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  • Don't Do Business With Poor People? New York Times Readers Disagree

    A recent New York Times online report suggested that Americans should quit buying products made by poor people—because when people in the United States buy coffee, sugar, t-shirts, or tomatoes, they are guilty of exploiting impoverished workers.

    The story quoted the executive director of a group called Art Works Projects: “Most people don’t look at their shirt and realize if they got a good deal on it, someone down the line has been seriously abused.” She later added, “If you purchased something, you’re part of the problem, but you’re immediately part of the solution because you can choose to not purchase it.”

    Many Times readers understood the unstated implications of this proposed “solution” to poverty. Here are some of the unedited responses that were posted online:

    If we didn’t buy these goods, the third world would have even fewer opportunities. America started out this way and we should not rush to judgement  when others struggle to make a living.

    So, okay, I stop drinking coffee and no longer use sugar. What then happens to the people who are now doing the work?

    I read the first few graphs and realized what is missing from the lives of the people described…capital and capitalists!

    Heart- and gut-wrenching story – but is the solution as simple as not buying that cup of coffee? Isn’t the immediate effect of that decision likely to be that the child laborer becomes an unemployed child laborer, with no income at all? Does that really improve their future? Please, let’s see some proposals for ways to improve that child’s future that don’t include unemployment and starvation.

    I found the quote, “If you purchased something, you’re part of the problem, but you’re immediately part of the solution because you can choose to not purchase it,” very simplistic, because I’ve been in coffee fields and sugar cane fields in the Third World as well, enough to say that if you don’t purchase it, you’re punishing laborers. Not all situations are exploitative – they actually provide a means of subsistence for laborers – more than anything else they may have.

    Data in The Index of Economic Freedom, published jointly by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, demonstrate that these New York Times readers are right. The best way to fight poverty is to allow people to be free—not to boycott products made by poor people.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Don't Do Business With Poor People? New York Times Readers Disagree

    1. lights on says:

      Is this lady, kidding? When purchases are made someone gets fed. This lady is the one exploiting the situation with nonsense solutions that lead only to crisis. For people to be "impoverished" is a leadership issue! Exploit them!

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        No "lights on", this lady is not "kidding". She is a radical leftist. That's simply the way they think.

    2. Wyoming Cowboy says:

      Just exactly the way of leftward thinking in America. In their warped, liberalander, progressive view, they are taking a situation, adding their dose of liberalism and making it better……better for whom I would ask? Certainly not anyone in the example mentioned. Yup! In her maligned view, I guess nobody would end up buying anything, the end of society, PERIOD! Our economy thrives on capital, capitalism,, and small business owners and of course; workers. They, the liberals, simply just don't get it!

    3. DHarper says:

      I highly recommend "The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy" by Pietra Rivoli, a Boston University economist. An easy read, and surprizingly interesting, and very enlightening on how textile manufacturing has led poor countries to higher standards of living than they otherwise would have had.

    4. Lee Burns says:

      I'm surprised the executive director didn't recommend unionizing those poor abused workers. She could then enjoy $25.00 per pound coffee and a $4.00 tomato. Then the worker could drive a $40,000.00 auto too.

    5. TimAz says:

      Let us approach this theory from a socialist mindset so that we can distill their idea to reveal the actual meaning and intent of the article. In the first paragraph we learn that if the individual American is allowed to buy products from foreign companies that lack the wealth of American corporations. Thrifty Americans are unknowingly impoverishing and rendering union leaders and their master's "politicians" to an endangered species status. Interestingly the union laborer is the least effected victim because they will find employment elsewhere even if they have to start their own businesses. The Corporation however usually meets one of to ends. They close up shop and move outside the country or to a State that has laws against forced unionization, or they close up shop all together. The real loser is the union leaders and the politicians that rely on the union campaign contributions to keep the politicians themselves in power and wealth. It's a symbiotic relationship. In the second paragraph The writer suggests that silly Americans that seek to extend their buying power by purchasing the less expensive items simply do not understand that through this practice. Union leaders and their master's "politicians" are seriously abused, denied more union dues as union products become more expensive and lose ever more consumer demand for their products. Obviously the politicians have to except their dues from their lapdog union leaders in the form campaign contributions. Basically if you work hard for your money and you attempt to extend your buying power as far as possible you are part of the problem, and are thus not supporting the socialist agenda. I would suggest that most Americans that practice this kind fiscal policy on a daily basis know exactly who they are supporting. They choose to support the poorer individuals by purchasing their products rather then empowering the socialist elites. This has been my practice all my life having grown up in the once heavily union state of Ohio that has been slowly decaying from union leaders endless hunger for protection money from their laborers to protect their laborers from themselves. Ultimately destroying the jobs they claimed to protect.

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