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Globalisation - Speaking out for the silent majority.

By Urban Existentialist in Op-Ed
Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:18:55 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

For years, capitalists have been a silent majority. They stood by as communism spread around the world, apparently content to take a laissez-fair approach, not just to economics, but to the governance of the world as well. However, as I watched the anti-capitalist riots around the world, I felt it was time to speak up for those who do not demonstrate against capitalism, but demonstrate it in their billions every working day.


First of all, let us examine the case against globalisation. The main arguments are as follows:

  • Globalisation increases the poverty gap between the rich of the world and the poor. Often postulated in support of this argument is the statistic that in the last 40 years the gap has increased dramatically. According to Niall Ferguson, a professor of political and financial history at Oxford University, "In 1963, the richest fifth of the [world's] population earned 71 per cent of the world GDP; the poorest fifth, 2.3 per cent. Today the top fifth get 89 per cent of the total output; the poorest, 1.2 per cent."

    On the surface, this is a very powerful argument indeed, the sort of factoid that urges a Gas Masked May Day protestor into the police lines one more time. However, there is a very simple flaw with this - it is talking about relative poverty. It doesn't take into account the 5-fold increase in the world's wealth over the same period. It doesn't sound quite so good when one says that the world's poor have seen their wealth triple in the last 40 years.

    The very idea is flawed. Why should globalisation increase poverty? Presumably through 'exploiting' the Third World. However, multinational companies (to which we will return), are fundamentally moral organisations, in the sense that they are based on fair tenets. No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company. That we do so in our millions every day is a reflection of their fairness. Multinational companies are just like any other company, just a hell of a lot larger. We have a fair social contract with them, and are free to work or not work for them as we choose.

  • The Irrational Nature of the Global Marketplace. The case here is that the marketplace and capitalism are irrational and chaotic, and are damaging as a result. There are, however, some very obvious problems with this viewpoint. Firstly, if one criticises the mechanisms on which the global marketplace are based, and wish to tear the edifice down, one must have a reasonable replacement. Of course, noone does. If one is against the marketplace and capitalism, then presumably one is for some sort of planned economy, or perhaps (and these people actually exist) some sort of primitive state with no economy at all. Personally, I am not against the planned economy on principle. In principle I think that it is our ultimate destination. The problem with any planned economy is that the planner of it all must be of incredible intelligence, fairness and so on, well beyond our present capacities. So yes, I would agree that the global marketplace is irrational, and can often be unfair, but the simple fact is that there is no plausible replacement, and furthermore that the wealthiest countries of the world owe their wealth to the marketplace and capitalism. Those third world countries that embrace capitalism invariably perform better than those that don't. A brief perusal of global economic indices will show this.

  • Cultural reasons. The argument here is that globalisation is destroying indigenous cultures, and spreading the Anglo Saxon worldview to all corners of the globe. Unfortunately, like so many antiglobalisation arguments, this is very patronising indeed. To subscribe to this view, one must be in the grand Victorian tradition of patronage towards 'native peoples'. These poor, noble savages are of course incapable of thinking for themselves, and must be protected from our big bad third world ways. I would argue that it is entirely up to these native people what they do in this regard. I myself am from the North of Scotland. The language spoken in my village was Scottish Gaelic, a dieing language that has only some 80,000 speakers. Whilst this is a shame, I would have been extremely annoyed as a young man if a bunch of Londoners had marched into town and ordered that I not learn English and that I not buy anything not locally produced, and that I marry a local girl and live a very picturesque and touristy life devoid of possibilities in order to salvage their guilt. We should have respect for other cultures yes, and globalisation helps this by bringing them into contact with each other, but if the result is that peoples of the world decide to learn English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese in order to better themselves and seek an interesting life and better their standard of living, we should not stand in their way.

Let us return to the one thing in that the globalisation protestors all seem to hate without exception - the corporation. In my view, the corporation is one of the finest inventions of Western Civilisation, being responsible for the great majority of our advances and at the very heart of our society. Corporations are not evil, self seeking entities. This very website, kuro5hin, is itself incorporated, and I would argue that kuro5hin.org is a moral, perhaps even a tiresomely moral, place. The administrators of this site doubtless had a look at the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation, and saw that the status of incorporation would increase the stability of kuro5hin, help secure its long term existence and insulate it from the whims of the owners to some degree. Incorporation means that the company becomes, if you will, a moral agent in the eyes of the law. It is responsibe for its own transgressions, and it is treated as an entity in its own right. Of course, some will argue that kuro5hin is an exception because it is small and nonprofit. This reveals an agenda, however - there is no particular reason why a large corporation should be any better or worse than a small company. And why should a corporation be worse because it makes money? Is the profit motive immoral?

The protestors seem to have very simplistic and emotional reasons to dislike corporations. They will moan on about child labour, for example, and Nike and McDonalds. But this is just liberal western meddling - the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta. If the children thought it was too little money, or had somewhere better to go, then they would not do the work. This is the unpalatable fact. Nonetheless, companies are now unwilling to employ children under any circumstances, even part time (the vast majority of children are employed part time), which has led to an increase in suffering for these children. And all because Western protestors, who know nothing, feel the need to meddle.

I think that seeking wealth is to be greatly encouraged. The reason that Bangladeshis don't give money to charity is that they don't have any money to give. Meanwhile, in America, people like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are giving 10 figure sums to charity. The profit motive, combined with a fair environment, results in wealth, and has many trickle down effects.

There is a very simple reason that America is the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation. It is because it is the most business friendly. It was even discovered by companies - Columbus didn't come to the Americas in the spirit of exploration, after all. He came to make a quick buck.

The only way we as a civilisation will move forward is if we realise both our own nature and the nature of others. I find the antiglobalisation protestors to be extremely misguided in this regard, and more damningly, they appear to have a core of racism and western patronage in their attitude towards the rest of the world. We should let the people of the world decide for themselves, through the aggregate of their everyday actions of taking jobs, working, buying and selling. Through the ultimate democracy that will decide this issue - the global marketplace.

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Globalisation - Speaking out for the silent majority. | 256 comments (246 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
This is interesting. (3.16 / 12) (#1)
by theboz on Thu May 03, 2001 at 12:31:58 PM EST

I tend to agree, and I am of a more libertarian standpoint when it comes to trade and the economy. Communism is shit because it treats everyone equally all the time. The only flaw I can see with capitalism is that at no point are people treated equally really.

Let me explain this better. The way I think things should be is that everyone gets an equal opportunity to make life whatever they want for themselves. This doesn't mean things should remain equal as in communism, but that we should all start with a clean slate. This was the original intent of public education, but it has been demonstrated that the U.S. public education system doesn't work at all. I think that perhaps it is because some kids are forced to stay in school when they really don't want to, and so they disrupt the rest of the children trying to get an education. I don't really have an answer to solve the problem but I think that is where it starts. If there were a way to make the education available but if some children were bored with it, let them go to other classes to learn how to flip burgers and mow grass instead of science and literature. This obviously only applies to higher level kids, I would say 6 and up...but younger than the age to drop out also. Anyways, this is going off on a tangent.

Yes, I support capitalism, but sometimes the government gets too involved and screws things up. That makes capitalism look bad sometimes. Also, there are other times that the government is needed to break up companies or fine them for doing something. There is no perfect form of government or economy but I like capitalism the best of what I have seen.

Stuff.

To ksandtr (2.11 / 9) (#44)
by theboz on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:51:14 PM EST

Do you have a fucking problem? If you don't like what I have to say perhaps you should offer something contrary rather than giving me a 1, you damn pussy. You know, you should be glad you don't really know me. :o)

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Two things (3.18 / 11) (#2)
by trhurler on Thu May 03, 2001 at 12:41:08 PM EST

First, I don't think you're correct about planned economies, but as long as we're just talking about the arguments you're really making, I don't think it matters what happens way down the road.

Second, yes, to many people, as you put it, the profit motive is evil. They don't want to admit it, but the idea that someone is succeeding while someone else isn't, regardless of the actual causes of this phenomenon, is precisely what they're opposed to. They'd rather see all of us sink if we can't or won't all swim.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Profit motive (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by Pseudonym on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:23:02 PM EST

While I do agree with your assessment, using words like "sink" and "swim" implicitly suggest that profit is "swimming" (and therefore good) and no profit is "sinking" (and therefore bad), forming some kind of circular argument. Those who genuinely believe that the profit motive is evil would not describe it in such terms. I'm not sure how they would. (I don't think the profit motive is good or evil, but I will concede that it's pragmatically optimal for the global market in whose shadow we live at this point in history.)



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Hey, since you're so smart... (3.80 / 5) (#20)
by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:05:43 PM EST

Go read Chapter 11 of NAFTA and explain to me what it means. Is this the kind of thing you support?

I don't think this is really about opposition to capitalism (even if anti-capitalists are free to jump on the bandwagon). It is about how these trade agreements are made and what it means for democracy and the soveriegnty of the countries that sign on to these dirty deals.

If the new kind of trade agreements we are seeing were negotiated in the light of open public scrutiny, and were created and operated democratically, do you really think there would be protests against them of any significant size?

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

Protests (3.50 / 6) (#29)
by trhurler on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:07:14 PM EST

Remember, for all that there are people who just don't like certain parts of the agreements, the majority of the protesters have never seen the agreements they protest, whether or not they're public, have no idea what chapter 11 of NAFTA says, and don't really care either. They just want to break stuff, beat people up, and get on TV. This is a way to do that. A tiny minority knows the issues at hand, and of those, a good many are anticapitalists. They're opposed to the whole idea of free trade, not just some provision or another of some agreement. Notice that in all these protests, the one common denominator is that they keep arresting "professionals," about half of whom are reasonable people who believe in what they're doing and the other half of whom are just thugs who can't find any other way to be themselves without severe risk of dying.

I think the protests, even if a few people have good reasons to protest, are not primarily rational - just as they never have been on any subject. In the UK, they destroy experimental beet plots. Given that they're already eating genetically modified everything, even if the label says otherwise, does this make sense? No, but their motive is fear, not sense. In the US, people "protest" against police excess by rioting and looting. Does that make sense? No, but hatred is the motive, not sense. Et cetera. As such, I think they would go on regardless.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Well, then forget them. (4.50 / 6) (#33)
by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:29:51 PM EST

When I hear actual quotes from these protestors, and when I read their web pages, I get the impression they are not so simple minded. I'm not really sure how to go about polling them to see how many really understand the issues, but I'm pretty sure the big media version is not quite accurate. You predict that the protests would go on no matter what these agreements are made of. Fine. I don't know how you can be so sure, since the evidence seems unclear. You would expect that decent people who are protesting the substance of the treaty in question would not break the law, and would therefore not get arrested. The people who live simply to break things at every demonstration they can join would therefore be expected to form the majority of those arrested. You are still left not being so sure about the other 20 or 30 thousand protestors in Quebec for example. But that can be left aside.

The question still remains as to the merits of these new trade agreements. Just because the people protesting it vandalize beet farms, or because they don't shower frequently, or pay good money for Phish music does not make the treaty a good one. They could listen to all the Phish CDs in the world and still be right about something. Which is why when I find out that Chapter 11 of NAFTA says that a private, secret, unelected arbitrator can rule that a law passed by city, state or federal legislators in the US can be ruled in violation of NAFTA, and that we taxpayers have to pay huge fines as a consequence, I get real pissed off. The judical process is supposed to allow us to make our own laws through our elected officals, and to choose democratically the judges who will rule on violations of those laws. Do you support a treaty that circumvents that? Some nameless bureaucrat is going to say that your money is going to pay a fine of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, and you have no particpation in how that decision was made. Sort of like taxation without representation, if you ask me.

And that is just one example. The whole pattern of these new trade practices is similarly covert and undemocratic. How come the only people bothering to care about this are the hippies? You would think more people would think for themselves instead of just assuming that if a guy slathered in patchouli hates it, it must be good.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

Ok (3.75 / 4) (#37)
by trhurler on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:00:17 PM EST

Well, if you look at the actual issues, then there's a legitimate point to be made. I don't dispute that. However, I do wonder whether protests full of rock throwing store looters are going to get that point across, and I also wonder why people are attacking the idea of free trade rather than the idiotic things certain people are doing in its name, if in fact the latter is what they have a problem with. It seems almost absurdly obvious that free trade, as in the idea of not imposing barriers to trade based on origin or destination, is a good thing, regardless of what you think of any particular agreement - and yet these people actually pose themselves as "enemies of free trade." Does that make sense?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Sure. It would also make sense that... (4.75 / 4) (#56)
by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:21:55 PM EST

...if in fact the majority of protestors had legitimate gripes about non-imaginary malfeasence in the way that globalization is being implemented, that the media outlets owned an operated by News Corp, AOL-Time-Warner, etc., and their bought and paid-for political servants, would characterize everyone opposed to it as anti-capitalist, anti-free trade, anti-goodness and anti-decency. By tarring all of them with the same brush, calling them "niave," "unrealistic," "smelly, hairy hippies with a dog on a bit of string," they can push these bad agreements through without significant oppositon from the drones and the bots and other typical Americans.

As far as the effectiveness of tactics, it appears that the most legitimate-looking leaders of the demonstrations agree with you that violence is counter-productive. I suspect another straw man coming if you are attacking someone who is a defender of stone-throwing. Could you try to be specific when you make that criticism? Maybe you think they are being coy about it, like the way that Operation Rescue sounds just slightly insincere when they condem shooting abortion providers. If you want to make that charge, you still ought to point out exactly what statements you mean, and which leaders or groups you think are saying this. And for that matter, which leaders or groups "pose themselves" as enemies of free trade in general, as opposed to being enemies of these spcific treaties and their unfair rules?

You could answer "all of them" but I wouldn't believe that. I wouln't even believe "most of them" unless you have substantial evidence. I do know that it only takes a dozen people to turn a peaceful protest by thousands into a violent riot. And if the right people own the TV stations, they don't even need a dozen, or even so much as one.

So sure, I enjoy mocking hippies. They're funny. But if you make that your full time sport, instead of drawing attention to the real issue, you are just playing into the hands of some anti-democratic plutocrats who want to hijack state power to make themselves rich at everyone else's expense.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

Most judges... (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by nads on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:14:52 PM EST

... aren't democratically elected. But, yes I agree that particular provision is slightly distrubing, although in some manner or form it needs to be applied to prevent protectionism.

[ Parent ]
*sigh* (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:32:32 PM EST

I love it when I get to say *sigh* in my headline.

If a judge is appointed by a publicly accountable official, that may be described as "democratic." While some may insist on always reading words like "democratic" with a single, narrow definition, meaning only direct democracy that enfranchises absolutely everyone, including dogs and cats, and microbes as well I suppose, I was not writing with such readers in mind. I never write with that kind of person in mind. I actually pretend that they don't exist. And herein lies the problem. I'm trying to pretend that nobody could be that literal-minded, and your post is not helping me do that. It isn't helping at all.

Stop it.

You might also want to look at some of the other particular provisions of NAFTA, GATT, the WTO's rules, and all the rest of these deals. It isn't just one or two little sticking points here or there. There are a lot of these particular little provisions, and when you add them up, a pattern emerges. A pattern that bodes ill, say I.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

proof please? (4.00 / 2) (#114)
by chopper on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:35:27 PM EST

the majority of the protesters ... just want to break stuff, beat people up, and get on TV

well, have you ever been to a real protest? (by that i mean not a Cincinnati-style riot, but a real protest) i hope you're not basing all of this on what you've seen on TV, or read in the paper.

now i'll admit, there are a lot of people who are not fully informed of everything going on. and there are a few who show up to cause trouble. but most are definitely not there to break stuff and beat people up.

A tiny minority knows the issues at hand, and of those, a good many are anticapitalists. They're opposed to the whole idea of free trade, not just some provision or another of some agreement.

also a bit of an incorrect generalization. at most protests, such as the WTO or WB/IMF or RNC protests, the anti-caps and the black bloc (anti capitalists/anarchists) represented a small but pretty well informed faction, i'll give you that. however, a great deal more people than you think know the issues at hand quite well, and from those that i've talked to, most are more socialist than anything else. they protest globalizing trade and global capitalism because of the effect it has on workers, and most are in or heavily suppot unions. its just that those well informed left-leaners don't get the TV coverage that the anarchists etc get, because a crowd of 2 or 3 hundred anarchists dressed all in black marching down 23rd street in DC makes for a more exciting news story.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Well done (3.22 / 9) (#3)
by JazzManJim on Thu May 03, 2001 at 12:58:39 PM EST

This is one of the better articles I've seen on this site. It's well-research, cogent, and eloquently argued.

This, of course, won't stop me from commenting :-)

One of the larger fallacies that my country (the Good Ol' U S of A) falls into from time to time is thinking of the economy as a zero-sum situation. In other words, when one person gains, another person loses. This tends to be acutely argued when it comes to capitalism using the "Rich get richer" argument. This is, as you know (and others who actually stop to think about what's being said) complete nonsense. I'll get into that in a moment.

I do disagree with you that multinational corporations are operated on "fair tenets". This might disappear once we get a full definition of what you consider fair, though, compared to what I consider fair. One thing we can count on is that these corporations will do whatever they can to make money. That's their job: generating income. Whatever they must to, to the extent ot the law (and often beyond - hence the need for antitrust legislation, the Fair Labor Standards ACt in the USA, and others) they will do. The thing to note here is that when business does well, it tends to increase the overall income of the area, including the poor. You noted the overall increase of salaries (inculding those of the poor), but only brushed on the reason for this. This can't be overstated: a robust economy creates higher salaries. This is how wealth is created - for both the rich and the poor. Anti-capitalists are, in the end, shooting themselves in the foot. Bringing down the corporations ultimately brings everyone down. If you don't believe me, watch what happens to areas where businesses leave for greener pastures...then watch what happens to those new pastures. I guarantee you'll see the overall wealth level of the area rise or fall in relation to the corporations in the area.

Now, I'm not saying that unbridled corporate activity is good. There are needs to ensure that those corporations aren't breaking the laws we have. anything more than that, though, is IMO, uneccesarry and plain wrong.

Okay..so I wasn't as cogent as you, but those are all I'd add to what you said.

-Jimmie
-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
One reason why people might be uneasy (4.78 / 19) (#4)
by Pseudonym on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:06:41 PM EST

One reason that people might have a distaste for globalisation is the reason why the global marketplace is not the "ultimate democracy" (as you assert in your last sentence). The global marketplace does not enforce the rule of "one man, one vote". On the contrary, those with the most money rule the system. (This is one reason why an increase of the disparity of relative wealth is a bad thing: If the rich get relatively more wealthy than the poor, they get just as relatively more powerful, too.)

Many people feel powerless in the face of a system where power is obtained with money, and they feel that there are only two options available: conform, or rebel. (Those of us who have read Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age know that they are not the only options, but I digress.) The only way to stop patronising the corporate system is to leave it altogether, and that's far too painful a transition for most. The only other apparent option is to live within it and feel trapped and, if you're active enough, protest.

I don't believe that capitalists are the silent majority. Consumers are the silent majority. Yes, capitalism requires consumers to survive, and if they all left, capitalism would collapse. But it would require a lot of them to leave, and getting the herd to mobilise is hard. That's why people can't vote against the system with their feet.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
A few points (4.23 / 13) (#6)
by Woundweavr on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:21:29 PM EST

The profit motive is not evil. However, increasing the importance of the profit motive to supremacy is. There are more important things in life than to make money, and it is that simple. Perhaps you disagree. Money does not equate to happiness. Sorry.

Perhaps your most deceptive logical fallacy is the one that states that those who went along with the western-corporate viewpoint are doing the best. They are making the most money, but that doesnt necessarily mean they are doing the best.

The US is not the most prosperous country because it is business friendly. It is prosperous because it has a huge number of resources, a large population and its only technological rivals were decimated during WWII and had to catch up by rebuilding infrastructure. Even so, several countries (Scandanavian and Canadian) have better Quality of Life and per capita income. These countries are socialisticly leaning capitalisms primarily.

Basically, you say corporations lead to more money, making the pursuit of money your life goal is noble and that this will lead to happiness. None of these statements are really true.

Also, you presume that the third world countries have a choice when corporations come in. Often times they do not.

Also, a real tiny nitpick you say "our big bad third world ways" when you meant first world.

Publicly Traded Corps. (3.91 / 12) (#7)
by SpaceHamster on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:22:45 PM EST

In essence, the concept of incorporation isn't bad or evil. Motivated people attempting to make a profit for themselves is not bad. Personally, I'm a partner in two different corporations right now. Its when a company decides to trade publicly that its motivation changes. Instead of the folks that started the company running things you bring in a board comprised of super wealthy that can afford to invest vast sums in the company and the need to keep increasing your stock price.

When you run your own company (or in my case, one of a few people that run the company), you feel a personal obligation to not screw people. When you make a profit, the profit goes solely to you, and so you feel responsible to make that money in "good faith". Once you report to shareholders though, tremendous pressure gets exerted on you to keep increasing profits and growth, and keep your market value climbing. This leads to an attitude in which you no longer feel responsible for your actions in the marketplace--after all, you have an obligation your shareholders first, your customers and employees second!

This is my basic argument against public corporations: once publicly traded, a company feels it is no longer responsible for its own actions, and can therefore make profit by any means neccessary. I don't have any problem with the free market, or employee owned corporations.. only the public ones.

Anti-Corporatism (4.80 / 21) (#10)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:30:09 PM EST

Incorporation means that the company becomes, if you will, a moral agent in the eyes of the law. It is responsibe for its own transgressions, and it is treated as an entity in its own right.
What a corporation very specifically is not is moral. Remember that the major advantage of incorporation (not "going public") is to limit the liability of the shareholders.Yes, some corporations may have a moral compass, but a corporations major duty is a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. So, we see such upstanding "moral" behavior as the tobacco companies engaged in from 1960 - late 1990s. A corporate executive that does find his company in a ethical or legal dilemna must pursue every avanue available to him to preserve that shareholder value - or face lawsuits from the investors. I think this is the base cause of the ethical slide we see taking place with corporations now.

Corporations, having become experts at denying responsibility are now even denying responisibility to their sharholders (surely you have heard the term "obscene CEL compensation" by now). Given the amount of economic power the big multinationals wield, they are also playing the political game trying for legislation to favor their industry - raising barriers to entry, etc. And, of course as they are not governments, but "private" industry they can get away with regulating people in ways that would cause govenrments to be overthrown (as in replacing Demolican 'C' with Reublicrat 'B')

I think a lot of the excesses of the corporation could be curbed by not allowing them full civil rights, but rather only that subset of rights for which they must by their nature use responsibly.

Liability (none / 0) (#242)
by Nyarlathotep on Mon May 14, 2001 at 02:48:54 PM EST

You could also remove all limitations of liability and allow the government to fine the shit out of them 50 years later when everyone figures out that they were doing something bad. If you charged several billion dollars for driving a species onto the endanger species list and passed the bill onto the stock holders (who owned stock whne the activity occured) when the company folded then I don't think you'd have too much trouble with companies destroing the enviroment.

Now, you might have some necissary tasks which no one would be willing to risk since the enviroemntal fines could get large, so you would need to allow congress and the companies to make a trade: limited liability for stockholders (the comapny still get s the same fines, but the stockholders are personally protected) in exchange for 50% control of the company going to public vote (the general public ellects board representatives with 50% control for all energy companies for example). See:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2001/2/6/3840/75865

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Two points here... (3.63 / 11) (#11)
by Zeram on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:31:12 PM EST

First and most importantly I take issue with this:

Noone is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company.

When you live in a third world country and your choice is work your farm and make no money or work in a sweatshop and barely make any money, well it's not a choice. Plus in the "1st world" countries, when a multinational company drives the local competetion out of bussiness and your choices are limited to a few megacorporations, well it's not a choice.

Second I take issue with this:

We should have respect for other cultures yes, and globalisation helps this by bringing them into contact with each other, but if the result is that peoples of the world decide to learn English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese in order to better themselves and seek an interesting life and better their standard of living, we should not stand in their way.

On the surface this seems like a good idea. But what happens when someone is forced (I say forced because in order for globalization to occur everyone has to be able to at least marginally understand everyone else) to learn a different language? They think differently. They have to think differently to understand the language. And forcing everyone to be on the same mental page is not a good thing.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
Re: Two points here... (3.00 / 1) (#105)
by AArthur on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:03:51 PM EST

"When you live in a third world country and your choice is work your farm and make no money or work in a sweatshop and barely make any money, well it's not a choice."

Yes it still is a choice. You can live without alot of money, although it is probably a more difficult choice to choose. I am choseing to study PoliSci in college instead of CS, eventhough I'll probably make less money, have to work harder -- but it is something I enjoy more, not to mention it is easier and better in some respects.

"Plus in the "1st world" countries, when a multinational company drives the local competetion out of bussiness and your choices are limited to a few megacorporations, well it's not a choice."

I guess you have never been to any of the more artsy neighboorhoods in the US, where there are lots of small businesses. Yes, you can get a cheap knock off product really cheap -- but if you want the real thing, and are willing to pay for it (you probably are if you have the money), you'll buy the real thing.

"But what happens when someone is forced (I say forced because in order for globalization to occur everyone has to be able to at least marginally understand everyone else) to learn a different language?"

Not everybody has to particpate in globalization for it to happen. I don't directly have to do things for NAFTA to happen, it just happens.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

I think your misunderstanding... (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by Zeram on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:43:24 PM EST

In most thrid world countries, if you work your farm and make no money you will die pretty quickly and pretty horribly. Land barrons come to take your land for a new factory because you can't pay your loan (or taxes or what ever) or you get sick and you can't pay for medicine. Where as if you work in a factory you might have some small chance.

I live in suburban nowhere America, do you think I can (or even would if I could) shoot on out to Soho to pay way too much for something handmade? Hell no. But by the same token, do you think any of those stores could stay alive in my little suburban town? Hell no. For that matter do you think that if I wanted to I could open up a grocery store and even remotely succede? Hell no.

You don't directly have to participate for NAFTA to work, but what happens when you have to learn Spanish because you work predominatly with Mexicans who don't understand English very well?
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
I was with you right up until you started... (4.17 / 17) (#13)
by marlowe on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:41:50 PM EST

singing the praises of the corporation like some brainwashed Ayn Rand cultist.

The evidence is in, and it is in abundance. Large corporations routinely abuse their power to the detriment of everyone. This isn't a matter of opinion. It's a matter of fact. It happened with the railroads in the late 19th century, it happened in the 1950's with United Fruit, and it's happening now with Microsoft, Philip Morris, Nike, and countless other morally bankrupt organizations.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Speaking of evidence, here's some. (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by jeremiah2 on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:55:30 PM EST

From Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the [previous] Decade, here's the top ten:

1) F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal Fine: $500 million 12 Corporate Crime Reporter 21(1), May 24, 1999

2) Daiwa Bank Ltd. Type of Crime: Financial Criminal Fine: $340 million 10 Corporate Crime Reporter 9(3), March 4, 1996

3) BASF Aktiengesellschaft Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal Fine: $225 million 12 Corporate Crime Reporter 21(1), May 24, 1999

4) SGL Carbon Aktiengesellschaft (SGL AG) Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal Fine: $135 million 12 Corporate Crime Reporter 19(4), May 10, 1999

5) Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping Type of Crime: Environmental Criminal Fine: $125 million 5 Corporate Crime Reporter 11(3), March 18, 1991

6) UCAR International, Inc. Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal Fine: $110 million 12 Corporate Crime Reporter 15(6), April 13, 1998

7) Archer Daniels Midland Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal Fine: $100 million 10 Corporate Crime Reporter 40(1), October 21, 1996

8)(tie) Banker's Trust Type of Crime: Financial Criminal Fine: $60 million 12 Corporate Crime Reporter 11(1), March 15, 1999

8)(tie) Sears Bankruptcy Recovery Management Services Type of Crime: Fraud Criminal Fine: $60 million 13 Corporate Crime Reporter 7(1), February 15, 1999

10) Haarman & Reimer Corp. Type of Crime: Antitrust Criminal fine: $50 million 11 Corporate Crime Reporter 5(4), February 3, 1997


Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
[ Parent ]

Evidence for what? (1.66 / 6) (#38)
by Wonko The Sane on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:05:30 PM EST

The only thing I see here is governments being too harsh on corporations.
Only one of those top 10 `coprorate criminals` only one commited an actual crime - Fraud.
In fact, the crimes commited by that top 100 fall into the following categories: Environmental (38), antitrust (20), fraud (13), campaign finance (7), food and drug (6), financial crimes (4), false statements (3), illegal exports (3), illegal boycott (1), worker death (1), bribery (1), obstruction of justice (1) public corruption (1), and tax evasion (1).
Out of those, only 13 (fraud) + 6 (food and drug) + 1 (worker death) + 1 (bribery) + 1 (obstruction of justice) + 1 (public corruption) = 23, give or take a few (The categories are not clear enough), are things I believe to be actual crimes.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
What about the Environment? (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by fsh on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:20:16 PM EST

Why do you not include the environmental crimes? Should corporations really not have to worry about the environmental repercussions of their decisions? And how is this not bad for society as a whole?


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Environmental crimes (1.60 / 5) (#73)
by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:01:08 AM EST

Environmental crimes in their current form exist majorly due to the existance of so-called "public property". Have a look at the LP's platform on pollution, explanations will be presented on demand.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
A few answers missing.. (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by ajduk on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:37:58 AM EST

Who pays for the monitoring? If ground contamination is only found after a coorporation goes out of business, who pays? Pollution is frequently cumulative over decades. Many companies can be involved directly and indirectly. Effects may not be recognised until after the pollution has stopped. (Can you sue a Company that did not know it was polluting?). Source and effect can be separated by thousands of miles. Do you really think that If a corporation pollutes a piece of it's own land (which will happen, either through accident or carelessness), it'll probably be cheaper just to keep it than clean it up and sell it.

[ Parent ]
Civil law (2.00 / 3) (#87)
by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:44:27 AM EST

All of those questions can be answered trough applications of common sense and civil law:

Who pays for the monitoring?
The companies owning the property being (or not being) polluted, of course. After all, it's their own property they want to protect, and pollution makes property values drop.
If ground contamination is only found after a coorporation goes out of business, who pays?
First of all, this situation isn't at least as problematic under the current system. Also, corporation usually do not count on going out of business when making decisions, so they will not work under that assumption when making environmental decisions either. So, they will try not to pollute, either to keep their property values up, or protect themself from civil lawsuits of property owners. (Yes, it's a bit more complex than that, but that's the general idea)
Pollution is frequently cumulative over decades. Many companies can be involved directly and indirectly. Effects may not be recognised until after the pollution has stopped. (Can you sue a Company that did not know it was polluting?).
Under civil law, of course you can still sue for damages, especially if you can prove negligence. And if it was truly an accident - well, again, accidents happen under any system.
Do you really think that If a corporation pollutes a piece of it's own land (which will happen, either through accident or carelessness), it'll probably be cheaper just to keep it than clean it up and sell it.
Well, tough. When it's cheaper to keep it that way than to clean it up (And I'm sure that in the long run that's rarely the case, since pollution tends to spread), it won't be cleaned up. But that just means the value of the polluted property - which in this case is just unihabited land, since inhabited land/ water/air pollution can get you sued regardless of where the source of it was - is so low, it's not worth cleaning up anyway (Think of the current places of storage for atomic waste). Otherwise, if it was worth it for someone, he'd buy it for barely anything and clean it up.
Any more questions?

