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May 30, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe


 
Exploitation of westernizing nations is the true American past-time.
posted by Shadax at 4:01 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


From here, the machinery looks pretty shonky, too.
posted by ambrosen at 4:18 PM on May 30, 2013


I didn't expect to be shocked by the video, but then I started crying when they pulled back to show all the workers stitching away. It's awful that we do this, but even more awful that most of the time I put it out of my mind.
posted by aedison at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the risk of being the token running dog capitalist, what's the problem with people working in a factory? It's not like they're going to get crushed sewing up baseballs. Seems pretty reasonable as far as unskilled manual labour goes. How exactly are baseballs supposed to get made?

If the issue is working conditions, sure, the factory should probably have better ventilation and there need to be better precautions about dealing with hazardous chemicals. But is there an existential problem with baseball manufacture?
posted by GuyZero at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The issue for me (and the thing that made me tear up) is the idea of someone having to do the same mind-numbingly repetitive task, over and over, again and again, day-in and day-out, with no hope that anything will every change. I pictured completing a baseball and then looking over at the huge pile of balls still to be stitched, and I knew that I could never do that. And I don't think another person should have to, either.

I know the issue is more complicated than my (possibly over-)emotional reaction, but I can't get past how soul-crushing this job must be.
posted by aedison at 4:35 PM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember seeing this video on TV, and thinking, around the 4-minute mark, "Hey, isn't that a sweatshop?"
posted by rustcrumb at 4:37 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It may be a sweatshop, but they're not slaves. I mean, most sweatshop workers are not slaves. I would be surprised if these ones were. They can probably quit any time.

And yeah, it's probably a pretty miserable job. Except for whatever jobs these people decided not to do.

The issue of low-skill factory labour was recently explored in Planet Money's report on the Bangladesh t-shirt industry. It's a good listen. Probably many of the points brought up there apply to the workers here.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's bring back baseball manufacturing to the US! Give these jobs back to US workers. Of course baseballs will cost $450 each.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:48 PM on May 30, 2013


The issue for me (and the thing that made me tear up) is the idea of someone having to do the same mind-numbingly repetitive task, over and over, again and again, day-in and day-out, with no hope that anything will every change.

Way back when in the 1990s, I took a job with a frozen dinner manufacturer. The pay sucked, but it had health insurance, which was important because I had a kid on the way. Anyway, it was pretty much the only job available - especially with insurance.

The actual job ? Stirring noodles. I took a bin of noodles as the came out of the blanching machine, added "butter" which was really just a generic food grade grease, stirred the mixture up and dumped in the distribution hopper. Then, I got another bin. I did this for 12 hours a day 5 days a week.

Soul crushing doesn't even begin to start to describe it. And there were people there who had been working for years. I couldn't even make it months.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:50 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I realize a lot of people would feel crushed by doing factory work.
To me it's not the repetitive nature of the work which is so bad, it's the lack of proper safety precautions, and fair pay and benefits.
WITH proper safety precautions,fair pay and benefits, I personally would have preferred factory work to the jobs I did have.
At least those bins of noodles were somewhat useful. Calling people to sell them things was a lot less enjoyable.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:59 PM on May 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


Relevant: "In Praise of Cheap Labor" by Paul Krugman. I wonder if his opinion has changed over the years since this was written (in '97).
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:07 PM on May 30, 2013


"I know the issue is more complicated than my (possibly over-)emotional reaction, but I can't get past how soul-crushing this job must be."

Yeah, and those of us who live in economies where most of us don't have to work such terrible jobs are very privileged.

People shouldn't have to do such jobs, they also shouldn't have to starve. For me, the real issue is how to we get those people from where they are now to where we are (and how to get from where we are now to somewhere that's better) and especially how to avoid making it worse.

Charity has a terrible track record, developmental aid has only a slightly better track record. The only thing that ends up working well is a big infusion of capital that takes the form of developing industries and providing jobs.

