labor. The wage is not decent because it could be much much better if western companies and their Chinese contractors were not so greedy.

You say that this is all ok because we're talking about people who are working voluntarily. Then you say that their only other options are prostitution and starvation. That is not voluntary, that is forcing someone to work. Now I don't think that is even a realistic appraisal of the situation, but the point is that the third world could have better opportunities if capitalism didn't treat humans as numbers and zeros on a spreadsheet.

The problem with your logic here it that you are saying the workers should be treated and paid in a manner that westerner's would consider decent but if western companies were going to pay Chinese workers like western workers then they would not go to China at all. At that point patriotism kicks in and most people would rather pay people a decent wage from their own countries than pay foreigners do it. So then you would have a Chinese economy without manufacturing and they would be left with pretty much nothing but agriculture.

So they would have pretty much one option which is to become subsistence farmers. Which is much worse then any factory job where you have dependable wages access to things like running water, electricity, heating, food, shelter, and educational opportunities. I mean right now at this very moment China is pumping out more graduate students then any other country to the point where U.S. Universities have to have a control on how many Chinese students they accept otherwise they would pretty much exclusively only accept Chinese students. So that doesn't sound like a country with zero opportunities and a gun to its head.

I don't know man. Now you are playing armchair economics and I really am not trying to make this complicated. I don't have a brilliant solution to the problem of poverty, I'm just saying its their, its real, and its something that we brush off all the time as an inevitable part of progress. It's something that people prefer not to think about. It's something that a few people, (both in China and around the world) are making a ton of money off of.

Is China a country with zero opportunities and a gun to it's head? No of course not. But it does have a repressive government, it does have labor practices that we would not tolerate in the US, and we do not have to brush it off as moral relativism or none of our business.

#43 Posted by Tireyo (6451 posts) -

@pakalolobro420 said:

i dont care man

#44 Posted by imsh_pl (3309 posts) -

@boj4ngles: First of all, capitalism is not 'a system in which money is used'.

Money is just a good for which current demand is extremely high.

Capitalism is an economic system based on voluntary exchange and private ownership of the means of production.

Second of all: historically speaking, the free market has been the number one solution to the problem of poverty.

#45 Edited by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -
@boj4ngles said: 

Ms. Chang, and the guy in the other video are not making a case for the moral integrity of sweat shop labor, and they are not even trying to. Rather, they are saying that sweat shop labor is just a small part of the complicated process of globalization, and there is nothing we can do to stop it so we shouldn't bother trying. Plus it's not as bad as everyone says. 

  
 
  @Tireyo643 said:

@pakalolobro420 said:

i dont care man

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, 
nothing is going to get better, it's not.
― Dr. Seuss
#46 Edited by kobr24 (26 posts) -

It's too easy to wave it off and say "Yeah it's a horrible thing but there's nothing I can do about it."

Chances are sweatshop labor will not cease to exist in my lifetime, but that absolutely does not mean something can be done about it. Major social chance is difficult and gradual and most activists do not live to see the day when their dreams are made reality. Not too long ago the majority of Americans were either for or totally complacent regarding slavery and now the majority of us view it as an unconscionable violation of human rights.

The argument that sweatshops are the best labor available to poor workers in the third world does not excuse privileged capitalists from engaging it. They are fully capable of providing better wages and conditions for workers but choose not to for the sake of the bottom line. I can't get behind the idea that large scale human suffering is somehow justified by what is best for a corporation.

The fact that companies would have no incentive to operate overseas factories if they had to treat them like human beings (why not just use American workers in that case) is probably true. At the very least, enforcing global standards for safety would not ruin that to the point that corporations would no longer bother. I'm not educated enough to offer any sort of real solution but surely the reality can't be so black and white.

#47 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1539 posts) -

Unions drove away the jobs and they'll keep them away. Unions were needed 100 years ago but now they are just a tool to be used by the corrupt and lazy.

#48 Posted by l4wd0g (2017 posts) -

Academic economists and political progressives would have us believe that the only thing restraining employers from hiring millions more people is lack of access to cheap credit.

The explicit assumption here is that cheap credit is all employers need to expand their workforce. This is so out of touch with reality that it beggars description. Progressives and academic economists generally claim the Federal Reserve's zero-interest policy (ZIRP) and its other policies of flooding the economy with liquidity "are working," i.e. boosting the economy.

Here is what the Fed's policies are boosting: financial sector profits

#49 Posted by gogosox82 (429 posts) -

I would say that it is an issue but its really difficult to come up with solutions that don't involve some sort of regulation and given the nature China's government, that doesn't look like its going to happen any time soon. I think the best we can do is to argue to American businesses about treating their employees with some dignity and respect and not to hire 12 year olds and putting them in a prison like dormitory hundreds of miles away from their families.

#50 Edited by chrissedoff (2167 posts) -

@sins_of_mosin: 6% of American workers are unionized. Unemployment is high and the working poor are a growing segment of the population. Once you get that number to 0, I bet that's when union busting starts working.

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