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
Re: Any more questions? (4.00 / 2) (#122)
by fsh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:39:47 PM EST

Yes, I have one. What's to stop a multinational corporation from taking a known dangerous chemical, and initiating a project to spray this chemical on the sides of roads and highways, often in rural areas which are generally poorer than urban areas? This is a very effective means to get rid of the product, and has happened several times in the past where companies were caught for it. I wonder how many times it has happened where the perpetrators weren't caught? In some cases, it was still cheaper to dispense of their chemical this way and pay civil fines than it was to properly dispose of the dangerous chemical.

And none of these issues cover the problem of airborne pollutants, in any case. Since the cause of the pollutant can't be pinpointed to any one person, Canada has to suffer for the negligence of polluting US companies.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

More answers (none / 0) (#164)
by Wonko The Sane on Sat May 05, 2001 at 08:48:21 AM EST

Yes, I have one. What's to stop a multinational corporation from taking a known dangerous chemical, and initiating a project to spray this chemical on the sides of roads and highways, often in rural areas which are generally poorer than urban areas?
Nothing, except the threat of lawsuits from the ones getting hurt. And if no-one gets hurt, no crime was commited. QED.
And what about cases when the perps are, as you said, not caught? Well, I never said abolishing private property will solve all of the environmental problems unsolvable today, just all of the already-solvable ones, plus some of the rest. If you don't know who the offender is, you can't sue him, but that's the situation under the current system as well.

And none of these issues cover the problem of airborne pollutants, in any case.
Of course they do. The source of massive airborne pollutants can be quite easily pinpointed in fact. The Canada-US problem exists because there are many minor source, but under my proposed system all of those would have been sued by their close neighbours (Or stopped polluting), and Canada would hence be safe.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
re: Civil law (2.50 / 4) (#149)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sat May 05, 2001 at 01:40:01 AM EST

Who pays for the monitoring?
The companies owning the property being (or not being) polluted, of course. After all, it's their own property they want to protect, and pollution makes property values drop.

Let me get this straight. One party directly damages the wealth of the other party. In order for a chance to be compensated, or to prevent the damage from taking place, the second party has to undertake a massive expense(security, legal, analysis). If they choose not to damage their wealth further by taking this expense, then not only have they been damaged, but the first party comes out with a relative gain. Pollution is rewarded unless you pollute the grounds of someone rich or powerful who can afford the expense.

If ground contamination is only found after a coorporation goes out of business, who pays?
First of all, this situation isn't at least as problematic under the current system. Also, corporation usually do not count on going out of business when making decisions, so they will not work under that assumption when making environmental decisions either. So, they will try not to pollute, either to keep their property values up, or protect themself from civil lawsuits of property owners. (Yes, it's a bit more complex than that, but that's the general idea)

But it does happen; If a corporation goes out of business before being found guilty, or if a polluting individual dies, or if the damage done from pollution is more than the pollutor's assets, what happens? Corporations make decisions about harming the environment not planning to go out of business but to not get caught, but even so that doesn't mean that corporations might not go out of business after polluting. A corporation that is losing money and involuntarily going out of business might be more likely to attempt such risky methods of cost-cutting. Also, what a business saves from polluting is not always equal to the costs that it incurs on others.

Using a recent local event as the basis of a hypothetical example, a laundromat around here saved on the order of $50 a month by dumping chemicals which ended up poisioning wells that a hundred people relied on for drinking water. This happened in an unincorporated area, where there was no Big Evil Nasty Government breathing down their neck. What the Big Evil Nasty Government did do was supply the people with clean water, but that's beside the point. If the households sued and won in full, what ought to be done if the total cost of the damage done was more than the laundromat and its owners could afford to pay, even if they sold off all their property? The households would come out at a loss, without factoring in legal expenses. If it is decided that the future earnings of the laundromat operators will be garnished, what is done if they refuse to work, or to be more extreme and to the point, go and jump off a cliff? Situations like this happen. In a Libertarian society there would be no one supporting the new cost of fresh water for the households. They are in effect punished for letting a laundromat start his own business on his own property. So how is this situation better? Or to be more productive, what would be the best way to handle such a situation or prevent it from being a problem?



[ Parent ]
Re: Re: Civil Law (none / 0) (#165)
by Wonko The Sane on Sat May 05, 2001 at 09:01:21 AM EST

Let me get this straight. One party directly damages the wealth of the other party. In order for a chance to be compensated, or to prevent the damage from taking place, the second party has to undertake a massive expense(security, legal, analysis). If they choose not to damage their wealth further by taking this expense, then not only have they been damaged, but the first party comes out with a relative gain. Pollution is rewarded unless you pollute the grounds of someone rich or powerful who can afford the expense.
This has to do with the current american judicial system being screwed up, not with the libertarian solution to pollution.

If the households sued and won in full, what ought to be done if the total cost of the damage done was more than the laundromat and its owners could afford to pay, even if they sold off all their property.
I see, and this is a risk a reasonable laundromat owner will take for $50 a month? In fact, most people are willing to do the exact opposite and pay comparable or larger sums to avoid possible catastrophies. That's called insurance.

Or to be more productive, what would be the best way to handle such a situation or prevent it from being a problem?
It's not a problem. Look above. Laundromat owners that act irrationaly are laundromat owners who go our of business. By the force of the market, combined with natural selection, so to speak, laundromat owners become more rational, and don't do nasty things that they know have a high chance of driving them into bankruptcy.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
But the judicial system *is* your solution (none / 0) (#223)
by DaBunny on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:35:11 PM EST

This has to do with the current american judicial system being screwed up, not with the libertarian solution to pollution.

Huh? Your whole solution is that we should use the American judicial in place of environmental law. If it's screwed up, then isn't that a really bad idea?

An analogy:
"There are problems with capitalism. My solution is that we dismantle it and replace it with a Soviet-style planned economy."
"But planned economies are really screwed up and don't work."
"Well, that's a problem with planned economies, not with my solution."

[ Parent ]

You missed the point (none / 0) (#235)
by Wonko The Sane on Sat May 12, 2001 at 12:12:14 PM EST

More precisely, you missed the emphasis.
This has to do with the current american judicial system being screwed up.

The solution is a Civil Law system, but not the American Civil Law system as it stands today.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
Oh, if only the world really worked this way. (none / 0) (#256)
by marlowe on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 11:05:19 AM EST

Your points are mostly based on the notion that enlightened self interest is the rule, rather than the exception. To call this naive would be overly charitable. Frankly I have to wonder what planet you're on.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Public Property the Problem? (2.00 / 2) (#121)
by fsh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:30:29 PM EST

I am familiar with the Libertarian Party's position on these topics. I even subscribe to the Libertarian Alliance email list. This in no way means that I agree with their assessment. In my mind, private property is the problem, rather than public property. I am an anarchist, and believe that private property is generally used as a tool to oppress and exploit the lower classes, a holdover of the feudal system.

As an anarchist, I fully agree with the libertarian view (anarcho-capitalist) that the government should be abolished, as a form of hierarchy which exploits its citizens. Unlike the libertarian, however, I say the same holds true for capitalism.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Re: Environmental crimes (2.66 / 3) (#136)
by Perpetual Newbie on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:40:28 PM EST

Environmental crimes exist for two reasons. Firstly, it is cheaper to pollute the environment than to dispose of waste in a nondamaging fashion. And second, there are people willing to perform the act, as a factor of the first. Government only comes in where it pollutes directly or allows businesses to pollute on its land without recompense. Strangely, whenever the government seeks damages against businesses that pollute its land, there is a great hue and cry from self-described capitalists, libertarians, and conservatives about how the evil government is infringing upon the business's rights. Care to explain?

When a business pollutes the air, how will damages be decided? Will the business have to pay a micropayment tax to each of the local population, or at least to those in the population that choose to sue specifically that business? Or will the business only be charged when someone is physically harmed by the pollution? And in such a case, how can someone make a legal case against the business when there are other air-polluting businesses could have caused the harm, and the defending business can afford to hire lawyers and doctors to claim that there is no health problem or it arose from natural causes, or the business can just hire the arbritrator to throw the case out?

Most people will not, as they currently do not, sue when their property or health is damaged by pollution. Laws allowing them to sue already exist, and every so often you see a blurb in the news about a group of lawyers suing a polluter for multimillions on behalf of a small town, but these cases are the exception. Most people can not afford a lawsuit, they cannot afford to hire the expert witnesses, they cannot afford to do the research to prove beyond a doubt that the pollution damaged them, while the defendant only has to raise a strong doubt. And if the victim loses, they can be countersued and lose all their property in a case they will most likely lose because they spent their funds on the first lawsuit. It is a risk few are willing to take, and fewer will be willing when they have less money from lower wages and less government protection.



[ Parent ]
But you're forgetting something (5.00 / 1) (#246)
by deaddrunk on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:17:29 AM EST

I understand that if all land was owned by businesses, then business A would sue business B over one damaging the other's property. However, who owns the atmosphere? If a corporation releases toxic chemicals into the air, who will take them to task for it, if not a federal body? Individuals don't have enough money to take on corporations, that's why there are unions and democratic governments.



[ Parent ]
One of the ways to recognize a strawman... (4.57 / 26) (#14)
by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:49:13 PM EST

...is a lack of specific quotes and citations.

The primary goal of this strawman attack is to take those who are opposed to losing their national sovereignty to undemocratic, irresponsible cabals like the WTO, or are opposed to the rules that allow the free movement of captial across borders but restrict the movement of labor, or want assurances that human health and safety and environmental protection are factored into international trade agreements and turn these people into something else. That something else is someone who is opposed to globalization itself. And then to take another step and make it into opposition to capitalism itself, to the West, to all civilization for that matter. That is a long stretch. It is as despicable as taking someone who criticizes a single government policy and accusing them of being a traitor to their nation. It is bemusing to me that so many people get away with it so much. I suspect that if your primary source of information is media outlets controlled by the same corporations that benefit from these new ways of doing business, you would have only been exposed to this distorted image and nothing else.

But no matter whether you are being fed this K5 story or an MSNBC report, you can pick out the deception the same way. Which protesteres are you talking about? What are their names, what positons do they hold in what organization? What exactly did they say? Did they say "End Capitalism Now!" or did they say "This trade agreement is a violation of my country's sovereignty and would never be accepted if it were enacted by democratic means"? Obviously the nuanced version isn't as good a sound bite.

You can find people who actually do advocate the same things that the straw man does; he isn't entirely imaginary. But you need to ask seriously how many people hold that position. What group do they represent? How large is it? The truth is that they are not significantly large at all.

What is frighteningly large is the group that wants these trade agreements made democratically, not oligarchically or plutocratically. A very large group believes that individuals should have the same freedoms and privliges as large corporations, and that corporations should not get special taxpayer-funded subsidies to support otherwise unviable business ventures. Secret negotiations and business-run arbitration panels with the power to overule local legislators and courts are not intrinsic components of capitalism; if anything such practices would be at home in the old Soviet Union more than today's world.

Beleiving thses things does not make one a liberal; on the contrary much of the opposition to this new kind of international trade agreement is among conservatives and especially among libertarians. But once that is admitted, then the reality starts to emerge and soon after the straw man goes up in flames.

In short: bad article. Shame on you.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have

Not so (3.60 / 5) (#86)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:41:12 AM EST

Let me explain ... I know from past experience of these kinds of conversations that to those of you who are active participants in, or sympatisers with, the protests that now happen at every trade agreement meeting, the media reporting and the comments of people like the author of this article look like some kind of deluded propaganda, but it really is not so.

The problem is that from the outside it is not clear - even when you are standing watching - that the protest "movement" consists of a thousand different groups, each with their own agenda. One may want tighter environmental controls, another a greater degree of democracy, and still another may be concerned about working conditions in the developing world, and another may want to bring back old-style protectionism. Others - and they do exist - really do oppose the whole infrastructure of capitalism. Because there are so many different agendas, and noone empowered to speak for everyone, or even willing to try, all that comes across is a kind of incoherent scream.

All that is visible from the outside - even if you try to read indymedia and so on - is that the people concerned think all kinds of things are wrong, and blame all of them either on trade, or on investment, or on corporations, or whatever, and that a very large number have trouble expressing themselves, never include references in their articles, and make what appear to be incomprehensible claims ("Globalisation, another word for imperialist exploitation on the grandest scale, can only lead to increased oppression of the underdeveloped nations of the world" - you what ? someone is using words to mean different things to what they usually mean here). This is the problem with a movement composed of lots of single issue pressure groups - all that comes through is their various complaints. No program for action. No central concern. Just a lot of complaints about ill-defined things like "corporate globalisation" and "free trade" which clearly don't mean to you what they mean to me.

So the author is rehashing the standard arguments for free-trade, because that is what you appear to be complaining about. Slogans like "fair trade, not free trade" can hardly be said to help. This isn't what you, personally, are complaining about - fine, but some are, and the incoherence of the whole thing makes it look as if you all are (I'm working on the vague assumption you at least sympathise with the protestors - please correct me if I'm wrong).

Now I appreciate your point about democracy. It is one of the very coherent logical points I've managed to extract from what is said about these agreements, and it does make sense. As I've said elsewhere - in posts that have been found policially incorrect and zapped to the bottom of the page by someone - I also have other concerns. However, and here is the rub, I will not make common cause with protectionists and people who can't even use the English language properly in order to make my point, because it simply won't get made. Instead I'll be interpreted as opposing something I support.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Please direct the whine elswhere. (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by elenchos on Fri May 04, 2001 at 01:46:09 PM EST

This is only a reply to your complaint about your ratings, which you have posted more than once in this discussion. That "political correctness" thing is a red herring. Do you want me to link you to high rated comments and front page articles that are as politically incorrect as anything you've ever posted? The truth about K5's rating system is that it is populist, not PC. For better or worse. I don't advise anyone to care what the hoi poli thinks about you (within reason), but at the same time whining about low ratings is irrational. One of the essentials of this site is comment ratings. Have you read the FAQ? If you really object to such a system, and there are valid reasons to object, you can easily find other places to post your comments. But once you have chosen to post here, you must realistically accept some low ratings, regardless of you politics. That's part of the deal.

The irony is that I've looked and your ratings are not low: they average somehere around 3.5 to 4, at least. To take that and conclude that you are a victim of some political incorrectness crusade is a little paranoid. But if you wish to continue on that subject, the place for that is to email help@kuro5hin.org. I assure you they would love to hear from you on this subject.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

*sigh* (3.00 / 1) (#116)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:48:15 PM EST

I was irritated because two of by better posts (IMNSHO) got rated at 1 or 2 by someone who clearly disagreed with the opinions expressed before anyone else got a chance to read them. I was just being pissy, and I'm sorry if it came off as whining. I put quite a lot of work into what I post, and hope it is at least thought provoking even if you dislike it. There are 2 reasons these things happening is irritating:

1. I like it when people disagree with me. The reason I post in discussions like this one is in order to learn where other people (who as I said above sometime seem incomprehensible) are really coming from, and I never learned anything from someone who agreed with me. That objective is defeated when people just zap a 1 on something and never explain why. I appreciate that this is just how it goes sometimes, and the only reason I mentioned it above and inn one other post was in order to try to provoke a response from those who did it.

2. Most people read the comments in order. If something gets a 1 as its first rating, there's no chance of "populism" having much effect, because most people will never read far enough down to see it.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
How do you know that? (none / 0) (#150)
by elenchos on Sat May 05, 2001 at 01:55:57 AM EST

The default is to ignore ratings. How do you know that most people change it to "Highest Rated First?"

Anyway, it is meaningless that a couple people gave you 1's. The rating on a comment is practically a random number until you get at least 10, more like 15, ratings on it. I wouldn't take a score seriously until the number of raters goes above 20, and even then it is just a number that probably doesn't have any bearing on the value of what you say. The reality is that it is a mixture of people rating on what they agree with and what the they think is a quality contribution to the dialogue. So you have two completely different criteria mixed together in that number, and no way to control it. If you get worked up over low ratings from one or two people every time, you must be having a seriously stressful time on K5.

But do what you want. I think trying to broadcast instructions to the world on how to rate is pointless, and probably counter productive. I wouldn't be surprised if some people read your .sig and give you a 1 just out of spite. Somebody like that is never going to engage you in a dialogue, and even if they did, why would you want to talk to anyone like that?

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

Let's hear from people making this place better... (none / 0) (#155)
by scottysocialist on Sat May 05, 2001 at 04:17:25 AM EST

Does Capitalism work better than Communism?

I don't know, as I want something much better than either ... something which involves people of all sexualities, languages, and ages sharing decision-making as well as challenging and menial chores, in a way that uses the riches of the Earth in a balanced way and respects diversity.

I agree with elenchos... We have people working on alternative power, making their own media, and working co-ops which could have been profiled here, along with countless of other people doing something to make this place better... This seems more like someone's random post than a well-planned story I would hope to read.

To post an article about the free-trade movement without one interesting fact about the economy, with no quote nor mention of one member or group of "the protestors", nor a proposal of one reform to at least make the system we've got better....what does this help those of us who have to worry about staying employed, keeping healthy, with people dumping stuff in the air?

(my one "free-trade" fact: net export deficit between the US and its neighbors Mexico and Canada went from $16.6 billion in 1993 to $62.8 billion in 2000 in real (non-inflated) dollars. (This is roughly the time since NAFTA...) The wealth didn't "trickle-down" to many Mexicans, though, as salaries went down 25% from 1991-1998, while incomes of the self-employed dropped 40% (not sure if this is inflated or real... although we could probably figure this out , right?) Canadians saw increased unemployment --source www.epinet.org

I could give 10 awesome links for the protestors point of view, and I'm sure combined, we could easily put together a list of 40 awesome resources for information on organizing against corporate dominance and learning what's going on in this world, outside the U.S. even.... The author only gave one link, which I'll match right now:

Z-Net's Global Economics , website, containing many popular viewpoints on the free-trade agreements from a non-rich viewpoint..

(Z-Net is a subscriber-supported medium not advertising-supported, BTW).

But thanks for posting anyway...I enjoyed writing about it.

Now let's hear a post from some people with some vision...

Scotty Socialist

[ Parent ]

Arguments (4.58 / 24) (#15)
by Mashx on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:49:29 PM EST

It doesn't take into account the 5-fold increase in the world's wealth over the same period. It doesn't sound quite so good when one says that the world's poor have seen their wealth triple in the last 40 years.
The world's wealth has increased 5-fold. The poor have seen their 'wealth' triple. And yet, that poorest fifth of the world's population now have half the proportion of the wealth of the world that they had before. They might have three times what they had before, but that doesn't make them rich. For the poorest, three times nothing is still nothing. Basically, that means that the richest fifth of the population of the world now has nearly 90% of the wealth, with the other 10% shared by the other four fifths of the population, which has doubled in size in those forty years. So now twice as many people have less a proportion of the wealth of the world than before. Even if the amount has tripled does this take into account inflation for them? Has the value of what they have increased?
the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta.
Exploitation is not just about using children but how they are used. The exploitation here is the fact that a company that knows full well that it can afford a lot more than this is ONLY paying $3 a day. Nike has moved production from countries where it was paying $5 an hour to these countries because it knows that by paying these kids only $3 a day it can maximise its profits. That is where I have a problem: rather than pay a slightly better wage, it pays the bare minimum it needs to. Do you think you would be happy being paid $3 a day if you found out that if you worked in a comparable factory in the States you would earn that in forty minutes? You say it yourself
If the children thought it was too little money, or had somewhere better to go, then they would not do the work
So it is okay because they don't know? Slave labour is okay if they are ignorant that they are paid a pittance compared to the workers of the country the company is from? For me, this is the problem with globalisation.

Bill Gates et al. Yes, I am glad to say that they do give a portion of their wealth to charity, and that is to be commended, but where does most of it go? Back into the same society they live in. Look at the donations that Bill made, and you will find that the greatest proportion goes to Universities and education foundations in the United States. Yes, he has given large donations to vaccinate third world children, but since that doesn't help increase the education of the children, but just means more food is needed, how about another 0.203% of his net worth for some help in in feeding some of these children?

We should let the people of the world decide for themselves, through the aggregate of their everyday actions of taking jobs, working, buying and selling. Through the ultimate democracy that will decide this issue - the global marketplace.
I don't think that the poorest fifth of the world's population understand global marketplace economics and have the ability to make the decision that this is the way forward. How many of them have the ability to take a job, working, buying, and selling? Try telling the people mentioned in this report that the global marketplace is the ultimate democaracy. And it might be the Sudanese government that is causing the hardship, but for the purpose of who to drill the oil exactly? NOt for the purpose of the villagers it is displacing, I can guarantee that.

The corporation itself is not evil incarnate, not until it's starts putting profit before everything else. I don't hate capitalism, I would be a complete hypocrite if I claimed that, but I do abhor the moral exploitation of people in whatever form, and I think that this is happening on an ever-growing scale by more and more companies. I can see the positives of companies operating in developing nations, with the creation of jobs etcetera, but the exploitation is sickening to me. And the fact that it is destroying the idea of democracy because those that have more money have more influence flies completely in the face of your 'ultimate democracy' claim.

Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

Relative incomes and wealth (1.00 / 1) (#27)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:57:29 PM EST

<P><I>The world's wealth has increased 5-fold. The poor have seen their 'wealth' triple. And yet, that poorest fifth of the world's population now have half the proportion of the wealth of the world that they had before. They might have three times what they had before, but that doesn't make them rich. For the poorest, three times nothing is still nothing. Basically, that means that the richest fifth of the population of the world now has nearly 90% of the wealth, with the other 10% shared by the other four fifths of the population, which has doubled in size in those forty years. So now twice as many people have less a proportion of the wealth of the world than before. Even if the amount has tripled does this take into account inflation for them? Has the value of what they have increased?</I>

<P>The goal of statistics on relative gross products - which is what we're talking about here - is to measure the value of all trade within the economy concerned. They do, therefore, take inflation into account. The intention is not to measure "the vale of what people have", but of what they have bought and sold, and thus their real income, which equates to how much food they can by, which is of much more importance anyway. Most controversy on these kinds of statistics depends on the exchange rate used. If the stats above are roughly correct we are talking about a genuine increase in the amount of stuff the poor can buy.

<P>While relative income does reflect a failure in developing the undeveloped world, it does not indicate that anything has been taken by the rich from the poor.

<P><I>Exploitation is not just about using children but how they are used. The exploitation here is the fact that a company that knows full well that it can afford a lot more than this is ONLY paying $3 a day. Nike has moved production from countries where it was paying $5 an hour to these countries because it knows that by paying these kids only $3 a day it can maximise its profits. That is where I have a problem: rather than pay a slightly better wage, it pays the bare minimum it needs to. Do you think you would be happy being paid $3 a day if you found out that if you worked in a comparable factory in the States you would earn that in forty minutes? You say it yourself</I>

<P>I'd move, if I could. Barring that, I'd start a trade union. Barring that, I'd have to decide whether my civil right to unionise or my income mattered most to me at that point in time. The last thing I'd want is a bunch of naive western kids trying to persude Nike to close the factory. You must understand that in many of these countries, those factory workers are paid better than professional doctors. Campaigning to close these places lr boycott their goods is possibly the single most counterproductive thing I've ever seen done in the name of human rights.

<P><I>I don't think that the poorest fifth of the world's population understand global marketplace economics and have the ability to make the decision that this is the way forward. How many of them have the ability to take a job, working, buying, and selling? </I>

<P>The majority, actually. Awful though things like southern sudan may be, the majority of the population in developing countries does not live at gun point in a rat infested grass hut. Rather, they live in the vast unofficial settlements that surround the enormous cities that characterise these countries. Their problems are not about an inability to get a job, or start a business, but that their local economies are not properly integrated even into their national economy, let alone the world economy. They may not understand the global marketplace - actually I suspect noone does - but they certainly understand the one down the road, and the best thing we can do for them is to make sure better stuff is on sale there for less money.

<P><I>Try telling the people mentioned in this report that the global marketplace is the ultimate democaracy. And it might be the Sudanese government that is causing the hardship, but for the purpose of who to drill the oil exactly? NOt for the purpose of the villagers it is displacing, I can guarantee that.</I>

<P>Right with you on that one. Any oil compnay involving themselves in Sudan deserves the condemnation that will be levelled at them.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Relative incomes and wealth (4.11 / 9) (#28)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:58:00 PM EST

The world's wealth has increased 5-fold. The poor have seen their 'wealth' triple. And yet, that poorest fifth of the world's population now have half the proportion of the wealth of the world that they had before. They might have three times what they had before, but that doesn't make them rich. For the poorest, three times nothing is still nothing. Basically, that means that the richest fifth of the population of the world now has nearly 90% of the wealth, with the other 10% shared by the other four fifths of the population, which has doubled in size in those forty years. So now twice as many people have less a proportion of the wealth of the world than before. Even if the amount has tripled does this take into account inflation for them? Has the value of what they have increased?

The goal of statistics on relative gross products - which is what we're talking about here - is to measure the value of all trade within the economy concerned. They do, therefore, take inflation into account. The intention is not to measure "the vale of what people have", but of what they have bought and sold, and thus their real income, which equates to how much food they can by, which is of much more importance anyway. Most controversy on these kinds of statistics depends on the exchange rate used. If the stats above are roughly correct we are talking about a genuine increase in the amount of stuff the poor can buy.

While relative income does reflect a failure in developing the undeveloped world, it does not indicate that anything has been taken by the rich from the poor.

Exploitation is not just about using children but how they are used. The exploitation here is the fact that a company that knows full well that it can afford a lot more than this is ONLY paying $3 a day. Nike has moved production from countries where it was paying $5 an hour to these countries because it knows that by paying these kids only $3 a day it can maximise its profits. That is where I have a problem: rather than pay a slightly better wage, it pays the bare minimum it needs to. Do you think you would be happy being paid $3 a day if you found out that if you worked in a comparable factory in the States you would earn that in forty minutes? You say it yourself

I'd move, if I could. Barring that, I'd start a trade union. Barring that, I'd have to decide whether my civil right to unionise or my income mattered most to me at that point in time. The last thing I'd want is a bunch of naive western kids trying to persude Nike to close the factory. You must understand that in many of these countries, those factory workers are paid better than professional doctors. Campaigning to close these places lr boycott their goods is possibly the single most counterproductive thing I've ever seen done in the name of human rights.

I don't think that the poorest fifth of the world's population understand global marketplace economics and have the ability to make the decision that this is the way forward. How many of them have the ability to take a job, working, buying, and selling?

The majority, actually. Awful though things like southern sudan may be, the majority of the population in developing countries does not live at gun point in a rat infested grass hut. Rather, they live in the vast unofficial settlements that surround the enormous cities that characterise these countries. Their problems are not about an inability to get a job, or start a business, but that their local economies are not properly integrated even into their national economy, let alone the world economy. They may not understand the global marketplace - actually I suspect noone does - but they certainly understand the one down the road, and the best thing we can do for them is to make sure better stuff is on sale there for less money.

Try telling the people mentioned in this report that the global marketplace is the ultimate democaracy. And it might be the Sudanese government that is causing the hardship, but for the purpose of who to drill the oil exactly? NOt for the purpose of the villagers it is displacing, I can guarantee that.

Right with you on that one. Any oil compnay involving themselves in Sudan deserves the condemnation that will be levelled at them.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Theory of (3.33 / 3) (#35)
by Mashx on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:37:35 PM EST

It's a tough situation. I cannot condone buying a pair of Nike trainers, because of the exploitation. I am not naive enough to campaign for the closure of the factories, but I can't say that is is okay for them to pay so little, even if it means that they receive more than a doctor's wage from the state (which is of cours poor). It could even be taken further and show that the average income of the country could be raised because people want to work in this factory (of course) and Nike pay them a less exploitative wage... Ah, but pie, sky.

Yes, the majority of them have the ability to take a job etcetera, but not many have the chance. I wasn't too clear on that point I conceed. Last week I was in Kenya, and so I have a very recent memory of seeing third world economics at work. They are a great people. All of the beach boys are 'businessmen'. Whether they are offering carvings, snorkelling, fishing or weed. What has been achieved in fifty years in Kenya is remarkable considering it took most European countries 250 years to do, but the tactics used by corporations to open up a market for themselves does not usually appear to help the population. Kenya is one of the more developed developing nations but still there are some sad sights. Seeing two old ladies pleading (not begging) for 10 Shillings (9p == 6 cents) in the middle of a road in a thunder storm, right next to a Coca-Cola fountain was pretty gaulling. I'm not blaming Coca-Cola for the woman's dire situation, but at the same time it is advertising for people's money in a country of people that have little in comparison to us. And those people want to be like us, and Coca-Cola plays on this fact, as these are naive consumers. If they drink Coke, they will be like us...?

I agree with the point you make about the integration of economies locally and nationally. The problem is when a company comes in and exploits that ignorance for it's own advantage without giving back as much as it can rather as much as it feels it is forced to.

Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

[ Parent ]

Multinationals in the 3rd world (3.75 / 4) (#41)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:23:08 PM EST

I do share your sense of concern at seeing people begging next to a coca cola fountain. It is - as you say - hard to know what to do in these situations. On the one hand, the coincidence is just that, and part of me wants to just dismiss it. On the other, the power of the image does symbolise something important, which is that these developing countries have sharply divided economies, in which their "globalised" elite and western business have access to the law and to capital, but most of the local people do not.

Its hard to know to what extent the presence of these problems, which in their own way afflicted the developing west as well, though admittedly with much less power, hold back the people of these countries. On the one hand (again) the principle of comparitive advantage does hold some water - if these people can grow cocoa better than they can make cola, surely thats what they should do, and buy their coke essence from coca cola, after exporting the raw material. Unfortunately, of course, the profitable and capital intensive part of the business remains in the west ....

As you can probably see, the reason I'm not a political activist is that I equivocate far too much.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Equicov..Equivot...Equivocate (4.00 / 4) (#70)
by Mashx on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:24:01 AM EST

As you can probably see, the reason I'm not a political activist is that I equivocate far too much.
The one thing I have realised is that there is so much more that can be done rather than stand on a street corner and complain loudly. There is nothing wrong with it, but it's not my style and others do it so much better than me.

In Kenya last week we used local hirecar company instead of the multinationals, we used Kenol instead of Shell, and I bought some carved wood from a co-operative rather than from the airport. It might have been cheaper, but it also meant the money was going to the people that worked on it rather than KLM shareholders (who partly own Kenya Airways and KAA) and bought Tusker beer (it's great!) instead of Heineken (or equivalent).

It's true that I have realised that it is not so cut and dried. Five years ago seeing a Del Monte pineapple farm cover the whole of the slopes of a mountain would have saddened me but now I am happy that it provides money to this rural economy. Kenya is a different example though because it is one of the better off developing nations, and the people do earn quite a bit more than their counterparts elsewhere: the people are educated enough to know when they are being exploited.

Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

[ Parent ]

People want to work.... (3.00 / 4) (#50)
by nads on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:01:40 PM EST

There was an article in Time recently about the fact that Nike actually has have security guards at some of its 3rd world plants to prevent employees from trying to work after their shifts. That is, people want to work more than they are working. It's definitely a tough decision on what to do. I think what we should remeber is that America didn't go from an agragarian society to a post-industrial one overnight. It almost seems that this is what some of the nike protesters expect to happen in the 3rd world. We didn't outlaw child labor, until we could afford to do it. The same process might hav to take place in the 3rd world also.

