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[P]
Protests, Slavery, Sweatshops and Protectionism

By nickb in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 09:21:57 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

This submission was inspired by several things that I've read and by events that we've all witnessed in the past year. First, if you haven't been reading newspapers or watching TV these past two days, there were huge and mostly non-violent Anti-FTAA protests in the Quebec City. Yes, even though the media has concentrated on most violent anarchists, the vast majority of protestors (over 30,000 of them in QC) have been non-violent. The second is an article about percieved slavery in the US high-tech industry.


After reading a very interesting, and unfortunately ignored and censored by the mainstream media, article from Washington Free Press I was amazed and dazzled how I didn't 'connect the dots' before today.

We've discussed H1-B visas before right here on the K5 and people offered a wide range of opinions but there was no common voice that resonated throughout the posts.

In his article, titled Silicon Valley Sweatshops, David Bacon describes the life of an Indian worker on an H1-B visa. If the story is true, and I have a feeling that it is, he is a modern day slave. He cannot quit without being sent back, he cannot ask for a raise (he will get fired for doing that), his salary is 'taxed' by the company, he has to live and pay an outrageous rent for a shared apartment that company owns. The only thing is that he actually chose to become a slave. This is why corporations have successfully lobbied Pres. Clinton for those increases in H1-B visas. It's not because there's a shortage of IT workers, it's because visa holders are MUCH cheaper and MUCH easier to control.

Is this any different from sweatshops that other corporations run in poor countries? Workers at those sweatshops also chose to work there and nobody forced them to work at a sweatshop. Is there a double standard that US applies to itself and other countries. Of course there is... this 'perk' comes with the economic and military power that US wields.

So, what do these two, seemingly unrelated, stories have in common? The common thread is globalization or the 'New World Order' as same prefer to call it. Like it or not all the countries of the world are slowly coagulating into one. One World economy is already more or less a reality; a fall in the market in Hong Kong can have a huge influence at NYSE; and vice versa. So what's the catalyst for all of this? Yep, you've guessed it: corporations.

The anti-WTO protests in Seattle and anti-FTAA protests in Quebec City have managed to bring the anti-globalizm topic back to the front pages of the newspapers around the World. The main message is the environmental costs and human costs of globalization. When companies transfer the production plants to poor countries, they do so for many reasons: labor is cheap and there are no environmental issues to worry about since governments are happy they came and keep their eyes closed. This relocation of 'dirty' industries has its positive and negative sides: PRO: great for developed countries (less pollution) CON: workers loose jobs PRO: good for workers in developing countries (they finally have a job) CON: really bad for the environment of the developing countries. All of this increases the profits of corporations and pushes their stocks up by several pennies a year which makes stockholders happy. This brings us up to the issue of the protectionism. Is the protectionism the solution? It is very hard to give an objective answer to this but in the past several years, NAFTA has been great for the corporations in Canada and USA. Mexico, on the other hand, has suffered a bit though. Have the workers in Canada and USA faired well? Depends on the industry which they were in. Auto workers certainly did not benefit (lots of plants have closed since NAFTA). The main thing to dichotomize here is the difference between corporate and worker welfare. They are NOT the same.

I have a several questions that you, as a computer professional and also as a citizen of the World, should ask yourself. How long before your job is outsourced to some country where you can buy a dozen programmers for a $1 and which can export the product back here without any tariffs? What can we, as computer professionals, do about that to protect ourselves just a bit? Is the unionization a solution? Is protectionism a solution? Should corporations and even shareholders be held liable for what they do? Would you think twice about investing into a company with shady history if you knew that you could be prosecuted for supporting them?

The purpose of this article was to get you all thinking for a moment about the global, non-tech issues and, hopefully, to broaden your field of view.

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Should high-tech workers unionize?
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o Maybe 13%

Votes: 60
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Related Links
o Anti-FTAA protests
o ignored and censored
o article
o Washington Free Press
o before
o Silicon Valley Sweatshops
o Pres. Clinton
o corporatio ns
o corporatio ns [2]
o protection ism
o held liable
o Also by nickb


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Protests, Slavery, Sweatshops and Protectionism | 74 comments (69 topical, 5 editorial, 1 hidden)
It can't be slavery... (3.55 / 9) (#1)
by daystar on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 08:36:05 PM EST

if you have a choice. I could quit my job, but if I did I'd lose my paycheck. This does not make me a slave, it makes me a person engaged in a voluntary agreement to work for money. Are corporations who hire foreign workers responsible for the fact that India is a mess? No, they're just looking to get the best value for thier buck. Hard to call it slavery without changing the definition of slavery to something that just isn't all that bad.

As for the protesters in quebec, as I see it, they're taking to the streets in favor of poverty. I think that they should go to the third world nations that they want to "protect" from free trade so that the poverty-stricken citizens can chop them into tiny little pieces.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.


Standard practice (3.80 / 5) (#3)
by theboz on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 08:59:47 PM EST

What happens is that companies recruit people overseas, and tell them all these great lies about how good things are in the U.S. and how free they will be and how they can get rich and support their families. They make the INS sound like an easy thing to deal with, and after all, the U.S. is the country that coined the phrase, "Give me your poor, your tired, your weak" so they take anyone, right? These people are often poor but very intelligent, and don't have much to lose at this point so they come to the U.S.

Then, what happens is that reality bites them. They find out that they live by the corporate standards, which puts them on the very bottom of the payscale, and claims it's to help them pay lawyer fees and get their green card and stuff. They find out they don't make a lot of money, and how expensive everything is in the U.S. They often end up needing to live with other coworkers and many sleep on the floor in crowded apartments. They have to send money back to their families in India to support them and try to bring them to the U.S. They get treated poorly by American coworkers that feel these people are somehow ripping them off by having lower paying jobs. The company screws around with these people, making them work longer hours, which they ablige since they fear for their jobs. By this point they have found out that the INS is set up to be impossible to let people become citizens, even though that is against the primary purpose of the organization.

After time, the H1-B immigrant worker has built up something of a life, perhaps bought a house, car, put their kids in school, and still works hard for the company they are an indentured servant for. Then, the U.S. government botches up like it does for everything and wastes time getting to that person's greencard, or simply denies it on a whim. Then, the person is told they are no longer welcome in the U.S., and that they have a month to sell everything they own and go back to where they came from. They can apply to enter into the U.S. again, it should only take two or three years.

Some people repeat this process, others don't. A lucky few get past the INS, but the rest lose respect for a country that has such a hypocritical government that provides corporations with indentured servants. This hurts both the American citizens and the people that want to be citizens. The only ones helped are the big corporations that own our country. It may not be as wrong as the slavery of the past in the U.S., or what even goes on now in the world in some places. It's probably most like the way U.S. businessmen and politicians take 12 year old kids from Singapore and buy them as sex slaves. Sure, things could be worse, but that doesn't mean the practice is right.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Government *IS* the problem (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by ubu on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 09:11:14 PM EST

Quit complaining that government won't fix the problems. Government created the problems. Government creates zoning restrictions that make low-cost housing scarce. Government makes property development practically impossible with environmental bullshit restrictions ("impact studies" for planting grass, for crying out loud). Government restricts immigration, making it difficult to gain citizenship even when you're paying taxes and contributing to the general welfare like anyone else.

Government wages wars, funds dictators through supernational organizations, taxes labor at prohibitive levels, restricts business development through regulation, levies tariffs on trade, and forces children to attend prison hellhole public schools. Government profiles racial minorities in law enforcement, regulates industry to make small business ownership difficult, grants monopolies to large corporations like broadcasters and utilities, requires useless registration and "financial responsibility" payments which only hurt the poor, and levies taxes on commodity goods like cigarettes and gasoline.

Government basically fucks the poor, all in the name of helping them. You think the rich are unhappy with government? Take a hint, the people who pay the burden of government idiocy are the hardworking poor. If you want to help immigrants, poor people, college students, and other disadvantaged but ambitious people then cut the size of the government at all levels. It is literally choking us to death.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Nonono...I'm on your side... (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by theboz on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 10:39:16 PM EST

I agree that government is the problem. In my opinion, the purpose of government is to serve the people, not rule over them. In this case, it just tends to make our lives more difficult.

The problem is that the U.S. government rules over the citizens, and gets paid off by big business. Things have stagnated and are not changing, other than political entropy occuring and making things slowly worse.

I don't really know of a solution, it would be nice if there was a way to play by the rules already in place to change things for the better but I'm not sure if that's possible. In any case, I agree with you. Big government is a problem and they are fucking over all of us except those that can afford to rule over them.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Who to blame? (none / 0) (#47)
by ubu on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 04:47:30 PM EST

Yes, everyone agrees that private enterprise has an increasing amount of manipulative control over the government, and that this is an unnatural and disturbing marriage.

What everyone does not agree on is how to fix the problem. One solution proposes to drastically cut the size of government so that it can no longer be used as a powerful tool in the hands of private citizens to everyone else's detriment. This solution is extremely unpopular with those who are already abusing government for their own interests: welfare recipients of all kinds, industry leaders, agency bureaucracies, teachers' unions (come to think of it, most unions), media broadcasters, and a host of other special interests.

The solution proposed by these folks is to take power away from the "bad" people and give it to them. "Bad" people are political enemies, so the unions' "bad" people are business owners, and the business owners' "bad" people are the unions and their competitors. These people see government as a delicious pie, and they're going to get as much as they can.

