Monday, 19 April 2010

In defence of child labour

I fully realise that this is going to be a tough sell, but before I start, take five minutes to read this.

Now think about the farmers' kids in that scenario. They're not going to school, they're not facebooking on their iPhone, they're not taking meow-meow. They're fucking agricultural slaves.

They're not badly-paid agricultural workers, they're agricultural slaves. And if they weren't useful on the farm, or there was a bad year, they'd be sold into prostitution.

By comparison, a tough life in a factory is like a holiday. It's still a shit life, and it's not one I'd wish for my child or, indeed, anyone. But those kids are the generation or generations that have to carry that pain so that their kids will be able to go to school and facebook on their iPhones and take meow-meow.

They're still better off than they would have been on the farm. They're not slaves any more. They're not being sold into prostitution. Their desperate poverty is actually more comfortable to them than their previous agrarian lifestyle.

As painful as it may be for bleeding hearts to deal with this, there's nothing that you can realistically do for them but treasure the fact that their gradually improving lives will lead to a revolution for their children.

Ideals, aspirations, rhetoric - none of these count for shit when it comes to picking a society up by its bootstraps. If there's nothing there, the wealth has to be created. It gets created sheer bloody hard physical work. And much like those kids are there to work the farm for the survival of the family, the reality of it is that they're there to work in the sweatshop for the (slightly better) survival of the family, too.

Oh, and a corollary to this: if you want those kids to get out of the sweatshops more quickly, spend your efforts getting free trade implemented with these poorer nations. Our protectionist policies like import tariffs, the CAP and so forth just drag out the time those kids are stuck in the sweatshop.

The faster we can buy stuff from them and the more of the money that goes to them, the better off both parties are: we get stuff slightly cheaper and they get a bigger market. And the faster they get their wealth, the faster they'll be able to afford schools and the faster those kids will get out of the factories and into lifestyles more like ours.

10 comments:

JuliaM said...

Batten down the hatches! Prepare for Force Ten hysterics and footstamping!

You are quite right, of course, that's what really drives the backlash that you'll see against this. And they know that, deep down where they will never admit it...

Because we're young said...

Hang on, didn't I read something similar on another blog? A really good one, that doesn't care about hits and likes politeness, but told me to "fuck off back to your pathetic shithole of a blog you cunt" last time I dared say anything?

That aside, I totally agree with this Obo, you're spot on, sadly the MSM would never dare run something like this, so most people will remain unaware. Fairtrade is a disgrace, part of the problem. Their bananas are pretty shit here in Switzerland as well.

Antisthenes said...

Well I await the the barmy and demented comments to fly thick and fast now. Only the bovine minded freedom fighters will not see the common sense in your piece. They will immediately up arms to force those grotesque child labour exploiters to relinquish their hold and release these children to prostitution or starvation just to appease their senile consciences. Oh yes is it not better to throw a few kids onto the dung heap so that we can spread the cause of liberty after all there always casualties on the way to freedom as long as it is collateral and not among the troops.

RantinRab said...

So, no boycotting then?

Back to the drawing board, chattering classes...

Krauser said...

Child labour is an easy one. If the child has a choice whether to do so (or parents on their behalf) and they choose factory labour then by definition it's preferable to their other options.

If you take that option away they are forced onto their 2nd best option.

Simple.

Oleuanna said...

Naaaa.....

I need to go to a special abattoir. When I get back I'll answer more fully.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I don't have time to read the link, but yours is a fair summary. I doubt whether these people in 'third world sweatshops' are that much worse off than our great-grandparents* in England.

* My English grandparents were born 1910 or thereabouts**, so their parents would have been born in the late nineteenth century.

** I ought to know when, really. That's my political career down the toilet, I suppose.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

It's just a link to my previous piece in defence of sweatshops.

sconzey said...

Good job, Obo. This is a pet peeve of mine too. Poor manners to quote one's self of course, but:
Now, I'm not saying that I don't want to see an end to child labour, only that banning it is the wrong way to go about it. Just like banning homelessness won't house the homeless, or banning starvation won't feed the hungry, so banning child labour won't end child labour.
I've bitched about it here, here, here, and here.

Gordon Brown rocks! said...

In poor countries the problem is not that there is an excess of work for the adult population to do but that there is not enough - that is basically why they are poor. Every child working in paid employment in a poor country is doing a job that there is available surplus adult labour to do. I don't know about you but while I accept that some adults make very stupid financial decisions and that some kids are surprisingly astute, I think that adults are on average more likely to use their salaries effectively to maximise long term benefit to themselves, their families and their societies generally. This is why most families do not put junior in charge of the finances. Therefore the fewer child workers a country has in relation to adult the better, even if the adults are only being paid exactly the same amount as the children would have been. Ending child labour is one of the most effective measures to aid economic development that a developing country can take. Sorry Obnoxio but this is fairly obvious stuff.