To understand the practice, it's essential to view it in a broader globalization context. In their book titled, "Globalization and Progressive Economic Policy, Dean Baker, Robert Pollin and Gerald Epstein present the opinions of 36 prominent economists, asking:
Does globalization cause inequality? Instability? Unemployment? Environmental degradation? Or is it an engine of prosperity and wealth for the vast majority of people everywhere? They conclude that it can work for good or ill depending on how much control governments, corporations, and individuals exert, but also say:
"....most discussions of globalization hold that the power of nation-states to influence economic activity is eroding as economies become more integrated, while the power of private businesses and market forces is correspondingly rising."
In other words, the dog that once wagged the tail now is the tail, the result of eroded state sovereignty and powerful private institutions, producing a race to the bottom conducive to exploiting labor - most prominently in poor countries but also in developed ones.
Wage Slavery in America
In America, the US Department of Labor estimates that half or more of the nation's 22,000 garment factories are sweatshops, mostly in the apparel centers of New York, California, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta, but also offshore in US territories like Saipan, Guam and American Samoa where merchandise is labeled "Made in the USA."
In all locations, wages are low, often sub-poverty, benefits few if any, and regulatory enforcement lax or absent. Hours are long, working conditions unsafe, and those complaining are fired and replaced.
Conditions are also horrific for around two million farm workers - exploited, living in sub-poverty misery, without benefits, a living wage, overtime pay, or other job protections, even for children. Because state and federal oversight are lax, Florida workers have been chained to poles, locked in trucks, physically beaten, and cheated out of pay, yet are intimidated to stay silent.