[ Parent ]
Of course. (4.00 / 4) (#75)
by Mashx on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:49:43 AM EST

And what some countries have achieved in fifty years of independence is fantastic, but the WTO is advocating a return to colonialism by Corporations rather than Western Governments, and this is dangerous. We know that using children for labour is not needed in the Western World so we can afford to educate them until they are [insert age of your country], and I have seen first hand how children work for their food in Kenya: if we suddenly tried to impose a ban on child labour it would be naive. It is a slow process, but one that could be helped by not exploiting those workers.

As an aside, I had a search for the article in Time you talked about, but couldn't find it, but did find this with a picture of an amusing (pirated) Nike shirt...

Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

[ Parent ]

Re: People want to work... (3.50 / 2) (#115)
by raelin on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:35:43 PM EST

The question is: Do people want to work, or do people want the money that they would get from working more? If it's the latter, and they feel the only way to get it is to work more, that explains that behaviour. Also, Nike isn't an Indian company exploiting the Indian workers, it's an American company, and it *did* make a profit before it moved it's factories to India. The arguement that Nike couldn't afford it if India were to outlaw child labor is... tenuous at best.

[ Parent ]
Counterarguments (2.90 / 11) (#36)
by Wonko The Sane on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:45:22 PM EST

So now twice as many people have less a proportion of the wealth of the world than before. Even if the amount has tripled does this take into account inflation for them? Has the value of what they have increased?
All right, let's do this properly, shall we?

According to Angus Maddison, the GDP per Capita increase between 1950 and 1989 was tenfold in Taiwan, and twofold in Latin America and India. And yes, that's takes inflation into account. That's right. The third world got richer, in absolute terms. Perhaps it got richer a bit more slowly than the developed countries did, perhaps not (In the same period, the GDP per capita in the US also grew by a factor of about two), but significantly richer nontheless.

That is where I have a problem: rather than pay a slightly better wage, it pays the bare minimum it needs to.

And what exactly is wrong? That's what a rational person - or corporation - does. Maximizes his gains. Not necessarily financial in the case of flesh-and-blood individuals, but gains all the same. For an outlook on altruism, read some Rand. If you refuse to read Rand - well, that's your problem, not mine.

Do you think you would be happy being paid $3 a day if you found out that if you worked in a comparable factory in the States you would earn that in forty minutes?

So, what exactly you suggest? That because the kid in India can't make the same amount as he would in the states by making shoes, he should make a quarter of those $3 farming? No, nobody is saying that kid is happy. But he is happier than he would've been if the corporation did not give him the job. Otherwise he'd leave it. I'm sorry for repeating the original article, but you gave no real answer.

Now, about that Sudanese government - the problem is the lack of freedom, democracy and capitalism within Sudan. Don't you think using that fact as an argument against more of the above in the rest of the world rather strange, not to say hypocritical?

Finally, money is power. That's a fact of capitalism. That's the way it's meant to be. People strive for money because money represents economical power. And, since we know politics and economics are one and the same, it's quite obvious it also represents political power and influence. Is there anything wrong with that? Yes, in a society with an oppresive and all-involved government. Not in a society where government only deals with (excuse the libertarian clichè) fraud and initiation of force. Why? Because there is much less abuse potential. (Clarifications will follow, if requested). And that is Real (or 'ultimate') Democracy.

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
Duhh (3.50 / 4) (#53)
by ksandstr on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:23:12 PM EST

Then again, it's better for the GDP if, while processing lumber (or whatever it is that you're doing out in the sticks) the clean way (i.e. with minimal pollution), you dump a whole lot of chemicals into a nearby river. Why? Because then somebody has to clean the river up. So there's not only the production from the lumber processing, but also from the river cleanup.

GDP has been proven several times to be a particularly bad model for measuring national wealth. I'd give you a reference but I'll instead assume that you're smart enough to go find one yourself.



Fin.
[ Parent ]
"National Wealth" (4.00 / 2) (#78)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:53:18 AM EST

Proving GDP measures "national wealth" badly is pretty easy, because "national wealth" is impossible to define. You can throw in environmental considerations and quality of life issues and take them out again until you get the result you wanted, and of course you pretty much have to invent cash values for these things because there is no market in which to measure them.

Seriously though, noone argues that GDP is a perfect measure of prosperity, but it has the advantage of being a crunchily defined number that people have legitimately measure and debate. All the other measures that have been invented are to some extent arbitrary and place values on things that are highly arbitrary. See this paper for a description of why measuring anything other than GDP is next to impossible.

Thats not to say that we shouldn't try, but GDP in dollars at PPP per head, when combined with measures of income equality, is a measure of how much stuff people can afford to buy. While - of course - human beings have other things to concern them as well, when you're talking about the development of the developing world, this seems like an extremely relevant figure. Its inescapable that this number is rising almost everywhere in the world, and in spite of the increase in inequality most measures also show that the poorest are getting richer. Surely this is something that should be celebrated, not condemned on the basis that the measurements used are fairly narrow ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

simple (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by ikillyou on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:54:41 AM EST

An economist would tell you that the solution would be to create a cost to polluting the river i.e. fine them, introduce pollution quotas, etc.

[ Parent ]
question (4.00 / 2) (#99)
by dufke on Fri May 04, 2001 at 12:28:27 PM EST

Open-ended question to the libertians in the crowd here:
What do you think of this suggestion? Is this 'government meddling', or is this a kind of law you can live with?

[ Parent ]
I'm not a Libertarian (none / 0) (#231)
by roystgnr on Fri May 11, 2001 at 11:59:16 AM EST

Not in the card carrying party member sense, but I guess you'd call me a "libertarian" with a little 'L', and I certainly would have voted for Browne in the last election if I hadn't been in a swing state.

I think that assigning costs to pollution can't help but be 'government meddling' - there's no objective way that even an ideally beneficent government is going to be able to evaluate the real costs of pollution, so you're going to have total pollution costs swinging at the whim of whatever political party is in power, while pollution costs by component (is CO2 really a problem? Is mercury more evil by mass than PCBs?) will be held hostage by lobbyists for one industry or another trying to cut themselves a special break.

But with that said, it's also a law I can live with. If you want to get strict, "no force or fraud" libertarian, then putting poison into the air or water would be entirely illegal. Since no libertarian actually wants to ban smoking in your own home, ban driving cars, or generally bring the industrialized world to a crashing halt, some sort of compromise is needed. And I think our current compromise of "you can only release 100 kilotons of CO2 per year, and they can only release 10 kilotons, because you fit our special permit requirements better" is an ugly hack. The alternative of "you can release as much CO2 per year as you want, but with government measuring instruments in place so we can charge you $10 per ton" is at least an improvement to a problem with no clear perfect solution.

[ Parent ]

Desktoparguments (4.00 / 4) (#69)
by Mashx on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:04:18 AM EST

All right, let's do this properly, shall we?
Okay, so the poorest part of the population became richer in absolute terms. Let's put those figures into perspective. Say that the world has a wealth of 100 in 1963. This means
  • Richest fifth has 71
  • poorest fifth has 2.3
This translates today to (remembering five times the wealth)
  • richest having 455
  • poorest having 6.0
Yes, they got richer in absolute terms (what a favourite of the politician), but does that make it any more right to exploit these workers?

Altruism in the sense of always doing the moralistic thing instead of helping yourself is plain self-defeating, but I am not advocating that. If Nike paid even $5 a day or $10 a day, they wouldn't be hurting themselves, but just not being so damn greedy. Why would I refuse to read Rand? Why do you think I would refuse? I am at a loss for your scorn.

And what exactly is wrong? That's what a rational person - or corporation - does. Maximizes his gains.
Finally, money is power. That's a fact of capitalism. That's the way it's meant to be.
These two sections show you what I dislike, and what I think is the thinking behind a lot of the anti-capitalism protesters. Maximizing gains within a corporate world is of course the idea of capitalism, but to the detriment of the workers? Yes, sure, they have a job, and are thankful for this, but they would be living a better life if they were paid a wage more comparable to Western Standards by the Western company they are employed by, who are taking advantage of them. If it was an Indonesian company, then I cannot expect them to have the resources to pay them Western equivalents, but we are not talking about paying the Western equivalents, but somewhere closer to it. An average day of 12 hours gives $3 for these workers, but the equivalent in Europe or the US would be $60. I am pretty sure that this exploitation can be remedied by finding a balance.

I was always taught that democracy should be about Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives [Dictionary.com]. My problem is with corporations having too much power. I am not naive enough to think they will not lobby at all: everyone has that right, and a corporation that employs a significant part of the population should lobby: but now we have a situation where corporations are lobbying governments over issues which does not concern it's workforce but it's shareholders. Where corporations can help decide elections. Where corporations exert influence on foreign governments by offering nice dangling carrots as long as they can go into 'untapped' markets and take over. It might be democracy as it stands to day, but I am saddened to think that it would be the 'ultimate' democracy.

Finally, my argument about Sudan: yes there is a lack of freedom, but what has exacerbated the problem is Western Oil companies going to a war torn third world state, and saying 'We can probably find oil in your country, and that will give you some money' not needing to add that the extra money will increase the conflict, just so the companies can make some profit from the oil that they drill. So, no, I don't think it is strange, and I certainly don't think it hypocritical. I know that because the oil companies wanted to explore and now drill for oil, the government of Sudan has purposefully been displacing it's own peoples so that it can get the companies in there drilling. Because the oil companies are making a profit from this situation, it is obvious to me that greed has taken over from competition.

Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

[ Parent ]

Laptoparguments? (Huh?) (2.00 / 5) (#71)
by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:38:44 AM EST

If Nike paid even $5 a day or $10 a day, they wouldn't be hurting themselves, but just not being so damn greedy.

Excuse me, but voluntary loss of profit is, by definition, hurting yourself.

Why would I refuse to read Rand? Why do you think I would refuse? I am at a loss for your scorn.

I wrote if you refuse, had I not? I'm not suggesting you will refuse. But I've come to anticipate the reaction of "Rand is garbage, and I'm not going to read anything by her", etc. So just taking precautionary measures. No offence was meant.

I am pretty sure that this exploitation can be remedied by finding a balance.

Of course it can. And that balance will end up hurting me, you, and the rest of the developed countries. Economy, as was already pointed out by someone in a comment on this article, is not a zero-sum game. And when the economy is run by anything but a rational market (like your private moral principles that have to do with exploitation) the sum of the profit is lower. Let's say I make $35 and that kid makes $5. If we reach that balance, what you'll have is both of us making $15 (And not $20, which would've been almost just as bad). Am I going to support this? No. Am I going to fight it as much as I can? Yes.

About Sudan - I agree. Sudan should be boycotted, until it has a democratic government. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and that's the only acceptable solution. However, this should not be the corporations' responsibility. The Sudanese government initiated force against its citizens, and is therefore outside the limits of the free market. But it's not up to the corporations' to punish it. Anyhow, this still says nothing about the effects of globalisation in relation to the democratic India, for instance.


This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
$(arguments) (3.33 / 3) (#74)
by Mashx on Fri May 04, 2001 at 06:59:00 AM EST

voluntary loss of profit is, by definition, hurting yourself.
Different points of view on this definition? For me if it is a profit then by definition it is something you are gaining. Until you start making a loss, you don't start hurting yourself. Of course there are limits to this, because you need to make money to live on, which is why I am still fundamentally not against capitalism, but I believe that a balance can be achieved whereby the company helps the economy of the developing nation more than it currently is.

A small reduction in profits is not going to harm anyone significantly to be noticable. If it is noticeable, it is not striking a balance, and I do not want this to happen. If cutting profit hurts everyone, why is it that you look for the cheapest price for your computer/shoes/books? Because we as Western consumers want everything as cheaply as possible, and the corporations are forced to compete in our marketplace, thus cut the retail price of their goods. Therefore the only way to increase their profits is by cutting costs, and this can be done by cheap labour. Cheap labour is not in itself inherently bad, but exploitative cheap labour is in my opinion.

By balance I did not intend to mean monetary value balance, but a balance between using cheap labour and not exploiting the workforce. If we use the figures you proposed, then giving the kid a 50% rise, which makes his life a hell of a lot better off only reduces your share to what $30? And that would be hurting you? Maybe I am missing your point still, after all it is Friday (and my last day in this job!)? I am not talking about communism, it doesn't work because of the human nature you mentioned previously. Damn I hate it when I can't solve all the world's ills in one sentence!

As for Sudan, I am not implying that the corporations are resposnible for initiating the conflict, but they certainly are responsible for prolonging it for the chance to gain more profit.

As for the effects of globalisation in India, read what India's own politicians say about it. What he is trying to say is Capitalism is all well and good when you have a level playing field. A level playing is the last thing we have in this world. Or you could look at it this way:

the general industrial crisis in India following globalisation is bound to affect in equal measure the software business too. The overall milieu will settle down to a pattern of declining growth rate encompassing both agriculture and industry. The industrial growth rate will decline because public sector units will keep closing one after another, those that somehow survive will be denied both bank and fiscal credit.


Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while...
...You could miss it.

[ Parent ]
India's own politicians... (2.50 / 4) (#89)
by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:59:13 AM EST

Yes, you're missing the point. The point is that meddling with the invisible hand makes things worse for everybody, however good, in your opinion, the motives may be.

And, about the Indian politician: that politician represents the `Bharatiya Janata Party`. If you would've done some research, you'd know that:

The BJP's direct political antecedent is the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a party established in 1951 that stood in staunch opposition to what it perceived as the evils of Western cultural imperialism. Its principles were retained when the party was renamed the BJP in 1980. Opposed to the secular democracy advocated by the long-ruling Congress party (see Indian National Congress), the BJP has objected to the separate code of civil laws for India's Muslims, supports India's nuclear defense capability, and favors restrictions on foreign investment. (From the CNN Almanac)

And, from the BJP's own site:
"Nationalism Is Cornerstone of BJP's Foreign Policy"
"Nationalism and national interest have been the characteristic features of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)."
"The party's "swadeshi," or economic self-reliance, is also of great significance. Opposed to the unrestricted entry of multinationals..."
"On the nuclear bomb issue, the party's stand has been consistent and clear. It has always maintained that India should have the bomb."
etc.
Nice guys, eh?

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
on increasing wages... (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by ikillyou on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:51:22 AM EST

Altruism in the sense of always doing the moralistic thing instead of helping yourself is plain self-defeating, but I am not advocating that. If Nike paid even $5 a day or $10 a day, they wouldn't be hurting themselves, but just not being so damn greedy. Why would I refuse to read Rand? Why do you think I would refuse? I am at a loss for your scorn.

Nike is paying its workers the market rate (I suspect Nike actually pays more than the market rate). If Nike were forced to pay a higher rate, it would decrease the amount of labor it consumed by investing more in automation, resulting in decreased employment. This is the same issue with minimum wage limits that you have in developed countries. TANSTAAFL.



[ Parent ]

Minimum Wage Laws do not reduce jobs (3.00 / 1) (#188)
by greenrd on Sat May 05, 2001 at 07:26:03 PM EST

If Nike were forced to pay a higher rate, it would decrease the amount of labor it consumed by investing more in automation, resulting in decreased employment. This is the same issue with minimum wage limits that you have in developed countries.

Too simplistic. Studies in the UK have shown that the recent minimum wage law did not significantly lead to a loss of jobs. This can be explained by at least two things:

  • If the cost of automation is greater than the minimum wage, it's still rational to employ people
  • Some tasks still cannot be completely automated, because we don't have human-level AI.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]
Chomsky on definitions of democracy (4.00 / 1) (#199)
by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 03:23:28 PM EST

Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives
I quote from the opening statement from Noam Chomsky's "Media Control", Seven Stories Press, ISBN 1-888363-49-5:
... One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affaiars and the means of information are open to all and free. if you look up democracy in a dictionary you'll get a definition something like that.

An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. This may sound like an odd conception of democracy but it is important to understand that it is the prevailing conception. In fact it has long been, not just in operation but even in theory ...

The central idea of this enlightening small book is that the ruling elite of the time maintains the theory that "the masses" are too stupid to manage things and they should let the qualified elite do it instead. In the past they used to do that mainly through violence, whereas today it is done mainly through control of the media.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Richer per country, poorer per person (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 03:24:14 PM EST

Wonko quotes that the GDP per capita of Latin America and India has doubled since 1950 and this, he contends, shows that even the poor of the world have become richer in absolute terms.

Not so if the distribution of wealth within such nation has changed towards inequality, wich is extremely likely. Even a modest increase in inequality would leave the majority poorer, in absolute terms.

Suppose that the situation in india has changed as follows (totally hypothetical figures):

  • 1950, Richest half: $60
  • 1950, Poorest half: $40
  • 1989, Richest half: $180
  • 1989, Poorest half: $20

    These are, of course hypothetical figures. The situation could be a happy one with, say, $150/$50 or $120/$80 split. I do not know. But all evidence suggests that internal inequality in developing countries has risen dramatically, so it seems to me very likely that this effect could be stronger than absolute increase in GDP, making poor poorer.

    GDP per person is a very poor measure because it makes one millionaire and 999 beggars look better than 1000 people earning $500. A histogram of purchasing power would be ideal. If a histogram is unweildy, a scaled measure such as:

    log(income)/capita
    might offer a much better predictor of econimic well being per person.

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

  • That's wrong (3.00 / 1) (#213)
    by strumco on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:13:11 AM EST

    the GDP per Capita increase between 1950 and 1989 was tenfold in Taiwan, and twofold in Latin America and India. And yes, that's takes inflation into account. That's right. The third world got richer, in absolute terms.
    No. These stats are showing that some (mid-range) developing countries have become wealthier; they say absolutely nothing about those people at the bottom of the heap within those countries. Nor does it say anything about countries which aren't developing much at all.

    DC
    http://www.strum.co.uk
    [ Parent ]

    This is not the problem. (3.50 / 8) (#17)
    by Highlander on Thu May 03, 2001 at 01:58:09 PM EST

    Globalization is not the problem.
    It is knowledge, self-confidence and fighting against corruption that helps an underdeveloped country, not moaning about "Globalization".

    In the developed countries, the wealth that we already have helps us to score better on these three points.

    Knowledge helps to produce more interesting stuff or simply more stuff.
    Self-confidence helps to bargain for better deals, and to fight against corruption.
    By corruption I mean people who want to get something for nothing. One way to fight against corruption is to teach people how to make money without being corrupt.

    Even if you live in a developed country, these values can help you, and we need more of them.

    Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

    Some reasons for concern (3.64 / 14) (#22)
    by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:35:29 PM EST

    Thanks for you excellent article. I agree with most of it, but I do want to raise a couple of reasons to worry about globalisation:

    1. Collapsing trade barriers inevitably mean that goods enter the world economy that are produced outside the control of liberal governments, and that western corporations - sometimes unwittingly - will be tempted to entangle themselves in environments where our standards of justice are not upheld. I'm not talking about Nike's "sweatshops" here - like you I don't have much of a problem with that, provided the development of the economy is allowed to procede - but about Sudan clearing population to drill for oil, and Cocoa being farmed by genuine (unpaid, captive) slave labour. Isolated national economies do not suffer from these problems.

    2. Many developing countries have ill-formed legal systems. The property rights of most of their population are not properly encoded in law, so many of them cannot borrow money, move home to look for work, or incorporate their business. The concern here is that the investment elements of the WTO, NAFTA, etc gaurantee the rights of international investentors. In an environment where the property rights of the local population the danger should be clear.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    Signatujre (2.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:09:11 PM EST

    Did you guys, like, read my signature before laying in there with the 1s and 2s. I like to be disagreed with. I don't particularly like my posts disappearing to the **** end of the page where noone with anything interesting to say will bother to read.

    Given that I've reread the bloody thing 3 times, would you mind telling me what I said that was so awful as to deserve a 2, let alone a 1.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Don't worry. (3.00 / 4) (#43)
    by Kiss the Blade on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:31:07 PM EST

    It's just the groupthink setting in. People don't moderate according to quality, but according to whether they agree. IMO there should just be two moderation options, 0 and 1, 0 being reserved for spam of course. Having a high score means that everyone agrees with you, which in this hellhole of Randians, libertarians, free software advocates and various other freaks is nothing to be proud of anyway.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    Hey! (3.00 / 2) (#45)
    by WinPimp2K on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:55:08 PM EST

    I object to be lumped in with all the various other freaks!

    As to your idea for moderation, it seems so shallow - as if this were a mere popularity contest or something. Next thing you know, we'd be adding a swimsuit competition or something.

    [ Parent ]

    YA missed a group (2.50 / 2) (#48)
    by nads on Thu May 03, 2001 at 05:51:04 PM EST

    ... socialists.. Kuro5hin is more socialist than libertarian by far.

    [ Parent ]
    Indeedy. (3.00 / 1) (#54)
    by ksandstr on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:35:45 PM EST

    I'll be the first to admit that my rating method takes my opinion into account. Whose doesn't? Claiming otherwise would be hypocrisy.

    Usually I start at "3" for any given post, assuming that it's not a blatant troll (those start at 2). Then I apply the following modifiers:

    • Is the comment of high quality? Yes == +1, so-so == 0, No == -1.
    • Do I agree with the comment? Yes == +1, no opinion == 0, No == -1.

    Note that these two are pretty much interchangable.

    On second thought, this probably should have been a diary article. The "groupthink" bit, however, was slightly too much.


    --
    Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

    [ Parent ]
    Reflection of omnipresence (3.66 / 12) (#23)
    by botono9 on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:48:50 PM EST

    No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company. That we do so in our millions every day is a reflection of their fairness.
    Actually, I think it reflects more on the fact that people either have to work for a corporation or starve to death. The fact that millions of people work for them only shows that they dominate the economy and you cannot work or anyone but corporations.


    "Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
    --Robert Anton Wilson

    Pointless (2.91 / 12) (#24)
    by ksandstr on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:52:41 PM EST

    Why not resection the article into MLP, and then edit the contents so that it'll just have a hyperlink into the author's favorite pro-globalisation propaganda site?

    I mean, I've seen all of these arguments before, and not once have I been convinced that "really, global capitalism is good for everybody, no, those with the dollars (eq power) won't use them to get more power at the expense of those without the dollars (eq powerlessness)".


    --
    Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

    I think I know why. (2.33 / 3) (#26)
    by elenchos on Thu May 03, 2001 at 02:56:58 PM EST

    The clues are in the use of the Nixonian incendiary term "silent majority" and in the names on the first eight or ten accounts that voted this +1 FP. But where does guesswork get you?

    Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
    [ Parent ]

    My god ! (4.00 / 5) (#84)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:58:00 AM EST

    Its the secret K5 capitalist illuminati !

    Speaking as one of the first people to vote this up, I did so because it is nice to have stories reflecting both sides of the story. The arguments he puts forward are the standard ones, and while many people have declared them "morally bankrupt" or "long ago disproven" and voted -1 for that reason noone has provided either references or reasoned arguments for these claims. This article is not terribly good (corporations, for instance, are not only not moral, the law forces them to be amoral), but neither were most of the anti-globalization rantings that have appeared in recent months.

    Generally speaking, when this kind of stuff gets posted the most well-informed and interesting individuals reserve their commentary for the comments, and those are usually good to read, including in this case, which is why I usually vote +1 on such articles whether I like what they say or not.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Different cabal. (3.00 / 1) (#113)
    by elenchos on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:30:55 PM EST

    If you watch things around here for a while, you'll notice that there is an old skool pack of trolls who rarely post, rate, or vote around here for days at a time, and then all of a sudden a certain kind of story will appear and they will all suddenly show up and vote it +1 FP. "They" could all be one person for all I know, of course. Coincidence? Probably. Am I paranoid? Most likely. Am I a nut of some kind? Absolutely.

    But in spite of all that, I could also be right. Take a look for yourself and then you tell me.

    Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
    [ Parent ]

    No, you're right, approximately (3.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:52:41 PM EST

    But they tend not to write stories - at least not without some particular aim in mind. I did notice they seemed very fond of this story, but I think its just because this is a controversial subject. Good material for them, though I haven't noticed very much trollish participation in fact.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    you're right. (3.75 / 4) (#30)
    by Shren on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:19:09 PM EST

    After all, any summary of issues is foolish, because there's always some better site out there on the net with more facts. All parts of K5 should be removed except for MLP. Actually, we should just wipe all of K5 and go to the slashdot model, which is the veritable master of MLP.

    I don't agree with the globalization protestors. And I think this is a reasonably good summary of a number of issues involved. +1 SP.

    [ Parent ]

    Err... (2.00 / 1) (#55)
    by ksandstr on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:38:58 PM EST

    Damn. My sarcasm detector must have been running w2k (or something equally inferior) at the time that I first read your comment.

    Yes, there are times when a summary is useful. You'd expect a summary to contain more than just strawmen, however (where's the linkage?). That is why you could replace this whole article with a href to a pro-globo propaganda site without much information loss.



    Fin.
    [ Parent ]
    not every story has to be a thesis. (4.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Shren on Thu May 03, 2001 at 09:27:20 PM EST

    Yes, there are times when a summary is useful. You'd expect a summary to contain more than just strawmen, however (where's the linkage?). That is why you could replace this whole article with a href to a pro-globo propaganda site without much information loss.

    First. Linkage is over-rated. Especially in a situation like this, Globalization, where both sides of the debate are churning out propaganda as fast as thier tunnel-visioned mind can make thier fingers move. 2 years down the road, most links in most stories will be dead.

    Second. I don't expect thesis grade material out of every k5 post. Would this post really be made that much better by tripling it's length with countless references to statistics produced by biased organizations?

    You and I both know there are some holes in the argument. The whole "corporations are moral" bit is a rather unartful dodge of the fact that a lot of corporations do a lot of shady things to try to dominate whichever market they are in. Still, though, you have to consider. The offline world is full of crap saying how globalization is good. The online world is full of crap saying that globalization is bad. The article is a good perspective, and a reasonable viewpoint, good for what it is.

    Still +1 SP for me.

    [ Parent ]

    Alternatives to Capitalism (4.64 / 28) (#32)
    by fsh on Thu May 03, 2001 at 03:23:15 PM EST

    However, there is a very simple flaw with this [poverty gap] - it is talking about relative poverty.
    Well, although the baseline for poverty has certainly increased over the forty year period, so has inflation and the cost of living. In other words, if the amount of money that one requires just to live increases, then so does the 'relative' poverty level.
    We have a fair social contract with them [multinational corporations], and are free to work or not work for them as we choose.
    This is the freedom to choose your master; we are not allowed to not work. Thus putting something in the public domain is seen as a threat to the corporate way of life (see Microsoft's recent attacks on the GPL). This system by its very nature discourages creativity and art, unless you are so good at it that you can make a living on your first try. Art, by its nature, improves with additonal tries, but if you have to work another job (typically unskilled, ie low paying, labor) your artistic skills won't increase very quickly, if at all. This quote also assumes that the power of both parties is equal, which is patently untrue. In a bargaining situation, the party with the most power (the corporation) will be able to skew the deal in their favor (overtime compensation, working hours, insurance, safety regulations). The other problem I have with multinational corporations is that they are oligopolistic by nature. In a field where a multi-national has taken an interest, it is next to impossible for a small business to enter, due to startup costs and nonrecoverables (such as advertising budget).
    Firstly, if one criticises the mechanisms on which the global marketplace are based, and wish to tear the edifice down, one must have a reasonable replacement. Of course, noone does.
    I lay this problem squarely at the feet of capitalism. For such a replacement to exist, there must be trials, and every trial of a non-capitalist system has been systematically put down. The Spanish Revolution of the 1930's, the Paris Commune of 1871, the Russian Anarchists (who were killed by the Leninist State Capitalists), the Haymarket Martyrs of Chicago, 1886 (where the anti-capitalist celebration of May Day comes from). All of these movements were successful in different ways, especially the Spanish Revolution, but were put down by the more powerful capitalist regimes. If the capitalists truly believe that there is no better system than capitalism, why not allow other systems to try? McCarthyism was designed to limit the spread of Communism (as practiced in the USSR and China, which is really just State Capitalism), for instance.
    and furthermore that the wealthiest countries of the world owe their wealth to the marketplace and capitalism.
    This is a circular argument. The only way to have wealth is to have a capitalist economy, other methods of economy (such as anarcho-socialism) purposefully spread the 'wealth' out so that it is not concetrated in one spot. Or, to look at it another way, Wealth and Currency would not exist under some other economic systems, so by the definitions of capitalism, these other systems will always be less wealthy. This is the same thing as using an Intel benchmark to check the speed of an AMD processor.
    Corporations are not evil, self seeking entities.
    I agree with statement, as I've indicated above. Corporations are not moral, nor are they immoral; they are amoral. A corporation, for instance, doesn't hesitate to sack an employee regardless of whether that employee is about to have a child, the decision is made from a profit standpoint without any recourse to morality. I say that corporations are completely amoral, and this amorality can be exploited by by particularly self-centered, greedy individuals to cause problems for society.

    For instance, General Motors systematically bought out various methods of public transportation when it was growing several decades ago, especially in the LA area. Result: there's no public transport to speak of, which increases pollution and consumption. From a solely capitalist point of view, this is a very smart move. For someone who has to breath LA air, this is immoral.

    And why should a corporation be worse because it makes money? Is the profit motive immoral?
    Of course not, the profit motive can be seen as good or bad, depending on how it is used. I believe that Ideas themselves cannot be good or bad; Morality is a function of perception, and, as such, can only exist inside human beings. The problem I have with capitalism is that it provides a system that can easily be used by a greedy human to exploit the trusting, cooperative nature of other humans. It's the Prisoner's Dilemma. The fact that a society can grow and flourish without capitalism is easily evident by looking at history; many societies had no authoritarian culture whatsoever until they were exploited by capitalism. Does this mean that capitalism is better? Only if you believe that might makes right. I feel that the incredible advances of the past five centuries are due to the advances in the scientific method, which enabled technology research to flourish. Capitalism would much prefer to throttle scientific advance, however, in the form of intellectual property rights. Look at the fight over copyrighting the human genome research.
    the simple fact is that it is much better [for a child] to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta.
    This ignores the fact that in a market where child labor is allowed, it creates unemployment for the adults. Since child labor is by nature unskilled, they are paid less than adults. Since they get paid less than adults, they become the preferred form of labor, thus resulting in the parents of the working children losing their jobs, being unable to find other work, and depending on their children to finance the family. This means that the children end up working ridiculously long hours to provide for their unemployed, but higher paid, parents. And since the children spend practically all of their waking hours in the factory, they have no time whatsoever to spend on an education, about the only thing that would allow them to rise out of such a horrible situation.
    Through the ultimate democracy that will decide this issue - the global marketplace.
    Ultimate democracy? More like ultimate oligopoly. One dollar = one vote means that the rich have more say in policy than the poor, simple as that. Perhaps if the playing field were entirely leveled before something like this was created, then everyone would have an equal chance, but as it stands, the global market serves the interests of the rich far more than it does the interests of the poor.


    -fsh

    Morality, Immorality, and Amorality (4.00 / 5) (#40)
    by jude on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:14:24 PM EST

    To be amoral in the face of a moral choice is to be immoral. Corporations are not amoral because people in them decide what they will do. Wind, rain, and sun are amoral, corporations are not.

    This is an important fact to keep in mind.

    [ Parent ]
    Amorality & Philosophy (3.80 / 5) (#46)
    by fsh on Thu May 03, 2001 at 05:09:37 PM EST

    To be amoral in the face of a moral choice is to be immoral.
    Actually, one of the definitions of amorality is Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong. The motto of the capitalist is "It's just business", ie, good and bad don't enter into it.