However, as the economy grows and the standard of living rises, everyone but the workers who have primarily benefited from this have a vested interest in cheap labor and a low standard of living. The developed world importers and consumers and the developing world capitalists and bureaucrats don't want workers to be anything other than disposable, because that means their labor will be more expensive. And it's almost never the workers who have any political power. So when it works, it works despite itself because there's a collusion of interests between developed world and developing world capitalists to maintain a status quo (with the only thing they want to rise is their wealth).

Ideally, those of us in the developed world should use our influence to walk these workers and these economies up a staircase of development, ensuring that a balance is struck between labor competitiveness and broad-based economic development with incremental labor protections. The people who make a dollar an hour instead of a dollar a day ought to be fueling consumption served by a developing domestic manufacturing and service sector. The generated wealth shouldn't chiefly go to overseas bank accounts and luxuries for the capitalists and the bureaucrats, but spread throughout the developing economy.

There was a time when the Japanese worked in sweatshops. Trade is the solution, not the problem; but it's a solution that can, and does, go badly awry when it doesn't fuel broad, internal economic development and rising standards of living for the labor class. When it's bad, it funds a system where it's all exploitation and little development, wealth accruing almost exclusively to the exploitative class, which often includes foreign consumers.

But the answer isn't that we should stop buying things manufactured from cheap labor in Costa Rica. That's not an answer, it's an avoidance of responsibility.

Which, by the way, we in the US do have a particular responsibility. The history of the US with Latin American economies is gunboat diplomacy and looting on a huge scale. We have benefited, some of our wealth is the result, of resources stolen from Latin America since the nineteenth century. We've installed dictatorships that have sold vast quantities of land and natural resources to US corporations for a pittance — that's US foreign policy in Latin America in a nutshell.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:15 PM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Let's bring back baseball manufacturing to the US! Give these jobs back to US workers. Of course baseballs will cost $450 each.
Hell they all ready make a fortune on the baseballs. An official Rawlings baseball at a sports equipment store runs about $19 a piece. At Busch stadium they want almost $30 per ball.

Though, to be fair, I've bought the plastic case for a foul ball my son caught last year. It adds about .51¢ to the price, so buyer beware.
posted by stltony at 5:16 PM on May 30, 2013


The solution is robots?
posted by zscore at 5:16 PM on May 30, 2013


Robots offer a potentially worse problem. What happens to the workers when we really do have robots capable of doing any human manufacturing job? The next job down the totem pole is probably on the order of breaking ships by hand in Bangladesh or mining so-called recycled American electronics for precious metals in a Chinese dump. What when there are robots capable of this? This is such a huge problem that it boggles my mind in a similar way that the idea of an infinite universe does.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:29 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I accept this as a valid argument for the elimination of baseball.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:36 PM on May 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: having to do the same mind-numbingly repetitive task, over and over, again and again, day-in and day-out, with no hope that anything will every change.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 5:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've known a few factory workers. Some had the job, like Pogo_Fuzzybutt, for only a few months. Others longer. I know one girl who would have been a very proud lifer had the factory not left her town (to Mexico, I believe). The company was generous and between their help and state aid, she managed to get some technical training. She makes (slightly) more money now, but misses her old job - the friends and, I think, the routine of it. I'm not saying this to glamorize factory work, it's definitely a job that I wouldn't want. But, it is a job. And there can be pride in doing work. Even monotonous work.

The issue, especially with foreign factories that lack the regulations and such, is that the jobs are exceptionally crappy and the pay is pretty much non-existant. My ex was an HR manager for a company that moved a bunch of plants across the border. He consoled himself with the fact that, really, the plants were pretty decent compared to neighboring plants and, although the pay was insanely low, they provided transportation, meals, and some sort education something or other. So, while the pay scale was so very low, he could justify it to himself (and attempt to justify it to me). There were rules of some sort, he would say. They couldn't pay more. It would mess with local economies or some such bs. (because, really, I can't imagine why a local government would want there to be more money in the local system... that would be awful!)

