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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

China's Workers -- and Ours
Date: 2004-03-17

Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng (L), the father of the democracy movement in China, presents his business card to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka Pic Courtesy Yahoo NewsChina's Workers and Ours

I have much empathy for anyone who loses his job but I take umbridge when anyone hides behind a very shallow veneer of claiming they are doing something to protect someone else's Human Rights.

The Union at the center of this action is masking it's desire for "protectionism" behind a facade of caring for the Chinese workers.

China has what in the language of capitalism is called a "comparative advantage". It is exactly that which at one time or another every developing nation has had.

We saw it with the Japanese and Koreans and we are seeing it now with the Chinese and the Indians.

It is a developmental stage. As GDP and a nations wealth increase so too will the demands of labor in terms of wages and conditions. Up will slowly creep the labor components of cost and along with that price to the end user. Thus an initial comparative advantage will disappear and need to be replaced with one more sustainable.

Such an outcome is as certain as day and night.

In the meantime whilst the working class must labour in what we call "sweatshop" conditions they are improving their situations twofold. Firstly they receive income. Something is better than nothing. Secondly they are contributing to the accumulation of national wealth.

It is once national wealth reaches a certain "critical mass" that these "sweatshop" workers can bargain for improvements in wages and conditions. They can not do that until wealth has been accumulated. It is not a case of the chicken or the egg. It follows a well trodden path.

Now by calling for sanctions, economic penalties, tariffs or whatever, you can not say to any degree that you are helping these poor "sweatshop" workers. These actions will only lessen demand putting a downward pressure on wages and conditions as companies attempt to remain competitive at a rate return to justify their investment.

In an undeveloped country which China is, they do not have the excess capital be it human, intellectual or monetary to allow them to move easily from one means of production to another, from one industry to another.

Any attempt to "turn off the taps" now will not aid one iota the human rights of the Chinese worker. Their human rights are being advanced now by being able to take advantage of a "comparative advantage" they have now.

One can not live by the sword and not accept the possibility that one may die by it. That is what this claim by organised labor in the US and more than likely supported by their employers is attempting to do and disgracefully couching in terms of worrying about the other guy?

Get real fellows and treat us as the mature intelligent people we are and do not try to peddle this mean spirited garbage to us.

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