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Sweatshops play important role in third world countries, speaker says

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Ben Powell talked about his book, “Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy,” Tuesday in the Atwood Theater. Photo by Nick Baker.

Ben Powell paid a visit to St. Cloud State Tuesday to discuss his new book on sweatshops to a full house in the Atwood Theater. His book, “Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy,” provides a comprehensive defense of sweatshops in third world countries.

It explains how these sweatshops provide the best available possible opportunity to workers and how they play an important role in the process of development, that eventually leads to better living wages and working conditions. The book builds off of Powell’s plethora of research on sweatshops, spanning more than a decade.

The morality of sweatshops, and their effect on the economy, has been heavily criticized in the national media. These factories are usually operated in third world countries and often times have low wages, unsafe working conditions, and unstable hours.

Powell’s book looks at sweatshops from an economist point of view and the value of the job to the workers in those countries. The book does not look at sweatshops that use coercion or force upon their workers, only ones that the workers are employed at by their own will.

Powell is the Director of the Free Market Institute and a visiting professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He is the North American Editor of the Review of Austrian Economics, past president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education, and a Senior Fellow with the Independent Institute.

His research on sweatshops is nationally recognized, and has been published in outlets such as the Journal of Business Ethics, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He has spoken about the topic of sweatshops and a variety of other economic topics to many universities both nationally and internationally.

William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University, said about the book: “This eloquent book makes the compassionate case for sweatshops in poor countries as being what poor workers voluntarily select as employers because they are better than the alternatives. It is uncommonly clear in this book that the economist’s case for sweatshops is based on what’s best for the workers, not what’s best for efficiency or profits or First World consumers.”

Powell has also published two other books: “Making Poor Nations Rich” and “Housing America”, both touching on other economic issues Powell has researched.

The book was published in February of last year, and is available for purchase at a variety of outlets including Amazon, and directly through the publishing house Cambridge University Press.

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