Ubu

"What this means is that if America were a pie, 30% would think President Clinton should resign, and the other 70% of that pie would be delicious." -- Tracy Morgan as Starr Jones


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
There is a flaw in your argument (none / 0) (#49)
by deaddrunk on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 06:07:25 PM EST

Without any kind of government regulation corporations can behave in any way they like. Check your history. Before the days of big, bad government there were big, bad slave owners, factory owners and other kinds of obnoxious laissez-faire capitalists who polluted and abused workers at will. Going back to the 18th and early 19th century will not solve the abuse of the political system. Corporations are like children with bad parents. Not enough restrictions have been put on their bad behaviour and so they run riot. I much prefer the idea of politicians running a country (although this is a badly broken system) than unaccountable control-freak CEOs. Fix the system, don't hand it to those concerned only with profit, where human beings are already a 'resource' to be used and discarded at will. A system where a corporation can sue a government for introducing laws that impact the bottom line is not one that I want to end up living in. The state and the church are already separated in the US - it's time the state and the market were too.

[ Parent ]
Damn (none / 0) (#50)
by deaddrunk on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 06:12:59 PM EST

I meant to hit preview. The state should be in charge of the market, the market should not be in charge of the state.

[ Parent ]
Grrrrrr (none / 0) (#52)
by ubu on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 06:59:15 PM EST

No, this is the version of history fed to schoolkids around the country by a STATE-RUN public school system. Surprise, surprise. We somehow acknowledge the importance of separation between church and state, but cannot accept the importance of separation between:

  • ideology and state
  • philosophy and state
  • economics and state

Peruse the following: Capitalism FAQ. It's designed to answer all of your state-fed objections to laissez-faire capitalism without resorting explicitly to prooftexts from Ludwig von Mises.

Corporations are like children with bad parents.

Huh? Corporations are like a bunch of people with a common economic goal, acting on behalf of the intersection of their individual interests. To anthropomorphize is to be stupid, frankly, because this is a simple phenomenon with complex consequences and to gloss over the details with catch-phrases betrays incompetent thinking.

I much prefer the idea of politicians running a country... than unaccountable control-freak CEOs.

I can't think of any CEOs who have slaughtered millions of people!! Apparently, this is a fine moral distinction, easily ignored and quickly dismissed! You've gone beyond sloppy thinking; you're evidently not thinking. Every CEO is accountable to

  • The Constitution
  • The laws of his state
  • The ordinances of his locality
  • The demands and votes of his shareholders
  • The willingness of his employees to work for his company

Fix the system, don't hand it to those concerned only with profit, where human beings are already a 'resource' to be used and discarded at will.

In other words, hand it to politicians who "feel your pain". I get it now, I'm being trolled.

The state and the church are already separated in the US - it's time the state and the market were too.

You get it... but you don't, really, not at all. Really, really frustrating sort of posting. It's like the intellect is there, but there's absolutely no sense of history, economics, or political science. The living tragedy of American public schools.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 0) (#57)
by deaddrunk on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 05:16:02 PM EST

First of all, patronising me and insulting my intelligence is not a good basis for refuting my arguments. Dictatorial governments throughout history have murdered their citizens, but I defy you to find one government, while still democratically accountable, engaged in massacres of their voters.

If you want a good example of why money-men should not be allowed to run unchecked, have a look at this, the history of the Irish famine, where, although there was plenty of food available, profit came before people and over a million people died. Eventually war ensued, war that could have been avoided, had people been considered before money. As an Englishman, still worried about terrorist bombs, this is quite relevant to me, and assuming that money-men wouldn't do this again is naive, considering that many people have starved to death in the Third World, because cheap coffee is more important than human life.

Laissez-faire capitalism is fine in theory, in the same way as pure socialism is fine in theory, but neither benefit most people. In the former you invariably end up with human rights abuses, pollution, private monopolies, the enrichment of the few to the detriment of the many, and a pegging of innovation to profit. In the latter you get vast public monopolies, stifling regulation and innovation proscribed by bureaucrats.

Government involvement is required in any economy, since there are always abusers of the system, and only a government has the funds and the power to take them on. Laissez-faire capitalism is too little and pure socialism is too much. Definitely time for a change



[ Parent ]
reply (none / 0) (#58)
by ubu on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:09:11 PM EST

but I defy you to find one government... engaged in massacres of their voters.

The United States makes a handy example. Our own CIA directed the killings over Peru this past weekend, of course. The Drug War, in general, makes for a good example of the institutionalized killing and incarceration of citizenry. On top of domestic murder there is always war, which abounded in the 20th century. Vietnam, in particular, was a shining example of the senseless slaughter on both sides that US-led forces perpetuated.

If you want a good example of why money-men should not be allowed to run unchecked, have a look at this

The IPF is a classic example used by historians who oppose the free market. It is a bankrupt example, as demonstrated here and here and in this book.

considering that many people have starved to death in the Third World, because cheap coffee is more important than human life.

Bullshit. In the Third World, IMF and World Bank favors are more important than the economic growth and infrastructure investment that sustain human life. Painting poverty as if it were some sort of "growth versus life" conundrum is disingenuous and -- frankly, I don't care if you're offended -- stupid. You have literally 100 years, just past, of the most demonstrative evidence ever shown that economic growth preserves and encourages human life, freedom, and happiness, and that the opposite (centralism) is pernicious, wasteful, and ultimately fatal.

Laissez-faire capitalism is fine in theory... but neither benefit most people.

Strange politics for one who enjoys the fruits of said 'theory' for his daily bread. Human creation of wealth is driven by entrepreneurial spirit, and even if you're a welfare recipient (England? More likely every day) you owe thanks to the productive folk among you who nourish you.

In the former you invariably end up with human rights abuses, pollution, private monopolies, the enrichment of the few to the detriment of the many, and a pegging of innovation to profit.

No, wrong on all counts. You are describing socialism exactly. Even baby-boom Leftists don't argue the way you do; they know precisely what their social experiments got them in Cuba, the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and Southeast Asia... especially compared to freer provinces like Taiwan and Hong Kong. Even in the last 20 years we've seen South American countries like Brazil -- on the advice of socialists -- tossing their economies down the shitter.

Government involvement is required in any economy, since there are always abusers of the system, and only a government has the funds and the power to take them on.

Wrong. Without government there's no "system" to abuse. How can you overlook the rampant corruption in the Third World to justify your views?

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
correction (none / 0) (#59)
by ubu on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:18:06 PM EST

The duplicate link above should have been this.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#60)
by deaddrunk on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 08:54:20 PM EST

I'll ask you again - name a democratic country that has ever systematically murdered it's voters? I know very well what the US foreign policy is like and the just as bad UK policy - which lest we forget panders to a laissez-faire arms market.

You have literally 100 years, just past, of the most demonstrative evidence ever shown that economic growth preserves and encourages human life, freedom, and happiness, and that the opposite (centralism) is pernicious, wasteful, and ultimately fatal.

It's interesting that the greatest period of human growth has also been marked by the greatest amount of western government intervention

No, wrong on all counts. You are describing socialism exactly

How many privately-owned monopolies are there in a totalitarian socialist/communist country and where is the pegging of the innovation to profit in the same system. You're also falling into the traditional American trap of believing that socialism is the same as totalitarian communism. France and Holland are socialist, but I don't see many human rights abuses going on there.

Strange politics for one who enjoys the fruits of said 'theory' for his daily bread. Human creation of wealth is driven by entrepreneurial spirit, and even if you're a welfare recipient (England? More likely every day) you owe thanks to the productive folk among you who nourish you.

You seem to think for some bizarre reason that there are only 2 extremes - laissez-faire or centrally-planned. Is there no middle-ground? That's what I basically said in my last post, but you're too busy putting words in my mouth and implying that I'm a pinko commie layabout. BTW the comment about the UK work situation is a bit out of touch with reality

.

Wrong. Without government there's no "system" to abuse. How can you overlook the rampant corruption in the Third World to justify your views?

I'm not. I'm saying that the capitalist system is putting profit before people, and provided an example.



[ Parent ]
This is so tiring (none / 0) (#63)
by ubu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:35:37 AM EST

I know very well what the US foreign policy is like and the just as bad UK policy - which lest we forget panders to a laissez-faire arms market.

*sigh* There is nothing laissez-faire about the military-industrial complex, not in the US and not in any NATO member country. Maybe I'm skipping too many steps, here.

It's interesting that the greatest period of human growth has also been marked by the greatest amount of western government intervention

Interesting, I guess so.

How many privately-owned monopolies are there in a totalitarian socialist/communist country and where is the pegging of the innovation to profit in the same system.

Totalitarian socialist/communist regimes don't permit private ownership of major industries. I'm sure you remember that gal Margaret Thatcher, the one who privatized BT. Statist regimes show innovation only when there is profit to the public coffer, which is one of the reasons they typically spend such a large percentage of the GDP on the national war machine.

20 years ago Britain might still have been considered a progressive Western nation. But it had publically-owned utilities and major manufacturers. Despite Thatcher's efforts your country has continued to slide into socialism and central planning, and will practically fall off the cliff when it sacrifices its currency and its sovereignty to the EU. Congratulations, Britain is "somewhere in-between" and quickly sliding toward totalitarianism. These things only go one way. The same thing is happening in the United States, there can be no doubt about this.