The simple fact is: a consumer economy needs goods that can be consumed. It would be swell if we could make all these things via technology, but that takes away jobs. It is all rather complicated, but the one thing that we can do is fight for better working conditions and more pay. That may help the developing nations develop a bit more quickly (and, perhaps, provide a touch more stability to the process) so that we can move everyone towards a stronger knowledge/creative/tourism sort of economy. But even here in the US, we haven't quite figured all of that out. Thus all the calls to bring back more factory jobs.
posted by imbri at 5:43 PM on May 30, 2013


Let's bring back baseball manufacturing to the US! Give these jobs back to US workers. Of course baseballs will cost $450 each.

If something costs more because you're paying the people who made it a livable, decent wage, then that higher price is the correct cost.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


cjorgensen: "Let's bring back baseball manufacturing to the US! Give these jobs back to US workers. Of course baseballs will cost $450 each."

Even if you had 10 seconds per stitch that is 1080 seconds per ball or about 3.5 balls per hour. Even paying an American stitcher $15 an hour and doubling the wage to account for taxes and vacation pay etc that is still less than $10 in labour costs per ball.
posted by Mitheral at 5:48 PM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Paying folks in Bangladesh a livable wage in safe factories would increase the retail cost of a t-shirt by $2 ($18 to $20). Hardly noticeable, really. At least according to this analysis.
posted by imbri at 5:54 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


still less than $10 in labour costs per ball.

So the markup would be... $20 a ball?

I'm against people working in deplorable conditions, but not against people having jobs outside the U.S.

They need work, people want baseballs. I wish we could all have awesome high paying jobs, but only a select few get to have those. There are people in the U.S. working in equally deplorable conditions, so I don't know how this is so outrageous.
posted by Malice at 5:55 PM on May 30, 2013


I don't think most people realize that when companies move their work to cheaper labor locations, they don't necessarily turn around and lower their prices. They mostly pocket the difference.

There are many cases where paying decent wages and not charging insane amounts is quite do-able, if you are willing to have slightly less profit for executives and stakeholders.

But that's just crazy talk, amirite?
posted by emjaybee at 5:57 PM on May 30, 2013 [18 favorites]




The thing that gets me is the company using their safety equipment as a catch-22. "We'll supply you with safety equipment, but if you use it, you won't make your quota and we'll fire you. If you don't use it and get injured, you have to pay your own medical expenses and if you are too injured to work, we'll fire you."

This is the type of system that libertarians and conservatives think is superior to the one we have today.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:02 PM on May 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


NHL uses Chinese labor
posted by basicchannel at 6:04 PM on May 30, 2013


These are all good links, but the "One stitch every 8.3 seconds" link made me sick to my stomach. Locked bathrooms? No talking? Fuck those guys.

I'm sure that Chairman of the Board and CEO Stephen M. O'Hara believes he's ten times more valuable to the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. than the workers who he treats as disposable are. Theory X assholes like him always do.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:05 PM on May 30, 2013


The rubbing mud they use to finish the surface of baseballs still comes from the USA at least.

If something costs more because you're paying the people who made it a livable, decent wage, then that higher price is the correct cost.

Nope. Sorry. it's a nice idea, but prices are dictated by consumers. Producers have to figure out how to keep their costs under that line.

Conversely, if prices are high and costs are low hey, free money! whee!
posted by GuyZero at 6:06 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The pricing argument above is confusing normative versus descriptive views and is unlikely to be productive as long as this is the case. And only slightly less unlikely to be productive were this to become not the case†.

† I don't know how I avoided a misnegation in that sentence. I admit it's arguably almost unintelligible.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:14 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]




I wish we could all have awesome high paying jobs, but only a select few get to have those.

Religious faith unburdened by morality or reality. If a person can only make a good wage because other people work too many hours for too little pay in unsafe conditions, that person's wages are too high.


Nope. Sorry. it's a nice idea, but prices are dictated by consumers.