    This question also hinges on whether morality is relative or absolute, which is why I made the point of moral relativity in my post. IE, do good and bad actually exist, or are they attributes we associate with actions simply to help explain them? If morality is relative, as I firmly believe it is, then your post simply boils down to the fact that you believe these actions to be immoral. The original poster showed why they believe these actions are moral. As far as I can tell, it's impossible to argue whether either of these viewpoints is 'correct', so I try a different tack.

    The reason I say that corporations are amoral also has to do with the question of authority. Just as I don't condemn the soldier for acts of murder committed by the authority of his superior, niether do I condemn the man who causes injustice in the workplace on the orders of the capitalist. The corporation is an interesting structure, it has no ultimate authority. The CEO feels beholden to the fiduciary interest of the shareholders, the shareholders feel beholden to the experience of the board of directors. Ultimately, they are all beholden to the corporation itself, in the form of the business plan, and any questions of morality are typically subsumed by this document. An ideology such as this has no interest in morality, just money, and is thus amoral.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Amorality and Reality (3.50 / 2) (#79)
    by jude on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:09:43 AM EST

    I agree that this is the way corporations are described and the reason they are described that way is so that individuals within them can dodge moral responsibility. The capitalist motto "It's just business" is a bald faced lie people in corporations use to justify their immoral acts.

    In a war you do not hold a soldier responsible for the killing that he does. Yet if all soldiers assumed that moral responsibilty themselves we would have no more soldiers and no more wars. In the same way, if the individuals in a corporation believed that they were responsible for what they did we would not have conspicuous consumption in the face of abject poverty.

    Yes, in a sense a corporation is amoral when looked at a thing. But the thing itself is in the control of people with moral responsibilites. Same sort of thing as the statement, "Guns don't kill people, people do." Take away guns and guns won't kill people, but people still will kill people. Take away corporations and corporations won't screw people anymore, but immoral people will dream up new schemes to do the same thing.

    [ Parent ]
    Agreed (3.00 / 2) (#110)
    by fsh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:25:05 PM EST

    Yet if all soldiers assumed that moral responsibilty themselves we would have no more soldiers and no more wars.
    Absolutely. Instead of accusing the soldier of being immoral, however, I would rather attack the authority structure that causes him to act so. By labelling the actions of the soldier immoral, you automatically put his hackles up, and predispose him to reject anything you say. This is why I prefer to not use value-based arguments.

    If, instead, you were to show the soldier that he did not need to blindly accept the orders of his superiors, ie, attacked the heirarchical structure itself, then it's a bit different. This is why I'm an anarchist, in the sense of someone who fights against hierarchical structures which dominate and exploit its members.

    I am of the opinion that no one consciously commits immoral acts, just moral or amoral. Even the capitalist of a multinational corporation acts in the interests of his beliefs. This discussion shows that quite well, how the actions that one person considers immoral can be seen as moral in another light. You can disagree with such a viewpoint, but you can't effectively argue against such a point. So while I morally agree with you, I prefer to keep morality out of these issues, and argue against capitalism on its merits.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Relative poverty (5.00 / 3) (#97)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 12:00:34 PM EST

    Well, although the baseline for poverty has certainly increased over the forty year period, so has inflation and the cost of living. In other words, if the amount of money that one requires just to live increases, then so does the 'relative' poverty level.

    Its amazing how many apparently otherwise intelligent people are having trouble grasping this. Possibly it has something to do with setting out to prove your precenceptions.

    The figures quoted are adjusted for inflation, and thus for cost of living increases. No self respecting economist would publisher GDP figures that were not. The figures - if correct - really do mean that the purchasing power of the developing countries has tripled. There are - of course - still legitimate questions that can be asked as to how this power is distributed.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    Polarisation of Wealth (4.33 / 3) (#106)
    by fsh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:09:00 PM EST

    I will take your word on the inflation part, although I would certainly have preferred a link to verify this fact. Cost of Living, on the other hand, is not determined solely by inflation. For example, since the cost of real-estate and rent can vary differently from inflation, the cost of living can also vary. Also, since no links were provided, I cannot be sure if these figures count or discount taxation, which can vary apart from inflation.
    Its amazing how many apparently otherwise intelligent people are having trouble grasping this. Possibly it has something to do with setting out to prove your preconceptions.
    I'm not trying to prove anything, I simply seek a greater understanding through rational discourse with my peers. I eschew authority in favor of proof, and so offer any information I have that might strengthen my own opinion. Since no proof or background for these figures was offered in the original post, I offered what I considered to be a viable explanation. And although I certainly understand what you and the original poster were trying to say, I do not agree. Please allow me to expand my view.

    As someone else has mentioned, three times zero is still zero. While the point at which we consider people to be impoverished may be a relative point, not clearly defined, this by no means indicates that all the poor in this artificially created category can have a comfortable life. If you don't have enough money to have a roof over your head, you can't take comfort that you can now buy three apples when your parents could only buy one. If the economy were perfectly fluid, and the poor could freely move to an area where real estate or rent were lower, then there would be a fix. This is not the case, however.

    Lastly, the trend of the rich growing relatively and absolutely richer while the poor grow relatively poorer (you can't grow absolutely poorer than 0) indicates that there is a growing polarisation of wealth. In a global marketplace, where one dollar equals one vote, it seems to me that the wealthy will be able to set policy in such a fashion that is better for themselves without having to consider what is best for society as a whole, and this I find objectionable.

    Here's the info from which I was basing my arguments about the polarization of wealth.
    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    GWP and other matters (4.50 / 2) (#126)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:56:43 PM EST

    I can't really give you a link on the matter of whether the GWP quoted in the article is adjusted for inflation, as I don't have the original source. I assure you however, that it is normal practice to adjust both for inflation and for exchange rates when quoting these kinds of figures. I assume they do not include taxation. You're quite right however, that even if you try to take income inequalities within countries into account, GDP figures are pretty blunt instruments for measuring the welfare of the poor. You might be interested in the article from last week's "Economist" that I referenced in another comment, which tries to refine the process of measuring both relative and absolute povery and actually may have found - its a bit early to tell - that an increase in absolute poverty occurred between 1988 and 1993.

    I did not mean to be disparaging when I said you were trying to prove your preconceptions. When confronted with data that is incomplete, hard to explain, or contrary to expectations, this is what we all do. Like you I engage in these discussions in order to try to learn something through rational discourse, and if I sound harsh from time to time, please be assured that it is not directed at anyone personally, just at the ideas.

    I have two comments on the rest of your comment, and while I'm at it two book recommendations. It is important to note that noone who manages to survive from year to year really has nothing. The poor of the developing world actually have vast economic resources, and a lot of their problems are not in getting the means of survival, but in being able to leverage what they have, because in many cases while they may live in a house and run a business, they have no legal title to either. There is an interesting book on this subject by Hernado de Soto, entitled "The Mystery of Capital". Don't let the title put you off :) Your point about being able to buy three apples not being much good if you have no house is well taken. There is also a book on this subject called "Development as Freedom" by Amartya Sen. The thesis is brilliant, but the writing is a little dull.

    My second point is regarding ability to set policy. To me in many ways this is a separate issue, and I suspect we agree more than we disagree on this point. The rich *cannot* be allowed to have more political influence than the poor. Indeed, this must be prevented at all costs, which is one of the things that makes property reform such a vital issue for the developing world. You seem to take it for granted that the rich will always be able to set policy, which I find disturbing, to be honest.






    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Agreed (mostly) (3.50 / 2) (#172)
    by fsh on Sat May 05, 2001 at 11:05:25 AM EST

    There is an interesting book on this subject by Hernado de Soto, entitled "The Mystery of Capital". Don't let the title put you off :)
    Heh heh. Although I am an anarchist, I would be doing myself a disservice by not understanding fully the arguments of the other side. Any reading recommendations such as these are greatly appreciated. What would be even more appreciated is web links - I am poor, and cannot afford nearly as many books as I would like to. There were a few pro-capitalist links in this discussion that I am currently investigating, for instance, and I am a member of both the Socialist Party and Libertarian Alliance mailing lists.

    You seem to take it for granted that the rich will always be able to set policy, which I find disturbing, to be honest.
    To the extent that Money is Power, those with more Power will always be able to skew Government Policy in their favor, as I see it. Even worse, in the realm of Big Business, only those businesses which intentionally spend money on the government will be able to survive in the long run. This is one of the main points behind the practice of an-archy, which is opposed to all hier-archies, such as Government and Capitalism.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Sure (4.00 / 1) (#173)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 11:32:47 AM EST

    There's an IMF summary of part of de Soto's book, which looks pretty good, and a critical review which catches at least some deficiencies in his ethical outlook. There's also a short summary review of Development as Freedom, which is probably the better of the two books.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    boo (none / 0) (#255)
    by agharta on Thu May 24, 2001 at 09:59:25 PM EST

    the baseline for poverty has certainly increased since the sixties. before the u.n was created, standards did not exist. there was not objective guildlines for deciding who was impoverish. the tripling purchasing power is meaningless. an extra billion people in the "poverty" class has gobbled up the gain. in fact, it decreases their purchasing power since there is so many more, just as the purchasing power of the middle class and capitalist class has incread fivefold -- a real fivefold.

    [ Parent ]
    What an beautiful river. Too bad it's full of.... (4.05 / 17) (#42)
    by inert_mass on Thu May 03, 2001 at 04:29:29 PM EST

    You get the idea. You are extremely eloquent, but, you need to get your head out of....the clouds, and think critically about what actually happens when globalization occurs.
    Why should globalisation increase poverty?

    Idealistically, you are correct. Globalization is good for everyone. Pragmatically, the methodology of globalization is inherently biased towards those with money and power. The folks that currently have money (both in the developed and the undeveloped nations) are the same people that set up the international agreements for globalization. Thus, they set up the agreements as beneficially for themselves as they can. That means that the people that should benefit from free trade agreements like NAFTA and the FTAA (i.e., the poor folk) don't.
    multinational companies...are fundamentally moral organisations, in the sense that they are based on fair tenets.
    B.S. Pure and simple. A corporation is a living creature. That's why it has the special legal status of an individual. It's purpose for existing is to make money, any way that it can. That is the only tenet that they survive by. If corporations were based of fair tenets then: one, why do workers for Nike in Malaysia not get portions of profits from the shoes that they make (more than the dollar a day they receive now)? That would be fair, right? Two, why are there unions. Unions were originally formed in the United States (US centric, I know, but, it's what I know) to combat the unfair business practices that kept people living at starvation wages. If corporations were really fair, wouldn't they recognize the need of their own employees to eat and live beyond mere existence? Three, why, when they receive federal subsidies to exist (known as corporate welfate) to they continue to cut higher paying jobs in the United States (e.g., GM received US$100 million from the federal government from 1990-4, and also cut 104,000 jobs).

    I would go on, but, it's only your third paragraph, and I don't like replies to be longer than the original posts.

    ------------------------
    "This is the end..."
    </i_m>
    A few flaws... (3.75 / 12) (#47)
    by dram on Thu May 03, 2001 at 05:10:14 PM EST

    Although I support globalization for the most part there are some flaws:

    1. It doesn't take into account the 5-fold increase in the world's wealth ... the world's poor have seen their wealth triple in the last 40 years.

      So in 40 years there is five times as much money (wealth) in the world, but the poor only have three times as much as they once did. How is that not a widening gap between the rich and the poor?

    2. [T]here is no plausible replacement [to global marketplaces]

      Yes there is a plausible replacement. It would be the major governments of the world becoming far more isolationist. It would mean that here in America we would produce our own manufactured goods and we would not import or export any goods.

    3. ...in order to better themselves and seek an interesting life and better their standard of living. What an ego you have. Who is to say that the western way of life is `better'?
    4. We should let the people of the world decide for themselves. Are Americans not people of the world? We have the majority of the wealth of the world so we also get a very big say in what goes on, good or bad, that's what happens. If the people of America, or some of them at least, don't like what is going on shouldn't they be allowed to stand up and say so? I think they should.


    -dram
    [grant.henninger.name]

    Put up or shut up time. (2.00 / 2) (#92)
    by jwallwebcaster on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:20:36 AM EST

    What an ego you have. Who is to say that the western way of life is `better'?

    Ok...I'm sick of comments like this. Put up or shut up time. Turn off your computer, unplug youre telephone, and move to a third world country. You won't? AAhhh,..western life is great, huh?

    [ Parent ]
    hmmmm... (3.00 / 1) (#109)
    by Shren on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:15:04 PM EST

    So in 40 years there is five times as much money (wealth) in the world, but the poor only have three times as much as they once did. How is that not a widening gap between the rich and the poor?

    I'm missing something here. What is actually wrong with the rich getting richer if the poor are getting richer as well? If everybody's getting more or better stuff, how is the increasing wealth of the rich a problem?

    [ Parent ]

    Yes (none / 0) (#215)
    by strumco on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:34:49 AM EST

    I'm missing something here. What is actually wrong with the rich getting richer if the poor are getting richer as well?
    Yes, you are missing something here. Three times zero is still zero. On this planet today <an unknown number*> of human beings are starving to death. They're not starving because there's no food; they're starving because they don't have enough money to buy food.

    * The number is unkown because we, as a global society, don't give a shit. Meanwhile, we, as a global society, expend vast resources creating luxuries to tittilate the jaded palates of millionaires (and knock-off copies so the less well-off can pretend to be rich).

    DC
    http://www.strum.co.uk
    [ Parent ]

    Wacky ideas (3.00 / 1) (#112)
    by SnowDogAPB on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:13:59 PM EST

    "It would be the major governments of the world becoming far more isolationist."

    But government is just a wacky social construct. You draw some lines on a piece of paper, bingo, you've got borders, you've got countries, you've got governments.

    Take this down to the micro level. If every "government" was a single family, nobody could survive, since nobody could trade with another family to get things they were unable to produce. So you combine families into villages, where they trade with each other, but not with other villages? Well, that's silly ... one village has better fishing, so they trade fish with the village that has more sheep and can make wool.

    At what point do you step in and say "even though there are great reasons to trade with this other village, you can't -- you now have enough villages in your little trading circle to meet your needs, so buzz off." ...? It's completely arbitrary at this point.

    I mean, it's silly. Let's say I live in upstate NY. I'm literally 2 miles away from another person who lives in Canada. I'm supposed to never trade with this guy, because he's in a different "country" than I am? Please! He's my neighbor!

    Besides (ObSciFi) how will we ever become "Earth" in the Star Trek or Babylon 5 standpoint if we keep this crazy idea of "countries" and such?

    :-)


    [ Parent ]
    All corporations are immoral (3.95 / 21) (#49)
    by gbd on Thu May 03, 2001 at 05:59:12 PM EST

    I am terribly sorry, but the arguments you make regarding corporations being "inherently moral" are sheer folly. Corporations are entities that operate like sentient beings and are treated (from a legal standpoint) as such. Sentient beings, such as individual humans, get their morals from their upbringing, their environment, and from the evolutionary advantage that is provided by working with society rather than against it. Some beings require additional assistance (i.e., belief in gods, jesuses, etc.) to reinforce these morals, but the end result is the same: an individual being, acting as an individual is endowed with a definite moral compass, and that is what makes a person moral.

    If we use these observations, corporations cannot possibly be moral! As I have said, corporations certainly act as individuals, but in the final analysis they obviously are not individual sentient beings. This being the case, the moral compass that belongs to the individual is nowhere to be found in the day-to-day operation of the corporation (the collective, if you will.) A real human being would feel terrible about working a frail, old woman to death. But a moustache-twisting fat cat in management that never has to actually see the results of the decisions he makes on a day-to-day basis could not care less if his slave labor in Indonesia curls up and croaks. So why not cut their pay in half? What are they going to do .. find another job! The death toll of the modern Western corporation is quickly becoming incalculable, and even if you wanted to try to calculate it and report the result, the corporate-owned media would never let you.

    This is the type of ruthless cutthroat corporate culture that is the cause of so much of today's societal decay. The culture of corporatism is one that celebrates death and rewards ruthlessness while punishing kindness and benevolence. If you give heavily to charity, you are spat upon and lashed out at for "redistributing wealth." If you pay your foreign labor fair wages your competitors will outsell you because their costs are that much lower. There is not a single redeeming factor in the modern corp-culture -- not one. And for you to stand in front of all of K5 and claim that multinational corporations are "inherently moral" is among the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. The truth shall set you free, as they say, and in this case, the truth is not on your side.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

    Umm... (2.00 / 2) (#72)
    by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:56:54 AM EST

    Corporations aren't in fact real individuals, you know. A corporation is not a sentient being, it is a tool. And that is why a corporation is not moral or immoral, it is always amoral.

    The real question is whether a corporation is ethical, that is, whether the acts of a corporation are ethical. And, since corporations normally do not engage in either force or fraud, their actions in the large majority of cases are ethical, by the standard libertarian definition. The modern corporate culture doesn't need any "redeeming value", because there is nothing fundamental in that culture that should be redeemed. Your moralist attitude, on the other hand, really does have no value, redeeming or otherwise. Your own private pseudo-humanist values are not a global guideline.

    The truth alone will not set you free. Truth together with reason will. And hiding from reason behind rethoric is not going to help you any.

    This is an EX-PARROT!
    [ Parent ]
    Nonsense (3.00 / 2) (#88)
    by gbd on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:57:30 AM EST

    Your assertion that a corporation is nothing more than a "tool" could not be further from the truth. A hammer is a tool. An axe is a tool. They are composed of molecules of wood and metal. Molecules are not sentient beings. A corporation is composed of humans. Humans are sentient beings. While I realize that the reduction of the human value and spirit to that of a molecule is a fundamental tenet of libertarianism, you must realize that this ridiculous fantasy is precisely that -- a fantasy. Because corporations are composed of sentient beings, each with their own value systems and moral and ethical beliefs, it is not possible for corporations to be amoral (as you claim.) This would only be possible if the corporations were run entirely by robots whose programming included no ethical considerations (either good or bad.) I think you will agree that this is not the case.

    So now that we have demonstrated that corporations do indeed have a component of morality, I shall now demonstrate why that component must necessarily be immorality in all cases (as I have claimed.) Much of this I have already discussed in my previous message, but the primary source of corporate immorality is the worship of profit and wealth creation, and the practice of placing it on a pedestal head and shoulders above anything resembling compassion and social conscience. Again, the example of this would be the vice president of a corporation whose decisions cause the death of slave labor in some Third World nation. Under any reasonable standard, this vice president can be considered little more than a murderer (at least) or a serial killer (at most.) Yet instead of being imprisoned for crimes against humanity, the corporate culture rewards the slaughter of the innocent with fat salaries, stock options, and posh galas. And the decent, moral people of the world are supposed to accept this state of affairs and be happy about it? Pah!

    Now before you start in, I am aware that not everything that corporations do is "bad." Some have given to charities in the past, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the reality is that corporate donations to charities is driven purely by a desire to improve corporate image, not by a desire to help the poor and downtrodden. While I don't wish to invoke Godwin's law here, I think we could all agree that Hitler was a man of pure evil, but that does not mean that everything he did was evil. Hitler ate, slept, and went to the bathroom, but that does not mean that eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom are evil things. What you have to do with Hitler, and what you have to do with corporations, is to look at the Big Picture and decide for yourself on the alignment as you see it. And if you allow yourself to look upon the situation honestly, you can only come to one conclusion: that corporations and the culture of death that they cultivate are the greatest source of unspeakable evil that this planet has ever seen.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
    [ Parent ]

    Godwin's law isn't voluntary. (none / 0) (#162)
    by Wonko The Sane on Sat May 05, 2001 at 08:09:57 AM EST

    Godwin's law isn't voluntary, and is hereby invoked. You lose. Plus, you lose extra points for using "honestly" and "unspeakable evil" in the same sentence...

    This is an EX-PARROT!
    [ Parent ]
    Some help please... (1.25 / 4) (#58)
    by stevecollis on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:50:24 PM EST

    I got to this quote

    "Today the top fifth get 89 per cent of the total output; the poorest, 1.2 per cent."

    and became quote confused. If we add those values together we get 90.2% of the total output, which leaves just 9.8% of the total output for the remaining 90% for people. That works out to 0.544% for each remaining fifth (I do realise that it wouldn't be a straight line like this but I'm assuming it is for this example)! How can this work?


    In 2001, 89% of all statistics are made up on the spot. This is up 45% from 2000. Someone else.
    Huh? (3.00 / 1) (#59)
    by delmoi on Thu May 03, 2001 at 09:02:08 PM EST

    and became quote confused. If we add those values together we get 90.2% of the total output, which leaves just 9.8% of the total output for the remaining 90% for people. That works out to 0.544% for each remaining fifth

    Uh... no... It works out to 3.26% on average for the second, third and fourth fifths.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    thanks (3.00 / 1) (#61)
    by stevecollis on Thu May 03, 2001 at 10:11:02 PM EST

    whoops! For some reason my brain was thinking fifth = 5% not 20% when I read it this morning.
    Thanks

    In 2001, 89% of all statistics are made up on the spot. This is up 45% from 2000. Someone else.
    [ Parent ]
    Survivor Game Morality Mirrors the Business World (3.57 / 7) (#62)
    by Komodo321 on Thu May 03, 2001 at 10:44:19 PM EST

    Corporations used to talk about caring for their workers, caring for the communities that they operated in. Some still do, but it as much a marketing expense as anything else. Now morality is couched primarily in terms of obligation to the stockholders - not inherently bad, unless you are willing to run over everything else. The Survivor game show mirrors the business game: the only thing that is important is winning. If you need to lie or screw someone over, that would be wrong in the real world, but in the Survivor/Business world, that is just how the game is played.

    Check out "Transparency International or this paper where you will find studies that show that business majors are less honest than other college students. Is there a reason that such people gravitate to this major? Yes, capitalism is based on greed. Greed may be effective at accomplishing certain ends, but it is foolish to pretend that greed is good. All the major religions of the world teach that greed and envy are sins, while they encourage charity, compassion, and sharing (along with independence, thrift, and other virtues). Hate is another mindset that can be used to efficiently organize people to work together for a common purpose (like building a nation). But the hate eventually expresses itself in destructive ways.

    When the rules of business deviate from ordinary ethics or morality, corporations become nothing more than tribes and alliances...amoral and immoral.

    Point? (2.66 / 3) (#81)
    by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:38:20 AM EST

    All the major religions of the world teach that greed and envy are sins, while they encourage charity, compassion, and sharing (along with independence, thrift, and other virtues).

    And your point being? This is not a religious debate, and I suggest you not turn it into one. (I'm a Discordian. You have absolutely no chance. ;) ). But, in general, the fact the major religions teach something doesn't make it any more or less right.

    This is an EX-PARROT!
    [ Parent ]
    Offtopic - moderation. (1.00 / 2) (#90)
    by Wonko The Sane on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:10:47 AM EST

    Perpetual Newbie and nevauene, you two, so far, modded all of my comments on this thread to 1, so I guess you'll read this one as well.
    As Simon Kinahan's sig eloquently says, "If you disagree, post, don't moderate".
    (On a side note, feel free to moderate this one down as much as you like, I know it's offtopic, but I had to say it)

    [ Parent ]
    The Point Being (none / 0) (#104)
    by Komodo321 on Fri May 04, 2001 at 01:55:21 PM EST

    a reply to one of the original assertions that capitalism is moral. I am not trying to turn it into a narrowly defined religious debate, but in discussing ethics and morality, it shouldn't surprise you that someone made reference to a general consensus that exists among world religions. Not everyone would agree with me - followers of Nietzsche, animists, Discordians, Ayn Rand, and rogue illuminati place little stock in millenia of moral scholarship from the dominant religions that arose from Iran, India, Arabia, China and Palestine. Ok.

    So what is your point? What is your particular Discordian take on Capitalism? How do you deal with the right and wrong of issues like wage slavery and third world dictators that bankrupt a country while fattening their offshore bank account?

    [ Parent ]
    For answers, read earlier posts in the thread. (none / 0) (#163)
    by Wonko The Sane on Sat May 05, 2001 at 08:16:01 AM EST

    Oh, and my take on Capitalism hasn't got a lot to do with me being Discordian. My take on religion does.

    This is an EX-PARROT!
    [ Parent ]
    You missed the MAIN argument (4.28 / 14) (#63)
    by poltroon on Thu May 03, 2001 at 10:55:32 PM EST

    I know it has been pointed out already, but can't hurt to try to drive the point home...

    There's a decent long article in this week's Stranger about some of the FTAA protesters (granted, this article focuses on the more fringy element, so don't forget there are a lot of more mainstream protestors too. I think their concerns about agreements like FTAA and NAFTA are much the same though). Since these protestors seem to be the same ilk as the May Day protestors you mention, who you say "seem to have very simplistic and emotional reasons to dislike corporations.", I thought I'd point out their primary reasons, which are missing from your bullet points. Quoted from the aforementioned article:

    ...the U.S. has lost manufacturing jobs to Mexico, where companies can pollute freely and maintain low wages and unsafe working conditions. More worrisome is NAFTA's treaty court, in which companies can reclaim money lost due to environmental and other laws ...
    Notice, they're concerned with pretty concrete issues, not some vague, emotional distain for globalization. We may not be forced to work for or buy from multi-national corporations, but we do have to live with them. It's unwise to not be critical of how much power is being handed to them.

    Back it up (3.63 / 11) (#65)
    by dmanon on Fri May 04, 2001 at 12:40:34 AM EST

    1. The word is GAP. And by admitting his figures are correct you admit
    that the gap is increasing. Second, as pointed out corporations are not
    "inherently moral". They are inherently amoral. They exist to make profit.
    Almost every consumer and enviormental protection act legislated has been
    fought vigorously by coporations.
    -
    2.The Irrational Nature of the Global Market Place:
    you state "Those third world countries that embrace capitalism invariably
    perform better than those that don't." Show me. How in what way? Is this
    increased peformance reflected in the health, morbidity and well being of the
    population.
    -
    3.Won't even dignify it.
    Just look at the destruction of many native tribal cultures in the amazon
    basin in the last 30 years. Much of that by force.
    -
    Your conclusion is just the same old see I am happy and healthy with the
    system. Why can't everyone adopt my attitude. If Nike et. al were inherently
    "moral", as you say, would'nt they pay thier workers in Singapore more then
    75 cents an hour and assure them safe working conditions with reasonable hours.
    Just like you have. Also refrain from allowing those same manufacturing sites
    from hiring children.
    -
    Also if you are so informed what are the details behind FTAA? Don't know?
    You know why? The details have only been released to 500 mega-corporations.
    The details have still not been released to the general public and probably
    never will be.
    -
    If you would like to educate yourself from the
    otherside check out:
    -
    http://www.stopftaa.org
    http://www.globalexchange.org/ftaa/topten.html

    Good Article (3.12 / 8) (#66)
    by nymia_g on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:15:57 AM EST

    First off, I believe in Capitalism. Take a look at this presentation and see what's in there.

    The strong argument here states that in Capitalism, one has to have the moral characteristic necessary to conduct commercial activities to gain wealth. On the other hand, gaining wealth immorally would naturally mean losing the trust of the parties involve, causing the termination of relationships, simply because the exchange of wealth happens when transactions occur for a given relationship. The lesser relationships one has, the lesser it gains wealth. It's simple as that, make one immoral move and trust immediately goes out the window. It is then fair enough to state that anyone who wish to continue playing would have to be morally fit. For it is the main requirement in establishing a network of trust necessary to gain wealth.

    With regards to trust, is there any substitute for Capitalism that will guarantee trusted relationships. I believe there is none because in other systems, trust is secondary or even not at all.

    bah (5.00 / 4) (#98)
    by Arkady on Fri May 04, 2001 at 12:12:23 PM EST

    What you've just described is not a system which encourages "moral character"; it's a system which encourages deception. As many companies (and individuals, of course) have demonstrated over and over again (for two famous examples, think of the Ford Pinto or, more recently, Firestone Tires) such an environment leads to attempts to hide misdeeds rather than they're not being done.

    Capitalists, when faced with an environment which exerts pressure against misdeeds, generally try to obscure their "immoral move" for just the reasons you seem to think would make them behave morally.

    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    Deception (4.00 / 1) (#111)
    by nymia_g on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:53:41 PM EST

    Good points about deception. However, deception is a property exhibited by an image projected by the object itself. Not by the object itself. If the image one sees is of deception, the other might see it as negligence; or fault in the manufacture of the said tires.

    What you've just presented shows that the tires were manufactured with the motive of killing which was not the case. The motive wasn't killing, but providing safe, reliable tire for transport. If they wanted to kill drivers and passengers, they could have just manufactured tires containing explosives containing depleted uranium. That would also blow the neighboring vehicle as well.

    Was the defective tire a proof of an "immoral move?" Given the fact that it has also manufactured tires that performed as expected? Would that be categorized as immoral as well? Nope, they're not. That goes to show the tire deception example is perceived and can be a product of a preconceived notion that capitalism is deceptive in the first place.

    Would I buy tires from a known manufacturer of defective tires? Of course not. I would buy somewhere else to where I can get "trusted" reliable tires. A good example of freedom of choce.

    Would a capitalist obscure its misdeeds? Yes, but not forever since the network of trust will ultimately reveal the misdeeds to the public. Causing the deed to be exposed by the system itself. And that would jeopardize all relationships, ultimately lessening the acquisition of wealth.

    [ Parent ]
    definitely deceptive (none / 0) (#142)
    by Arkady on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:02:16 PM EST

    In the Firstone and Pinto cases, it was definitely a case of intentional deception, not of "image". Oddly enough, it was Ford in both cases.

    In the Pinto case, Ford's engineers had stated to management that the Pinto's gas tank was too far back and (in addition) was like to release gasoline if struck. "Mother jones", which published the expose, got their hands on internal memos in which the Ford execs calculated that it would cost less to settle a certain percentage of lawsuits than to actually correct the fault.

    In the Firestone case, Firestone did have a series of defect tire batches (though I don't know if they knew about it in advance), but it was Ford decided to use them underinflated that made it deadly. See, it turn out that the Ford Explorer is unstable but that can be overcome by running on squishier tires (which is definitely the cheap solution). This screws your gas milage, but Ford doesn't care about that and it saves them some redesign and fixing up their manufacturing plants. The problem was that they shipped the tires inflated below Firestone's rated inflation and it turns out that the tire they were using sheds its outer shell when stressed without enough internal pressure.

    Both of these are cases of intentionally manufacturing a dangerous machine, or selling a machine in a dangerous configuration, but attempting to disguise the fact. In both cases, several hundred users died. But Ford is still going strong.

    Now, tell me again how this market keeps companies on the "moral" course?

    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    Obvious Statement (none / 0) (#144)
    by nymia_g on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:59:01 PM EST

    Is there any argument presented here that will allow me to present otherwise? No, simply because the manufacturer has responsibility and obligation to its consumers. Any mistakes whether deliberate or nor should be taken against them. For it is the moral obligation that services are complete and delivered to the satisfaction of the individual.

    However, your assertion that they should fold and close on that basis is simply exagerrated. Ford has already established a network of relationships having a varying degree of trust. That incident may have caused some connections to disappear but not enough to cause the entire network to go down.

    What I'm not sure is the presentation of your facts. It seems to me though you have worded them in a way deception was made during the production process. Though I don't have any information that will match yours, I take that you have access to Ford's.

    [ Parent ]
    They are not evil, they are immoral. (none / 0) (#192)
    by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 02:18:31 AM EST

    I agree that corporations are not actively evil. They do not deliberately set out to kill people for the perverse pleasure of their shareholders. They are just completely immoral and would happily kill people if it improves profits for the shareholders and they can get away with it. Is that a big improvement?

