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Monday, March 28, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Trade, Labor, and Politics": No Mention of Child Labor by the Conscience of a Liberal



In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Trade, Labor, and Politics," Paul Krugman lectures us on international trade:

"It’s probably bad politics to talk right now about what a trade war would do to, say, Bangladesh. But any responsible future president would have to think hard about such matters.

. . . .

If you’re generally a supporter of open world markets — which you should be, mainly because market access is so important to poor countries — you need to know that whatever they may say, politicians who espouse rigid free-market ideology are not on your side."

Bangladesh? Fascinating! As reported in a February 6, 2014 Guardian article entitled "Bangladesh garment factories still exploiting child labour for UK products" by Miles Brignall and Sarah Butler:

"Bangladesh garment factories producing clothes for British retailers are forcing girls as young as 13 to work up to 11 hours a day in appalling conditions, according to an ITV documentary to be shown on Thursday night.

Undercover filming by the Exposure programme found clothes produced for Lee Cooper, BHS and other UK retailers in factories where workers were physically and verbally abused and fire safety ignored.

Despite promises made by retailers to improve conditions following last year's Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, where at least 1,130 people died and thousands more were injured, staff as young as 13 are filmed in factories being kicked, slapped and hit with a used fabric roll as well as abused with physical threats and insults.

Fire escapes at one factory, Vase Apparel, are shown padlocked, even though hundreds of garment workers have died in fires after being trapped in similar factories over the past few years."

Mention of child labor in Krugman's opinion piece? None.

Also no mention by Krugman of slave labor in, for example, China. As reported in a December 13, 2014 National Review article entitled "China's Slaves" by Josh Gelernter:

"China’s Communist dictators operate more than a thousand 1,000 slave-labor camps.

The camps are called “laogai,” a contraction of 'láodòng gǎizào,' which means 'reform through labor.' They were conceived under Mao; unlike Stalin’s gulags, they never closed — though the CCP has tried to abolish the name 'laogai.' In the Nineties, it redesignated the camps 'prisons.' The conditions, though, don’t seem to have changed.

Our picture of life in the laogai is murky, but here’s what has been reported: The prisoners are given uniforms and shoes. They have to purchase their own socks, underwear, and jackets. There are no showers, no baths, and no beds. Prisoners sleep on the floor, in spaces less than a foot wide. They work 15-hour days, followed by two hours of evening indoctrination; at night they’re not allowed to move from their sleeping-spots till 5:30 rolls around, when they’re woken for another day of hard labor. Fleas, bedbugs, and parasites are ubiquitous. The prisoners starve on meager supplies of bread, gruel, and vegetable soup. Once every two weeks they get a meal of pork broth."

I should be a supporter of open world markets "because market access is so important to poor countries"? Think again, Krugman.

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