I want to take a short diversion from normal service to add to the occasional series “arguments so bad my jaw literally drops.” I have forgotten exactly what radio programme I heard it on, but it was probably one of those vacuous pseudo-intellectual radio four programmes staffed by Daily Mail and Guardian columnists — The Moral Maze, most likely. The argument was that boycotting sweatshops increases the problem of poverty — obviously, without the peanuts sweatshop workers are paid for long hours in unsafe conditions, their poverty will be exacerbated.
What do you think we do when we boycott sweatshops? Go naked? Knowing very little economics, I can not comment on the claims that increasing wages causes inflation related problems, but I don’t think an education in economics is required for me to know that if I buy my clothes from the sweatshops to keep them in their peanuts, the fair wage producers are going to loose out. Could any of you economists confirm for me that increasing sales of fair wage clothing might just have the effect of creating jobs in that sector? I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Originally posted on the old blog in 2007.