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

    Garbage! Cheap wins over moral. (none / 0) (#191)
    by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 02:13:31 AM EST

    This bogus argument is easy to demolish. It does not hold because the concentrated moral responsibility of the one rogue company becomes a weak, diffuse responsibility for its customers.

    Suppose a clothes company uses slave workers abroad. Their products are much cheaper as a result. Although consumers have heard stories about slave workers, they prefer cheap clothes and a very diffuse, tentative responsibility, to expensive clothes.

    I think consumers would prefer no slave labour and more expensive clothes, so long as everyone else is in the same boat, ie. no one else is allowed to buy slave-made clothes and have a relative advantage. This is why governments ban slave labour within their jurisdiction

    The original argument is a sophism. The case that works is where the victim and the consumer are the same. People do indeed stop buying from fradulent suppliers. The case where the injustice is towards third parties, or is hard to prove, is not cevered.

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

    Capitalism & Communism (3.20 / 10) (#67)
    by Jebediah on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:32:32 AM EST

    To my mind capitalism is just like communism. It is a great idea if everything works right, which it never does.

    There is a great Capitalism FAQ here that can tell you more than I ever could here:
    http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~shadab/

    America is IMO falling (3.66 / 9) (#68)
    by hany on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:52:25 AM EST

    There is a very simple reason that America is the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation. It is because it is the most business friendly. It was even discovered by companies - Columbus didn't come to the Americas in the spirit of exploration, after all. He came to make a quick buck.

    I think that while America is still at the top of the world, it is falling. And that it is falling just because of it being (too much) business friendly.

    Why?

    1. Giving corporations rights of persons without requiring same responsibility (as people have) from them is dangerous (for people).
    2. Making interests/rights of corporations more important than rights of people/individuals is also dangerous (for people).
    3. Punishing corporations for murder other way than pepole is dangerous (I did not hear of any corporation which causes murder to be executed). Same with other actions against law.

    All that because corporations has officialy only one purpose: make a lot of money and care only about that. And also because corporations are immortal - they are not dying naturaly as people.

    Do we want to be the planet of corporations (where a lot of people are slaves/machines/...) or we want to be planet of people?


    hany


    Re: America is Falling (3.00 / 2) (#108)
    by AArthur on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:11:43 PM EST

    "Giving corporations rights of persons without requiring same responsibility (as people have) from them is dangerous (for people)."

    Corporations aren't people -- they are simply groups that have been offically registered with the state they are run in. That said, the people who are in charge still are responsible for what happens -- if Johnny fails to follow a safety proceedure, he can be jailed for involuntary murder or the alike.

    "Making interests/rights of corporations more important than rights of people/individuals is also dangerous (for people)."

    Remember, a coporation is just a group. So giving a group more rights then another is a bad thing. All indivuals should have equal rights, at least as far as the gov't goes. Also, it should be noted, what is good for a single group of people, also benfits the majority (the civil rights movement of the '60s also benfited many people besides blacks -- it helped get many new leaders in office, it boosted the economy by giving a larger workforce, and made us more productive, not focusing on silly little issues".

    "Punishing corporations for murder other way than pepole is dangerous (I did not hear of any corporation which causes murder to be executed). Same with other actions against law."

    That's like saying, let's punish a group for murder. Groupings don't kill. People's irresponsiblity does.

    Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
    [ Parent ]

    "how it is" vs. "how it should be&q (none / 0) (#205)
    by hany on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:10:47 AM EST

    You wrote how it should be with corporations. Thank you.

    I'm quite young (24) and I was not in existence when capitalism and corporations were "invented" so maybe that's the reason why I think it is not that way nowdays.


    hany


    [ Parent ]
    Ideologies.. (3.45 / 11) (#76)
    by teferi on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:13:35 AM EST

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's the opposite."

    Given our current capabilities, under ANY social/political/economic system, SOMEONE's still going to be getting the shaft.


    The nub of the issue (3.92 / 13) (#77)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:25:05 AM EST

    I was doing some research on this topic, looking for some information on the wages payed in the factories in the developing world where Nike and co have their manufacturing done, and I came across a discussion of the question "What else would these people be doing ?" with reference to the workers in these places. Some of it is worth quoting:

    "What else would those people be doing?" I have been asked this question so many times. It has almost become the litmus test for whether or not what we are doing here has any meaning. I know that there are a few people who ask the question with genuine concern for the workers. "If they weren't doing this, would they be able to survive? Would they be OK? I'd be worried about them."

    Then there are the majority of people that ask the question, "What would those people be doing?". These are the people who want to feel OK about actively or passively contributing to the horror that is the workers' daily reality....

    To be very honest, I do not know what the workers would be doing if they weren't working for Nike....

    What else would they be doing? Once again, I'm not sure. Do I have to be? ...

    I think the author is right that this question is a litmus test of whether or not the actions of those protesting about working conditions in the developing world are responsible or not. I don't agree with thim that most of us who ask it "want to feel OK about contributing to the horror..." The question is, in fact, very important. Though it is to the author's credit that he admits his does not know the answer, it is actually given elsewhere on the same website at in an interview with a group of the workers. See question five:

    5. What job could/would you do if you weren't working at the factory?

    They would look for work at another factory.

    The interview also makes it quite clear that what these workers are being payed is not anything close to being able to support the kind of lifestyle we, or the workers, would think of as comfortable. Most of them are in debt. They have to borrow more money to buy food or visit the doctor.

    The conclusion from this is pretty clear: although the circumstances in which these people are working are awful - essentially the same as those in industrial revolution Europe and America - they have no real chance of getting anything better.

    As far as I can tell, everyone properly informed and without a specific axe to grind agrees about these facts. Indeed even Nike accept many of the accusations levelled at at least one of their subcontractors.

    The difference comes not in the facts, but in the way people feel about this situation. On the one hand many people, including the author of the article I quoted earlier, feel that even if these circumstances are inevitable in the developing world, it is unacceptable for us to take advantage of it for the manufacture of luxury goods. On the other, many others feel that since, in fact, most of these workers are doing better than they would be otherwise (even though, in absolute terms, their conditions are very poor) the situation - while it must, and probably will, eventually change - is not in itself unjust (although some of the accuastions sometimes levelled - of slave labour, for instance - most certainly would be if substantiated).

    This basically emotional judgement seems to be at the heart of why this is such a controversial subject. All the other rhetoric - ranting about colonialism or patronising white college kids - is just icing on the cake.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate

    What else? (3.00 / 1) (#103)
    by hardburn on Fri May 04, 2001 at 01:46:16 PM EST

    What else would they be doing?

    I don't know. What were they doing for the few thousand years before this globalization sillyness came about?


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    [ Parent ]
    Do you seriously believe ... (none / 0) (#187)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 07:18:23 PM EST

    .. that the people in these countries have been doing the same thing for a few thousand years ? In that case I reckon you should get a clue. You're a classic example of western arrogance.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    No . . . (none / 0) (#206)
    by hardburn on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:51:35 AM EST

    that the people in these countries have been doing the same thing for a few thousand years ?

    I know they had to be doing something in all that time.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    [ Parent ]
    Slave Labor (3.50 / 2) (#107)
    by jonnyfantastik on Fri May 04, 2001 at 02:10:04 PM EST

    It's very interesting that you find nothing wrong with working for 75c an hour, but working for 0c an hour is inherently wrong, a fundamental evil, slave labor. Worse, you yourself acknowledge that these people are constantly in debt... if they did not work they would lose their freedom... hrm. I might be crazy, but this sounds a lot like slave labor to me.

    Also, people really need to wake up to what development means. Really. Let's be realistic. Is the only way to develop a country to plant down a factory in it and enlist, en masse, entire villages to populate it? If I remember correctly, there was no Nike Corp back in the 1600's when America was being developed. It might just be possible that there are other ways to develop a country by, oh I don't know, lending it money and encouraging self-development.

    This is actually one of the more interesting logic flaws in pro-globalization debate. Rather than arguing that globalization is fundamentally good, it is seen to be 'inevitable' or 'worth it'. If these people weren't being employed by this factory they'd either be 1) dead 2) starving to death or 3) working in another factory. I find all of these difficult to believe. If you really were so concerned about the lives and times of rural India you might ask yourself ... what happened before the Nike factory?

    Really, if you're going to defend globalization do not cop out. Do not take the cliche path, "it's bad, but it's the best we've got/the only way." You must prove that globalization is good a priori that is, provide numbers which, when viewed in a rational context, show that there is an undeniable increase in the quality of life. These people now have access to doctors? Well, is that good if they have to stop eating in order to go to doctors? Are these people provided any sort of education? Does Nike offer these people any sort of opportunity to rise above the factory?

    People keep missing the point so I feel the need to say it again: globalization, the theory, can be justified, but not on economic reasons. I await for that brave soul to come out and say it.

    [ Parent ]

    You're reading more than I wrote (3.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:14:39 PM EST

    It is amazing that when you try to be balanced, people seem only to read the part of what you write that they disagree with, but we do seem to have one genuine point of disagreement. The difference between slave labour and working for low wages is the ability to change employers, or to leave and start your own business. Lack of corporal punishment, also.

    On the to the things you read that I did not say: I did not say that employing people for 75c an hour was not wrong. I would not, for instance, do so myself. I said it was not in itself *unjust* to employ someone at low wages *if they would be worse off otherwise*. I did not - in fact - even endorse this position, I merely offered it as one of two alternative. As to debt, well, we're all in debt, are we not ? Their situation really differs from ours only in what they need to borrow money for.

    In answer to your question: no, plonking factories down in the developing world really has veyr little to do with development at all. Lending them money does no good either, since thats what the much hated IMF and World Bank have been trying to do for the last 50 years. The only way the developing world will ever actually develop is to do what the west eventually did: for their elites to allow their people full access to capital and the law. I tend to go along with the ideas outlined in Hernado de Soto's "The Mystery of Capital", in which he points out that if they had full ownership of their property, the population of the developing world would have access to 3 times as much capital as the west has leant to their governments since 1950.

    I'm not quite sure what to make of your claim that the defenders of globalisation much justify it on a priori grounds. In my view, nothing in the real world can ever be entirely justified a priori. However, on economic grounds, "globalisation" in the sense of giving everyone access to the world economy on equal terms, which is not entirely what is always meant by the term, but is the sense im which I supporrt it, can be justified quite easily just on the grounds of prima faci fairness.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    You're Getting There... (none / 0) (#124)
    by jonnyfantastik on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:48:45 PM EST

    Slowly but surely you're getting there Mr. Kinahan but you keep contradicting yourself and slipping.

    First off, do you honestly believe that these people have the ability to "the ability to change employers, or to leave and start [their] own business." And do you think, furthermore, that with their constant debt, they could afford to do anything but work at the factory?

    Second, again, you come so close and then back off. Nothing in the world can be known a priori you say and yet you justify globalization by saying it's okay "if they would be worse off otherwise." Well, how do you know they would be worse off otherwise? They survived before the factory... they'll survive after the factory. You need to give me a fundamentally true, empirically obvious declaration as to how they would be worse off. This must be as clear as "look, the sea is blue." This is what I mean by a priori.

    I have high hopes in you Mr. Kinahan, very high, I just need you to come out and state a few of the implicit assumptions you're making about quality of life, human destiny, and progress. Once these basic assumptions are out in the open this discussion can truly go somewhere.

    [ Parent ]

    Round we go again ... (none / 0) (#130)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:40:29 PM EST

    I seriously wouldn't get your hopes up of convincing me of anything unless you drop the patronising tone and actually start to present some thoughts of your own rather than getting me to do all the work. I have my own opinions and contrary to what you imply, they are not polarized on either "side" of this issue. Anyway, I see two serious points in dispute here.

    Firstly, you claim the workers in these factories are not free to leave. I'm not sure precisely whether you mean that they're being physically detained, or that there is no other employment that could sustain their standard of living. If the former, I've read a number of reports on these places and no of no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Indeed, the Verite report on a Nike plant in Mexico, and the nikewages site that I cited above imply that workers are routinely allowed to leave for (infrequent) holidays and leave. Do you know of any evidence to the contrary ? If you mean the latter, this does not contradict anything I have said.

    Secondly, on the connected point of whether or not people are better off working in these factories than they would be otherwise: I know this because they said so. Why else would someone say that they would go and work in another factory if their factory were not there ? Not only did they say it, but they said it to researchers from a campaign against Nike, who hardly have an interest in repeating the information. Read it again. I'm sure these people would survive without the factories, but its pretty clear they would be worse off. Is that really what you want ?

    And lets get one thing straight: I'm not trying to "justify globalization". My words are intended to mean precisely what they say, and not to support one ideological side or the other. I very much doubt you even mean the same thing I mean when you talk about globalisation.




    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Hrm (none / 0) (#146)
    by jonnyfantastik on Sat May 05, 2001 at 12:47:21 AM EST

    I'm terribly sorry if I sounded patronizing. It can just be particularly frustrating in a debate where responses take hours to form. Anyways, more importantly...

    Why do you keep back tracking?

    Now you say " And lets get one thing straight: I'm not trying to "justify globalization". " But before you said:

    • "I said it was not in itself *unjust* to employ someone at low wages *if they would be worse off otherwise*."
    • The conclusion from this is pretty clear: although the circumstances in which these people are working are awful - essentially the same as those in industrial revolution Europe and America - they have no real chance of getting anything better.
    • However, on economic grounds, "globalisation" in the sense of giving everyone access to the world economy on equal terms, which is not entirely what is always meant by the term, but is the sense im which I supporrt it, can be justified quite easily just on the grounds of prima faci fairness.
    • (although some of the accuastions sometimes levelled - of slave labour, for instance - most certainly would be if substantiated).
    All of the statements above suggest that globalization is "not ... unjust" or could be "jusitified" on grounds of "fairness." Or it can be justified because these people would be worser off. It seems you very much are trying to justify globalization. And that's fine. Most interesting of all is that slave labor comment because you declare that paying someone very little is okay, but paying them nothing? That's clearly a crime. That is if these factories were not paying these workers it would be slave labor and therefore wrong.

    What I am really interested in is your assumption that material wealth is fundamentally good, that it can be justified from itself. This is displayed most prominently in your declaration that slave labor is wrong but if they're being paid, even a pitifully small amount, the presence of material wealth somehow rehabilitates globalization. This is the crux of what I am confused about. Do you believe that a slave cannot be paid? Do you believe that there is a fundamental right for humans to have access to wealth, for people's quality of life to improve? Is this what you mean when globalization is "prima faci fair[]"? I am not trying to pigeonhole onto one side of the debate, I'm simply trying to understand the assumptions you are making. If wealth is fundamentally good (and therefore the fact that the factory gives the workers more wealth than they would have had makes the factory fundamentally good) why is it fundamentally good? If people possess some sort of natural right to economic prosperity and access, or, if all people possess a natural right to the same level of economic prosperity and access, why is this so? Most importantly if, without these factories, these people have "no real chance of getting anything better," what is the something better that the factories offer?

    On a side note, your assertion that the workers want to work for the factory is really not that simple. It is not difficult to imagine scenarios where the presence of a factory not only disrupts the the local economy but subsumes it, meaning all other ventures become secondary to it. It is also not difficult to imagine a scenario where the presence of a factory drives up the cost of living to the point where only by working at the factory and recieving that wage will a person have the money (both amount and currency) to purchase food at the market. The real question here is what would be going on if the factory were not there at all or what would be going on if the factory paid them twice as much as it does. That is, what is the opportunity cost, what is being given up, by going along with the current situation?

    [ Parent ]

    One word, several meanings (none / 0) (#166)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 09:19:01 AM EST

    The reason I don't want to be taken as justifying globalisation is that the word has come to mean a number of different things, even to the same person. Where you think I'm backtracking, I suspect you are taking my words to be heading in some ideological direction where they're not going because of confusion as to the meaning of this word. I've ranted about this elsewhere, and won't repeat myself here.

    To make my position clear; I support globalisation in the sense of allowing everyone in the world to own property, and to trade, and ideally to live, in all jurisdictions. On ordinary liberal assumptions that seems to be a prima faecie good, not because it makes people rich, though it does that, but because it gives them more choice. I've no real interest in justifyinng that "a priori" now, as it would take an amazingly long time, and you can get the same material by reading 18th century political philosophy. I'm happy to moderate that ideal on grounds of other considerations, including political reality, but it seems likely to lead to an increase in wellbeing (see below) for everyone. I support the trade treaties that upset everyone so much, with some uncertainty and in spite of their flaws, because they are step in the right direction, and, in spite of my constantly being told it exists, I have found no solid evidence that they are responsible for more harm than good.

    As to the activities of Nike and so forth in the developing world; you seem to consider this in itself to be either all, or a major part, of the phenomenon of globalisation. I don't accept that view myself, so this is probably where you're seeing me as arguing for something I'm not trying to support. Certainly these activities are a consequence of globalisation, but they are only one small part. I haven't seen what is going on myself - I (and I suspect, you) know only what I read on these matters. On that ground, I am deeply reluctant to claim what they are doing is wrong, or to claim that it is unqualifiedly OK. I am happy to say it is "fair" or "just", in the narrow sense of being in accord with commonly accepted ideals of law, simply because I believe - again from what I've read - that if they were not there, or if they left, the personal circumstances of their workers would get worse, and from that I deduce that the workers have accepted the situation as the best of a bad array of choices. I stress again that I am very much in favour of anything that expands that array of choices, and many such things need to be done.

    In your last paragraph, you raise a number of interesting hypotheticals regarding possible harms that could be being done. In response, I ask you to lay out evidence of your own, or references, to indicate that any of these things are actually happening. In the absence of such evidence, I'll continue to believe what I do on the basis of the evidence I have managed to find myself.

    Now, on to what you, rightly, say is a central issue: the status of material wealth. To my mind the central thing people in developing countries need is not wealth, but enhanced personal freedom, in the positive sense. That has a great many aspects: they need land reform, access to medical care, education, access to the law and so on. However, wealth helps greatly in getting many of these things. Its not either necessary (see Kerala), or sufficient (see China), but it clearly does help. I don't believe in natural rights, but I do believe that we are all better off if everyone has the opportunity to do what they can for themselves, and a critical element of that is that they have the freedom to make their own decisions.

    It is on the grounds of freedom, not of material wealth for its own sake, that I am reluctant to condemn Nike and its ilk: if people choose to work in these factories, they clearly have reasons for doing so, and they understand those reasons much better than I ever will, so while I'm not going to just leave them to it, I'm also not going to say that Nike is wrong to let its subcontractors employ them. While I fully support what is done to help the workers improve their conditions, I believe the utmost caution must be exercised in utilising outside pressure to these ends, as in many recorded cases it has made a bad situation worse.

    On an aside: you seem to be confusing the issue of slavery. Slavery is not defined by low wages, it is defined by physical captivity. If you look at the circumstances of slaves in the antebellum American south, most of them were materially better off than many free negros, but would you ever exchange one position for the other ? Thought not. With regard to wages, I'll repeat the point I've made elsewhere, that in fact many of these workers are being payed better than qualified professionals in their countries.


    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    What Else: Diffusion of responsibility (5.00 / 1) (#190)
    by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 01:52:27 AM EST

    I agree that the "What Else?" question is the key to this issue. A short analysis reveals that the problem is diffusion of responsibility, and that raises interesting moral questions.

    If the workers are being paid 75c an hour and are not captive, ie. slaves by the strict definition, this means they would be worse off otherwise. They could work in another factory for 70c and hour, or in a field for 10c and hour, or beg for 0c. So far the argument appears to favor the factory.

    But then, why are the available options so poor in the area around the factory? Is it conceivable that the factory, however indirectly, might have contributed to this? After all, it is patently in the interest of the factory to maintain that situation, so one should at least entertain such suspicions. If a link were found, at what point should it be considered direct enough to merit moral or practical resistance?

    One cannot make a proving argument about this topic without a vast amount of detailed and incontrovertible historical and statistical facts. I will not pretend to. I will only attempt to offer some, I hope, convincing illustrations for why such a vicious link between western "investment" and third world poverty exists, in my opinion. Please excuse the simplistic examples used for illustration.

    What else might the workers be doing? Well, some might be farmers. But first, there is very little land available because 150 years ago western colonists came with guns and called large areas "theirs". 100 years ago the westerners ceded power to an indigenous government, but not before their property rights were "protected". 50 years ago, the corrupt govermnent sold more land cheaply to factories, while letting them destroy yet more agricultural land through pollution. There are no political parties that promise land reform and the farmers are not capable of staging a revolution.

    Then, the farmer cannot afford western machinery, so they have to plow using oxen. Unfortunately, oxen are very expensive because there is a meat export plant that outbids the farmer. What the farmer does manage to produce by hand they could sell to a trading company for export. The trading company, knowing that the farmer has no choice, offers about 1/10th of the world market price. The farmer utterly lacks the capital or the education to start a modern export company.

    The money is not enough for the farmer to buy western clothes or a western style house. It used to be possible to barter grain with the weaver, but the weaver does not have cotton because the T-shirt factory has bought most of the cotton fields and outbids the weaver for the rest. The farmer and the weaver go off to search for a cotton farmer poor enough that they can pay in grain and clothing. The cotton farmer needs new tools, so the three go off to find a carpenter and a smith. It seems hardly possible to revert to a bartering economy.

    As for the mud-brick house builder, previously they might have been happy to bulid for food, but they were slighlty luckier than the other villagers so they got a labourer job with a construction company and went away. The wages are very poor, but they do pay in cash, which means that the labourer can barely send a child to school, in the hope that one day they will grow up to be a low ranking civil servant. Owing to corruption, the bloated bureaucracy of the government forms a relative elite.

    When the construction workers went on strike, the police beat them up and then they were fired. The ex bricklayer went to a city where they do casual work and occasional petty crime. They spend the money on imported alcohol and their time watching western movies on a TV that a friend owns. They do this beacuse all but the oldest and poorest people have left the original village and there's no one to go back and sing around the fire with. The original social structure that created entertainment and meaning is gone, and the dispersed slum city dwellers are struggling to create another. This was the last of my pastoral illustrations, you can stop cringing now.

    Clearly, the specific factory is not directly responsible for all these ills. Or is it? Might it be financed by assets obtained illegelly such as colonial estates? Could it be blocking or polluting farmland? Could it be part of a conglomerate that also owns the meat plant and the trading company and behaves anti-competitively? Is it possible that they bribe the government so that the police beat their workers too, and government accumulates graft? Could it also have lured workers from nearby villages and then unfairly dismissed them?

    First, since the labour situation is obviously very bad, any hint of a direct linkage should be investigated with very exacting standards, as I'm sure we would like it to be the case in the west. Then, even if there is no direct linkage at all, is that state of affairs moral?

    I reckon that, even though it is other agents that take away the factory worker's options, such as colonialism, lack of capital, imperfect access to the market, economic failure, corruption, government oppression, and cultural decay, this does not silence moral questions. It shows that the responsibility for these ills does not rest with the one factory but is very diffuse. Diffuse responsibility is not diminished, especially when a lot of it falls onto western heads.

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

    You're on the right track, go on. (none / 0) (#193)
    by nymia_g on Sun May 06, 2001 at 03:04:54 AM EST

    You're correct about the factory and the environment the workers are in. More often, the owners of the factory are the ones who has political and economic influence as well. Resulting to the creation of an elite group capable of monopolizing other businesses.

    That is why I am for investors or employers who are agressively independent that will play the role of a competitor. And one who will employ workers based on moral values.

    [ Parent ]
    You make an excellent point, sir (none / 0) (#196)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sun May 06, 2001 at 11:13:01 AM EST

    It is indeed undeniable that a lot of responsiblity for the ills of these countries falls on western heads. Although not all your hypotheticals apply in all places, at least some certainly do apply in most, and this is certainly a problem for the wellbeing of the people in these countries.

    The question that then bothers me is: what can be done ? As I've said elsewhere, I think trying to change buying patterns, or trade rules in order to make these factories non-viable for their owners is impractical. By your reasoning - with which I generally concur - quite a lot of the damage is already done, indeed was done 100 years ago, so closing the factories would result only in greater deprivation for many people. Along with the general reform programs - including land reform - that many developing countries need, the only thing I can suggest is that as much help as possible be given to trade unions trying to organise in these places, and that Nike and co be encouraged to persuade their *existing* suppliers to tolerate them, rather than switching suppliers for ethical reasons as they do for price reasons, which is geenerally just as destructive.

    nymia_g's point about encouraging local, ethical competitors is also a good one, though such competitors would almost certainly have to be vertically integrated in order to survive, with their own brands and marketing. If they acted merely as contractors the price pressure would likely drive them out of business. There are good precedents for this kind of thing in the history of western industry, incedentally, where 19th century Victorian factory owners who treated their workers well typically outcompeted those who used practices like those currently in use in the developing world.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Freedom vs. comfort, unfortunately (none / 0) (#197)
    by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 01:33:56 PM EST

    Thank you. I agree that the question then becomes "What can be done". I agree with all of your suggestions and can't offer much better specific suggestions. I have, however two general suggestions:

  • Western economic zones, such as the EU or the USA, could themselves establish mandatory labour, environmental, and safety standards for their plants abroad. For example a European law could force a French company to respect unions and pay a certain minimum wage in India. 
  • Segments of the local market could be protected. For example, domestic food farming could receive state subsidies and export farming could be taxed. Capital influx could be regulated and capital flight taxed.

    Now, both of these suggestions are offensive because they curb freedom. They curb not only the freedom of corporations to operate (which I'm not too bothered with, nor am I convinced by arguments that restrictions will ruin the economy) but also the freedom of the individual in the developing countries.

    For example, unions and minimum wage clearly offend the freedom of someone to work for less if they need to. Subsidies and levies certainly curb the buying power of a (wealthy) individual consumer. Why do I have to buy this boring domestic fruit? Sorry the imported fruit is too highly taxed.

    It seems to me that, if the economic situation is extremely bad, then curbing freedom in order to raise protective barriers in the labour or commodities market would at least improve overall comfort. I am offended by the restriction on freedom but I'm not arguing the matter from a purely ideological viewpoint at present.

    When the economic situation is good and the trading parties more or less equal, the barriers should be lowered or demolished. For example this makes sense between European Union countries. The operative question is: Why is the west imposing globalization on the third world now, when the economic conditions are in many places severe and the parties are very unequal?

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

  • No, they'd contract the work out to locals (none / 0) (#224)
    by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 01:26:38 PM EST

    Western economic zones, such as the EU or the USA, could themselves establish mandatory labour, environmental, and safety standards for their plants abroad. For example a European law could force a French company to respect unions and pay a certain minimum wage in India

    First, many countries have laws requiring local ownership of business ventures (I know that Mexico was very strict about requiring majority ownership of all business ventures by Mexican nationals in the past - don't know about recently). Secondly, the multinational could contract the work from a "local" corporation to avoid the wage requirements you suggest.

    Corporations are very good at hacking "the system" - it is where they live after all.

    [ Parent ]

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. (4.18 / 16) (#82)
    by Remus Shepherd on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:50:36 AM EST

    Globalisation increases the poverty gap between the rich of the world and the poor.

    The very idea is flawed. Why should globalisation increase poverty? Presumably through 'exploiting' the Third World.

    Wrong. Corporate domination of any society causes an increase in poverty because the poor are enticed into buying things they do not need, and because corporations become price-inflating monopolies when left unchecked. The poverty gap in *America* has increased in the last few decades. Yes, it's a relative scale, but that makes it no less important. Inflation affects prices based upon the median consumer, so the poor's purchasing power decreases in an absolute sense, even if their absolute wealth remains the same. If the people in Mississippi cannot afford food, they are too poor, and no argument that they have more net wealth than 20 years ago matters!

    However, multinational companies (to which we will return), are fundamentally moral organisations, in the sense that they are based on fair tenets. No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company.

    Wrong. The alternative to working for a company that dominates your region might be to not work at all, or to work at a greatly reduced wage. In rural India, you might have the choice between working at the General Dynamics chemical plant or stripping rice in a field.

    And modern history is rife with examples of people being forced to buy from companies. Until recent years computer owners could not avoid buying software from Microsoft. Utilities have limited monopolies in their areas, so people who want water, internet, or electricity must buy from them -- and utilities are consolidating into multinational corporations.

    I won't go into your assertation that corporations are by nature moral organizations. I just don't think I could discuss such a naive viewpoint with a straight face. <:) <p> Cultural reasons. The argument here is that globalisation is destroying indigenous cultures, and spreading the Anglo Saxon worldview to all corners of the globe. Unfortunately, like so many antiglobalisation arguments, this is very patronising indeed. To subscribe to this view, one must be in the grand Victorian tradition of patronage towards 'native peoples'. These poor, noble savages are of course incapable of thinking for themselves, and must be protected from our big bad third world ways. I would argue that it is entirely up to these native people what they do in this regard. I myself am from the North of Scotland. The language spoken in my village was Scottish Gaelic, a dieing language that has only some 80,000 speakers. Whilst this is a shame, I would have been extremely annoyed as a young man if a bunch of Londoners had marched into town and ordered that I not learn English and that I not buy anything not locally produced, and that I marry a local girl and live a very picturesque and touristy life devoid of possibilities in order to salvage their guilt.

    Wrong. You are completely misrepresenting the effects of globalization on cultural uniqueness. Here's another example from Scotland for you: McDonald's corporation and Clan McDonald are battling it out in court to see who has rights to the name 'McDonald'. The corporation wants to prevent any businesses from using that name. How would you feel if a corporation told you that you could not use your name in public?

    Instead of forcing you to marry a local girl and live in your home town, what if someone kidnapped you as a child and forced you to learn the queen's english and live in London? Similar things happened in Australia, where thousands of aborigene children (known as 'The Lost Generation') were taken away from their homes and never saw their families again. All because certain aussies wanted to make sure the native people had a chance to be in a progressive culture. Not corporate-caused, but a good illustration of a nightmare scenario of cultural contagion.

    There are other examples, many of them caused by corporations. Fast food companies are destroying the rainforests to create cattle pasture -- they can do it because they have the funds to buy up as much land in the amazon as they wish. American chemical producers build plants in Mexico, because there they are allowed to expose their workers to toxins that rot their teeth and kill them within a couple decades. Corporations get away with what they can, and those with a global reach can find places where human rights are overlooked to the extent that they can make a profit from the destruction of human beings or their cultural assets.

    But the main point you are missing is that people want a CHOICE about whether or not to retain their culture. Multinational corporations are trying to take that choice away from us, by foisting on us their preferred products and culture. The global marketplace is *not* democratic -- it is oppressive, because it forces everyone to be a consumer, and specifically a consumer of globally marketable products. Not everyone wishes to be forced into that kind of behaviour, and I applaud those who protest the bland globalization of our world.


    ...
    Remus Shepherd <remus@panix.com>
    Creator and holder of many Indefensible Positions.

    Dead Left (2.00 / 6) (#101)
    by ubu on Fri May 04, 2001 at 01:45:04 PM EST

    Wrong. Corporate domination of any society causes an increase in poverty because the poor are enticed into buying things they do not need, and because corporations become price-inflating monopolies when left unchecked.

    This is really the crux of Left policymaking: people cannot be left to make their own decisions. Poverty, apparently, is caused by people actually doing what they want to do... and the Left wants to stop it. This is why the "intellectual Left" died when their last "theoretical advance" was disproved with the collapse of worldwide Communism. The Left has been reduced to carnival barkers whipping up crowds to go out on crusades like villagers with torches and pitchforks. Harold Hill is the mascot of post-modern Leftism.

