All About the Lempiras


The following paragraph in a story about P. Diddy's Sean John clothing being made in sweatshops caught my eye:

Activists said workers receive $33.15 to $50.18 for a 51-hour workweek, or 65 to 98 cents an hour, higher than Honduras's prevailing minimum wage of 55 cents an hour but less than what families need to survive.

First, this reminds me a bit of those (definitionally false) claims you sometimes see that so-and-so many people are "living below subsistence." Maybe that one income alone isn't enough to maintain a family, but if people keep working the job, then when you take all of the family's assets and incomes into account, it apparently is enough to survive. That or Puffy's ingeniously found a way to get corpses to stitch shirts.

Second, while I don't want to minimize how awful it is to work for one of these maquiladoras, should PD really catch so much flak for driving up wages in developing countries? Seems perverse to create a situation where a clothing maker can avoid public criticism by moving production to higher-wage, higher-productivity countries that don't need the jobs as desperately.