Have You Been to Cambodia, Dick?


Writing from Phnom Penh, The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof reminds the Democrats in general and Dick Gephardt in particular that their party "has been pro-trade since Franklin Roosevelt, and President Bill Clinton in particular tugged the party to embrace the realities of trade."

Kristof describes without flinching the grim conditions in Cambodia–and how global trade is improving them and giving people there more and better options:

All the complaints about third world sweatshops are true and then some: factories sometimes dump effluent into rivers or otherwise ravage the environment. But they have raised the standard of living in Singapore, South Korea and southern China, and they offer a leg up for people in countries like Cambodia.

"I want to work in a factory, but I'm in poor health and always feel dizzy," said Lay Eng, a 23-year-old woman. And no wonder: she has been picking through the filth, seven days a week, for six years. She has never been to a doctor.

Here in Cambodia factory jobs are in such demand that workers usually have to bribe a factory insider with a month's salary just to get hired.

He also worries that the Democrats "may be retreating toward protectionism under the guise of labor standards."

Whole column here.

In the December issue of Reason, Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, made the case that globalization represents the poor's best chance for advancement–if only the developed nations would play fair. Here's that interview.