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RSS Hamandcheese

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I am not arguing against the notion that third world labor conditions are morally unacceptable. I think minimum wage laws here in Canada are very important just on the basis of human dignity. However, you aren't considering the context and historical evidence. These labor conditions, horrible as they may be, are in fact increases in living standards. Every single industrial country in the world has been through the same stage, including Britain. But in Britain's case, as in the more recent example of South Korea, China, and Taiwan, these stages are temporary and are surmounted usually in a generation.

And no, it's not as simple as saying "corporations can just pay them more." In Honduras, where almost half the working population lives on $2/day, sweatshops pay $13.10/day. Sweatshop wages are more than double the national average in Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Economist Benjamin Powell, who published the report that I got the above figures from, explains how wages are determined in third-world countries:

"The amount a worker is paid is less than or equal to the amount he contributes to a firm's net revenue and more than or equal to the value of the worker's next best alternative. In any particular situation the actual compensation falls somewhere between those two bounds.

Wages are low in the third world because worker productivity is low (upper bound) and workers' alternatives are lousy (lower bound). To get sustained improvements in overall compensation, policies must raise worker productivity and/or increase alternatives available to workers. Policies that try to raise compensation but fail to move these two bounds risk raising compensation above a worker's upper bound resulting in his losing his job and moving to a less-desirable alternative. "

Third World workers will only be lifted out of poverty if people buy what they produce. We should encourage companies into setting up shop in areas of cheap labour, because the more firms in business the more employment and the more competition based on wages. Slowly wages will rise just as they have in the aforementioned countries.

----

It's become a sort of fallacy on the left that companies are always beholden to their shareholders. It's based on a very simplistic view of capitalism that was ironically made popular by one of capitalism's best cheerleaders, Milton Friedman. However the Chicago School view of capitalism doesn't correspond to the way corporations actually function; as Joesph Heath has written in his excellent new book "Filthy Lucre: Economics for people who hate capitalism" profit is often the last thing on corporations minds. And its fairly easy to understand why. Corporations are bound to hundreds of contract agreements that by law they must honor. Further money goes to additional research and related costs.

Moreover, Corporations are run by a management class that usually is basically apathetic to profit maximization. Consider your first job at McDonald's or the grocery store. Did you care about maximizing profits? Probably not, and the majority of people who run corporations have more or less the same mind-set of varying degrees.

In this sense shareholders are often the most expendable part of the equation. Microsoft, for example, didn't pay any shareholder dividends for nearly two decades. The best lesson from this is that things are complicated, and I highly recommend you read Heaths book.

http://www.amazon.com/Filthy-Lucre-Economics-People-Capitalism/dp/1554683955

Supporting Evidence: Powell on Sweatshops (www.econlib.org)

In regards to labor conditions in developing countries, it's not merely a matter of leverage. The average wages of a particular country are a reflection on that countries total wealth; and in 99% of the cases working in a sweatshop environment - though deplorable by our standards - beats the alternative of roaming garbage heaps. Furthermore it creates employment that pays on average 30% better than pre-existing jobs. Development is like a ladder. When the shittiest economies climb to the second rung of the developmental ladder they may still be covered in shit, but its 30% less shit. We can feel bad about it but in the context we are witnessing slow improvements that our own western countries had to go through before prospering in a relatively short and painless amount of time. Look at South Korea. In relatively recent memory it use to be filled with sweat shops in the same way Vietnam, China, India and Bangladesh have now. Now though its boasts living standards comparable to our own.

http://www.slate.com/id/1918

Not to mention that corporations are ultimately beholden to their customers. The best way to hurt a company is to not buy what they're selling, but normally what they're selling is valuable to us and thus it's easier to bloviate.

There is something extremely stupid with the idea that opening trade routes is necessarily a conspiracy by multinational corporations merely because they are one beneficiary, yet it is a persistent truism on the left that when someone profits everyone else must lose. This is simply not the case. The Countries that trade the various resources also benefit, and yet this is not a conclusive argument that states hold more power. It boggles my mind that left wingers can both decry economic sanctions imposed on an impoverished country (like Iraq had) and the lifting of those sanctions (ie. opening trade) in the same breath. Of course if you open up trade people are going to profit, but the profit isn't at any ones expense because the relationships are inherently non-zero!

Multinationals in my view are a very appropriate mechanism for doing these transactions, and if you want we can debate that separately.

"1. Iraq (for oil & weapons sale)"

These issues are normally way more nuanced and complicated then people like yourself usually make them out to be. Disregarding all the other reasons for invading Iraq, oil isn't necessarily a bad one -- nor do I doubt that it was central in the decision to invade. The fact that Saddam, a genocidal dictator, had control of the third, if not second largest oil reserves in the world is insane. That such a mad man would possess so much power is very destabilizing, and that's part of what made Iraq such a lynchpin in the region.