    But the main point you are missing is that people want a CHOICE about whether or not to retain their culture.

    Nobody's missing that. But what you are missing is that the complainers are only complaining about people who have CHOSEN NOT to retain their culture in some aspect. You and your fellow Crusaders seem to have ignored the fact that Frenchmen line up in droves at McDonald's, by CHOICE. The only people who have a problem with that are people who want to dictate the behavior of others. Oh, that would be you!

    Ubu


    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    Sweatshops (1.00 / 36) (#83)
    by gisano on Fri May 04, 2001 at 09:51:54 AM EST

    In my country they make me work in a sweatshop where big men stomp on my head to generate electricity for the sewing machines for Nike. I get paid 1500 ruples a month, which is equal to $0.00000003 dollars. Since we do not have food, I have to steal leather from the shoes to feed my mother and sister. On days that I am lucky, I sometimes find a dead roach or spider to eat. I am ashamed, but the last scorpion I found I ate by myself without sharing it with my family. One day when we were lucky, my brother brought home a rat he found that had been run over by the army with the tanks they use to trample my people under their treads. We ate the rat and were full for a week. Such a feast! I am in America now, where I can eat rats every day! The bad thing is that in America nobody can sleep because Inoshiro tries to rape all of our butts. Inoshiro tried to rape my butt.
    HELP! I AM BEING OPPRESSED!
    Debate this! (3.84 / 13) (#85)
    by hardburn on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:36:31 AM EST

    For years, capitalists have been a silent majority. They stood by as communism spread around the world . . .

    Riiiggghtt. McCarthyism was just standing by and letting communism spread. A huge Nuclear build up to close the "missle gap" (which was actualy totaly fabricated by both sides) was just standing by and letting communism spread. Getting involved in bloody civil wars in Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, and even Russia itself was just standing by and letting communism spread. For being such active people, capitalists sure do a lot of standing around doing nothing.

    It doesn't take into account the 5-fold increase in the world's wealth over the same period. It doesn't sound quite so good when one says that the world's poor have seen their wealth triple in the last 40 years.

    Five fold increase in the world's wealth is due to inflation. We may have five times as much money, but things cost five times as much. If the poor's money only tripled in the last 40 years, they're actualy getting poorer.

    No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company.

    OK, who can I buy shoes from besides Nike, a large multinational corperation? I can go to Rebok . . . Oh wait, they're also a large multinational. Britsh Knights? Nope, same thing. Addios? Still large and multinational.

    Sure, I am not forced to buy from any one large, multinational corperation. I can choose from any number of large, multinational corperations.

    Furthermore, a multinational can afford to put their marketing slogans everywhere. While I do try to find an alternative place to get shoes (or I just wear the same old Nikes for years and years instead of a new pair every three months). However, most people are going to go into Foot Locker (or wherever else people buy shoes) and remeber "Just Do It" and pick up the first pair of Nikes they see. Smaller alternative shoe makers don't have the same abilities. This, the ability to flash advertising everywhere, is an important and fundemental diffrence.

    The case here is that the marketplace and capitalism are irrational and chaotic, and are damaging as a result.

    Actualy, I belive this is one thing capitalism has going for it. I'm something of an armchair chaos theorist. The fact that capitalism is chaotic is it's best thing it has going for it.

    These poor, noble savages are of course incapable of thinking for themselves, and must be protected from our big bad third world ways. I would argue that it is entirely up to these native people what they do in this regard.

    Yes, we all know that the Western World has such a great history of just leaving indiginous peoples be when they don't want their ways changed. While there are some examples of non-Western nations who are quite proud to now have a Western background (the Phillipines comes to mind; they fought off the Jappanees in WWII because they liked their Western ways), many would rather be left alone.

    Is the profit motive immoral?

    When it becomes an overwellming concern, absolutely yes. People need to learn that money is how we buy things we need to survive, not how we buy every indulgence that comes to our mind. In this light, I doubt a money-economy is really the best system. I admit I am at a loss of ideas on how to make a better system, but I'm fairly sure a money-economy doesn't work out the best for everyone.

    The main problem with capitalism is that it allows for people to make all the money they can, but recognizes that there are other ideals that would be better off for humanity. Thus, it hopes that people who have the money will then "trikle it down" to those who need it. It hopes that these two opposing ideals can be brought together. That, I belive, is it's major flaw, because it doesn't take into account of how people's minds can be manipulated (or outright controled) through propaganda.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    Dear me (4.50 / 2) (#93)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:27:41 AM EST

    The level of understanding of even very basic economics in some posts is attrocious. For instance:

    Five fold increase in the world's wealth is due to inflation. We may have five times as much money, but things cost five times as much. If the poor's money only tripled in the last 40 years, they're actualy getting poorer.

    Estimates of GDP growth (or GWP growth in this case) are routinely adjusted for inflation. Fivefold growth in GDP really does mean a fivefold increase in the value of the stuff being bought and sold every year. GDP figures are debatable on any number of grounds, but this is not one of them.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    OT (none / 0) (#176)
    by hardburn on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:03:47 PM EST

    You know what the diffrence between Grammer Nazis and real Nazis is? Someday, Grammer Nazis will be the ones rounded up and put in concentration camps.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    [ Parent ]
    heh (none / 0) (#179)
    by hardburn on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:17:15 PM EST

    Hmmm, looks like I replyed to the wrong comment. Sorry, I was aiming for a grammer nazi in another thread and got confused.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    [ Parent ]
    Thats OK (none / 0) (#180)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:35:29 PM EST

    I'm not a grammar Nazi, I'm an economics Nazi :)

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    a little bit of MLP (3.60 / 10) (#91)
    by yannick on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:20:28 AM EST

    The Economist ran an article on globalisation back in September. Among other things, it discusses the lack of what it calls "intellectual resistance" to the increasingly 'vocal' (ahem) left-wing opponents of globalisation and capitalism.

    Cheers,
    Yannick
    ---
    Pretend that this sig contains something deep, witty and profound.

    They also (4.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:37:59 AM EST

    Ran this article, commenting on a paper by Robert Wade in the same issue which found that not only did the income gap between rich and poor widen faster than expected between 1988 and 1993, but also that absolute, rather than relative, poverty may have increased in that timeframe. If so, this is a substantial matter for concern.

    The actual paper is also there, but is accessible by subscribers only.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    Ecomonist article devoid of reasoning, facts (3.00 / 1) (#204)
    by pavlos on Sun May 06, 2001 at 11:37:22 PM EST

    The Economist article mentioned by yannick says basically this: Protesters are correct that globalization can be stopped and governments have begun to listen to them. However, protesters are deluded or irrational because globalization is good.

    Well, it is good news that the Economist thinks globalization could be stopped and the protests are having some effect. But otherwise the article does not provide any facts or arguments, however basic, to support its case. It just states that globalization is good for the poor. As simple as that. No need to explain is there?

    Much as we sometimes disparage one another's comments in this forum, I think the Economist's failure to put forward a single argument, or even a reference to such arguments, is striking by comparison.

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

    Not quite a rebuttal (3.60 / 5) (#100)
    by niku on Fri May 04, 2001 at 01:05:46 PM EST

    In your first point about the paverty gap, you mention that the "wealth" of third world countries has tripled. This does not really mean very much to me with out better a better definition of the word wealth. There are many varing factors involved in the purchasing power of someone in a third world country, most of which, I know nothing about. I would be interested hearing how many big macs someone could buy in a third world country 40 years ago as compared to today.
    See Big mac index to see more on this type of comparison.

    I basically agree with your second and third points. I do not however, agree completly with your beleif that a corporation is entirely a good thing. IMHO:

      1. Corps. should not be able to donate money to polotitians, or political parties.
      2. Patents and copyrights should have a more limited duration for corperations, as opposed to humans.

    I would like to hear of any info on the rel. value of someone's "wealth" if more information is available, and understandavle to the mathmatically challenged. :)


    --
    Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
    http://nicholasbernstein.com
    Well ... (none / 0) (#186)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 07:15:56 PM EST

    You couldn't buy big macs in any third world countries 40 years ago. Possibly thats a sign of progress, possibly not :)

    Seriously though, GDP figures are routinely adjusted for exchange rates by using purchasing power parity rates, though probably not the big mac index. They're also ajusted for inflation. Though it is not a good idea to take GDP/head as a straightforward measure of prosperity, the reasons are usually to do with income distribution than measurement.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    Thank you (3.66 / 3) (#117)
    by jdtux on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:50:44 PM EST

    I was always wonderig what the big deal was about globalization, and here I get some of both sides. At least I have a better understanding now.

    One thing I can't stand, is the native americans asking to be <u>given</u> 125 lobster fishing licenses(which are around $130 000 CDN each). This is because of a 200 year old treaty. And they want to be able to fish however much they want now, with todays technology!

    Maybe I should do a story on this...

    Question for a Libertarian (4.60 / 5) (#120)
    by Lugh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:27:19 PM EST

    Okay, I've spent a little time looking over various pieces on Libertarian philosophy, and one thing I've never been clear on is how it is that the concentration of power in a government is bad, but the concentration of power in a market entity (such as a corporation) is reasonable. Or, to spin things another way, why is it that governments are full of very bad people who want to impose their will on others, but no one participating in a completly free market would ever dream of compelling to do something against their wishes (oh never) ;).
    Yes, there's some sarcasm there, but that's about the level of the logic that I've seen applied in these sorts of arguments before.
    To my mind, the concentration of power in any person/organization is something that should never be taken upon lightly, and never without at least a little thought of how it might be revoked if the entity that it's vested in becomes corrupted.
    Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
    Governments and Corporations (3.75 / 4) (#128)
    by sanity on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:05:03 PM EST

    I am not sure that I would describe myself as a libretarian, however I do think that government interference should be kept to a minimum. Most abuses by corporations are made possible because of government interference, not through the lack of it. A good example is the abuses of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by the Motion Picture Association of America in regard to the DeCSS case. Other good examples are the military-industrial complex which force a surprising percentage of people's TAX dollars to go straight into the pockets of the arms industry. One last example is the way that patent law is used by corporations to form monopolies so that they can overcharge the public (drug companies being a good and timely example of this).

    I don't advocate no government regulation, however I do think that it should be exercised much more judiciously than it is at present.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Governments and Corporations (4.00 / 1) (#137)
    by Lugh on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:41:25 PM EST

    Your points are well taken, but to my mind, this just proves my point. If corporations are willing to commit these sorts of abuses even when they're regulated, how are we supposed to believe that they will be less abusive when they are given free reign? The unfortunate truth is that many unscrupulous people seek power, and it dosen't really matter to them whether they achieve it through the government or the private sector. This, I think, is the flaw underlying most economic theories, the point that makes them so wonderful in a textbook but problematic in practice. They all assume that the world is populated entirely or mostly by intelligent, rational, principled people (the principles in question vary), when the sad fact is that it's not.
    Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Governments and Corporations (4.50 / 2) (#143)
    by sanity on Fri May 04, 2001 at 11:51:31 PM EST

    The point is that this regulation actively helped the corporations at the expense of the the public, not that the corporations were abusive despite the regulations.

    [ Parent ]
    libertarian philosophy. (4.50 / 2) (#135)
    by Shren on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:25:43 PM EST

    Okay, I've spent a little time looking over various pieces on Libertarian philosophy, and one thing I've never been clear on is how it is that the concentration of power in a government is bad, but the concentration of power in a market entity (such as a corporation) is reasonable. Or, to spin things another way, why is it that governments are full of very bad people who want to impose their will on others, but no one participating in a completly free market would ever dream of compelling to do something against their wishes (oh never) ;).

    Yes, there's some sarcasm there, but that's about the level of the logic that I've seen applied in these sorts of arguments before. To my mind, the concentration of power in any person/organization is something that should never be taken upon lightly, and never without at least a little thought of how it might be revoked if the entity that it's vested in becomes corrupted.

    The libertarian argument here is that a government forces it's relationship with you, while you can always destroy a corporation by convincing people not to use thier products.

    It's pretty strong on a theory level, but in the real world it's pretty much a load of hooey. Corporations will do anything to stay ahead. Those that restrain themselves to moral behavior go out of buisness because they can't compete. A corrupt corporation will try to remove another corporation from the market by any means possible. Nabisco is damn near the only boxed bulk cookie you'll see on most market shelves, and Nabisco worked pretty damn hard to get that. (Give me a Hydrox over an Oreo any day!) Microsoft.

    The problem here is not that the corporations are evil. It really does go back to the government. The government has so much to offer the corporation in the form of corrupt or biased laws and taxes that the corporation can't but help give them money. (Remember, the corporations that forego this advantage lose.) Through the corrupt laws, the corporations make more money, and can buy more corrupt laws. There is no government. There is no corporation. There is only the governmentcorporation. It is the combination of the entities that causes the problems, because they get stuck in an endless cycle of buying each other out.

    This is why I'm a Libertarian. This must be fixed before it's too late. We must take away what the government has to offer corporations, because otherwise they will keep selling it.

    [ Parent ]

    libertarian philosophy is an oxymoron (2.80 / 5) (#141)
    by eLuddite on Fri May 04, 2001 at 10:36:39 PM EST

    It's pretty strong on a theory level,

    No it isnt, not at all. Libertarianism is not a serious political philosophy because it does not stand up under the withering criticism of political philosophers. It is bullshit propagated by fat cats who are too stupid to appreciate their debt to society. Libertarians, also known as propertarians, cannot even reconcile their theory of property with their theory of ethics. People are unequal under Libertarianism according to the peculiar economic circumstances of their moment in history. It's as simple as that and dont let anyone tell you different.

    Libertarianism is the philosophy of patting oneself on the back.

    The libertarian argument here is that a government forces it's relationship with you, while you can always destroy a corporation by convincing people not to use thier products.

    Except that in a liberal democracy, citizen is the highest office of government. Everyone has votes, not everyone has shares. Even at this most fundamental level, Libertarianism is a crock.

    It really does go back to the government. The government has so much to offer the corporation in the form of corrupt or biased laws and taxes that the corporation can't but help give them money.

    Yeah, yeah, more mindless, conspiratorial, painfully vague drivel based on a complete lack of understanding of corporate law, zoning, financial policy, humanitarian relief - in short, a complete lack of understanding of every idea credited to humankind. If your point is to discredit errors in human judgement, tell us how libertarianism is immune to human beings. It isnt. At least government has the ability to intercede on behalf of the electorate when shit happens and inegalitarian decisions are taken.

    I will not rest till the last Libertarian left standing is trhurler.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    what rock did you crawl out from under? (3.66 / 3) (#154)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:58:28 AM EST

    No it isnt, not at all. Libertarianism is not a serious political philosophy because it does not stand up under the withering criticism of political philosophers.

    Political philosophers are famous for having agendas.

    It is bullshit propagated by fat cats who are too stupid to appreciate their debt to society.

    Society provides both Joe the moron and Einstein the same world to grow up in. Joe and Einstein thus owe the same debt to society. Either the debt is at a level that Joe can pay back, and Einstein paid it back with his first published paper (and can stop working now), or the debt is at Einstein's level, and Joe should be killed at birth because he'll never pay back the kind of debt Einstein can pay back.

    What? Don't like that? Sorry. The way I can walk from your premise to Joe's death is because, as Objectivists say constantly, words have exact meanings. You seem to be fond of "all people are created equal". Well, I'd imagine all debts are equal too.

    Simpler? I don't care to be your slave, and pay back the debt that you want to scale to my ability. Go fuck off now.

    Libertarians, also known as propertarians, cannot even reconcile their theory of property with their theory of ethics.

    Prove this assertion. Consistantly and in a non-inflamatory manner, state both the Libertarian theory of property and the Libertarian theory of ethics. Indicate the contradiction. (10 pts)

    People are unequal under Libertarianism according to the peculiar economic circumstances of their moment in history. It's as simple as that and dont let anyone tell you different.

    You have a governmental system you'd like to suggest that makes all people equal? Name one existing that a) hasn't collapsed and b) thier economy is in no way dependant on a capitalist government. Given the number of socialist governments across the world that take advantage of the scientific and technical gains fueled by capitalism, b) is a rather difficult proposition.

    Libertarianism is the philosophy of patting oneself on the back.

    If you say so...

    Except that in a liberal democracy, citizen is the highest office of government.

    Are you suggesting that we remove all elected positions? Or something else? What else is the last statement supposed to mean?

    Everyone has votes, not everyone has shares. Even at this most fundamental level, Libertarianism is a crock.

    I don't follow. Elaborate.

    Yeah, yeah, more mindless, conspiratorial, painfully vague drivel based on a complete lack of understanding of corporate law, zoning, financial policy, humanitarian relief - in short, a complete lack of understanding of every idea credited to humankind. If your point is to discredit errors in human judgement, tell us how libertarianism is immune to human beings. It isnt. At least government has the ability to intercede on behalf of the electorate when shit happens and inegalitarian decisions are taken.

    I never said anything about corporate law, zoning, financial policy, or humanitarian relief. I said that corporations give money to government, and the government gives laws to corporations. The corporations give money to campaigns, and in return they get all sorts of bennies like a tax rate well, well below what a citizen pays.

    I will not rest till the last Libertarian left standing is trhurler.

    Which side do you think you're scoring points for? Your post doesn't have very much to do with mine. Someone asked about some Libertarian theory and I answered. You don't even know for sure that I am a Libertarian. You bring up about five dozen things that have nothing to do with what I said, such as the definition of citizen, humanitarian policy and something about 'shares'.

    Your post opens with an appeal to authority ("they say it's wrong"), launches from there into an ad hominem by attacking people, dives briefly through an assertion with no evidence, breaks down into a bunch of sentances that I can't even really discern the point of, and finishes with another ad hominem personal attack. You proverbially shit into your hand and threw it at me. If there is a type of person who is converted to your liberal mindset by this kind of mindless vitrolic rant, you can have them. I really don't think the Libertarians want them.

    [ Parent ]

    Hi sparky (2.33 / 3) (#156)
    by eLuddite on Sat May 05, 2001 at 04:52:54 AM EST

    Nice flame. This must be your lucky day because I'm about to hit the sack and you do not merit the 10 wakeful minutes it would take to immolate you to a cinder.

    Let's make a deal. Take as long as you want to write and submit an article to the queue on either the Libertarian Theory of Property or the Libertarian Ethics of Selfishness is Altruism or the Libertarian Critique of Taxation and I'll reply at length, so help you I will.

    It's nice that you challenged my assertions - yes, they were as unsupported as your scathing rebuttal - but I have no intention of taking all of 5 seconds to explain up from down to you until I see evidence of your owm libertarian sophistication in your own libertarian words. Instead of adopting the usual Libertarian approach of telling us what is wrong with us, tell us what is right with you and why, in the absence of Libertopia, we should chuck everything and follow you into the promised fairyland. Have the courage of your convictions to suffer your detractors "with agendas," OK? I'll be there, promise I will.

    In the meantime, everyone else can satisfy themselves with the following links:

    Critiques of Libertarianism
    Criticisms of Objectivism
    My tips on arguing with clowns

    Political philosophers are famous for having agendas.

    Unlike LiberFairyContraryOpians! Your entire political philosophy is one big agenda, you doofus.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    more fallout (4.66 / 3) (#159)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:11:46 AM EST

    Nice flame. This must be your lucky day because I'm about to hit the sack and you do not merit the 10 wakeful minutes it would take to immolate you to a cinder.

    Bed. Good idea. That or more Deus Ex, say untill the sun rises.

    Let's make a deal. Take as long as you want to write and submit an article to the queue on either the Libertarian Theory of Property or the Libertarian Ethics of Selfishness is Altruism or the Libertarian Critique of Taxation and I'll reply at length, so help you I will.

    Actually, I'm not a Libertarian. I am definately not an Objectivist. (I mean, come on. Inherantly Dishonest Ideas? Can anyone really take Objectivism seriously out of the box?) I'm sort of fumbling my way towards some kind of consistant political belief. I've got my first tenant, though: "Variety in governments is just as important as variety in people." I offer up my own country to become more Libertarian because I think it's an experiment that needs to be tried, and that's why I vote that way.

    And I don't write stuff for K5. I generally put it on my own page. It's easier for everything to be a work in progress when you keep it on your own page. I like to change things when I find out they are wrong, and I try to make some effort to keep things up to date.

    It's nice that you challenged my assertions - yes, they were as unsupported as your scathing rebuttal - but I have no intention of taking all of 5 seconds to explain up from down to you until I see evidence of your owm libertarian sophistication in your own libertarian words. Instead of adopting the usual Libertarian approach of telling us what is wrong with us, tell us what is right with you and why, in the absence of Libertopia, we should chuck everything and follow you into the promised fairyland. Have the courage of your convictions to suffer your detractors "with agendas," OK? I'll be there, promise I will.

    I'm going to ignore your condescending attitude and recall the history of this thread. One. Someone asks a question about libertarianism. Two. I answer said question to the best of my knowledge. Three. You explode out of the net and start flinging mud. Four. I fling mud back, inviting you to actually fling a real argument in several places. Five. You decline to launch a real argument and ask me to throw a real argument, while at the same time handing us some links.

    This is six deep, where I say: I don't care to defend Libertarianism in this forum at this point, in the same way and for pretty much the same reasons that you decline to defend your arguments.

    The reason this thread started is because you burst in ranting and raving, not weighed down by either logic or sentence structure, while we were having a pleasant conversation about the moral failings of corporations.

    In the meantime, everyone else can satisfy themselves with the following links:

    Critiques of Libertarianism

    Got to keep that one for my propaganda/anti-propaganda page that I keep meaning to write.

    My tips on arguing with clowns

    I will respond to this. Later.

    Political philosophers are famous for having agendas.

    Unlike LiberFairyContraryOpians! Your entire political philosophy is one big agenda, you doofus.

    Point to where I said otherwise.

    Every philosophy, valid or invalid, goes through a period where every other philosopher kicks it to see if it will break. Philosophers and Scholars are kicking Libertarianism. I don't have a problem with this. The point is, just because it happens to be Libertarian-kicking time in the political and philosophy departments of the world, doesn't mean that Libertarianism is invalid. The educated guesses of authority figures does not constitute a proof of any sort.

    If, one day, the Libertarian party actually has some significant political power, well, on that day, or during the years afterwards, we can see what the effects of Libertarianism are. Untill then, it's all guesswork, and anyone who can guarantee you that it will or won't work is being excessively optimistic about thier own conclusions.

    You say, there is no Libertarian government, anywhere, and I agree. I say, therefore, it's a little early to draw conclusions about how one would turn out.

    [ Parent ]

    ROFL (none / 0) (#167)
    by OzJuggler on Sat May 05, 2001 at 09:44:01 AM EST

    I will not rest till the last Libertarian left standing is trhurler.

    ROFL!
    Hahahaha. Oh my! That's a visual that I won't forget in a hurry.

    I'm not sure I understand the complete subtle details of your comment. Hopefully you are not saying that trhurler is incorrigible? He has to maintain the appearance of being reasonable or no-one would ever reply to him. :)


    "And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
    at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
    [ Parent ]

    IMO (3.00 / 1) (#177)
    by eLuddite on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:10:17 PM EST

    Hopefully you are not saying that trhurler is incorrigible?

    Trhurler is clearly a smart man; Libertarianism is a waste of his abilities.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    read Kuhn, then maybe Rorty :) (4.66 / 12) (#125)
    by akp on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:54:23 PM EST

    Some comments:

    Firstly, if one criticises the mechanisms on which the global marketplace are based, and wish to tear the edifice down, one must have a reasonable replacement. Of course, noone does. If one is against the marketplace and capitalism, then presumably one is for some sort of planned economy, or perhaps (and these people actually exist) some sort of primitive state with no economy at all.

    I think that this shows a severe lack of imagination. It's like a 13th century monk defending Aristotelian physics because nobody has a reasonable replacement for it. It may be true that at that moment it was the best thing that was available, but to argue that therefore nobody should have tried to improve on the system... Well, it doesn't quite follow, does it?

    This fallacy is the one that I believe that conservatives get the most mileage out of--that what we have is the best we've come up with so far, so we shouldn't try to fix it. If, however, we take on the view that it is still possible to improve things, we can reach some more interesting conclusions. The cited statistic of the poor's wealth tripling over 40 years, while the top fifth's wealth increased by--what, 625%--for instance: that's pretty good if compared to a system where the richests' wealth doubled and the poor's didn't increase at all. But should we be satisfied with it? Or should we say that it's not good enough, and that we should strive someting better? It doesn't have to be an immediate redistribution of wealth (in fact, it probably _shouldn't_ be), but rather just a statement that we should be trying to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, not widen it.

    Cultural reasons. The argument here is that globalisation is destroying indigenous cultures, and spreading the Anglo Saxon worldview to all corners of the globe. Unfortunately, like so many antiglobalisation arguments, this is very patronising indeed.

    I wince every time I see someone argue against globalization by saying that it wipes out indiginous cultures. From my point of view, there are a lot of parts of some indigenous cultures (strong senses of tribalism, abuse and subjugation of women, religious intolerance) that I'd just assume see wiped out, just as there are parts of Western culture (greed as a virtue, for instance, or this very idea that Western culture is superior to all others) that I'd just assume vanish, also. I think that there are some points to be made by this discussion--specifically, that the main value that corporate globalization is spreading (greed) is not one that I'd like to propigate, especially from the fear that others might reject the good in Western culture (liberal social democracy) while throwing out the bathwater of unrestrained capitalism--but, on the whole, I'm inclined to let it drop.

    Incorporation means that the company becomes, if you will, a moral agent in the eyes of the law. It is responsibe for its own transgressions, and it is treated as an entity in its own right.

    As others have pointed out, though, a corporation isn't really a proper moral agent--its mode of being is too far from a human's for it to be considered a proper member of society. In general, a human who put profit above all other factors, to the point of dumping hazardous waste in a river in order to make an extra buck, would be considered a sociopath, while for corporations, this behaviour is expected. Thus, the argument goes, the law is making a grave mistake when it allows corporations to be treated as agents.

    For fun, picture the above situation (illegally dumping toxic waste into a river), and think of the consequences of performing that action for a) a corporation, b) an individual person, and c) the director of the corporation who approves the policy. For a), the corporation gets fined. For b), the person goes to jail. Now, one could argue that these are equivalent punishments, though I, for one, am inclined to disagree. But it becomes really interesting when you consider that c) the director of the corporation, will likely get a big bonus for turning good profits that quarter and, if he's smart, will leave the company before the remainder of the corporation gets punished for his actions.

    the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta.

    This goes back to my argument about accepting current and/or past circumstances as the only possible circumstance. Yes, for now it might be better today for a child to be employed by Nike for $3 a day. But do we think that should be true tomorrow? If not, then we should be moving now to prevent it, using what means we have at our disposal to force Nike to hire the children's parents at a high enough wage so that the children don't have to work.

    There is a very simple reason that America is the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation. It is because it is the most business friendly.

    True for now, but will being business friendly alone guarantee that America will be the most powerful nation at the end of the 21st century? Maybe by then, nations will be judged by the quality of life of their poorest citizens. Maybe pollution will be such a problem that countries are judged by their environmental technologies, with America as an internation pariah for refusing to curb its reliance of antiquated fossil fuels. Maybe the social democracies in the world will refuse to trade with America, citing the human rights violations that the corporate-controlled Congress is inflicting on its citizens. We just don't know.

    The only way we as a civilisation will move forward is if we realise both our own nature and the nature of others.

    This is perhaps one of the real sticking points--the concept of human nature. I believe that there is no such thing as absolute human nature, and that instead, human nature is a fluid thing determined by human society. So even if you argue that, for much of the 20th century, corporate capitalism was the best economic system that we had available to us, that doesn't mean that today there are no better alternatives.



    history (none / 0) (#239)
    by kellan on Sun May 13, 2001 at 12:18:21 PM EST

    the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta.

    This goes back to my argument about accepting current and/or past circumstances as the only possible circumstance. Yes, for now it might be better today for a child to be employed by Nike for $3 a day. But do we think that should be true tomorrow?

    Nicely put. It is also important to point out, that yes it might be true today, but was it true in years past? Its hard to believe a civilization could have survived and prospered for hundreds of years up until the 20th century, if its only options were starving, or working for Nike. Even under British colonialism, India managed to be a largely self-sustaining region, engaged in manufacture for internal consumption, and subsistence farming. It is only now, in era of US/IMF colonialism, that "rational peasants" are forced off the land, to go work in factories stiching swooshes.

    We need to look to the future, and we also need to look to the past.

    kellan

    [ Parent ]

    Might it be possible (none / 0) (#243)
    by acronos on Mon May 14, 2001 at 05:19:02 PM EST

    Might it be possible that the thousands of years the population of India survived before the arrival of western capitalism, they were actually worse off than they are today. Children might have had to work in the fields back then. Families might have often starved during famine. Could it be possible that these corporations are actually doing these people a favor. That they are actually better off with that $3 paycheck than they would have been working the fields. Nahhhh, forgive my insolence for even thinking such a thing. Must have had a momentary lapse of reason. Capitalism allows people to get rich. That means is must be unfair and therefore evil.

    Sorry for the sarcasm, I'm not usually that way. I just find the thoughts about socialism frustrating. I have a lot of respect for you kellan. I am asking, do you know the real history. Are these people really forced off their land in the droves that would be necessary to influence the economy. I find it very unlikely that any government would be that stupid. I can find isolated cases of people being forced off their land even in the USA. I agree, we need to compare the history. The pivotal question is whether these people were better or worse off before Nike arrived. I don't really know the answer to that, I am guessing. My guess is based on my prejudices.

    My prejudice is that the only viable alternative to capitalism is socialism. I view capitalism as a reward system and socialism as a punishment system. If you do good in capitalism you are rewarded. If you do good in socialism you are punished because everyone else is doing average and you are getting the same reward, read pay. What incentive is there to excel in socialism. I am genuinely hoping for a response that will help me understand your view point.

    What keeps a socialist economy from getting lazier and lazier. Till eventually the government has to step in and create an ugly control government that really punishes the people. I do not believe that humans are inherently lazy. I do believe humans come with a built in sense of fair. We are angered by injustice. Particularly injustice against ourselves. Someone else getting the same reward for half the work would infuriate me. I would likely retaliate by not trying so hard.

    I see the same problem in the American (USA) health care system. We use insurance to pay for everything. The problem is it costs me the same to use the system heavily as it does to not use it at all. This strongly encourages everyone to only go for the very best care without regard for cost. And doctors to create ridiculously expensive "cures" without regard for cost. This causes the insurance rates for everyone to shoot through the roof. Which is what is happening. So now we blame the doctors. This is stupid, the doctors and hospitals are not at fault, the system is. The system is socialism, or even worse, the system is a mixture of socialism and capitalism which has failed in every case that I can think of.

    Someone help me understand where I am going wrong here, because obviously the majority of posters disagree with me.


    [ Parent ]
    Get this crap out of here! (1.00 / 11) (#127)
    by randombit on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:57:21 PM EST

    How did this crap get out of the queue? I've had enough of this anti-capitalism, oh oh the world is so wrong, westerners are evil. Bullshit! Next May day, I will be there behind you with hundreds of others chanting, "go home! get a fucking job!"
    You supposedly stand up for the third world, the poor, and shout your anti-corporation,anti-government propaganda, but where are the people you are standing up for? Answer me that, spoiled suburban white kids! They are still suffering, and you won't/can't do jack shit about it.

