John Stossel

"In fact, they're better off taking those jobs. ... The mistake Americans make is they think they would never work in a sweatshop and therefore they say these people shouldn't. Well, no one's offering those people green cards. Those people are stuck in those countries. They're choosing their best of a bunch of bad options. And when you take away someone's best of a bad option, they're worse off."

That happened after Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa complained about sweatshops in Bangladesh. Some shops closed. Then Oxfam discovered that kids who were laid off often turned to prostitution to support themselves.

"The person who tries to get you fired is not your friend," Henderson said.

The conglomerates that hire people in poor countries usually pay more than local employers do. In Honduras, many sweatshops pay $3.10 per hour. That's low to us, but most Hondurans earn less than two dollars an hour.

Since Third World countries do not pursue free-market policies, worker opportunities are often foreclosed by self-serving politicians. So multinational sweatshops are usually people's best alternative. Humanitarians should target the politicians, not the factories that provide some hope.

Interfering with peaceful exchange is never a good idea. The great 19th-century liberal Richard Cobden was right when he praised free trade for "drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate