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Where Sweatshops Are a Dream

Author: Nicholas Kristof

Kristof, Nicholas. “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Jan. 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/opinion/15kristof.html.

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

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Before Barack Obama and his team act on their talk about “labor standards,” I’d like to offer them a tour of the vast garbage dump here in Phnom Penh.

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This is a Dante-like vision of hell. It’s a mountain of festering refuse, a half-hour hike across, emitting clouds of smoke from subterranean fires.

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Jun 25
Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:00PM) : Opinion more

It is very dangerous for them to live in a workforce like this.

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Jun 25
Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:00PM) : It's a dangerous place to work in full of smoke.
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Ghaleb A (Jun 25 2021 12:04PM) : they had to walk a lot from the some from subterranean fires.
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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:05PM) : Central idea more

They have to hike over piles of trash and breath in the smoke from subterranean fires.

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Jun 25
Marisa C (Jun 25 2021 12:06PM) : It was horrible for them to work like that.
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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:34PM) : Opinion more

I can understand why most people that scavenge in these places would state that a job in a sweatshop seems like “a dream”

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Jun 25
Alexander C (Jun 25 2021 1:28PM) : the key idea is that these workers can be working in that type of weather where theres smoke going straight into there eyes. more

its do risky for workers to be working in a place where smoke its going towards them.

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Jun 25
Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:03PM) : Most people can´t get jobs so they have to go to the next option, working in the dump.
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:03PM) : g more

The garbage dump is “hell” to the workers.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:04PM) : The environment is very dangerous.

The miasma of toxic stink leaves you gasping, breezes batter you with filth, and even the rats look forlorn. Then the smoke parts and you come across a child ambling barefoot, searching for old plastic cups that recyclers will buy for five cents a pound. Many families actually live in shacks on this smoking garbage.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:01PM) : Main idea more

They’re working in a polluted job that doesn’t give them enough ability to have a good standard

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:02PM) : Main Idea more

people go scavenging in the garbage where the air is toxic just to make 5 cents a pound of plastic

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:08PM) : Central idea more

It is bad for all living things there you can barely breath there

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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:06PM) : ah more
The garbage dump is surrounded by toxic stinks, and some families live there.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats who favor labor standards in trade agreements mean well, for they intend to fight back at oppressive sweatshops abroad. But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don’t exploit enough.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:03PM) : Main idea more

They live in a poor condition that doesn’t give them enough ability to live. Obama wants people to exploit enough. Meanwhile, the Democrats give them low labor standards

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Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:05PM) : The americans doesnt see it when they try to get labor standards.
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Alexander C (Jun 25 2021 1:32PM) : The key idea is that they need to be offered more safety more

These people are living in conditions where they can barely live.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:08PM) : The poorest countries dont have the problem that the sweatshop are exploiting too many people they have the problem that they aren't exploiting enough.
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Natalia N (Jun 25 2021 12:15PM) : You paraphrased a powerful statement in his article. What do you think about it?
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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:08PM) : a lot of people see sweatshops as a bad thing but in reality it´s not sweatshops are better than working in a toxic stink.
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:10PM) : . more

I think what this sentence is trying to say is that Americans think sweatshops take advantage of too many people when in reality, people actually want to work there.

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Ghaleb A (Jun 25 2021 12:14PM) : people are searching for recycling bottles to sell for 5 cents a pound. Also many people live in shacks on this smoking garbage. but it shocks the americans that the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people.

Talk to these families in the dump, and a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty, the kind of gauzy if probably unrealistic ambition that parents everywhere often have for their children.

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Jun 25
Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:04PM) : Main Idea more

A lot of people say it is like “a dream” to have a job in a sweatshop because it’s better than what they are doing right now

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:05PM) : Opinion more

Its often sad how they have to take their children to a polluted area and not a job that’s supplemented well like a shop

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:11PM) : Central idea more

They think working in a sweatshop is a dream because it’d be better working there.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:11PM) : Many people rather work in sweatshops because they see it as a way out of poverty.
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Marisa C (Jun 25 2021 12:20PM) : The workers would rather be working at a sweatshop rather than having to do what they were having to do at the job they were at.
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:27PM) : what is a dream to them? more

The people working in the dump say it’s a “dream” to work in sweatshops.

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“I’d love to get a job in a factory,” said Pim Srey Rath, a 19-year-old woman scavenging for plastic. “At least that work is in the shade. Here is where it’s hot.”

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Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:06PM) : They rather work in a factory so they can at least have shade
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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:07PM) : Main idea more

They rather have a shop that pays them well instead of dealing with a low range and don’t get enough as how much it’s suggested. This is what makes it unfair for the people. The workability of a shop will not be as polluted as a garbage job that doesn’t pay well and that goes under unhumanity.

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Kevin M (Jun 25 2021 12:22PM) : opinion more

It’s not a safe environment for women nor children to be working in

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Alexander C (Jun 25 2021 1:33PM) : the key idea is i feel like theres more safety in factories more

19 year old Pim Srey Rath, said that would enjoy working in a factory then in the garbage can.

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Ghaleb A (Jun 25 2021 12:19PM) : The young lady said she wants to work in a factory and it's in the shade not in the sun.
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:29PM) : Pim Srey Rath more

Pim Srey Rath said she would “love” to work in a factory.
She wants to work in the shade.

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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:14PM) : a lot of women prefer to work in sweatshops because of the circumstances they are working in right at that moment but most women aren´t too lucky getting a job in a sweatshop.

Another woman, Vath Sam Oeun, hopes her 10-year-old boy, scavenging beside her, grows up to get a factory job, partly because she has seen other children run over by garbage trucks. Her boy has never been to a doctor or a dentist, and last bathed when he was 2, so a sweatshop job by comparison would be far more pleasant and less dangerous.

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:07PM) : Main idea more

the way that these people live off scavenging isn’t good and at times very dangerous , which is why most like Vath Sam Oeun want factory jobs for their children or for themselves.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:08PM) : main idea [Edited] more

Some parents want better for their children like a factory that’s invested in a great environment not a polluted area that deals with rats, or any source that’s dangerous.

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:13PM) : Central idea more

She wants her son to have a better life because she’s seen other kids get ran over and hurt.

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Jun 25
Kevin M (Jun 25 2021 12:20PM) : opinion more

The garbage trucks have to be more careful when driving especially because they are children there

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Kevin M (Jun 25 2021 12:26PM) : opinion more

the woman is a very good mother looking out for her son

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:14PM) : Parents want better for their children they want their children to work in less dangerous places.
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Ghaleb A (Jun 25 2021 12:22PM) : One woman wishing the best for her 10 yer old son to grow up and work at a factory also she seen a lot of kids get ran over by the garbage truck and she don't want that to happen to her kid. Also he hasn't been bathed since he was 2 years old
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:59PM) : - more

Vath Sam Oeun says she hopes her son can someday work in a factory because she has seen children get run over and doesn’t want that for her son.

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I’m glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories. Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty. At a time of tremendous economic distress and protectionist pressures, there’s a special danger that tighter labor standards will be used as an excuse to curb trade.

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:11PM) : main idea more

Although sweatshop jobs are not ok for obvious reasons,people actually need them to avoid lower levels of poverty.

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Kevin M (Jun 25 2021 12:32PM) : central idea more

Many of the people scavenging prefer to work in sweatshops because its more convenient for them to work in a safer environment

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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:18PM) : A lot of Americans see sweatshops as a bad thing but sweatshops are the only good job most countries have and it´s less dangerous than looking through the trash.
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Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas D. Kristof Photo Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
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When I defend sweatshops, people always ask me: But would you want to work in a sweatshop? No, of course not. But I would want even less to pull a rickshaw. In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn’t the bottom.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:13PM) : Main idea more

He believes that sweatshops get paid less and its enclosed by a low standard. He thinks a sewing machine is not everything

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:14PM) : opinion more

I think that sweatshops are bad and I like the author would very much dislike working in one of them, but compared to scavenging in garbage, it doesn’t seem as bad.

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:15PM) : Central idea more

He says working in sweat shops is bad but not the worst

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Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:15PM) : They rather work at sweatshops than to work somewhere is dangerous.
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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:17PM) : He believes that sweatshops aren't the bottom.
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Ghaleb A (Jun 25 2021 12:29PM) : manufacturing can prove millions of jobs, but sweatshops usually go out to the poorest nations but to better-off countries.
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Michelle J (Jun 25 2021 12:21PM) : Agreement. more

Of course, none of us would want to work in a sweatshop, but it would be way better than having to stay out in the sun searching through garbage trying to find plastic.

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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:21PM) : people only see the bad side of sweatshops and don´t realize that there are worse jobs.

My views on sweatshops are shaped by years living in East Asia, watching as living standards soared — including those in my wife’s ancestral village in southern China — because of sweatshop jobs.

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Manufacturing is one sector that can provide millions of jobs. Yet sweatshops usually go not to the poorest nations but to better-off countries with more reliable electricity and ports.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:14PM) : Main idea more

consumers go based on the easiest way to work.

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:16PM) : Main idea more

There are less sweatshops in poor countries because most go to countries that have more reliable elements.

