Megan McArdle on Child Labor

December 5, 2007

[T]here seems to be an assumption that people in far off places, particularly ones with funny religions and/or skin colors, do not have children for the same reasons that the right-thinking folks around here do. Because they seem to regard their children as some sort of undifferentiated herd animals, rather than loving the heck out of those adorable little tykes, we need to step in and make some decisions about how they should go about this reproduction business.

The libertarian approach is to assume that those people probably feel the same way about their kids that you do about yours, and that seemingly inexplicable behavior, such as sending a child to knot rugs in a rundown factory building, probably has some deeper motivation than “Why the hell not?”

Note from William:  I agree with this quote completely, so I don’t really have anything to add, except that the same people who are against child labor will also make this same assumption about all workers in developing countries. We shouldn’t believe that we care more about workers than they care about themselves.

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