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Ethics Issue Essay

Is it ethical for an American company to operate a sweatshop in a foreign country?

Facts: According to the US Department of Labor, a sweatshop is an employer that violates more than one federal or state labor law governing minimum wage and overtime, child labor, industrial homework, occupational safety and health, workers compensation or industry . As we examine the effects that sweatshops have on the employees in the foreign country, most American’s would agree that forcing employees to work long hours with little or no pay and exposing these workers to unsanitary and dangerous working conditions would be considered despicable acts.

If we knew that our favorite pair of jeans came from a manufactures who hired contractors who in turn hired garment workers who were forced to work under these horrible conditions; most of us would likely stop buying those jeans. To the average American, the mere thought of the term “sweatshop” brings unpleasant and XX thoughts. But we also pause and also consider the opinions of those sweatshop workers. How do they feel about their jobs, their salaries and their working conditions? From the lens of the foreign sweatshop worker many of them feel blessed to have a job.

Interviews conducted

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with many foreign workers that work in these so called sweatshops reported that the workers often seek employment that could offer longer hours based of the potential of being able to earn more money. These jobs to us Americans who are accustomed to a much different way of live would likely be repulsive. But for people who are living in poverty and misery and who don’t have the means to leave their Countries in pursuit of a better life, the idea of a job where some amount of money can be earned is a much better alternative.

Keep in mind that the alternatives to sweatshop labor in these poverty-stricken countries often amount to child prostitution, sexual slavery, drug market, or exposing yourself to getting malaria while breaking your back in a rice paddy, or just living in misery and starving to death. These laborers choose to work in these sweatshops because they present the best out of their few, terrible options. If we focus on the effects that this has on our local/domestic competition, here to there’s two sides to the coin.

American companies are looking to make the most amount of profit possible, to do so they must remain price competitive. In an effort to get the best price, many look to out-sourcing as their answer. American production contracts end up in the hands of manufactures that run sweatshops. Because of the lower operating costs for these sweatshops they are able to present the best value and can produce the products so that these American companies can secure a cheaper price on production. There are many American companies that refuse to focus only on the bottom line.

These companies who don’t rely on hiring sweatshops must resort to paying higher production costs for those same products. When the products come to market and they present the same quality, who do you think is going to sell more? The company the priced the product 25% lower than the market price or that moral driven company who must price at 25% above market price. Many consumers might feel warm and fuzzy about knowing that they are not purchasing a product that came from a sweatshop but is this really beneficial to those poor workers, who would likely die of starvation if they did not have a means to survive.

Economist David Henderson argues that “we should buy the cheapest goods available to free up capital for further spending” . He claims that producing goods more expensively in the United States for the sake of humane conditions does not grow our own economy, and such compassion does not help to lift Third World workers out of poverty. Opinions and Analysis: Reason towards moral judgments using consideration of three ethical approaches taken. Ethical principles: Utilitarian = Theories which say that the ethical status of an action is determined by the amount of pleasure or pain it causes.

Ethical actions are those that provide the greatest balance of good over evil. To analyze an issue using the utilitarian approach, we first identify the various courses of action available to us. Second, we ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived from each. And third, we choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm. The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

Kantian = goodness consisted in the will directed in accordance with reason or duty. Deciding whether an action is moral or immoral using this second approach, then, we must ask, does the action respect the moral rights of everyone? Actions are wrong to the extent that they violate the rights of individuals; the more serious the violation, the more wrongful the action. Best Option: Brief explanation of why this is the best option- In conclusion, sweatshops are unethical and negative according to a wide array of ethical standards

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