Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Monday, April 24, 2006

On Immigrants and Sweatshops

Jesse Walker of Reason magazine has an excellent article on the problem of sweatshops and immigrants in the United States. A sample:
There's a whole genre of free-market literature that defends sweatshops and the like on the grounds that they're the best available option for their workers—jobs they've freely chosen because the immediate alternatives are all worse. I don't reject that argument outright, but I've never found it entirely satisfying either. That's partly because some of those sweatshop titans don't just give their charges low wages and long hours; they engage in direct coercion or fraud. It's one thing to choose a job because the other alternatives look worse. It's quite another to find yourself cheated out of your pay at the end of the day or, worse yet, held captive on a citrus farm with hundreds of other workers and threatened with death if you try to leave.
Good stuff!

And by the way, for a refreshing libertarian perspective on sweatshops in the Third World, check out this article by Ellennita Muetze Hellmer in the Summer 2005 issue of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. It's refreshing because it debunks the "it's their best option" argument that free-market advocates start and stop with on this issue.

Hat tip: Kevin Carson.

1 comment:

Sheldon Richman said...

I planned to write an article based on Hellmer's JLS paper. But when checking her sources (The Economist and Amnesty International) I find no substantiation of her claim that "the military regime of Burma abducts its own citizens and forces them to work in factories owned by multinational corporations." I find many references to people being forced to work on road and military construction and on military farms (which is a horrible but different story) and oppression of political opposition, but not forced labor for multinationals in factories. Hellmer's references do not mention this. If it actually happens, I'd expect Amnesty to cover it and I'd expect to find material via Google. I find none. I have written the Free Burma Coalition to see what they know.

If someone has better information on this, please let me know.