    Moral ? , No they aren't !! (4.40 / 10) (#129)
    by Chrisfs on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:25:14 PM EST

    <<However, multinational companies (to which we will return), are fundamentally moral organisations, in the sense that they are based on fair tenets>>

    Please don't take this personally and understand I mean it in the nicest possible way, but
    PRECISELY WHICH DRUGS ARE YOU ON ?
    I'm still unsure as to whether this is a misguided opinion or simply flame bait. The statement is that outrageous.

    Multinational companies are not in any way fundamentally moral. They use their size to lie,mislead and make people's life harder just so that they can earn profits. They appear moral, in any meaningful sense, only when doing so happens to be the best way to accomplish something.
    They are fundamentally profit generating organizations. They seek to make money, not to do what is moral.

    Examples(sources available upon request)
    Nestle ran ads in Africa attempting to convince new mothers that their formula was healthier than breast milk (which is free and profits no one but the family). This was in blatant disregard to all the current medical literature at that time.

    Microsoft doesn't care about democracy or free market principles. They want a monopoly on PC operating systems and browsers.
    During the anti-trust hearings, they wrote numerous letters to newspapers disguised as 'concerned citizens' with no connection to Microsoft.

    Tobacco companies knew about the diseases caused by cigarettes long before they told anyone and just recently British American Tobacco is possibly complicit in cigarette smuggling as well.
    http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/tobacco/background/2001/icij.html

    I'm not even going to get into Nike's abuses

    If you support true capitalism and the concept of a free market , where people have choices and access to full and fair information on which to base those choices, then you want to be AGAINST globalization. Globalization reflects a concentration of power into a small number of big companies in defiance of the environmental and economic laws decided upon by the citizens of a country.

    I like your post (3.00 / 1) (#134)
    by Shren on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:09:32 PM EST

    I even modded it a 5 - I agree that the whole "corporations are moral entities" is a large amount of vigorous handwaving. But, I don't like the twist at the end. You're going to need more than a last paragraph off the cuff statement to convince me that capitalism would be better without globalization. A lot more.

    [ Parent ]

    Big Business (none / 0) (#174)
    by fsh on Sat May 05, 2001 at 12:42:26 PM EST

    Most of the theories of capitalism require a large number of roughly equal companies to create the best environment for the consumer. When Big Business enters the picture, especially multinational Big Business, it immediately starts to squeeze the smaller businesses, and can create a large enough profit margin that it does not have to bow to the market pressures present in a market consisting of a large number of equal corporations. Here's a little more detailed info on the subject.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Source (none / 0) (#229)
    by IriseLenoir on Fri May 11, 2001 at 05:29:44 AM EST

    I'm very interested in your source on Nestle. I heard about it a few times and would like some details... Thanks.

    Who is crazy, the world because it sees itself as it is, or I, because I see how it could be? - Don Quixote
    "liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
    [ Parent ]
    Nice piece of propaganda... (4.72 / 18) (#131)
    by Betcour on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:58:18 PM EST

    It's a nice piece of propaganda. But lots of the argument are pretty loosy and skewed... first you make the huge mistake of thinking anti-globalisation = anti-capitalism, which just shows how biased your ideas are. Anti-globalization is about keeping businesses away from controling our lives and countries. The governement should run the country, not a buch of corporations thru the use of globalization. Being pro-democracy is a long way from being anti-capitalist...

    No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company.

    Well - if you can live without music (the big 5 major of music have a defacto monopoly), can live without every using a MS products, can live without phone, TV, etc... and can run you own business... then this is true. However, for the rest of the population this is totally false. All parts of the economy are in the hands of a few large megacorpo, and never buying from one of them is akin to never buy anything.

    Firstly, if one criticises the mechanisms on which the global marketplace are based, and wish to tear the edifice down, one must have a reasonable replacement. Of course, noone does.

    Yes there is ! If you could stop reading the WSJ for a while, you'd know that several European countries have socialism, a system where a free marketplace is regulated. (boo! I love how the world "regulation" can strike fear in the most hardened capitalist ;). Saying that there's no alternative to wild free market is denying all of us democracy - the democracy to think by ourselves and to propose and explore other alternatives that what already exists. Or are you saying capitalism is the best of the worlds ? I think not - therefor we need to pursue other, better, more balanced solutions.

    and furthermore that the wealthiest countries of the world owe their wealth to the marketplace and capitalism

    Wealth of what ? Money ? Well yes, USA is the wealthiest. Wealth of happyness and justice ? USA is quite poor in this regard. Of course if money is more important than justice and happyness, then what can I say... except I pity you.

    Those third world countries that embrace capitalism invariably perform better than those that don't.

    This is a common prejudice - that has yet to be proven by any hard facts. All third-world countries that have embraced US-style capitalism had serious problem (Mexico, etc...). Or are you refering at countries that moved to capitalism like China, Taïwan, Japan and the likes ? Well you got it all wrong - those countries were succesfull because they praticed regulated capitalism. In all those countries a large quantity of the economy is controlled and regulated by the governement. And last time I checked Japan had a positive trade balance with the unregulated USA...

    The argument here is that globalisation is destroying indigenous cultures, and spreading the Anglo Saxon worldview to all corners of the globe

    It IS ! Let me give you a practical example : in France, all imported US movies are taxed - the money is then given to local movie production. Why ? Because when a US movie comes out in France, it as already been largely paid for itself in the US (thanks to the much larger market)... Hollywood can therefor afford larger production budget, heavier marketing, etc... With these taxes, France manages to keep a thriving local movie production. The US and globalisation supporters like you want to remove this "trade barrier". But without them the local market isn't big enough to allow serious competitors to hollywood movies to arise and work. They don't start with the same advanges. French production would be crushed, and all French people would only have to watch "ID4" or "Dumb and dumber".

    people like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are giving 10 figure sums to charity

    Ahem... Bill Gates has given a lot to charity in the form of free licenses of MS products. So :
    1. he increase his company market share amongst schools and places where he couldn't sell anything anyway
    2. It doesn't cost him anything. A license of Windows is a piece of paper and a 1$ CD. But the face value is still 99$...
    3. It allows him a huge tax break that would have costed him real money (the IRS isn't fond of being paid with Windows CDs...)
    All in all your article is uninformed, full of inaccuracies and deformed facts and lies about a few things. I don't like it.

    socialism? (3.20 / 5) (#133)
    by Shren on Fri May 04, 2001 at 07:02:33 PM EST

    Yes there is ! If you could stop reading the WSJ for a while, you'd know that several European countries have socialism, a system where a free marketplace is regulated. (boo! I love how the world "regulation" can strike fear in the most hardened capitalist ;). Saying that there's no alternative to wild free market is denying all of us democracy - the democracy to think by ourselves and to propose and explore other alternatives that what already exists. Or are you saying capitalism is the best of the worlds ? I think not - therefor we need to pursue other, better, more balanced solutions.

    If socialism is so great, why are people from other countries rejecting socialized surgery and coming to get surgery here? If socialism is the glory of the modern world, why are most medicines developed in America? Why was the entire automotive industry built up here instead under the protective eye of big brother?

    [ Parent ]

    Communism is not socialism (3.50 / 2) (#148)
    by voodoo1man on Sat May 05, 2001 at 01:17:32 AM EST

    First of all, isolated anecdotes about poor Russian kids coming to America to get heart transplant surgery are just that - isolated anecdotes. Maybe you should back some of this blabber with statistics once in a while? Of course, you're forgetting the fact that communism is by no means a good socialist system (most of the time (ie China) it does not really imply a socialist economy at all). Don't they teach that in US schools anymore? What Betcour is talking about are democratic countries with regulated economies (democratic socialism, is that really so hard to grasp?). A half-assed example are your neighbors to the north (assuming you're in the US); Canada has a pretty-well regulated basic healthcare system, as a result of which some middle-class people (gasp!) can comfortably afford basic healthcare. Not a very good example, but it's really the only one in North America. Oh, and one more thing; the reason most of the automotive industry is in the US is because it is generally a bad thing. Most developed (ex)communist countries have well planned and executed public transport systems because they are cheaper and pollute less (although that really wasn't a concern at the time). Next time you're arguing about this topic, keep in mind that this might not be the best example.

    [ Parent ]
    hmmm. (3.00 / 1) (#158)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 05:11:30 AM EST

    First of all, isolated anecdotes about poor Russian kids coming to America to get heart transplant surgery are just that - isolated anecdotes. Maybe you should back some of this blabber with statistics once in a while?

    See other post of mine at this level of the thread to learn about the degradation of the Canadian socialized medicine system.

    Of course, you're forgetting the fact that communism is by no means a good socialist system (most of the time (ie China) it does not really imply a socialist economy at all). Don't they teach that in US schools anymore?

    Socialism - A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community.

    Communism - A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.

    I'm having trouble picking out serious differences here. Do you always disown failed socialist economies by saying, "oh, they were communisms, they have nothing in common with socialism?"

    What Betcour is talking about are democratic countries with regulated economies (democratic socialism, is that really so hard to grasp?). A half-assed example are your neighbors to the north (assuming you're in the US);

    See source cited above...

    Canada has a pretty-well regulated basic healthcare system, as a result of which some middle-class people (gasp!) can comfortably afford basic healthcare.

    If they don't die waiting.

    Not a very good example, but it's really the only one in North America. Oh, and one more thing; the reason most of the automotive industry is in the US is because it is generally a bad thing. Most developed (ex)communist countries have well planned and executed public transport systems because they are cheaper and pollute less (although that really wasn't a concern at the time). Next time you're arguing about this topic, keep in mind that this might not be the best example.

    When less people have cars, public transportation is critical. When you have more cars, it becomes less critical. There's less motivation to build a good one in the USA because of the higher availability of cars.

    Unfortunately, you get into this rotten chicken and egg situation, where people don't use public transportation because it's not big enough, and it's not big enough because people don't use it. Still, though, I'd rather go through life without mass transit then have to wait an extra week or so for all critical surgeries.

    [ Parent ]

    Once again, you miss the point (3.50 / 2) (#183)
    by voodoo1man on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:20:37 PM EST

    Socialism is by definition the theoretical economic system - your definition of communism is skewed. Communism includes both an economic and a political (one party rule) system. Don't they teach that in US schools anymore?

    [ Parent ]
    socialism and communism (4.00 / 1) (#189)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 09:53:25 PM EST

    Socialism is by definition the theoretical economic system - your definition of communism is skewed. Communism includes both an economic and a political (one party rule) system.

    How is socialism enforced except through political and legal means? This is a serious question, not one of the hundred thousand trap questions that appear on K5 and similar forums across the net, where you say a specific question and then wait in ambush for a specific answer. I'm curious about a sincere answer if you have one.

    From where I sit, if you have a government that is, as a rule, socialist, then you have some authority enforcing the socialism. If it is a democracy, which can be shaped as the people will, what happens if they will it to not be socialist any more?

    Don't they teach that in US schools anymore?

    Rhetorical question asked not as a request for a sincere answer, I imagine. I'll answer anyway. I went to a public "magnet" school for science and technology, and focused on the science and technology. It was blatantly obvious to me that pretty much everything else was crap. History was delivered in a very specific way designed to cause me to come to a very specific conclusion, so I ignored it. I've been reading lots of history and philosophy since.

    [ Parent ]

    Soc Dem (4.00 / 2) (#211)
    by strumco on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:45:36 AM EST

    From where I sit, if you have a government that is, as a rule, socialist, then you have some authority enforcing the socialism. If it is a democracy, which can be shaped as the people will, what happens if they will it to not be socialist any more?
    Then, another political party takes power.

    In the UK, the Conservative Party has held power for most of the post-war era, yet none of these governments has dared try to dismantle the National Health Service (not even Thatcher) - because the British people would have thrown them out of power at the first opportunity.

    European nations are (broadly) socialist because European people are (broadly) socialist - even the conservatives.

    DC
    http://www.strum.co.uk
    [ Parent ]

    thanks. (3.00 / 1) (#225)
    by Shren on Thu May 10, 2001 at 09:29:55 PM EST

    European nations are (broadly) socialist because European people are (broadly) socialist - even the conservatives.

    Makes sense. Do you think that they are better people for it, or do they just expect and obey a different set of rules?

    [ Parent ]

    DIfferently democratic (3.00 / 1) (#230)
    by strumco on Fri May 11, 2001 at 09:33:10 AM EST

    Do you think that they are better people for it
    Just different.

    or do they just expect and obey a different set of rules?
    That's about it.

    DC
    http://www.strum.co.uk
    [ Parent ]

    Learn abt socialism first... (4.75 / 4) (#152)
    by Betcour on Sat May 05, 2001 at 02:38:39 AM EST

    As someone else pointed out, socialism != communism. Socialism is the political system that prevails in much of western Europe (except for UK).

    why are people from other countries rejecting socialized surgery and coming to get surgery here?

    They are not, The European Union has some of the best hospital in the world - and also a much better health care system than US ever had.

    If socialism is the glory of the modern world, why are most medicines developed in America?

    Again they are not. France, Germany and other European countries have lots of conglomerate that do just that. Heck - you probably buy some of their medicine quite often in fact and don't even know it...

    Why was the entire automotive industry built up here instead under the protective eye of big brother?

    You mean automotive industry like Daimler Benz, BMW, Renault, VW, Fiat, etc ? Humm, I think they are doing very fine, thank you. Daimler-Benz even did the mistake of buying one of those loosy american manufacturer (Chrysler) and now loose money because of them.

    I'm sorry for you, but USA isn't the center of the world (despite what the American medias tell you everyday)

    [ Parent ]
    I know quite a bit about socialism. (3.50 / 2) (#157)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 04:55:19 AM EST

    why are people from other countries rejecting socialized surgery and coming to get surgery here?

    They are not, The European Union has some of the best hospital in the world - and also a much better health care system than US ever had.

    Are you sure?

    Health Care Access - Barriers And Impediments

    This is not a libertarian source. It is not a newspaper. It is an association of British Colombian doctors. It took me forever to find. It quotes government sources. There's lots of evidence that socialized medicine isn't working out, but I'll be brief:

    One. 74% of Canadians want the right to buy medicine if the waiting list is too long. They must be evil capitalists or something.

    Two. Waiting lines for many major surgeries have risen. They have a chart. (I wish the chart had more catagories, but you can't have everything.)

    Three. "The Canadian Nursing Association has predicted that Canada will face a national shortage of at least 59,000 nurses by 2011."

    Canadian socialized medicine doesn't seem to be working out too well. Would I have much trouble finding tales of woe from the EU? I doubt it.

    If socialism is the glory of the modern world, why are most medicines developed in America?

    Again they are not. France, Germany and other European countries have lots of conglomerate that do just that. Heck - you probably buy some of their medicine quite often in fact and don't even know it...

    Let's play a game. You name a medicine invented in Europe after 1776. Then, I'll name a medicine invented in America after 1776. We'll see who runs out first. I'll go first. Prosac. Ray Fuller of Indiana.

    Why was the entire automotive industry built up here instead under the protective eye of big brother?

    You mean automotive industry like Daimler Benz, BMW, Renault, VW, Fiat, etc ? Humm, I think they are doing very fine, thank you. Daimler-Benz even did the mistake of buying one of those loosy american manufacturer (Chrysler) and now loose money because of them.

    I seem to have been mistaken. For those following the discussion:

    The First Car

    Huh. You learn something new every day.

    However, mass production is pretty American: Henry Ford

    Hmmm. It seems that pinpointing the automotive industry center is a thesis level topic, so I'll concede this point.

    I'm sorry for you, but USA isn't the center of the world (despite what the American medias tell you everyday)

    That's a different discussion all together. I don't think they are. Other than molten metal, the world doesn't have a center.

    [ Parent ]

    Skewed arguments (4.33 / 3) (#160)
    by Betcour on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:23:46 AM EST

    Canadian socialized medicine doesn't seem to be working out too well. Would I have much trouble finding tales of woe from the EU?

    Nice source but what does it basically says ? That there are problem in Canada's health sector (which is, btw, not a very socialist country compared to Europe). Yeah, like other countries (USA or other) have perfect hospitals, with a neverending supply of cheap and talented doctors and nurses that will treat rich and poor with the same zeal (sarcasm). Seriously, having tried doctors in NA as well as Europe, I'd take a European doctor anytime. For one he doesn't care if I use an Amex or a VISA (they get the same price/patient and the gov. pays anyway). Also in USA/UK, some people die because they can't afford treatement, or because the hospital think your survival chances are not worth the cost ! Now this is unregulated capitalism in all its glory - when money gets more important than life. I doubt you can support such things. A doctor should be concerned about your health, not if you can pay him or not.

    I'll go first. Prosac. Ray Fuller of Indiana.

    Fair enough. The vacine by Louis Pasteur (comparing Prozac to the vacine is a bit of an insult to Pasteur and medical science as a whole).

    The First Car

    Actually even the link is wrong, as the first car can go back to early 1800s with a thing with wheels and a steam engine - but that didn't need railtrack and use a steering wheel instead. A car by all definitions but coal-powered (and yes, it was European made too :).

    [ Parent ]
    kuro5hin drug war (3.00 / 1) (#161)
    by Shren on Sat May 05, 2001 at 07:23:46 AM EST

    Chia-Chung Cheng

    He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 1954

    Between 1959 and 1978, Dr. Cheng was Head of the Medicinal Chemistry at the Midwest Research institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

    While working continuously with the NCI on the synthesis of a variety of acyclic, carbocyclic and heterocyclic compounds, several working hypotheses were developed and over 3,000 new compounds in gram quantities were synthesized and evaluated. One of these, mitoxantrone (novantrone) was found to possess excellent inhibitor activity against breast cancer and adult non-lymphocytic leukemia. Recently mitoxantrone was found to be active against multiple sclerosis.

    [ Parent ]

    Counter-strike (3.00 / 2) (#175)
    by Betcour on Sat May 05, 2001 at 12:45:28 PM EST

    Alexander Fleming (UK/Scottland) - invention of the peniciline in 1928.

    [ Parent ]
    I surrender (none / 0) (#244)
    by Shren on Mon May 14, 2001 at 09:58:27 PM EST

    I had a rather long list of drugs that I was going to claim as American, but I'd have to post an essay/analysis with each one. It seems that the drug industry these days is almost exclusively made of multinationals, and to try to prove which drugs came out of which countries would be something of a nightmare, which I don't have time for.

    My politics are shifting anyway.

    [ Parent ]

    Help! (4.00 / 1) (#170)
    by jynx on Sat May 05, 2001 at 10:52:10 AM EST

    Also in USA/UK, some people die because they can't afford treatement

    Uh! What?! Did someone abolish free health care in the UK without telling me?

    Maybe that's not what you meant? People die in the UK because the NHS doesn't have enough money - in some cases the most expensive treatments aren't available, and in some others cases due to waiting lists.

    But this is a tiny tiny fraction of the population. The problem is that people will vote in any government which promises a tax cut, so the bugets keep getting squeezed.

    --

    [ Parent ]

    socialized medicine (3.50 / 2) (#169)
    by fsh on Sat May 05, 2001 at 10:36:27 AM EST

    Unfortunately, in a global marketplace, the corporations in charge of developing medicines and running hospitals are forced to bow to the profit margin. In these countries where everyone has the right to equal levels of medical treatment, the companies prefer to move their R&D labs to a place where they can charge what they consider reasonable rates for what they do. This means that while the wealthy or the insured have excellent medical coverage in the US, the poor and the uninsured do not. Compare the status of Veteran's Hospitals with Corporate Hospitals if you don't believe me on this one. I personally believe that any individual should be entitled to the best health care we have to offer, and that it should not be contingent on the contents of the individuals bank account.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Bill Gates (4.00 / 1) (#138)
    by delmoi on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:01:45 PM EST

    Ahem... Bill Gates has given a lot to charity in the form of free licenses of MS products. So :

    Yes, and what's really amazing is how they used those windows license to vaccinate thousands of kids Africa!
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Wealth? (4.00 / 1) (#171)
    by Tsuraan on Sat May 05, 2001 at 10:53:48 AM EST

    Wealth of what ? Money ? Well yes, USA is the wealthiest. Wealth of happyness and justice ? USA is quite poor in this regard. Of course if money is more important than justice and happyness, then what can I say... except I pity you.

    It's funny how people will often try to support their argument by citing immeasurable qualities, and then saying that someone is lacking in them, or somebody else has more of them. Unfortunately, it's a rather weak debating tactic, and it's very overused. Please, find a way to make your point without measuring intangibles.

    [ Parent ]

    correlation between wealth and capitalism (4.63 / 11) (#132)
    by swr on Fri May 04, 2001 at 06:47:17 PM EST

    the wealthiest countries of the world owe their wealth to the marketplace and capitalism. Those third world countries that embrace capitalism invariably perform better than those that don't. A brief perusal of global economic indices will show this.

    "The best hockey players in the world are in the NHL. Therefor, if you are a bad hockey player, the best way to improve your performance is to join the NHL."

    A perusal of global economic indices can show correlation, but they can not show causality.

    Do the wealthiest nations owe their success to capitalism, or does capitalism owe its success to the wealthiest nations? Do third-world countries that embrace capitalism perform better, or do third-world countries that perform better embrace capitalism?

    Can all other factors be ruled out? For example, suppose a country receives a loan. The loan allows the country to develop economically. Also suppose that, as a condition of the loan, the country must embrace free-market capitalism. Does this mean the economic development was caused by the country turning capitalist? Or was both turning capitalist and developing economically caused by another factor, like maybe the loan?



    The right of the individual is the key (4.50 / 2) (#139)
    by nymia_g on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:09:04 PM EST

    You actually brought up a very good question. The answer to your inquiry on where does it come from rests upon the rights of the individual. If you will look at other systems, you'll notice there is nothing in them that promote the rights of the individual. These rights guarantee an individual the right to choose, to live, to think and to seek fortune. Other systems will show you the same but will stress less on the individual; like the collective is greater than the individual, or the law mandated by an elite is above the individual as well.

    With other systems, the individual is subjected to forces exerted by others to which it cannot control. Properties may be taken away and that would still be considered moral simply because morality is beyond the individual.

    In capitalism, the individual is capable of exercising its rights, but is bounded by morals and government law. The individual has the freedom to establish a trust network or be part of another trust network. Where each network has its own set of protocols necessary in the exchange of wealth.

    These networks though has boundaries and levels. For example, hospitals can only operate at certain geographic level. On the other hand, automobile manufacturers can cross political boundaries.

    [ Parent ]
    All other systems? (4.00 / 1) (#168)
    by fsh on Sat May 05, 2001 at 10:28:53 AM EST

    I wouldn't really lump 'all other systems' together as being less individualistic than capitalism. The socio-economic theory of Anarchy, for instance, places a great deal of importance on the rights of the individual, as balanced by the rights of the community. The main thrust behind an-archy is to eliminate exploitative hier-archies, such as government and capitalism.

    By the way, I'm enjoying the link you posted earlier about capitalism. Quite informative.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Actual Correlations (4.00 / 1) (#222)
    by Alhazred on Thu May 10, 2001 at 09:26:36 AM EST

    All you have to do is read the article in Scientific American from Jan or Feb of this year, I forget which. There are a whole raft of charts and tables showing the correlations between access to water, climate, transportation, and several other factors which have very high correlations to wealth.

    As it turns out areas in temperate climates, with lots of navigable rivers, and certain other characteristics are the richest places.

    Nowhere in all that were political or economic theories even mentioned, yet the correlations were extremely high. Essentially geography is the primary factor affecting wealth.
    That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
    [ Parent ]
    why don't all you commies do something about it... (3.60 / 5) (#140)
    by enterfornone on Fri May 04, 2001 at 08:55:42 PM EST

    I keep hearing the anti-capitalism crowd telling us that the government has to look after the poor, the government has to keep companies in check. But the government isn't some external entity, the government is the reperesentive of you and me. So if you say "the government shoudl take care of the poor" you are really saying "I should take care of the poor".

    Socialist government is like enforced charity. You are forced to give part of your wage to help those supposedly in need. Often this money isn't spent wisely. Often this money is spent in ways that conflict with your beliefs.

    Under a capitalist/libertarian system you would no longer be forced to give your money to charity, but you would still have the choice. You can give your money to whoever you feel would spend it wisely. You can give your money only to hospitals that don't practice abortion or to schools that display the 10 commandments or you can give it to homeless shelters that serve vegan meals or whatever.

    You can also choose only to deal with companies that do the same.

    The money you save from not having to pay taxes for welfare and huge government will give you enough money to be able to do these things. If you give all the money you save to charity then at the very least society will break even. Since charities tend to be far more efficient than government departments society would be much better off under such a system.

    If you really feel that the community should look after it's citizens then the fact that the government doesn't do this on your behalf is irrelevant. It's not up to the government, it's up to *you*. So quit complaining that the government is doing bad things by you. As long as you expect the government to "do the right thing" you are giving them more power. By reducing government we leave the people free to detirmine their future, and that it true democracy.


    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    what us commies will do (none / 0) (#153)
    by scottysocialist on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:16:18 AM EST

    As one example of what a commie might do... Your hard-working money gets used right now to build weapons the military says it doesn't need. If we put that money into insuring everyone had plenty of free food we could make the world much better in our lifetimes.

    [ Parent ]
    mine doesn't :) (none / 0) (#181)
    by enterfornone on Sat May 05, 2001 at 05:02:49 PM EST

    well I don't live in the US. In Australia we have a fairly modest defence budget and a far more left wing government than the US. Under a socialist system more of my money would go into paying for things I don't need, not less.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Elected, not enforced (none / 0) (#182)
    by infraoctarine on Sat May 05, 2001 at 05:14:24 PM EST

    Socialist government is like enforced charity

    Or you could say that a socialist government is a democratic decision to have the community make sure the citizens' basic needs are taken care of, regardless of their ability to provide for themselves.

    To say socialism is enforced charity is to interpret it in terms of capitalism. A capitalist government also enforces a certain kind of lifestyle; all kinds of government do.

    [ Parent ]
    not really (5.00 / 1) (#185)
    by enterfornone on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:48:13 PM EST

    Unless you are talking the kind of utopian idealist democracy where everyone gets a say (the kind of democracy that doesn't exist anywhere). In all real world democracies (including capitalist ones) decisions are made by representatives of the majority, not reperesentatives of the whole.

    A libertarian system would reduce the government so that it would not be able to interfere with anyones lifestyle.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, really (5.00 / 1) (#194)
    by infraoctarine on Sun May 06, 2001 at 03:58:52 AM EST

    I just wanted to point out that your interpretation of socialist government is libertarian-biased, and that there are other ways to see it...

    In all real world democracies (including capitalist ones) decisions are made by representatives of the majority, not reperesentatives of the whole.

    Exactly, that is why I said every kind of government enforces a certain kind of lifestyle (i.e. one that might not suite everyone).

    A libertarian system would reduce the government so that it would not be able to interfere with anyones lifestyle

    A libertarian system would interfere with everyone who prefer a strong government to look after their interrests, wouldn't it?

    Unless you are talking the kind of utopian idealist democracy[...]

    Your libertarian minimalist government system where everyone can lead the lifestyle of their choise is equally utopian. In the real world not everyone would have the resources to choose their lifestyle. In the absence of government, power would amass somewhere else, it would not be equally distributed to everyone.

    [ Parent ]
    life wasn't meant to be easy (4.33 / 3) (#195)
    by enterfornone on Sun May 06, 2001 at 07:17:30 AM EST

    Your libertarian minimalist government system where everyone can lead the lifestyle of their choise is equally utopian. In the real world not everyone would have the resources to choose their lifestyle. In the absence of government, power would amass somewhere else, it would not be equally distributed to everyone.
    No one said everyone would be equal. However I doubt it will mean the huge gap between the rich and the poor that everyone claims. Socialism drives everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Capitalism at least gives people a chancce to control their own destiny.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Slavery and libertopia (3.00 / 1) (#214)
    by strlen on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:30:31 AM EST

    I highly suggest you look over this piece of writing and see what your libertarian ideas will do. Also you mentioned 10 commandments, and abortions. I don't support that kind of relativism. I want EVERY child to be able to go to a religion free school, not just the one whos parents can pay for it, because this is a majority-Christian country and your good libertarian friends will donate to that only. Same with abortion. And here's an example of "majority tyranny" and "mob rule" you really wanted to avoid. A democracy takes care of everyone, there's both popular decision making, and there's enforced rules (yes, there's more to consitution than 2nd an 10th comm.. err amendments!) to protect all kinds of minorities. And by the way there's never been a libertopia. Closest thing is Pinochet's Chile, where Chicago school of economics attempted to setup an experiment in laisez faire -- and boy is that place not very high on the list of my places to move to. You may check out the successes Canada and Sweden had by taking social democracy further. By the Sweden, using Keynesian principles, was the first to quit the Great Depression and did so without losing its democracy to either 4-term demagogues (whos social reform program is very miserable compared to real social democracy), miliatary dictators or Stalin.



    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    slavery (none / 0) (#216)
    by enterfornone on Wed May 09, 2001 at 02:18:59 AM EST

    So the guy is saying that if you owe a debt you might be forced to work in order to pay that debt off.

    Libertarians, as with most people, don't see working for an employer to be slavery. Only a few socialists who would rather not work see this as slavery. Under western pseudo-socialism they can live of welfare while those who want to do the right thing pay for them. Under the communist system they support they would be forced to work whereever the ruling party chooses to place them.

    I can't see how you can say that the libertarian system supports slavery.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Read further (4.00 / 1) (#217)
    by strlen on Wed May 09, 2001 at 11:58:02 AM EST

    This is not a debt, this is in case of any damages. This is being forced to work for a debt, rather then being allowed to declare bankcrupcy. This is not just being forced to work yourself, this is being forced to sell your organs and your children, quite different. I don't care if everyone will be on wellfare, such implications are more dangerous to me. And by the way, majority of welfare recepients dont stay on welfare their entire life. Work provides a better compensantion and a better living. Debt slavery and debt imprisonment is something we left in 19th century, along with sweat shops, corpal punishment, unregulated markets, anti-union laws, blacklists, legalized discrimination, starvation wages, workhouses for the poor etc.. and the conservatives along with libertarians all want to bring it back. I've heard them even saying how US was much less "authoritarian" in 1840, because of a lack of an income tax for instance. I'm sorry, but I much rather prefer the current big government we have, or ones in use in Sweden, Canada and elsewhere. The way to fix programs like corruption is not to by decreasing the funds available, but by democratizing the government further.



    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    The Problem With Globalism (3.50 / 4) (#145)
    by t3chie on Sat May 05, 2001 at 12:32:36 AM EST

    After reading Robert Reich's "Work of Nations" I thought that the Global Corparation was a nightmare. They were responsiable to nobody. They could simply move their production to another country for cheaper labor. This is far from true. While I think he has a very valid point that we need to make our decisions based on the realization that corporations are global (trade tarifs etc.)... I think he is wrong about the changes that must take place. He negates the fact that what he is trying to do is turn the US into a mental superpower.

    In my view globalism would could create the ultimate in eqaulity. Globalism right now is like slavery. They are a certain group of people (3rd world) that corporations can pawn our labor off on because they are willing to work for less - nearly slaves. However, this has obvious negitive effects on even the people in the non-3rd world nations -- we loose manufacturing jobs.

    The United States became the power it was because of the power of free trade. I was talking to a guy on an Airbus while in Germany. He was very proud of Europes airplane. As he said, no one country could have built an airplane to compeate with the likes of the U.S. Free Trade benifits industry by making production more effecient (build the right thing in the right place) and helps combined the best minds for the topic.