Ahhh, the "I was only following orders" of capitalism. It's not the fault of the parasites and exploiters that they parasitize and exploit! Hate the game, not the player!
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:31 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, I dunno, I'm not sure how you can admit that capitalism requires immiserating poverty for the people who actually do the work so that those who own the capital that work is done with can live lives of luxury and in your next breath be like Fuck yeah, capitalism!

What's shocking is not how many people don't understand capitalism. What's shocking is how many people can stare misery and exploitation in the face and be okay with it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:35 PM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


All I'm saying is that prices aren't determined by deciding how much you want to make first and then setting prices. It by no means follows that this requires workers to be exploited.

Also, as I alluded to above, nobody is forcing these factory workers to make baseballs. Presumably their parents did something else before the baseball factory came along.

Sure, maybe they've been driven off the land by corrupt governments and have no other choices. I'm not going to naively deny that exploitation doesn't exist. But it's also perfectly possible that these people made a rational choice and came to the conclusion that their best option at the moment was to take the job sewing baseballs.

Also, since I don't speak Spanish, what's the deal with locked bathrooms? Is the spanish voiceover significantly more menacing than the English version that was posted later on? I generally assume that Discovery Channel productions are pretty bland in terms of their political content regardless of language.
posted by GuyZero at 6:59 PM on May 30, 2013


Except for whatever jobs these people decided not to do.

Assuming that people are "deciding" to do these jobs rather than something else is problematic. The pattern of industrializing economies often consists of subsistence farmers with some form of traditional land tenure being forced off their land and into an industrial/capitalist economy when many of them would prefer for that not to happen.
posted by junco at 7:11 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I don't mean to suggest all is perfect... but. .if it's in Costa Rica... along with this full-time job comes universal healthcare, employment rights... the labor code here is very pro-worker.

THe code has it's downsides - the legal system is currently so strongly on the side of workers that employers basically have to act draconian (bear with me) to have any leverage at all.

To cite a silly example... you don't complain when your staff come in a bit late now and then? After a while (depends on the judge, but not long) you lose the right to complain. That behavior becomes an entitlement of sorts. You can reset this, setting the rules again and begin enforcing them, but you can't just say "Hey, you are late too much, you are fired!"

What you have to do is follow a fairly specific documentation and educational process with your workers. IF they are late once, you have to write it up, explain it to them, and so on. You can't pick and choose.

I could cite examples forever - it's late or I'd have a better one right now.
Another might be employment bonuses - even if it wasn't expected, if you hand it out one or two years, it can easily become an entitlement you can't get out of. The best solution? No bonuses because you did well that year.. too much risk.

The law is so much on the side of the worker when it comes to disputes that business opt to be even more cold and dispassoinate than they could be.
Further, culturally, people know their rights, which is great- but they take advantage of it. They just wait for an employer to make a slight error and then pin them for it.

10.5 hour days... there are mandatory breaks for lunch and whatnot - 10.5 hours works out to a full time job if I'm not mistaken - like 48 hours a week.. depending on how they did lunch, I'd have to check. IT also depends on the hours worked.. shift work is pro-rated, so a day shift of 10.5 hours is the same as an evening shift of 9.5 hours wich is the same as a graveyard shift of 7.5 hours (I made up the numbers - it's similar to that though). Pay would be per shift.

Also... Education is free... even university if you make the grades.

It is still a developing economy. There are problems... people are poorer than they are in the US and other 1st world nations... but having a full-time job with benefits and some level of security isn't exactly a horrorshow.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is a dramatic illustration of the utterly grotesque inequality of global economics - or any form of economics without proper and enforced protections and regulations: obscenely overpaid baseball players along with various owners and execs on the top end and obscenely underpaid and badly treated workers on the bottom end who make the whole enterprise possible, with varying degrees of inequality in between, all to provide bread and circuses to keep the whole goddamn system going on. Depressing, horrifying, sickening, gross... and not only repeated all over but becoming more common as a result of the deliberate strategy of elites to grab more and keep the rest down; and of course every time we participate in the system we also become complicit to a degree. Evil. This I'm sure is not nearly the worst example of worker exploitation, but it is emblematic by its stark contrast. Maybe it's time for some uber-privileged baseball stars to become involved in the cause and truly give back in a meaningful way.
posted by blue shadows at 7:27 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, Omelas.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:28 PM on May 30, 2013


About 20 years ago, I started in the machining area of an aluminum foundry. My job was to pull 50 pound aluminum castings at chest level from my left, lower them onto a metal table in front of me at waist height, flip them over and back to inspect them for broken tooling and then slide them to my right onto a conveyor belt.