You seem to think for some bizarre reason that there are only 2 extremes - laissez-faire or centrally-planned. Is there no middle-ground?

No, that's the whole point. Laissez-faire doesn't mean "government runs the economy when it feels like it, but not always". A free market operates properly when it is 100% free; otherwise it suffers the degradation of an ever-growing State. Can you name a single country which has progressed from central-planning to laissez-faire capitalism and private rights without a bloody revolution? Because I can't.

BTW the comment about the UK work situation is a bit out of touch with reality.

Great quote from your article:

To mark the fall to six-figure unemployment, the government unveiled a package of new measures to bring people back into work.

They include an extension of the flagship New Deal jobs scheme, which has so far helped 270,000 young people find employment.

Government work programs. This is your demonstration of a laissez-faire economy? This is a joke.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Huh again (none / 0) (#66)
by deaddrunk on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:44:10 AM EST

I thought we were talking about whether a capitalist free-for-all was good or bad, not whether the UK is better or worse than the US. I don't agree with laissez-faire because it hands too much power to unelected corporates and I disagree with socialism because it hands too much power to corrupt politicians. The point of me quoting the article was not to prove that Britain is laissez-faire (it isn't), but that your statement about me being more and more likely to be without a job was wrong given that unemployment has been falling steadily in the UK for about a decade and is at it's lowest point for 30 years.

Totalitarian socialist/communist regimes don't permit private ownership of major industries. I'm sure you remember that gal Margaret Thatcher, the one who privatized BT . Statist regimes show innovation only when there is profit to the public coffer, which is one of the reasons they typically spend such a large percentage of the GDP on the national war machine.

You missed my point. You said that private monopolies and a pegging of innovation to profit was socialist. Well given that socialism doesn't allow private monopolies and private profit, I don't see how it can be. Both systems allow monopolies and stifling of innovation. A good example would be the PC market. Do you think that any of the major players in this lucrative market would be anywhere now had IBM not been slowed down by government intervention against their monopolistic practices. Chances are that Microsoft and Intel would now be divisions of IBM and the few of us who could afford a PC would be bitching about $500 MCA SNA network cards.

I also remember Margaret Thatcher all too well. The woman who's 'free market knows best' policy is responsible for the mess this country's in today, from the delays in the ADSL rollout to the appalling negligence that led to fatal rail accidents, it's clear (at least to me) that not requiring corporations to obey laws and conform to minimum standards is a bad idea



[ Parent ]
yawn (none / 0) (#67)
by ubu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:55:16 PM EST

I don't agree with laissez-faire because it hands too much power to unelected corporates and I disagree with socialism because it hands too much power to corrupt politicians.

And my point, again, is that this is a false dichotomy. In a laissez-faire economy, corporations are private entities with no more power than you or I, because they are subject to the same laws as you or I. In a socialist setting that guarantee is gone and the distinction between private and public entity is erased. In such a situation you truly would have reason to fear unelected corporations, because they would wield public power -- legislative oversight and the legitimate use of force to enforce it.

The situations in my country and yours are fundamentally the same; they differ only in the degree to which they have succumbed to socialism-cum-totalitarianism. The so-called "Iron Triangle" -- between industry, special interests, and government regulators -- spells the end of individual liberty from the transcendent interests of private corporations and the politicans they own. I can't make this any clearer for you without sock puppets. The Founders of my country practically wrote themselves to death extolling the virtues of a society based on fair and equal treatment before the law, a society based on private pursuit of happiness and minimal government. Has anyone been reading?

but that your statement about me being more and more likely to be without a job was wrong given that unemployment has been falling steadily in the UK for about a decade and is at it's lowest point for 30 years.

You don't have to be out of work to get welfare. During the 1930s in America we had a New Deal program to artificially create jobs. You would have been hard-pressed to find a single man, woman, or child who admitted to recieving "welfare" payments, but that's exactly what they were. There are all kinds of welfare payments, even for rich people. Hell, I pay a federally-mandated series of phone charges that fund phone company expansion into low-volume areas even when they're not needed. This money lines the pockets of the executives who run these "regulated monopolies". You think these people are capitalists? Maybe in your wet dreams.

Well given that socialism doesn't allow private monopolies and private profit, I don't see how it can be.

There are no private monopolies. All monopolies are publically-created monsters.

A good example would be the PC market. Do you think that any of the major players in this lucrative market would be anywhere now had IBM not been slowed down by government intervention against their monopolistic practices.

What do I care who has what position? I'm concerned with creation of private wealth. If you meant to ask, do I think that the PC revolution would have occurred without government intervention?, then of course the answer is a wholehearted yes. Do I think that the computer software industry will continue to thrive without a Microsoft breakup? Absolutely, yes, no question about it.

Chances are that Microsoft and Intel would now be divisions of IBM and the few of us who could afford a PC would be bitching about $500 MCA SNA network cards.

You mean, the way HP and Sun currently charge $500 for a 10/100 NIC in a workstation? No, of course that only happens in those high-margin, low-volume markets. This is pointless. We can both predict a past that didn't happen. I could point to similar changes in the way automobile prices came down as volume increased and average consumers entered the market during the turn of the 20th century. What I do know is that government intervention always damages the market. A-L-W-A-Y-S.

The woman who's 'free market knows best' policy is responsible for the mess this country's in today, from the delays in the ADSL rollout to the appalling negligence that led to fatal rail accidents, it's clear (at least to me) that not requiring corporations to obey laws and conform to minimum standards is a bad idea.

Obedience to common laws is an issue nobody is arguing. What you are advocating is a completely different issue, and you know that quite as well as I do.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Still banging the drum (none / 0) (#70)
by deaddrunk on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 01:29:40 AM EST

Why are you so determined to refute some imaginary socialist viewpoint that you've pinned on me. I DON'T SUPPORT SOCIALISM. I just don't believe a corporation can be trusted to behave just because it might suffer in the market 10 years down the line.

What I do know is that government intervention always damages the market. A-L-W-A-Y-S.

Apart from IBM having to sign a consent decree that allowed the rise of a thriving PC market, or the government intervention in the UK electricity market that now is a lot more competitive than it was when there were a dozen regional monopolies, to name but two.

There are no private monopolies. All monopolies are publically-created monsters.

All I can say to this bizarre statement is, what is Microsoft, if not a private monopoly.

Obedience to common laws is an issue nobody is arguing.

So who is responsible for making these common laws then, if not the government? If corporations don't have to adhere to minimum standards, why would they?

What you are advocating is a completely different issue, and you know that quite as well as I do.

Tell me then, what issue do you think I'm advocating?



[ Parent ]
What drum? (none / 0) (#72)
by ubu on Tue May 01, 2001 at 12:58:23 PM EST

"Still banging the drum"? Pardon me, but what kind of mental retardation are you suffering that you can't endure 8 levels of conversation threading without resorting to stupid shit like that? Am I too consistent, is that the problem? Does that make me a zealot? Heaven forfend I should doggedly defend the principles of a consistent ideological framework!

Whadda fuckin' world we live in...

I just don't believe a corporation can be trusted to behave just because it might suffer in the market 10 years down the line.

You're still missing the point. Nobody's asking you to trust corporations. I don't trust anyone, least of all self-interested organizations like corporations and federal governments. What I find puzzling is that you're the one who's implicitly asking for my trust in government.

government intervention in the UK electricity market that now is a lot more competitive than it was when there were a dozen regional monopolies, to name but two.

Of course it's more competitive, now that BT is private. I read in 1997 that the number of competitive carriers jumped to 200 within a year of BT's privatization.

All I can say to this bizarre statement is, what is Microsoft, if not a private monopoly.

Huh... a private corporation, maybe? I assume you familiarized yourself with DoJ vs Microsoft. Did you notice that it was necessary to continually narrow the definition of Microsoft's "market", and to subjectively dismiss competitors and speculate on future development to "prove" Microsoft was a "monopoly"? It was the most amusing part of the whole proceeding.

Microsoft is not a "private monopoly" by any stretch of the imagination. Can you name a Microsoft product which faces little or no competition? Give it a shot.

So who is responsible for making these common laws then, if not the government?

Typically, judicial tradition is responsible for tort and contract law. The rise of the modern bureaucracy and its immense regulatory codes... in the domain of big government, you are correct. That's not the sort of law I find either necessary or desirable.

Tell me then, what issue do you think I'm advocating?

Abolition of the private freedoms that ensure growth, among other things. Implicit in your advocacy is the slide to socialism, whether you acknowledge it or no.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Banging the drum - a clarification (none / 0) (#73)
by deaddrunk on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:36:04 PM EST

It was in reference to you constantly bashing socialism when I'm not advocating it. Not in reference to your perfectly coherent arguments. Don't take it too personally, it was just me typing without thinking.

Doesn't laissez-faire mean 'anything goes'. In other words corporations can do anything they want and there will be few, if any, laws to slow them down. This is how private enterprise operated in the 18th and 19th centuries and people were expected to work in unsafe conditions for an absolute pittance. Are you then advocating a return to this? Back to children working in factories? I don't understand where you're coming from. You think that corporations will behave equitably when freed of all restrictions? I agree totally with the assertion that corporate welfare should be ended and corporations buying politicians is wrong, but to say that corporations will somehow enrich the world when most of the workforce lives in abject poverty due to them not having any protection just sounds wrong to me

Microsoft is not a "private monopoly" by any stretch of the imagination. Can you name a Microsoft product which faces little or no competition? Give it a shot.