That oligopolist oil companies should see to extracting, refining, and selling it while making a something for themselves (oil profit margins are notoriously slim) seems dandy to me compared to the prior circumstances -- And Iraq's hydrocarbon law (a distribution of oil revenue to Iraqis that would be in proportion to the population of each province) seems to clash with your perception of foreigners exploiting what isn't theirs. Sure, the Exxon Mobils in the area profit, but so do average Iraqis.

Your other examples are all based on the fact that, yes, most countries have some sort of resource, and yes, companies (I won't say Multinational Corporations because they're not all multinational and they're not all incorporated) usually have control over various resources. What's the alternative? Having all resources nationalized? That's never worked out well, and while I can see justification for wanting to protect certain resources especially from monopoly, it doesn't follow that there should be no private ownership at all unless your invoking some dubious Marxist pretext.

Uh, yah it can. Countries will bounce out of recession eventually with or without gov. intervention. The difference is in duration and severity. Before the state became active in trying to keep the economy stable economies would be in periods of growth just as often as in periods of recession. They were horrible and lasted years. Nowadays recessions last on average only a couple years and we have serious ones only a couple times a century. Nevertheless, it is not true that an economy can't pull itself out of a recession given enough pain and time as evidence of the 19th century.

I have never fully understood your view. Yes, I believe global warming is very, very serious. Directly or indirectly it will cause much suffering and death. The ones who are going to suffer host, however, are not westerners in industrial economies. Our way of life has too many safe guards. If sea levels start to creep up we can move our homes; if there are massive droughts we have food alternatives; hurricanes might become more dangerous but when our levies fail we have the resources to evacuate fairly quickly. Non of these things can be said of the poorest billion.

They, the third world citizen: where because of how isolated and non-diversified their economy is; because of poverty and over population; because of corrupt governments and lack of infrastructure, they will feel the effects of global climate change both first and hardest. The average North American pockets close to $50,000 a year. A family of 4 could still live comfortably with only $10,000, as long as their expectations drop too -- no TV, no backyard, and a lot of rice for dinner. Someone making 5$ a day doesn't have that kind of income cushion. If a Vietnamese agri-worker's crop has a drought -- he starves.

So it seems to me that if one increased the standard of living of the worlds poorest to something comparable to western standards one is in-effect preempting or at least limiting the disastrous effects that global warming poses to humanity. So far as has been discovered the only mechanism to lift people out of this type of grinding poverty is capitalism and largely free trade. Thus, while we always attempt to help both, the economy is always first insofar as economic growth saves vulnerable human beings at once from the perils of today and the uncertainties of tomorrow.

"Capitalism has done the mankind good in the sense that life quality had improved drastically. It is done in the expense of our future generation."

Absolutely not. The worst case scenario (a very implausible and inconceivable scenario at that) is that future generations would be trying to live as if no economic growth had ever occurred -- with vulnerability, uncertainty, and much suffering. Their condition would be the same, therefore, if the industrial revolution had never manifested and capitalism never taken off in the first place.

Government doesn't consume wealth. It spends it just like an individual or a private sector company does (on roads, schools, etc.). So there is no economic basis to say that high taxes hurt of help an economy, because the only difference is /who/ is controlling the cash flow.

Karl Popper solved the problem of inductive reasoning years ago with Methodological Falsification. In other words, the conjecture that the supernatural does not exist stands until falsified by a proven supernatural event.

Rich Deem is half right about one thing. Both myths are derived in part from the actual flooding of the Tigris river 4-5 thousand years ago. However Rich Deem doesn't appear to be an objective authority on the topic. Innumerable historians continue to believe Noah's Ark is specifically derived from Gilgamesh or Atrahasis or another (which isn't a huge leap because the Ugaritic tablets and Semitic scripture offer irrefutable proof of the Torah's unoriginality). Documentary Hypothesis supporters all reaffirm this, as do a majority of secular historians (Richard Deem, evangelical minister, not one of them).

Further, in the text you posted Rich doesn't seem to provide evidence to back up his assertions. It would be interesting if he cared to refute the unobjectionable textual evidence of "plagiarism".

Supporting Evidence: Textual Parallels (www.noahs-ark-flood.com)

It's not exactly appealing to authority, because not only can I take a physicists as an authority on physics, but I can also go and read the journals and reasoning myself if I need to validate it. Quantum physics is what it comes down to, and what makes the first cause argument rather archaic.

This point was made clear by the latter part of my quote: "and a basic knowledge of cosmological theory scoffs at." An appeal to authority is an argument that rests on an authority, not as a supplement to underline a point.

Hamandcheese has not yet created any debates.

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"In-concise."

Biographical Information
Name: Samuel 
Gender: Male
Age: 12
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Political Party: Libertarian
Country: Canada
Religion: Atheist

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