I did this every 11 seconds for 11 working hours per day, six or seven days a week. On a "good" day, I would pull about 3,600 castings. You know the song about "16 tons"? I did 90 tons on a regular basis.

It was very hot in the foundry, sometimes over 120 degrees. The castings were wet and slippery with machining coolant that smelled vaugely like cat piss. I did this for a month for the princely sum of $8 an hour until I was promoted. Nobody lasted at that position for more than a month. Some people didn't make it until the first coffee break. This job was always reserved for the new guy. The place was a revolving door for labor.

I now have an 8 inch scar on my right arm from ulnar nerve resection surgery to treat cubital tunnel syndrome. I had the carpal tunnel surgery done to release my median nerve at the same time. My hand isn't as numb and painful as it was, but now I can't touch my little finger with my thumb. My dexterity sucks.

Ask me about how I feel about the free market, naked capitalism and the exploitation of labor after having experienced for myself how corporations are more than happy to chew workers up like meat in a grinder.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:34 PM on May 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


TravellingDen: “It is still a developing economy. There are problems... people are poorer than they are in the US and other 1st world nations... but having a full-time job with benefits and some level of security isn't exactly a horrorshow.
Thanks for your insight, TD. I do note for the record that the article states that they fire the workers every three months so that they're technically not eligible for the usual protections.
With so much unemployment it could hire more temporary workers, firing and rehiring them every three months. This new contingency work force has no legal rights, and their wages do not have to be increased.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:59 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as it's possible to get away with treating workers like shit to save a buck, someone will be greedy enough to do so. Free trade agreements should come along with enforced labor and environmental protections.
posted by sanedragon at 8:10 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


From the 97 Degrees NYT story:
Hard work, but far better than no work at all. Many of the coffee and sugar cane plantations around here have collapsed, done in by the forces of globalization. There is only one other factory in Turrialba, population 30,000. Without baseballs, Mr. Monge said, life here ''would be more like Nicaragua,'' the poor neighbor to the north.
To quote the Krugman article that TheNewWazoo linked in above: "Bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all."

That's sounds terribly Scroogelike and Henry F. Potteresque, but I think Krugman and Mr. Monge make valid points. How many baseballs an hour is the right number? How many days of bereavement pay or marriage leave should the workers get?
posted by Cassford at 10:01 PM on May 30, 2013


There's nothing inherently wrong with working in manufacturing, provided pay is sufficient and proper attention is paid to health and safety. I've done it, I'd do it again, and I'd vouch that even repetitive work isn't necessarily soul-crushing with decent working conditions. Providing good working conditions really doesn't cost much more! Slowing the work down so that workers aren't ruining their health isn't that hard!

There's really no reason for the misery, except that we've decided to trade textile workers' lives for the ability to buy hundreds of disposable items of clothing over the course of a year, and ever-increasing profits that go to anyone but the people physically involved in production.

The fact is that we don't yet have robots capable of doing most textile-based work. We may never have robots capable of making quality baseballs. These are complicated problems that we have not solved. We've got knitting and weaving machines that can create fabric for us, but pretty much anything involving seams requires human mediation. Sewing machines make the task easier and faster, but every item of clothing you own was produced by actual humans.

(If it's crocheted? It was entirely handmade. Don't ever buy crocheted goods unless you know where they came from.)

