Monday 4 January 2010


The Bayesian Heresy lists Offsetting as one of the top "New Zealand, Australian and Irish" blogs of the year, while the Church of Rationality says my sweatshops post is the top blog post of the year, just edging out Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution's "The Inheritance of Education".

Both bloggers are clearly very perceptive and discerning judges of such things.


  1. You may well think that, but .............

  2. Not having been a reader when you made the sweatshop post, I'd just like to say well done on the argument. If we could get it around some of the more vociferous groups around who see this kind of labour as wholly unacceptable, no matter what the form, it'd be more helpful than black/white activism like No Sweat, or anything that comes with Naomi Klein's name attached.

    As a member of Oxfam and a former Amnesty campaigner in the UK, I'd like to point out that the larger, sensible organisations recognised this a long time ago. The focus is on working with companies like Nike, Reebok and other companies originally culpable for ignoring the worst abuses, through the help of the FLA and human rights organisations. It's just a great shame that Primark, Wal-Mart and Target haven't taken up the baton to clean up their supply chain.

    The focus can't ever be off the rights of the people who work in sweatshops - and that means those in second and third world countries and those in the West. The idea isn't to close or ban clothing factories, but rather to ensure that the conditions aren't such that they get the label sweatshops in the first place. It's also to ensure that the production cycle is as big a part of brand awareness in horizontally integrated companies, and that those companies work with human rights organisations to ensure fair labour practices.

    There are much worse abuses of all kinds of life outside of the sweatshops. We're not looking for a perfect world, but one that's a little fairer won't hurt.

  3. @Chris: I worry at least as much about the folks who don't get the jobs at the sweatshop, but want them, as I do about the folks lucky enough to get those jobs. I totally agree that it would be a good thing if working conditions and pay were better. But if it's done through pressure, it reduces the demand for labour and reduces the number of folks lucky enough to get those jobs.

    In world A, sweatshop jobs are pretty terrible but still better than working in garbage dumps, and lots of folks get those jobs and work their way up from utter poverty to milder poverty.

    In world B, sweatshop jobs are still worse than jobs in the developed world, but much better than they are now; but, far fewer people are there employed and many more are still stuck in the garbage dumps.

    I push the button for world A because I put weight on the utility of folks who are otherwise unable to get the jobs in the sweatshops.