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Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:19PM) : There isnt a lot of sweatshops there dont go to poorest nations
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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:19PM) : Central idea more

Sweatshops go to countries where the things needed for the factories are better found.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:20PM) : Poorer nations dont have as many sweatshops as ones that have reliable ports and electricity.
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Marisa C (Jun 25 2021 12:33PM) : Sweatshops are better for them to work at than factories
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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:25PM) : I think the poorest nations deserve to have more sweatshops, it would help out a lot of families struggling.

I often hear the argument: Labor standards can improve wages and working conditions, without greatly affecting the eventual retail cost of goods. That’s true. But labor standards and “living wages” have a larger impact on production costs that companies are always trying to pare. The result is to push companies to operate more capital-intensive factories in better-off nations like Malaysia, rather than labor-intensive factories in poorer countries like Ghana or Cambodia.

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:24PM) : Main idea more

Basically companies can Give living wages and put labor standards in place but it the cost of production increases.

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Natalia N (Jun 25 2021 12:19PM) : Should paring down costs come at the expense of people's lives and the well-being of our planet?
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Cambodia has, in fact, pursued an interesting experiment by working with factories to establish decent labor standards and wages. It’s a worthwhile idea, but one result of paying above-market wages is that those in charge of hiring often demand bribes — sometimes a month’s salary — in exchange for a job. In addition, these standards add to production costs, so some factories have closed because of the global economic crisis and the difficulty of competing internationally.

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:22PM) : Central idea more

they’ve tried putting factories but people get greedy and make them pay to get a job.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:27PM) : They tried paying people decent labor standards and wages but the more some people got the more they wanted.
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Veronica M (Jun 25 2021 12:33PM) : bribing people to give you money for a job isn´t fair to most people without any money.
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The best way to help people in the poorest countries isn’t to campaign against sweatshops but to promote manufacturing there. One of the best things America could do for Africa would be to strengthen our program to encourage African imports, called AGOA, and nudge Europe to match it.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:16PM) : Main idea more

They say the best way to manufacture is to promote, like improve not going against sweatshops that give a less amount on labor.

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:27PM) : Main idea more

If people really want to help these poor countries them they need to stop being against them and instead be for them since they really have an impact on the people and their livelihoods.

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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:32PM) : instead of going against sweatshops, people should help promote them for poor countries.
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Among people who work in development, many strongly believe (but few dare say very loudly) that one of the best hopes for the poorest countries would be to build their manufacturing industries. But global campaigns against sweatshops make that less likely.

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:18PM) : Main idea more

It’s the condition that they live in that they can’t make manufacturing based on people being against sweatshops. Based on them living in a poor condition. That’s why people decide to compete.

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:25PM) : Central idea more

They say that way they could help the poorest countries is by building sweatshops but with people trying to fight them it makes it harder

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Edward H (Jun 25 2021 12:31PM) : Opinion more

although at first it may be hard to accept the fact that people in these countries need sweatshops,I think that they need to understand that these sweatshop jobs are a big step up from what most of the citizens in the countries are doing for a living.

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Look, I know that Americans have a hard time accepting that sweatshops can help people. But take it from 13-year-old Neuo Chanthou, who earns a bit less than $1 a day scavenging in the dump. She’s wearing a “Playboy” shirt and hat that she found amid the filth, and she worries about her sister, who lost part of her hand when a garbage truck ran over her.

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Jun 25
Mariah F (Jun 25 2021 12:21PM) : Sweatshops can help people the kids worry and americans have a hard time accepting it.
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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:21PM) : Opinion more

But have they ever thought about the pollution they have to go through and the tough conditions. This makes the people want to stay in manufacturing because it’s easier. A garbage job that is polluted is not everything. The harsh conditions that they live in are worse than a sweatshop.

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Natalia N (Jun 25 2021 12:28PM) : Should this invite investors to take advantage of these poor communities/countries by contributing factories that don't provide what we consider to be living wages and safety?
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Jennifer A (Jun 25 2021 12:33PM) : Sweatshops help some people who are only able to make less than one dollar.
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“It’s dirty, hot and smelly here,” she said wistfully. “A factory is better.”

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Diana G (Jun 25 2021 12:25PM) : Main idea/ opinion [Edited] more

The polluted area meaning as in garbage bags deals, with a lot of danger. That people smell the fire around them that gets submerged but this has to do with the children’s health. In the video, they had to walk barefoot, had to deal with rats, people are getting tired of this. They want to provide better for their children so they won’t have to go through a lot of danger.

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Luis C (Jun 25 2021 12:27PM) : Central idea more

They don’t like the working conditions and rather work in a factory

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Kevin M (Jun 25 2021 12:33PM) : central idea more

working in a sweatshop or factory is more convenient for them.

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DMU Timestamp: May 25, 2021 22:33

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