I'm sufficiently fed up with this shit that as of last weekend, I'm teaching myself to sew. It's satisfying work if there's nobody urging you to go faster, faster, faster! with unemployment waiting when you fail.
posted by asperity at 10:58 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also: I just got home from watching a baseball game. I did think about who made the players' uniforms: a lot of work clearly goes into them, or they'd never stand up to the use they see. It did not occur to me to think about the baseballs. I plan to write the team to ask what they can do about this, because it's ridiculous. They pay to keep the balls in a humidor, they can pay a little extra for the balls if they have to. I even bought nachos, so they'd better not tell me they can't afford it. Those were $6!
posted by asperity at 11:10 PM on May 30, 2013


To what extent does the label 'low-skilled labor' connote a labor force whose capabilities/motivations etc only stretch as far as the jobs in question? I bet everyone (well, nearly everyone) there is capable of achieving a great deal more, had they the circumstances to go ahead and do so, and I hate the casual way describing the job is so often seen as describing the people who do it.

(And then again 'achievement' is another such label.) Anyway it sucks that this is considered okay because it's "better than nothing".
posted by aesop at 1:10 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And then again 'achievement' is another such label.) Anyway it sucks that this is considered okay because it's "better than nothing".

I threw a guy in a deep pool, then I threw him a water wing that's just buoyant enough to keep his head coming up above water long enough to breathe before he sinks again. Hey, it's better than nothing!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:32 AM on May 31, 2013


I worked in frozen food factories when I was younger. Since then I have often said that I think it would be a good idea if there was some sort of labour equivalent of National Service, where everyone had to spend a year working in a factory, or at some other lower-rung, labour-intensive job. I still think this would be good for society, and especially good for people who just don't seem to get what it's like to do this sort of work. It's good for everyone to know exactly what it takes to shore up a capitalist, consumerist society.
posted by Decani at 4:06 AM on May 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Decani, you would need to cut the people on Labor Service off from all outside material support and limit them to a hundred dollars or so in savings, if that, to really get the point across.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:56 AM on May 31, 2013


It may be a sweatshop, but they're not slaves. I mean, most sweatshop workers are not slaves. I would be surprised if these ones were. They can probably quit any time.

And yeah, it's probably a pretty miserable job. Except for whatever jobs these people decided not to do.


That's probably an in-depth analysis of sweatshops. It's not like any actual information is available on whether sweatshop workers are slaves, or whether there are any other employment opportunities available for these people. You can probably generate these opinions without any knowledge at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:57 AM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nope. Sorry. it's a nice idea, but prices are dictated by consumers. Producers have to figure out how to keep their costs under that line.
Treating people inhumanely just because you need widgits to cost $0.19 a piece instead of $0.23 is not a functioning long-term solution. Overly Obvious Example.

The problem lies in where do you draw the line that identifies inhumane.

Answer: Regulation

Secondary problem: Which word has worse political implications?

Aaaand this is why we can't have nice things.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:10 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed that I recognized that this must be from How It's Made within the first three seconds.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:21 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: But is there an existential problem with baseball manufacture?
That whizzing sound was the point of the post. Don't worry, it will be back. Wait for it.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:47 AM on May 31, 2013


GuyZero: It may be a sweatshop, but they're not slaves. I mean, most sweatshop workers are not slaves. I would be surprised if these ones were. They can probably quit any time.
Citation needed.

Really.

You've just handwaved away every problem that exists with "probably" and "I would be surprised if...", without making the slightest effort to learn anything about the situation first.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:50 AM on May 31, 2013


GuyZero:

Please read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The oppression of labor by capital is just as bad in some workplaces as it was over 100 years ago, especially for laborers in third world countries, many of whom are literally slaves.

Not all slaves picked cotton in the antebellum south. Slavery didn't end with the civil war. The choice between starving and not starving is no choice at all.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:46 AM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


How exactly are baseballs supposed to get made?

At twice the cost? A baseball might end up costing $10-20 rather than $5-10, but it's worth it from a human rights aspect. The problem is that capitalism, while extremely effective at providing incentives to distribute goods as widely as possible, has very little in the way of incentive to improve workers' rights.
posted by maus at 4:21 PM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


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