Windows 9x and Microsoft Office

Typically, judicial tradition is responsible for tort and contract law.

Where did the original basis for tort and contract law come from? I'm not just talking about those laws anyway, but also about pollution and worker's rights legislation as well

Abolition of the private freedoms that ensure growth, among other things. Implicit in your advocacy is the slide to socialism, whether you acknowledge it or no.

Abolition of said private freedoms has led to an unparalleled period of technological and economic growth, as you've already acknowledged. Why throw it away?



[ Parent ]

reply (none / 0) (#74)
by ubu on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:54:55 PM EST

Don't take it too personally, it was just me typing without thinking.

Please forgive me. I went way off the deep end.

Doesn't laissez-faire mean 'anything goes'. In other words corporations can do anything they want and there will be few, if any, laws to slow them down. This is how private enterprise operated in the 18th and 19th centuries and people were expected to work in unsafe conditions for an absolute pittance.

No, not really. To address the first point, "laissez-faire" means no exceptional treatment. Markets grow fastest and benefit the most people when left to operate independently under the common (non-bureaucratic) laws that govern everyone.

In the real world, not everyone will agree with everything the marketplace does; for instance, a community may find sex-themed businesses absolutely atrocious and unbearable. For this reason, it's conceivable that said community would impose zoning restrictions to prevent the issuance of business licenses to proprietors of such businesses.

These restrictions are based on governmental fiat, not necessarily upon the best-case interaction between voluntary actors in the marketplace. It is assumed that they are acceptable when the community cost of organizing to boycott or otherwise remove the offending establishment in the private sector is too high, but when consent is so overwhelming that there is a net benefit.

In order for this formula to hold such restrictions must be local in nature, and as narrowly-defined as possible. This is why it was necessary to build into the US Constitution a strict hierarchy of local, state, and federal governments, the design we call "federalism". At no level of federalism should decision-making supercede the will of more-local concerns. Exceptions to the rule were supplied by the Founders in Article I Section 8, many of which were ill-advised (federal post, for instance).

With regard to the second part of the quoted material above, the working conditions were poor in the 18th- and 19th-centuries because life was hard. Period! Nobody forced people into factories -- with the exception of young children forced by parents or guardians -- or into coal mines. They were at liberty to pursue other living arrangements at all times.

This is not disingenuous. In the marketplace all transactions are conducted at the voluntary discretion of both parties. When Western companies go to Mexico to pay for cheaper labor they are taking jobs to Mexicans who want them. Lots of people seem to miss that fact. They also seem to miss the fact that federal regulation notwithstanding, private enterprise has always improved living and working standards over time. Compare the working conditions in late 20th-century United States and Great Britain to those in Czechoslovakia and Romania at the same time.

The essential fact here is that life is not fundamentally easy. It gets easier when people organize to increase their efficiency (Adam Smith describes the making of pins to demonstrate this phenomenon), but positive growth and organization only occur when different people make different choices for themselves, based on their own best interests. All people are not the same. You and I have not set the same priorities for our time and for our efforts. Therefore, one of us is richer than the other, one of us has better health care than the other, and one of us is probably happier than the other. I'll bet you win on all three counts, and that would be nobody's business but our own -- for good or for ill.

You think that corporations will behave equitably when freed of all restrictions?

I still don't know what you mean by restrictions. If you mean the unelected regulatory bodies that make up the vast majority of the federal government, then I say yes, of course. Where injustice occurs there will be legal recourse (tort and contract law). Where there are civil disagreements there is arbitration, and where there are criminals there will be law-abiding people to curb them -- providing they, themselves, are not taught to hate the law because of racist police officers, unfair drug wars, and other governmental abuses in the name of "law and order".

but to say that corporations will somehow enrich the world when most of the workforce lives in abject poverty due to them not having any protection just sounds wrong to me

Corporations are economic entities, organizations of people who create wealth. People do not live in abject poverty because of other people who create wealth; they live in poverty because of other people who destroy wealth: waging wars, restraining trade, taxing assets, imprisoning able-bodied men and women, and psychologically crippling the workforce via welfare culture. Can you explain to me how you see corporations encouraging "abject poverty"? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Windows 9x and Microsoft Office

There is ample competition in both markets. Apple continues to thrive in the "monopoly" environment, no? Free UNIXes do so, as well. Competitors in productivity software include AppleWorks, StarOffice, and lots of free projects in the Open Source tradition. If you're going to argue that a vast majority stake means a monopoly, you might as well argue that Intuit has a home-accounting software monopoly (as if anyone cares when Quicken SE sells for $39.99 on sale). If, on the other hand, you want to narrowly define Microsoft's market to something like "x86-based home PC hardware" you might as well argue that Sun has a monopoly on operating systems for SPARC-based computers and that IBM has a monopoly on operating systems for POWER-based mainframes.

Where did the original basis for tort and contract law come from? I'm not just talking about those laws anyway, but also about pollution and worker's rights legislation as well

The original basis for tort and contract law comes from English Common Law, established by hundreds of years of precedent-setting by English judges, many of whom came out of the clergy to settle private disputes. English Common Law was at odds with the monarchy until the establishment of a Constitutional representative government.

What is "worker's rights legislation"? I don't know what a "worker's right" is if it's something special and different from the rights we all enjoy.

There has been a lot of research -- notably by Coase -- on potential free-market action in pursuit of compensation for pollution and polluting activity. It's all just theory, as long as the market is restricted from finding free and fair resolutions in the face of government fiat. Living alongside other human beings is without doubt a complicated enterprise, but complexity is precisely what free markets handle so much better than government fiat.

Abolition of said private freedoms has led to an unparalleled period of technological and economic growth, as you've already acknowledged. Why throw it away?

Whooo! That's a disturbing reversal of cause and effect. Draw a timeline of human history and quality of life beginning with 2000BC and leading to 2000AD. Watch what happens to liberty, incomes, upward mobility, and quality of life around... oh, around 1776, for example.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
I agree, and would like to add.. (none / 0) (#45)
by yertledaturtle on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 04:24:06 PM EST

I agree with your sentiment here ubu. I would also add that huge bureaucratic transnational corporations are just as complicit in this problem.
It is my belief that both government and large corporations are out of control and they have worked together to put us in an economic/political bind.


[ Parent ]
Government/corporations (none / 0) (#46)
by ubu on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 04:37:55 PM EST

There's no question about that. But we have to be clear on one thing: the enabling factor in corporate power growth has been its collusion with government and the unique liberties allowed by lawmaking bodies. In other words, corporations wouldn't be fearsome if they didn't have legislative bodies acting as their proxies (not to mention executives with legitimate police and military forces).

Marx claimed that the principal danger of capitalism was that capitalists would manipulate the government to put their own business interests above everyone else's. I submit that he has been 100% correct on that point, so far.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
You know what sucks? (3.00 / 4) (#16)
by daystar on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 10:54:58 PM EST

Medicine. Say some kid gets terribly sick, and could DIE, but some meddling doctor comes in and "saves" his life. Sure, the kid figures he's happy to be alive, but what's ahead? Adolescence? Zits? Rejection? Not to mention the working world, and some cheating whore of a wife who make him wish he'd never been born. And all because of that goddam doctor, stepping in and screwing with the natural progression of some horrible disease. Bastards.

So tell me: how is this (obviously absurd) rant different from your point of view?

For the record, I agree that the INS is screwy. I believe in capitalism, not arbitrary limitations on freedom. I'd vote for free trade and open borders.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Let's see... (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by theboz on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:19:03 PM EST

The doctor saves someone's live and they go back to business as normal.

A person comes to the U.S. and builds up their life, then has it all pulled away from them because of some stupid obsolete government office that doesn't work and the person ends up in possibly worse shape than when they started, or at least back to the same.

That's pretty different situations. It's not like the U.S. government or corporations are out to help anyone but themselves. We're simply their prey.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Wow.... (3.33 / 3) (#24)
by daystar on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:58:23 PM EST

It's not like the U.S. government or corporations are out to help anyone but themselves. We're simply their prey.
Interesting. Doctors call this paranoid delusion.

If someone wants to come to the united states to work, who are you to tell them that they REALLY won't be better off? Maybe, just maybe, programmers from india are smart enough to TELL if they're better off without your help.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.


[ Parent ]

Choosing to be a slave (4.00 / 12) (#2)
by enterfornone on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 08:40:16 PM EST

I was chatting to an Indian immigrant about this subject recently (not a programmer, he has a masters in HR and is currently working in marketing).

First thing a lot of people miss is that while wages in India are very low, the cost of living is also very low. So the idea that they are being treated as slaves in their own country is wrong - compared to their cost of living they are very well off.

Even in Australia, I only make a little over $20k US doing tech support - many make about $15US. It's a good salary.

You can make more money in the US. If you work for the six years on H1-B you can then go back to your own country and be very well of. Perhaps you aren't making as much as someone born in the US, but that's your choice.

Should companies take their business where costs are lowest. So long as they aren't doing anything like employing kids or paying under the cost of living in whatever area then I don't see a problem with it.

Protectionism is bad. It leads to higher costs for consumers, which leads to a higher cost of living which leads to a demand for greater wages. Protectionism advocates are digging their own graves. They are raising costs so companies have no choice but to move to areas with a lower cost of living.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Poor Workers (3.66 / 6) (#9)
by logicnazi on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 09:30:52 PM EST

What I don't get is the fact that many of these protesters claim to be working on behalf of the people in poor countries. Their claim is that they are preserving their way of life and protecting them from sweatshops.

No one ever (with the exception of prison labor) forces people to work in sweatshops. People work in sweatshops because they prefer it to whatever conditions they are currently living in. Perhaps they have been living in these conditions for thousands of years but if they would prefer to work in a sweatshop they must be in a pretty bad position.

Moreover, it seems quite clear that the leaders of these nations desire these agreements. While it is possible they desier them because they are unduly influenced by american buisness interests it seems a great deal of them honestly believe that this would be better for their country. In contrast to this the anti-globalization protesters are taking an extremly imperialistic attitude of we know what is best for you, you shouldn't be allowed to export goods to the United States.

In short it seems that protenctionism and anti-globalization in general are just selfish actions designed to keep us rich at the expense of the poor in other countries.

What ? (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by Zeram on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:35:08 PM EST

I can understand that you feel that the alternative press is biased, they have to be. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, basicly the major media does not directly censor itself. Anybody who can make it throught high school, college and then rise to the level of a major reporter (TV, print, whatever) has had to internalize the structures presented to them. Which means that by the time they get to a postion where they could report on something important they are incapable of asking important questions that would lead them anywhere near the truth. And this is backed up by "the experts" that get paraded around (payed off) when ever anything major occurs. So who is left to try and report the truth? The alternative press.

And they have to scream because no one wants to hear it, it's not profitable for people to hear the truth. Why do you think print media loves the internet? The coporation that owns them loses money when you buy their paper or magazine (for the most part) but they make it up in the back end when the corporation makes money because people are directed to profitable things (sports, technology, whatever is hot at the time) or away from specific things that are not profitable (like the plight of H1-B visa workers).

And yes there are crackpots who do nothing but scream that the sky is falling. But there are also people out there who just want us to know the truth. What I hope you can understand is that as whiny as the alternative press might seem to you, they are neccessary because some of us still care and want to know the truth. If your jaded enough that you don't care about "truth", thats fine. One day it will smack you in the ass (or if your one of those people inside the structures then well hopefully one day you'll wake up), and you'll know where to look for answers.


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
oops (none / 0) (#22)
by Zeram on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:36:38 PM EST

I don'ty know what happened but my post was supposed to be on the post above this one... sorry...


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Sweatshops are cool! (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by The Cunctator on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 04:40:32 AM EST

Those kids over there? They're working here because it's fun! And they love Nike, ain't that right, kids? What, I can't hear you! "I wanna be like Mike!" That's right! Hey, get that kid's arm out of the loom, sheesh. We're on a tight schedule here.

Outta my way, mom. No, I won't be able to visit my father in the hospital. After all, he chose to work in the coal mines to put food on my table, but damn, coal mines, what a jerk! Couldn't he see that the future was in hydropower?

[ Parent ]

Hmm... (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by dice on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 01:55:26 PM EST

And if the sweatshop weren't there they'd be worse off, wouldn't they?

Seems pretty simple to me.


[ Parent ]
Yeah, they'd be worse off financially, (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by ZanThrax on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 03:36:18 PM EST

but would it really break the companies to make some efforts toward safer, cleaner work environments? Corporations can't get away with that sort of shit in developed nations anymore, but with FTAA type agreements, developing nations will have a hard time passing similar laws to protect their own people when the corporation up and sues them for cutting into the profit margin...

Time for a new .sig




[ Parent ]
bleh, whatever. (4.08 / 12) (#10)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 09:36:26 PM EST

From the linked article:

If Silicon Valley companies take the millions they're pouring into political contributions, and raise salaries instead, they'll find they get all the workers they need.

Yeh, right. The Tech industry pays in less to the political process then any other major industry. But that's not the real problem I have with the statement.

I hate the 'alternative press', I really do. Their 'journalism' is far more biased then the mainstream media. I mean, one of the articles you linked talked about US government 'psy-ops solders'... please, but lets analyze that last statement

The assertion is that if they stop spending millions on political contributions, and pay salaries, that their labor shortages will go away. But how does paying people more money result in more workers? (Other then the fact that much larger salaries attract more people, but engineers already make a ton of money, so there wouldn't be that much of an improvement). The other problem is that they are only paying in a few million dollars. A million dollars is only going to pay about 20 engineers for a year (at 50k/year). Ten million would cover 200. Now, those numbers aren't anywhere near the 60,000 to 70,000 hb-1 visas that are being used now. The fact is, making such a mathematically unsound statement should cast doubt on the whole rest of the article (especially since its at the end); any one who takes this crap seriously really should try thinking more critically.

Of course, it's just like the alternative media to bitch and moan about whatever and never provide any solutions
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Look... (3.80 / 5) (#27)
by Zeram on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 12:52:55 AM EST

I can understand that you feel that the alternative press is biased, they have to be. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, basicly the major media does not directly censor itself. Anybody who can make it throught high school, college and then rise to the level of a major reporter (TV, print, whatever) has had to internalize the structures presented to them. Which means that by the time they get to a postion where they could report on something important they are incapable of asking important questions that would lead them anywhere near the truth. And this is backed up by "the experts" that get paraded around (payed off) when ever anything major occurs. So who is left to try and report the truth? The alternative press.

And they have to scream because no one wants to hear it, it's not profitable for people to hear the truth. Why do you think print media loves the internet? The coporation that owns them loses money when you buy their paper or magazine (for the most part) but they make it up in the back end when the corporation makes money because people are directed to profitable things (sports, technology, whatever is hot at the time) or away from specific things that are not profitable (like the plight of H1-B visa workers).

And yes there are crackpots who do nothing but scream that the sky is falling. But there are also people out there who just want us to know the truth. What I hope you can understand is that as whiny as the alternative press might seem to you, they are neccessary because some of us still care and want to know the truth. If your jaded enough that you don't care about "truth", thats fine. One day it will smack you in the ass (or if your one of those people inside the structures then well hopefully one day you'll wake up), and you'll know where to look for answers.


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Investing in employees (3.66 / 3) (#37)
by Philipp on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 05:30:15 AM EST

The assertion is that if they stop spending millions on political contributions, and pay salaries, that their labor shortages will go away. But how does paying people more money result in more workers?

How about hiring people and train them, so they have the skills needed for the job. There are many people who could work in the tech industry, but cannot affort to go through college. If a company would hire them as trainee and teach them Perl, SQL, and whatever, they would have grateful workers. Instead they prefer to lobby to get fully-educated Indians for a discount.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

I think the word you want is: (4.23 / 13) (#11)
by elenchos on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 09:39:53 PM EST

Peon instead of slave. Even though the usages often overlap, the difference between the two is that a slave is human property, while a peon is not anyone's property, but simply lacks freedom because he is bound to his employer by debts that he will never be able to pay.

This article has a lot of good stuff in it, but I wish it were more structured and thought out, both in the way it is written, and in the use of terminology. Another example of this is the distinction between free trade and the WTO. One may favor free trade, yet be opposed to the undemocratic WTO and it's lack of respect for national sovereignty. One may favor globalization in the sense that there should be more intercourse between nations, greater freedom to travel, work and invest in other countries, without favoring backroom deals between big business and their political lackeys, as in NAFTA or the WTO. This is the biggest crime commited by the mainstream media: accusing those who oppose these dirty deals of being protectionists, isolationists, anti-trade, etc. And then having the nerve to say that the protesters are just a bunch of dumb kids who don't understand the issues involved. I think they understand what is going on all to well.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


Tasteful distinctions (3.20 / 5) (#17)
by jude on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:11:46 PM EST

"Peon instead of slave . Even though the usages often overlap, the difference between the two is that a slave is human property, while a peon is not anyone's property, but simply lacks freedom because he is bound to his employer by debts that he will never be able to pay."

A distinction which, for all practical purposes, makes very little difference. Not being the property of anyone, does not mean you are not the property of anything.

Certifiable "slaves" could have avoided their plight by dying, and, sooner or later, they do. "Peon" is a euphemism for "slave" in much the same way "interest" is a euphemism for "usury".

[ Parent ]
Well, I don't think so. (3.66 / 6) (#20)
by elenchos on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:27:58 PM EST

For example, you can't sell a peon on the open market the way you do if slavery is instituted. There is not really a peonage trade to speak of. You could sell their debts I suppose, and then the person would go with them, but that isn't how it actually works. Peonage is a phenomenon the world over; anywhere that you find workers with few or no rigths. It was common in the US before the rise of the labor movement, and still exists in the US among various illegal immigrants. It is a very easy state of affairs to fall into: all it takes is enough weakening of bankruptcy laws, and the chipping away of such regulations as those limiting the existence of "company stores" or of employers acting as financial institutions for their employees. The poverty industry in the US, with their usurious check cashing and payday loan services are another example of the easy slide into peonage.

You could lump it all together under the name "slavery" if you wish, but that ignores the process involved in the transition from freedom to peonage, and ignores the difference between societies that institute a slave class and those that simply ignore what happens to those at the bottom of the economic scale.

Next you'll be telling me there is no difference between a "serf" and a "slave!"

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

I respectfully disagree (3.75 / 4) (#23)
by jude on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:43:51 PM EST

So a peon is a slave who gets to hold some money in his hand for a few minutes, and maybe even get to sniff it, before he has to give it to someone else.

If an economy owns his lifestuff it can and does dispose of him as it wishes. A slave can have the good fortune of a benevolent master. A peon is at the disposal of a faceless system. Peonage is slavery dehumanized.

[ Parent ]
Nope, yr still confused. (4.00 / 5) (#25)
by elenchos on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 12:19:47 AM EST

Under slavery, it is possible for a slave, who is himself property, to also own property of his own. He could even own slaves himself. Olaudah Equiano describes this in his Interesting Narrative. In ancient Greece and Rome, slaves could do quite well for themselves, and even become wealthy, provided they had the right master. Yet they didn't necessarily have the possibility of buying their own freedom. All sorts of things were possible. Though all of this may not make a lot of sense, it did take place. But under a system of peonage it would really make no sense. If a peon acquired any wealth, he could pay his debts and not be a peon any more.

And then there is the issue of being born into slavery, which is not usually the case with peonage.

And the stuff about a faceless system doesn't necessarily apply to peons and not slaves. A slave could be a state-owned slave with no personal master at all, like the Scythian Archers in Athens. Or a peon could be stuck in debt to a single individual whom he lives with and knows quite well. And this state of affairs could exist independently of "the system." When a prostitute becomes so indebted to her pimp/dealer in the modern US, for example, so that she becomes a peon, there is no larger state system involved. It is just her and him.

Oh, and it was I believe Solon in ancient Athens who outlawed the practice of enslaving those who could not pay their debts. So they had it where peonage was outlawed, but slavery still existed! All kinds of distinctions are possible.

I'm not saying peonage is good, or that it is better than slavery. I am saying we should call things what they are.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

You're right (3.50 / 4) (#28)
by jude on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 12:56:34 AM EST

Semantically you are correct, and within the context of your discussion, entirely right.

But when you climb out of the ivory tower abstract distinctions tend to blur into reality.

Politicians use this method to avoid having to do anything or take a stand on an issue.

The final fact is that some people think that they are better and deserve a great deal more than others, when, in truth, they do not. The difference between the "peon" and the CEO is not great enough to justify the vast inequity in the way they are compensated for their time. The notion that one "earned" it and the other somehow did not, is also utterly ludicrous.

[ Parent ]
What is it about... (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by elenchos on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 02:03:12 AM EST

...my statements that the US poverty industry, street prostitution, and the abuse of immigrants are peonage that makes you think I am isolatd in some ivory tower? What did I say that makes you think I need a lecture on the difference between a peon and a CEO, and what they deserve? Did I say that one earned it and the other did not? Do I sound like a politicain who is afraid to take a stand when I suggest that the weakening of bankruptcy laws and the tolerance of payday loan schemes are leading many into peonage? These are not ivory tower abstactions: these are problems that are breaking and ruining real people right now in my town.

I think that by understanding what is being done to people in detail and knowing exactly what to call it is more than just semantically correct, but correct in any context.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

Nothing (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by jude on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 08:54:48 AM EST

I do not assert that you live in an ivory tower or lack the ability to see injustice in the real world. I do believe that certain overly analytical left brained points of view tend in that direction, however.

Becoming mired defining terms to me sometimes seems a classic case of not seeing the tree for the leaves. The root of these problems is simple selfishness and the inability of some human beings to see that other human beings are essentially the same as they are and therefore deserve the same basic rights. Poverty industry, street prostitution, abuse of immigrants, and whether or not they are peonage is like tumescent mass, loss of weight, failure to thrive, and whether or not it is cancer. Peonage and cancer both need to be cut out at the earliest possible time as soon as they are seen for what they are.

Not that long ago cigarettes were cool, high fashion accessories in the U.S. Now they are dirty little cancer sticks. This tranformation did not take place through a complex series of arguments but by driving home the simple message "Cigarettes are bad for you and they stink". Logical arguments do not change behaviour, beliefs and attitudes do. The only way to change beliefs and attitudes in the long run is to have a simple (and hopefully true) message and persistently drive it into peoples consciousness. The other way to do it is through violence and revolution. But that is a cure that is often worse than the disease.

Not really trying to put words in your mouth. Just trying to state my own point of view.

[ Parent ]
Québec and the US media. (4.10 / 10) (#12)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 10:01:06 PM EST

Comparing the reporting of the US media on the Québec protests to that of the local Québec media is a very useful exercise. Of course, the local media is a lot more precise in telling what's going on, since it's happening right here. For example, yesterday on Radio Cadada's news section, the headline story was about the main protest, 25,000 person strong, with no major incidents. A secondary, smaller story told of the confrontations between police and about a thousand protestors.

Today's edition has one article on the results of the confrontations-- 430 arrests, 46 injured cops and about 140 injured protesters, and a full-length article on the League of Rights and Freedoms complaining about the police action.

In contrast, the typical USian media story goes "violent anti-globalization protesters [no estimate of how many] attacked the police in Québec. [blah blah blah for several paragraphs] And oh, by the way, many protestors [25-35,000] marched away from this, and were pacific. We interviewed a random guy in the street, and here's what all of them think: [media oversimplification of some regular Joe Protester's opinion)]."

--em

and one detail I left out... (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 10:22:32 PM EST

... is that the Radio Canada reports don't contain the typical USian media phrase "violent protester". They talk about "violent confrontations between radical protesters and police". Which is a completely accurate and much more ideologically neutral way of describing the whole affair. And this generalizes pretty well-- the choice of words, and the placement given to different events withing the reporting shows dramatically the agenda of the mainstream US media.

--em
[ Parent ]

"censorship" is not the word... (4.18 / 11) (#15)
by Speare on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 10:43:59 PM EST

unfortunately ignored and censored by the mainstream media

There is a difference between 'censorship' and 'editorial control'. When you vote a story down on k5, you're exercising the latter, not the former. The corporate-minded mainstream media may be heavily influenced by groupthink, but that's not censorship. You have the freedom to find other avenues to reach the information.

I abhor government censorship. To deny a citizen the right to know their world is to deny them their identity.

If you misuse the word censorship too often, people will not care so much when the real thing is used against them.


[ e d @ e x p l o r a t i . c o m ]


Groupthink (none / 0) (#48)
by deaddrunk on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 05:47:02 PM EST

What's the difference between journalists not writing stories their billionaire owner wouldn't like and government censorship? It still leads to the same thing, and in fact is worse, since the billionaire is not in any way publically accountable. This is what happens to the media when you allow a few all-powerful interests to buy up all the sources of information. I suggest you read some Chomsky and have your eyes disturbingly opened.

[ Parent ]
I don't think it's slavery (4.45 / 11) (#18)
by mami on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:13:24 PM EST

People have a job offer and get paid. If they want to leave the job, they can. They just loose their permission to stay within the U.S. That's pretty much everywhere in the world a practice, as soon as your visa is related to a specific job. People may be underpaid and be very dependent financially from their employer. To what degree though is dependent on the job they accept. Slavery would mean they would loose all their rights. That's not the case.

Any employee of an international organization, World Bank, IMF, UNO etc gets his visa only because of his job. As soon as he quits the job, or his assignment is over, he has to leave the country (including wives and kids). The difference is that the salaries are adaequate.

This here is more a case of slavery:

Employees of international organizations often have a so-called half-diplomatic status. They are allowed to bring nannies into the U.S. from their home countries (to allow them to have their own food prepared they are used to). These nannies are supposed to get a salary, and social security taxes should be paid by the "employer", (the employee of an UN related organization) for them. Those nannies are not supposed to be family members.

In many countries you can't recognize family relationships by the last name. It is a well known abuse of those diplomats to bring children and young women of their extended family into the U.S. under the nanny visa. These visas allows the "nanny" ONLY to work as a nanny for an employee of an international organization. They can't even run away and legally work as a nanny for a U.S. citizen with those visas. They only can run away and be illegal.

Customs and tradition make those "nannies" a property of their "uncles", who don't pay them a penny and let them work in slave-like conditions. Those international organization don't check, if their employees pay their nannies a salary (doesn't show up in tax returns, because they don't have taxable income and no returns are filed). The kids or women don't say anything, don't know where to go, can't change jobs and won't complain to their family members back in their home countries, because over there, they don't want them to come back and are happy to get rid of them.

Without a penny, no schooling, this is a circle very hard to get out of. It's illegal, but extremely hard to fight against, as there is no U.S. jurisdiction over those half-diplomatic UN employees. This is slavery hidden behind family dependencies and protected by a hole in the legal system. In most cases it is completely unvisible to the outside. Other abuse happens as well, I don't have to mention that.

There was, years ago, a very good article about a real slave (meaning he was slave already in his home country and was brought in as slave by his master covered up as a "cousin"). He lived in New York and described his ten year struggle to become "free" from his "master" (he succeeded). I don't remember the country anymore, but it was one of the Sahel-Zone countries. Anyway, it happens more often than one might think. Thanks to the NYT, it is much more known today than it was ten to fifteen years ago. The nanny situation is pretty much unknown, I think.




be realistic (3.40 / 5) (#32)
by streetlawyer on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 03:24:29 AM EST

If they want to leave the job, they can. They just loose their permission to stay within the U.S.

Or to put it another way, they can't.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Don't be US-centric... (3.25 / 4) (#36)
by Wonko The Sane on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 05:29:48 AM EST

It's a good bet a person who managed to get an H-1B is qualified enough to make an OK living in his home country (Relatively to the average quality of life there, not what he had in the US).

Or, he could return to his home country for a few months, and quite easily emigrate to Canada, New Zealand, or the SAR, where immigration laws are lax enough. Leaving the US doesn't mean subjecting oneself to death of starvation.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
No but (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Zeram on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 01:29:55 PM EST

If when someone comes here on an H1-B visa then chances are they are supporting their family back home as well. And so if they get kicked out of the Us they can't support their familiy and they are subject to immense ammounts of shame and ridicule.

Also, I don't know about New Zealand or the SAR but Canada's IT job market is probably about 1/10 of what America's is, not to mention the fact that even with what they already endure, immigrant works would probably still be payed less in Canada. And again they wouldn't starve, but what about their families?


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Slavery by degrees (none / 0) (#53)
by mdavids on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 11:35:58 PM EST

Indeed. Someone might similarly argue that there is no such thing as "slavery", and never has been, because the so-called "slave" is free to leave his master at any time. He might get arrested, shot, beaten up, or whatever, but that's entirely his decision, and he has to live with the consequenses.

So by this way of thinking we are all entirely free, and any apparent discrepancies in freedom, responsibility, and power are ideological constructs, not matters of fact.

However, in order to live a reasonable sort of life, avoid as much as possible the risk of destitution, death, imprisonment, or whatever, the decisions we can make are constrained by the realities of where power lies within our society. The institutions which wield this power are generally only marginally democratic, if at all, and work in fairly predictable ways to serve the interests of their owners.

Now is this slavery? Most of us are in a situation where we spend the greater part of our lives working for institutions that basically insist "do as you're told, or you're out on your arse." For many of us it's a comfortable kind of slavery, the cost of asserting one's independance from time to time is usually less severe than death, imprisonment, or deportation, and we can usually shop around for the most congenial master. But if you define slavery in terms of power realations, and the varying scope of freedom available to different participants within the system, it's technically slavery, nonetheless.

Well, is this justified? I would say not. There is a school of thought, quite widely accepted, which maintains that the great bulk of humanity is simply too stupid to manage it's own affairs, therefore most aspects of life - particularly industry - must be managed by strict totalitarian heirarchies, because it's in everybody's best interests. This is is a profoundly undemocratic view, held by both Marxists and capitalists.

What is the alternative? Industrial democracy. The principle that it is as illegitimate for the people who work in an enterprise to be controlled by owners, as it is for citizens of a country to be controlled by a dictator. How might it be acheived? By working together.



[ Parent ]
Union or Professional Association? (4.16 / 6) (#26)
by Blarney on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 12:33:37 AM EST

A union is a nice idea, but look at what's been happening to unions lately. There's less and less union representation, you can't just go get a union job and get good pay anymore.

It isn't necessarily pleasant being a union worker either! Sure, the pay is kept up a bit, at least on the low end of the wage scale. But everything is decided by seniority, and it often happens (check up on the Kroger's supermarket - the Old Contract and New Contract fiasco) that the more senior union members allow younger workers to basically get screwed - they let the company cut their wages and benefits to non-union levels, while still collecting the dues to spend as they please. There isn't much room for advancement based on merit if you belong to a labor union structure, and most egotistical computer types won't go for it - that includes most of the good people (as well as some stuck-up turkeys).

It ain't so great being a Teamster today! Now take a look at the doctors and the lawyers - the AMA and the ABA have it made! Doctors and lawyers command a big pile of money. You get sick, you have a doctor or you die miserably. You get arrested, you need a lawyer or you go to the slammer and lose all your money. The best part? Only an AMA doctor can treat sick people, and only an ABA lawyer can handle court cases. Anybody else does it, their ass is going to the Big House.

That's what we need - a professional association. Set up some sort of viciously difficult entrance thing, like med school or law school. Grandfather us all in, and we've just invented a new high-paid profession with legal barriers to entry. That's the road to riches.



Bullshit. (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Alik on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 06:13:21 PM EST

I can't speak for lawyers and the ABA, but I can tell you you're dead wrong about doctors and the AMA. Your inaccuracies include:

1) Doctors are in no way required to join the AMA. Many of them have various issues with AMA policies. I do as well, but I happen to think the benefits (and the chance to change AMA policy) is worth the cost of membership. It is true that the AMA does some lobbying and negotiating, but it ain't no union. Among other things, there's that total inability to call a strike.

2) You think doctors have it made? Try this: you graduate from med school owing around $150,000 just for your medical tuition and fees and books and living expenses, not counting what you paid for undergrad. For the next five to nine years (or longer if you want to do something really tricky, like pediatric surgery or specialized plastics/reconstructive), you get to work an insane schedule that includes things like call every other night. (They're trying to reform this, but "reform" includes the benevolent suggestion that one weekend off a month is generosity.) You're getting paid between 30K and 50K per year for this, while basically being responsible for everything except the really complicated cases or the difficult part of the operation. Meanwhile, your loans are into repayment, and that interest starts building *real* fast.

Oh, and think you'll still make millions after your residency is up? Think again. Reimbursements are being cut back across the board. Sure, if you're some kind of superstar celebrity doc, you'll make that, but otherwise, you'll easily be outdone by your friends who went to business and law school.

3) Barriers to entry, my ass. (Yes, that's right, my ass has barriers to entry.) Go to school for four years, no residency: be a nurse practitioner. Prescribe drugs, treat patients, and all you need is an MD to sign off on your orders. Better yet, screw school; do a quick certificate program and become a chiropractor or a nutritionist. No licensing requirements of any kind, essentially zero regulation, and people will be beating your door down. Assuming you're smart enough to sell books and supplements out of your office, you can easily make as much as (if not more than) any doctor.

4) And after all that crap, jerks on weblogs are going to spout off and tell you that you've got a cushy job and are raking in way more than you deserve.

Med school admissions are just gearing up for another cycle. It's even online this year, so you don't need to kill any trees. Care to give it a try and then say how easy it is?


[ Parent ]
quick, hand me a gas mask (4.25 / 8) (#29)
by eLuddite on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 01:09:08 AM EST

I still dont know what globalization is, why it's bad and why this year's globalization is any different than last year's model. Are you saying there is an effort underway to systematically entrench extortion as a global corporate right? Can it be possible that all these national governments are being been simultaneously hoodwinked to act against their best interests and those of their people?

Why, there ought to be a law against corporations.

I am 100% against human rights abuses but I dont know whether repeating the word globalization over and over again is going to diminish them. I dont even know that there arent less today than there were a decade ago.

Seriously, I'm sure you have the best of intentions but the road to quebec city is littered with evian bottles, you know?

---
God hates human rights.

Big changes in the law: (4.25 / 4) (#38)
by elenchos on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 06:59:10 AM EST

Here check this out. Yeah, I know it is the Nation, but I don't think they are just making it all up. One of the differences between this year's globialization and what we used to have is that your government may end up paying huge fines to private companies without the taxpayers getting to see how the judgement was arrived at, let alone getting a say in the outcome.

So yout tell me. Go look up Chapter 11 of NAFTA and you tell me what it really means to us. Sounds like taxation without representation, to begin with. And yes, these governments are acting against the best interests of their people. Imagine that.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

Are you being a bit lazy here perhaps (none / 0) (#62)
by pavlos on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:16:53 PM EST

Yes, there is indeed a systematic effort to change national laws excessively in favor of corporations. This has got more aggressive in recent years, which is why the protests have become more intense.

Anyone would be forgiven for not noticing that this is going on. It gets almost no mainstream media attention (now why might that be?). It's not quite a conspiracy because the facts are available, consistently, in independent media, but it comes close.

Now, you do express the best intentions, but with all due respect you seem to be a bit lazy with this subject. Instead of saying "I don't know what globalization is", you could find out!

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

i'm actually on the author's side, ideologically (none / 0) (#68)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:22:03 PM EST

Now, you do express the best intentions, but with all due respect you seem to be a bit lazy with this subject.

That is neither true nor does it follow from what I wrote.

Instead of saying "I don't know what globalization is", you could find out!

Hold on a second, I presumed that the point of this article was for me to "find out!" My criticism is that its impossible to discover anything in this article except sound and fury. The anti globalization people would be a lot more effective if they presented incisive evidence instead of merely spewing anti-establishment rhetoric. That is my criticism. "This is bad. Please find out why" is going to lose the debate for you. "This is bad, here is why" will win it.

It's not quite a conspiracy because the facts are available,

The reason it's not a conspiracy is because honest intellectual disagreement with the anti globalization crowd doesnt make it one. It is possible to dispute the interpretation of many, many facts in this so called conspiracy.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Faulty analysis (4.00 / 5) (#34)
by Wonko The Sane on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 05:19:19 AM EST

How long before your job is outsourced to some country where you can buy a dozen programmers for a $1 and which can export the product back here without any tariffs? Never.

Free trade leads to an improvement in the economy (Thus to cost-of-living equalization - the salary of a programmer in India will be enough to have the same quality of life there as the salary in the US) of the less developed countries, and also to absolute price and wage equalization between the participating countries. Why? Because free trade is a two-way street. Mutlinationals are just as interested in exporting to the developing countries (Who, as a result of free trade's economic benefits, represent quick-growing markets) as in importing from them. And with the possibility of reimport, prices for "global" products will to eventually have to be the same all over the free trade zone.

This is an EX-PARROT!
Ridiculus assertion! (none / 0) (#61)
by pavlos on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:07:54 PM EST

Wonko The Sane writes:

the salary of a programmer in India will be enough to have the same quality of life there as the salary in the US

Why? How? How much will it cost the Indian programmer to buy a video recorder? How about a car? Travel abroad? Anything produced in the west will be relatively much more expensive than for, say, Americans.

Your assertion is partly true for products made entirely in India, say rice. But therein lies a horrible problem. Who would the rice farmer rather sell to? The Indian programmer who earns $1 a month or the westerner who earns $1000? Oh dear! If the Indian rice grower has free access to the marketss, the Indian programmer starves!

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Look at the big picture. (none / 0) (#69)
by Wonko The Sane on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:27:17 PM EST

If programming job were being moved to India, then for sure electronic and car assembly plants were also being moved there, something which would reduce the price of those products for Indians (natives of India, of course, not of America).
On the other hand, since rice farmers would be making much more money from rice, the average Indian would be more rich, which would raise salaries, etc. (Supply and demand, if farmers make more money than programmers, programmers become farmers if their salaries aren't raised)

You've just made MY point - salary and price equalization.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
A Better Globalization (4.42 / 7) (#35)
by Philipp on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 05:23:36 AM EST

What really pisses me off sometimes, is that the US media basically gives this story of the protesters: They are against globalization. But free trade is good, since it helps poor countries. It is also inevitable. Being against is crazy. Look they throw stones at Starbucks, but drink coffee. Ha ha ha!

To set the story straight: What is currently discussed in these treaties (such as WTO or FTAA) is nothing short of the "New World Order". These treaties are currently extremely one-sided for the interests of corporations and create institutions without democratic control. There are provisions in NAFTA that allow US companies to sue the Mexican government for damages, because they introduced environmental legislation. Yes, that happed, and is arbited by a rather secretive, non-elected body.

What is much more desirable are treaties that also establish environmental and labor standards to achieve some balance. Maybe even financial help for building infrastructure in poorer countries.

This may sounds insane to an American audience, but this is exactly what is currently set out in the EU: Each year billions of dollars are transfered from countries such as Germany and France to poorer ones such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal. In consequence, these countries' economies grow at much higher rate, and economic equality may be achieved in a few decades.

Also, there is a lot of work on common standards ranging from the environment to a "social charta". The result is that the standard of living of all people is lifted.

This should also be the goal for FTAA. However, it is completely driven by the interests of big companies, who want cheap labor and access to markets and care little about the environment or the well-being of their workers.

The result is a race to the bottom, a competition between countries for who can provide even cheaper labor and bigger tax breaks to attract companies.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

Covert protectionism (none / 0) (#56)
by Paul Johnson on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:09:48 AM EST

What is much more desirable are treaties that also establish environmental and labor standards to achieve some balance.

Unfortunately this argument is often used as a covert form of protectionism. The argument is that if companies can move to nations with less employee protection or environmental controls than the rich West then this is "unfair" on the people in the West because they hear the "giant sucking sound" of their jobs disappearing and also "unfair" on the workers in the poor countries because they are working at lower wages and in worse conditions than their rich counterparts.

Restrictions on trade based on environmental or labour laws do not solve this problem. Now its the poor worker who can't get a job, whilst his rich counterpart has both job and environmental protection. The other person who loses is of course the rich consumer (i.e. you), who has to pay higher prices.

Its funny, but the most vocal opposition to free trade seems to come from rich country workers. I wonder why.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Not restrictions on trade (1.00 / 1) (#64)
by Philipp on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:29:52 AM EST

If you have a point when you refer to Pat Buchanan style trade restrictions to preserve jobs in rich countries. What I am arguing for is establishing common labor and environmental standards in free trade treaties. This can hardly be protectionism.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
Standards become condition of trade (none / 0) (#65)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:12:00 AM EST

But when you seek to establish those common standards you automatically imply that you won't allow free trade with countries that have not signed up to the standards.

The point of free trade treaties is to allow countries to trade, not to dangle trade in front of them like a carrot so that we can make them do things we think they ought to do.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

My understanding (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by dcodea on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 09:17:18 AM EST

In his article, titled Silicon Valley Sweatshops, David Bacon describes the life of an Indian worker on an H1-B visa. If the story is true, and I have a feeling that it is, he is a modern day slave. He cannot quit without being sent back, he cannot ask for a raise (he will get fired for doing that), his salary is 'taxed' by the company, he has to live and pay an outrageous rent for a shared apartment that company owns. The only thing is that he actually chose to become a slave.

I must say I don't find slavery to be an apt description here. As you point out, this was of his own free will, and his standard of living is not really all that low. At most, you could maybe call him an indentured servant, but the fact that he had coices beyond this servitude indicate that it's not nearly as bad as indentured servitude of yore.

PRO: great for developed countries (less pollution) CON: workers loose jobs PRO: good for workers in developing countries (they finally have a job) CON: really bad for the environment of the developing countries.

I would add, as a pro for our country, that resources are reallocated more efficiently(ie workers lose jobs, but it was an industry we shouldn't have been spenind resources in anyway). All in all a pretty good summary.

All of this increases the profits of corporations and pushes their stocks up by several pennies a year which makes stockholders happy.

That's not all that it makes happy. Increased profits=increased investment, usually increased wages(maybe not as much as unions would like, but the fact remains), increased spending and general increased economic activity.

How long before your job is outsourced to some country where you can buy a dozen programmers for a $1 and which can export the product back here without any tariffs?

As I said before, it will be outsourced, ideally, at exactly the point when resources would be better spent elsewhere. This is the classic argument for why moving industry abroad. It is bad for the workers in the short-term, but in the long-term, workers can be re-trained, and the money will be more effectively spent elsewhere. The only people who really lose in the long run are workers who for whatever reason cannot be retrained. They stay in this industry that wants them less and less, and they'll earn less and less, and it'll basically suck more and more, but the rest of the economy benfits. The benefits are far more dispersed and transparent, while the suffering is very visible, is why we hear so much about it.

Who Dares Wins

Your understanding (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by bluesninja on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 12:14:07 PM EST

As I said before, it will be outsourced, ideally, at exactly the point when resources would be better spent elsewhere. This is the classic argument for why moving industry abroad. It is bad for the workers in the short-term, but in the long-term, workers can be re-trained, and the money will be more effectively spent elsewhere. The only people who really lose in the long run are workers who for whatever reason cannot be retrained.

That, I think, is the major flaw in the pro-FTAA argument. Repeat after me: PEOPLE ARE NOT "RESOURCES". They enjoy doing certain things, and do not enjoy doing other things. The system that the FTAA proposes essentially means that (a) people are paid as little as possible for performing their jobs, and (b), all countries (especially developing ones) are reduced to banana republics where, if you suck at (or despise) sewing Nikes, or programming computers (or whatever your country's utility-maximizing industry happens to be) you are SOL.

And, FYI, people who "cannot be retrained" counts for a pretty significant portion of the population. Especially if you happen to live in Haiti or Puerto Rico, for example, but here in Canada (and the States) as well. Looked at the cost of a University education lately?

Now don't get me wrong, I am all for free trade. I am an anarchist -- i'm to be for freedom in all it's forms (the freedom to exchange goods over negotiated value being an important one). But free trade + the current government + the corporate interests that run the show = disaster. You have to have freedom of an extreme sort (anarchism) in order for free trade to actually benefit most people. Otherwise you get the exact opposite of anarchism -- corporate servitude.

That is why I can be for free trade and also cheer on the protesters.

/bluesninja

[ Parent ]

Our understanding? (none / 0) (#54)
by dcodea on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:41:12 AM EST

Repeat after me: PEOPLE ARE NOT "RESOURCES". They enjoy doing certain things, and do not enjoy doing other things

By resources, I mean more than just the people, i mean the company and industry itself. And when it comes to managing a firm and decide what to do with it, people are indeed resources. I would also say that people don't have a "right" to enjoy themselves. People here it the states aren't neccessarily enjoying themselves, and there's no reason people in the developing world should expect to. It's nice, of course, but not a given.

And, FYI, people who "cannot be retrained" counts for a pretty significant portion of the population. Especially if you happen to live in Haiti or Puerto Rico, for example, but here in Canada (and the States) as well. Looked at the cost of a University education lately?

The vast majority of jobs do not require a college education. If you lost your job today, and would be unable to get a new job of the same sort, I'm willing to bet that you could still get a job doind something. It may take a while to settle, of course, but you could. The same goes for low-skilled workers. Working in one factory is depressingly similiar to working in another.

And as you might expect, I don't really agree with you about anarchism, I believe that governmant can really to good things for people when everything goes right, but that's neither here nor there.

Who Dares Wins
[ Parent ]

What is free trade? (none / 0) (#55)
by strumco on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 08:29:03 AM EST

It seems odd to me, that we use phrases like "free trade" without questioning what they mean.

The received understanding is that goods and money can travel across borders - without tariffs.
But not people - why? Surely people are the fundamental engine of trade.

If a corporation, or government (or SoHo business, for that matter) can import/export widgets throughout a free-trade area, and move money throughout that area, then workers ought to be able to "trade" their skills, their energy, their worth as easily as widgets.

If they can't, then it's an unequal "freedom" - which is no freedom at all.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk

Protests, Slavery, Sweatshops and Protectionism | 74 comments (69 topical, 5 editorial, 1 hidden)
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