    Assuming people continue on the way of human evolution we will find that enslaving nations as we do is not ethical. And, not good for our own people as I said before. If the entire world had the same laws of exploitation etc then pay should be much more even based on education. Of course education would also need to be universalized.

    You can't get labor from elsewhere when the entire neightborhood is united.

    The problem is that people are not united, when people are united they are much harder to exploit.

    Exploitation (none / 0) (#151)
    by nymia_g on Sat May 05, 2001 at 02:33:20 AM EST

    I like your presentation, it is solid.

    I have one argument though and that is how the term "exploitation" was used in your arguments. IMO, exploitation applies only to certain areas, but not all. Consider the situation where an economy cannot sustain itself without external aids. External aids in the form of eco-zones are definitely godsend in this situation simply because of its "jumpstarting" effect on the economy. Once investors jumpstarts an economy the rest of the wheels will turn leading to a much better economic condition. And there are many economies that need to be jumpstarted. Loans, on the other hand, are basically a way of losing them to corrupt economic managers which are so common to third world economies.

    [ Parent ]
    Free trade (none / 0) (#212)
    by kirghiz on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:59:58 AM EST

    The United States became the power it was because of the power of free trade. I was talking to a guy on an Airbus while in Germany. He was very proud of Europes airplane. As he said, no one country could have built an airplane to compeate with the likes of the U.S. Free Trade benifits industry by making production more effecient (build the right thing in the right place) and helps combined the best minds for the topic.

    I've often heard this comment from Americans. It demonstrates the effectiveness of corporate propaganda. In fact, American industry and the American markets have traditionally been extremely protectionist. If the US had stuck to the laws of economic rationality it would have pursued its comparative advantage in producing furs. American heavy industry is largely the product of a protectionist market.

    Only when a country has achieved economic dominance can it drop tariffs and start breast-beating about free trade. Then we in the first world preach the stern gospel of free trade, urging others to concentrate on providing us with cheap/free labour and raw materials.

    A recent instance is the fate of the Nigerian oil industry. Nigeria has significant oil deposits, and up until recently had five petroleum plants. Due to the arguments of multinational oil companies (I realise I'm not giving any concrete details here... they'll take a while do dig up), Nigeria closed all five plants, and now imports its petrol (probably made from the raw crude that travels out of the country on the same ships). This may make economic sense (in terms of the distant mathematics of economic models), but it seems a lamentable consequence of free trade.

    As to the frequent American complaints about Airbus, I can only say that the American aviation industry is a top recipient of corporate welfare. A quick tour around the websites of Boeing et al, will show that they do plenty of work for the U.S. government on military projects. I wonder whether they get $9 a nail for this...

    [ Parent ]

    freer trade = greater growth (none / 0) (#221)
    by american goon on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:21:19 AM EST

    I don't think your argument is very strong, because you just argue by giving a couple examples and discounting his. If you say Nigeria, I could say Taiwan, to which you could say Congo to which I could say South Korea... It would be much stronger if you had some generalized data.
    As a matter of fact, across all countries there is a very strong correlation between freer trade and real domestic output growth, even in third world countries. Lower tariffs usually means larger growth, in the long run. You could argue that the US' success was because the area of the country itself has always been a large free trade zone with a common currency.

    [ Parent ]
    One reason to hate globalization that most miss (4.40 / 5) (#147)
    by voodoo1man on Sat May 05, 2001 at 12:57:23 AM EST

    Most people against globalization say that it undermines the power of the government, and therefore of the people. Within all international free-trade agreements in discussion today is a clause that would literally make this true. This is already the reality for all nations under NAFTA - Chapter 11 of the agreement allows foreign investors greater power in bringing injury claims against governments. For an indepth examination of this phenomenon, I suggest the following Nation article: http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20010430&s=greider.

    Frustrated about the protests (3.66 / 3) (#178)
    by pavonis on Sat May 05, 2001 at 03:16:45 PM EST

    As a person with little faith in either corporations or governments, I often get frustrated with what seems to be a lack of sophistication with anti-globalization protestors; at any rate, there is certainly a lack of sophistication in their portrayal on mainstream media. The original poster was right to point out that simply barring a company like Nike from exploiting third-world workers does little kindness to the workers, or to the environment or other problems in the third world.

    Anti-NAFTA protesters, say, seem mostly to be expressing (justified) anger and disgust, without having better alternatives or clear goals. Meanwhile corporations work around the protesters with considered and clever plans; they know precisely what they want, and only need to find the easiest way to get it. If anticorporate movements in the US can't find goals of their own, they're doomed to failure.

    To those who think corporations have a moral right to any behavior they can get away with, and those who think Ayn Rand and libertarianism are the end-all of moral and social philosophy, I have no comment. Myself, being interested in things like helping the poor and not deforesting the planet, I think we need to find ways to contain and use capitalism that are a bit cleverer than a simple free-trade agreement; concerns about workers rights, environmental protection and so on can easily be a part of tarriff-eliminating treaties. The notion that the activities of millions of people and the exchange of billions of dollars by enormous organizations and governments, can be handled for the best by the simplest imaginable agreement, seems very strange to me.

    By protesting almost blindly, a lot of real liberalism's chance at a part in the government and in the design of these treaties is lost...



    Ideological Fashions (none / 0) (#253)
    by agharta on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:07:39 PM EST

    (The following is an advertisement of the future)

    (Fashion lady)

    Weak Randianism is in style this spring. It´s all the rage. New pascal colors, replacing the solid colors of the fifties and sixties, make the argument much easier to wear. While tougher fabric, solid lead, make the inevitable counter argument much easier to ignore. The most notable change from the original Randian argument is the eased emphasis on spelling and logical argumentation. Instead of tight writing and complex patterns, looseness and simplicity have taken their place. Well, partially. Many of the old features that made Randianism popular during the fifties and sixties, are back! With avengeance! Just take a look at the beautiful models on our catwalk: Assuming that communism had "spread around the world" was popular, and is back. Ignoring the poverty in the third world was popular, and is back. Ignoring underlying social relations was very popular, and is obviously back. And attacking the weak philosophers, while ignoring the strong, is ... back.

    (Cut to corporate lady)

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    For those who did not like the satire of ideologists above, here is a shorter version, ad hominem style and then a direct attack on the Urban Existentialist´s first point:

    1. Those who defend "laissez faire" capitalism ought to spell the word right. FAIRE, not fair. Respect results from doing things right. I do not respect you.

    2. Living standards and wealth are two different concepts. You seem to be confusing the two. Wealth is something people produce through work. It is the product of their labour, both mentally and menially. The wealth produced by the world economy may well of increased fivefold since the sixties, but what is your point? A lot of wealth can be held in the hands of a tiny number of people. Ninety-five percent of the wealth you speak of is in the hands of ultra-elite and the global middle class. Perhaps five percent of that growth has touched the masses living in abject poverty (2 billion). But this is a mere pittance since the global population has increased twofold since the fifties. In other words, the number of poor, those who control 1.2% of the world´s wealth, has increased by a silly number.

    Living standards are objective guidelines written by international organizations whose goal is to educate the global population about poverty. For instance, those who are not living in abject poverty have access to clean drinking water, a certain amount of calories per week, a solid shelter, and basic medical needs. Those who live in card board boxes, drink urine, shit, and soap with their water, whose stomachs grumble twenty-three hours a day, and die of the flu ARE living in abject poverty. These are very objective guidelines. You got clean water? You are not living in abject poverty. You got enough food? No abject poverty tag for you! Very objective. I sure the simple minds can even process this information.



    [ Parent ]
    another argument against it (4.00 / 2) (#184)
    by Trickster on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:37:07 PM EST

    back in the days when capitalism was becoming pretty much what it is today the workers were defenently not happy with their conditions and treatment so they protested for a while and got unions, laws that protect them and the government to enforce the laws. But in the 3rd world countries the government would be more than happy to close their eyes on ,say, Nike's mistreating the workers/employing children etc just becouse Nike pays millions of those much needed dollars in taxes or "personal gifts". i am not even talking about the damage to the environment.

    you seem to assume that if Nike builds thier shoe-making factory somewhere that everyone is automatically rich and happy. unfortunately for the people in that coutry, Nike does not help to develop the country's economy -- they are there just to exploit manpower and as soon as the factory becomes unprofitable they will scrap it and leave the coutry in a second, leaving lots of unskilled and unemployed people. besides, while they are there they not after reviving local marketplace by producing what people there need for reasonable price. no, they are there so that you could afford to buy new pair of running shoes every month without having to find a better job.

    secondly, concerning child labour. you state that $3/hour is lots of money in India. first off, how do you know? care to cite a source? if this is enough to feed a family then how come the children are working? would not it make more sence for Nike to employ thier parents, who a more fit to work, for the same pay? oh, and by the way, they have schools there, you know... the kid could go to school instead of wroking...

    now, on to the cultural argument. yes, those people can think for themselves but if on tv and on every coner on the streets they see ads promoting that anglo-saxson view of the world - they give in. that's the job of every marketing department on this planet -- to make people want something they don't need.


    and global marketplace is not as chaotic as you would like it to be -- "the World Trade Organization's main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible." (http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/inbrief_e/inbr00_e.htm)

    as for the nature argument.if we were satisfied with our nature all the time we would still be cracking each others heads for a piece of wood on fire...

    That is YOUR Assumption, Not His (none / 0) (#203)
    by tangfan on Sun May 06, 2001 at 06:58:29 PM EST

    In a sense, you are right. Nike is somewhat of a corrupting influence on local governments, but that is still immaterial. Because when Nike comes, they create an economy in Little Country. Further, they give the people living in Little Country the idea that there is something out there; some goal to look for, and that is to NOT be working as a little child in a sweatshop.

    Life is tough, face it, and life is REALLY tough (by 1st World standards) in Third World countries. In so, so many places, the choice is between being a sweatshop worker or starving. This is not a fair choice, it is not a nice choice, but it is a necessary one. Because you <B>cannot fight change</B>. If you do, it and those who embrace it will come and run you over like a freight train.

    People argue that these people were fine before 'evil corporations' came and moved in. Nah. They were just like Europe was in the same level of technological advancement. Virtually everyone was a peasant, most people lived at a subsistence level. And in a way, they still are.

    But the money being invested in these little countries causes change. Not quickly, no. Very, very slowly. But all change is subtle, until it comes and grabs you. And so, while these children work in the sweatshops, things are changing. Because they <b>HATE</b> these sweatshops, just as the immigrants hated the way they were treated when they came to places like New York in the early 20th century. It was rough, it was miserable, but it changed. Because they wanted it to change. Because those children grow into adults, and they have learned, and they become managers, maybe, in these sweatshops. And they force change in the government, and over time, the country is transformed.

    For the better? Maybe. For the worse? Depends on what you think.

    I will bet anything that in, say, 300 years, Africa, so much like a hell on earth in some parts, has industrialized, or better. That it is modern, that it no longer has regular bouts of genocide (in parts). I will guarantee you that in 300 years, Bangladesh and Pakistan and China and the other many, many countries like them are no longer as backward as they are today. And you know why?

    Because of those damn sweatshops. Those damn sweatshops that make them want better for their children, that make them make a future for their children. Behold, the American Dream, yes? Hah. No, the Human Dream. Not wondrous, just progress. :-)

    /Tangfan

    [ Parent ]
    On the topic of assumptions... (none / 0) (#207)
    by PhoenixSEC on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:06:37 AM EST

    Nike building a factory somewhere does not 'automatically' make everyone rich and happy. I doubt the original poster had that intent (I'll go out on a limb =).

    Since you are looking for specific examples, I'd like to look at the relationship between the United States and Mexico.

    Companies in America have a problem with labor; it's expensive, and often the quality (especially for labor-intensive positions) is not there. The high intensity labor positions are usually filled by temp workers or, at the most, people working on increasing their position... neither stay around too long. High wages and low productivity; this is not good business.

    As a result, many of these companies have decided to move their labor-intensive operations to Mexico (leaving the less labor / higher skill positions in the US). These companies don't necessarily pay the most (by our standards), but they do pay well given the local economy. Proof of this is that there is no shortage of workers for every position, and those 'manufacturing towns' have people flocking to them - to find work. These people who now have work now make money, and in turn, they improve their standard of living. The people they employ work hard, and in turn get a good salary (again, remove yourself from your economy and view the salary from their position).

    After a time (of varied amount), people start finding better positions (e.g., after Abc Corp. built a factory, Xyz moved in; they pay a little more and have better working conditions) and the problems that caused them to leave America in the first place start popping up. They either have to improve the working coniditons (and/or salary) or move on to a different, uncommercialized area. While it's still profitable, they will improve the working conditions where they are, and, when it gets to a point, they will move on (building a new plant is not cheap, but if the labor costs will offset it...).

    When they leave, either they will a) leave some higher-skilled positions behind, b) take some trained people with them to act as managers, or, at the very least c) sell their land to a company that is looking for cheaper labor as well (who will have to offer better positions than the company leaving offered). Slowly, the people becomed trained in different things, and their positions (and situations) improve.

    Obviously, it would be nice (read: idealistic) to instantly bring everyone up to the best standard of living possible. If you have a plan to do this, please share with us - or at least me, I'd love to give it a try. Until then, the slow moving improvement of corporations and competition will have to suffice.

    Thanks,
        Phoenix_SEC

    [ Parent ]
    i've heard mexico is not doing better.... (none / 0) (#209)
    by Trickster on Mon May 07, 2001 at 05:48:04 PM EST

    ... now than it did before, but that's not the point of this post because i don't know of a more or less reliable source on this topic.
    i've done some researching on the topic of globalisation and here are the results.

    http://www.globalisation.gov.uk/ -- british government's whitepaper/promise on how to make globalisation work. i am reading the intro text and so far it sounds good to me.

    http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/glob101/background/2000/neolib.html
    http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/glob101/background/2001/factsheet.html
    www.corpwatch.org's view on globalisation. i tend to agree with them.

    pro globalisation - www.wto.org.

    now, back to your arguments.
    as you've said, the corporations move thier labour intense and/or environmentally hazardous operations to developing countries because of cheap labour/lax environmental laws. sure, this pours in some cash into the local market but this is short-term solution to their problem and not the best one. here is why.

    competing companies try to avoid each other (look at the current state of telephone services in north america) so the fact that 2 (or even more) competing corporations build plants in the same region does not necessarily mean increase in wages - a, inc employs 50e3 people but there are still several millions more who will fight to get a job at the b, inc's new plant so b, inc can safely pay as much as a, inc does or less (as long as they pay higher than what the people are getting on thier current jobs or in some cases at least paying at all). people flocking to manufacturing towns does not drive the wages up - they drive them down. remember the great depresion? lots of farmers with no land moving to california to pick up oranges? that did not solve the problem. on the contrary - it only worsened it. in order for working conditions/pay to increase because of competition, local industry should be developed not having someone else bring in their plants.

    and skills aquired working at those factories are not all that marketable. most of them (maybe there are some exceptions) are of the type - move-that-there, put-it-there, press-that-button, etc...

    i'll agree with the argument that the companies would move thier more high tech operations if there were enough skilled workers with lower demands. i think that a country should invest equally in education, health (and environmental protection since it would reduce healthcare spendings) and encourage local industrial development, in order to get somewhere. that's my idealistic plan :). that or total mind control of the population ;). the fact that this kind of plan works, and works well is demonstrated by japan and germany - both countries were ruined after WW II, but look at them now.

    plus there's the environment aspect. ever had any of your friends die at 17 because of liver failure? the last month of their life they usually do not look that pretty.from my observations people generaly do not realise how devastating an environmental catastrophe is (the link between environmental and health problems, i think, is not that obvious to many people) and tend to ignore those kind of things or make them second priority.

    well, that's my position :)


    [ Parent ]
    Just do it (4.75 / 4) (#198)
    by tumeric on Sun May 06, 2001 at 02:45:32 PM EST

    But this is just liberal western meddling - the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day

    Actually, in Vietnam you get paid 20c an hour for making athletic products or 6c an hour for soccer balls (Pakistan). See here. And no, working conditions don't make up for the low pay. They have incentive schemes though. You don't have to be anti-globalisation to hate Nike -- just human.

    free market price takers (4.00 / 1) (#220)
    by american goon on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:02:59 AM EST

    You sort of missed one of his points- if the labor market is "free," meaning people can take or leave jobs easily, no matter how crappy the conditions or pay, you can give me all the vivid examples in the world, if they choose to take that job of their own free will then they must be better off with it then without it. If the wage isn't enough to eat with, then whatever they could do for themselves without that job must effectively pay even less.

    It makes me sick when people say we should move plants out of these countries, we're "exploiting" the people there. Good, we'll move out and they can all just starve.

    [ Parent ]

    Free market price takers (none / 0) (#234)
    by tumeric on Fri May 11, 2001 at 05:21:09 PM EST

    if they choose to take that job of their own free will then they must be better off with it then without it

    Which makes it exploitation. We can afford to have our sports gear made in better circumstances.

    It makes me sick when people say we should move plants out of these countries, we're "exploiting" the people there. Good, we'll move out and they can all just starve.

    We do quite regularly. Once unions appear or tax loopholes are closed the factories move to another country and the workers are left in the same position. Heres a slide which touts the economic advantages of this model.

    [ Parent ]

    Actually One is often forced to Buy and Sell (4.00 / 2) (#201)
    by Grey42 on Sun May 06, 2001 at 06:02:45 PM EST

    No one is forced to buy from, or to work for, a multinational company. That we do so in our millions every day is a reflection of their fairness.
    This is rather not true, in many many cases. For instence take a major cash crop of Latin America. Bannas, there are 4 company the buy the banna for the US, Canada, and Europe they have formed a consorium that keep their buying price of bannas low. If ever the farmers try and form a coop to rase price those farmers, even to the point of a whole country gets NO banna sales that year. (Its happend) Which in the short term these multi national just raise the price of bannas for a few months, until the farmers start to cave. (The mutli nations have much more ablity to with stand cash flow problems than most latin america contries much less individual farmers.

    Next point farmers in brazil, are fequently beaten and shoot if they don't sell their land to a major corperation, major coperations have lots of money to by guns etc. and most farmers are poor and a long way from the police station who like isn't even as armed. Neadless to say after the famers has been forced to sell their is not a lots they can do but to go and work for the corperation.

    In the first world WE have some power over corperations but that is going away, in the thrid most people have None
    -- Grey 42(Chris Lusena)

    Bananas, I Can Only Assume...? (none / 0) (#202)
    by tangfan on Sun May 06, 2001 at 06:46:40 PM EST

    No insult, I understand not everyone has English as a first language. But for your own edification, the curvy, yellowish tropical fruit is actually called a 'banana'.

    /TF

    [ Parent ]
    Just another sign (2.57 / 7) (#208)
    by slippytoad on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:29:18 PM EST

    As I watched Gladiator the other day, I leaned over to my wife and mentioned the upcoming mcveigh execution, and how a group wanted to telecast it on the web. I then pointed out that the increase in real violence and misery as entertainment was one of those prime indicators that a society's curve has passed its peak.

    This post is another. It's so vociferously self-delusional and chock-full of irrational circular arguments. I can't imagine changing the author's opinion. He's not bothered to do his homework; clearly he hasn't taken ten seconds of time to analyze his primary assertions, let alone made an effort to follow up on his facts. Refuting his ill-considered categorical propositions, overbroad generalizations, and so-called "facts" could be readily done, but he's amassed such a list of them that it would take me hours. It's just becoming exhausting for rational people to fight this kind of thing.

    So, whatever, dude. You're wrong and about 10,000 people are going to post to this article to tell you exactly how. But if you're too intellectually lazy to check out the facts or logic of your first salvo, I don't expect you to take the trouble to follow up on the responses. You will continue to blither through your life unable to think your way out of a paper bag, until BANG! reality explodes in your face. There are a lot of very real signs that the global economy you think is so great is going to eat itself raw in another couple of decades. It's horrendously unbalanced, and just like the US market of the 1920's (you have read your history?) it is more and more based on rampant speculation, and less and less based on real value or actual work. You know, work, as opposed to a bunch of Intellectual(tm) Property(R) that doesn't mean anything? Hope you've got some gold in your basement. The collapse of the global economy is going to make the Great Depression look like a funny old movie. I hope it doesn't happen, but seeing such an ignorant bunch of tripe like this sure lowers my spirits.
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain

    Same to you (none / 0) (#238)
    by rgrow on Sun May 13, 2001 at 01:32:41 AM EST

    It's interesting that you accuse the writer of being intellectually lazy yet present no refutations of things he said. He wrote the article. That's more than you did.

    [ Parent ]
    The Seven Loose pieces. (3.00 / 2) (#210)
    by thePositron on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:48:49 AM EST

    I urge you all to read the essay linked to below.

    The Seven Loose Pieces of the Global Jigsaw Puzzle



    Error of fact (4.80 / 5) (#218)
    by wtfai on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:45:36 PM EST

    For years, capitalists have been a silent majority. They stood by as communism spread around the world, apparently content to take a laissez-fair approach, not just to economics, but to the governance of the world as well. I'm sorry but this shows either a blatent disregard for, or a complete ignorence of post 2nd world war history. In (rough) chronological order we have Greece, Korea, Vietnam and Chile, while this little thing called the cold war was also going on, featuring events like McCarthyism, the Cuban Missile Crisis etc. It's hard to conceive of greater resistance to communism without a nuclear war. On a slightly less destructive note there's the billions spent on advertising, which indirectly promotes capitalism, a police force and legal system which is geared towards protecting property rather than people and a political system so in hock to business that no politician with hopes of electoral office dares to say anything even slightly anti-capitalist. In fact, given the overwhelming might of the capitalist system it's amazing that so many people protest.

    property rather than people (3.00 / 2) (#219)
    by american goon on Wed May 09, 2001 at 11:53:36 PM EST

    "...police force and legal system which is geared towards protecting property rather than people..."

    I like that little phrase. I like it because it has a nice ring to it- maybe I'll repeat it to myself in my head a few times.
    It's too bad that it's totally subjective, emotional nonsense. "Property rather people?" How can you ever support that? If you get shot, are you arrested for damaging your shooter's bullet?

    [ Parent ]

    Perhaps they're British (none / 0) (#233)
    by tumeric on Fri May 11, 2001 at 05:07:39 PM EST

    Because in Britain you are now treated as a terrorist (as in you have less legal rights than a murderer) for destroying property with political motive. Emotional nonsense indeed.

    [ Parent ]
    Plagarism (none / 0) (#237)
    by wtfai on Sat May 12, 2001 at 02:53:56 PM EST

    "...police force and legal system which is geared towards protecting property rather than people..."

    I like that little phrase. I like it because it has a nice ring to it- maybe I'll repeat it to myself in my head a few times.

    To be honest it's not original, but I can't remember where I got it from.

    My favourite (perhaps not the right word) examples come from squatting and right's of way. It is currently illegal to occupy somebody elses property, even if you have nowhere else to live and they're not using it, have not used it for some time, and show no signs of using it in the future.

    My other example is that, in England at least, large amounts of countryside are barred to everyone bar the owners. I'm not talking about arable farmland here, but moorland with a commercial value of about tuppence-hap'ny.

    I would suggest that this is evidence that I'm right. Now produce evidence that you're right.

    [ Parent ]
    ok (1.10 / 29) (#226)
    by mushroom on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:15:43 PM EST

    i think youre full of crap, but i am glad you have a place to openly post your vile shit spew. unlike some places, where there are 50,000 nazi fuck moderators who are all hand picked by a small circle of circle jerking cock chopping air heads with the journalistic integrity of a moth attracted to a blow torch, 'ooh look pretty colors.', LIKE FUCKING SLASHDOT. it is good to have kuro5hin the left wing commie fucks who want to murder 30% of the population for an ideological utopia that they figure will probably happen in 50 years after the state 'withers away', vs the anarchist who have yet to master the art of shitting into a bowl and flushing, vs the right wing fascists like you who not only murder each other and everyone else, but claim they are pious christians.. whatever... i am gladd they all have a place to talk because otherwise they would be shooting and building bombs, and maybe some will even meet on kuro5hin and get married and have fascist/communist babies and how can you have a war in a world like that? you cant! thats why kuro5hin is going to stop war as we know it, because it has freedom of expression.

    Globalization And Its Effects (4.00 / 2) (#228)
    by nymia_g on Fri May 11, 2001 at 03:12:54 AM EST

    While I do believe Capitalism is a necessary mechanism needed to achieve an economic objective. I do, however, denounce the evils arising from it. Take a look at this page for articles relating to it.

    Finally (3.00 / 1) (#232)
    by FloWo on Fri May 11, 2001 at 02:42:07 PM EST

    A well written and completely ironic text about globalisation. The author makes it look like a lot of people, in fact the whole world, had the choice; as if everyone could do what they want to. - Yeah, if you don't want to be treated like shit, just go anywhere else and live a happy life, of course only if you want to. Honestly speaking, the text is as cynical as I can possibly imagine one to be. Of course you always have the choice. Hell, if you don't like the clothing companies, walk around naked! If you don't like the employment policies of the "highly moralic" companies, just found your own company! It's all so easy, in the brave neo-liberalistic world! Come and join us! You habe nothing to lose except for your humanity and self-respect!

    If you think his arguments are bad... (1.66 / 3) (#236)
    by seebs on Sat May 12, 2001 at 12:27:37 PM EST

    Look at the responses. Most of the hostile responses are just plain ad homenim, and even the ones that have "reasons" are at least as circular as his arguments.

    The fact is, every argument made against the original piece ("correlation is not causality") applies just as well to the alleged evils - and indeed, most of those evils don't really exist.

    You don't like people working for $.20/hour? Would you rather they not work? That they work for $.05/hour? Wages *rise* over time, especially when you let people compete for employees. If you isolate these people from economies that have capital, you will make it very hard for them to make any progress at all. If you encourage capital investment in these poor countries, wages will steadily increase over time, just as they have in the past.

    Exchange rates are horribly misleading; the money in a poor country always looks worthless in dollars, because it's not very stable currency. If you look at it in terms of "can these people get food to eat", they're much closer to an "acceptable" standard. And no, they're not all the way there yet - but they're closer than they were before they got jobs.

    Mostly, though, this is just the kind of whining that only people who have never been in any danger themselves indulge in. People who have been in real danger of starvation tend to be much more positive about the option of changing their lives; the people who don't like it are the ones who have never had to work before, and don't want anyone forcing them to start now.

    Get over it. Capitalism will continue to be the basis of economic theory until someone finds a theory with better *explanatory power*. Right now, our best theory is that capital investment improves productivity, and productivity, directed at things people want, is the closest thing we have to a real measure of wealth. Conveniently, capitalism and free trade increase capital investment and productivity.

    If you want the poor to be better off, go out there and help them. Don't whine because the way other people are helping doesn't make sense to you. DO something. (Protesting is not "doing something". It's whining.)


    Inflation (none / 0) (#240)
    by FloWo on Sun May 13, 2001 at 04:47:52 PM EST

    Speaking of wages. Okay, they rise over time. But what rises too, and much more quickly, is inflation. Ever seen wages rise 1000% a year? No. Evern seen prices rise 1000% a year? Hell, yeah. In a lot of countries you have in fact hyperinflation, well beyond a thousand percent. And now I ask: Where are the labor unions to force a rise of wages that at leat exceed the rate of inflation in countries where you can buy work force for a couple of bucks? Mostly nonexistent due to the power that corporations use to prevent people from organizing against corporations' interests. In my opinion, you are doing something when you turn the world's attention to these cirumstances.

    [ Parent ]
    Lack of education is worse than exploatation (5.00 / 1) (#241)
    by WulfiusKhan on Sun May 13, 2001 at 08:55:08 PM EST

    I have read virtually all of the comments and not one seems to be
    recognising the REAL tragedy of children working for $3/h.

    Whilst our 'western' children are watching Sesame street and building
    their fundamental cognitive skills to become geeks, scientists, lawyers
    and yes, businesspeople. The $3 assembly line children forever cripple
    the ability of the country they are citizens of to develop a populuce
    capable of ever competing with us.

    Globalist translation.
    Making kids work is not good. Our kids go to school. Their kids do not.
    Their kids will have no good skills. They will never compete with us.

    Hmm... from their perspective, this is a good thing.
    And THAT is why Globalisation is evil.

    --- Remember, you are unique. Just like everybody else.
    [ Parent ]
    Oh dear, oh dear (5.00 / 2) (#245)
    by nichughes on Tue May 15, 2001 at 08:47:54 AM EST

    Nicely written shame about the facts. Just to pick out some of the more glaring errors; They stood by as communism spread around the world, apparently content to take a laissez-fair approach.

    A beautifully Orwellian re-writing of history here, or perhaps you have forgotten Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia etc etc. However, multinational companies (to which we will return), are fundamentally moral organisations

    No they are not and I suggest you read up a little corporate law before presuming to lecture people. Corporations are a legally sanctioned means for people to avoid or limit their exposure to the consequences of their own actions. At best they are amoral.

    I could go on but the longer the list gets the more I begin to think I've just been trolled.

    Speak for yourself! (4.80 / 5) (#247)
    by captain soviet on Wed May 16, 2001 at 08:09:13 AM EST

    Globalisation increases the poverty gap between the rich of the world and the poor. [...] Today the top fifth get 89 per cent of the total output; the poorest, 1.2 per cent."
    On the surface, this is a very powerful argument indeed,[...]. However, there is a very simple flaw with this - it is talking about relative poverty. It doesn't take into account the 5-fold increase in the world's wealth over the same period. It doesn't sound quite so good when one says that the world's poor have seen their wealth triple in the last 40 years.

    Your views do have major flaws. You are missing some VERY important points.

    1. population growth - the riches of the poor have indeed grown, - but also have their numbers
    2. while the world food production would allow supplying more than enough food for everyone, 800 million people are currently suffering from malnutrition
    3. the wealth of the industrial countries is only sustainable as long people in underdevloped countries are denied sufficient health care, education (etc pp)
    4. Globalization as the WTO understands it (for them it just means free trade) makes it easier for large companies to exploit the natural resources of poor countries because they have to give up protectionism.

    Don't get me wrong I'm neither a socialist nor am I one of those anti-globalization fanatics, but I believe multi-national companies are nothing but the product of human selfishness and greed and the more we are able control them, the more people will benefit from their existence.

    The Irrational Nature of the Global Marketplace. The case here is that the marketplace and capitalism are irrational and chaotic, and are damaging as a result. [...] Firstly, if one criticises the mechanisms on which the global marketplace are based, and wish to tear the edifice down, one must have a reasonable replacement. Of course, noone does.

    I do and some other people do, too. The main reason for that is that you (thank god) do not decide what's reasonable and what is not.
    Our economic systems have always been object to changes and developments and they will always be. It's not like the system ever was simply replaced by another and it will not for the forseeable future, so we don't need a replacement yet, to criticize the mechanisms. There are many slight improvements, that can be made. Some of them even you might recognize as reasonable.

    If one is against the marketplace and capitalism, then presumably one is for some sort of planned economy, or perhaps (and these people actually exist) some sort of primitive state with no economy at all.

    your argumentation is flawed. You simply state that everyone who is against capitalism is for planned economy (=socialism - you don't say that, but you mean it) or for no economy (=anarchism).

    1. there is no way for 'no economy at all' to exist, for that would mean there is 'no trade at all' and humans will always trade, even if they are just trading a stick for a stone or a stone for a bone.
    2. I can imagine a society were companies aren't just working for profit but for the benefit of all and were there are no world market prices, but only regional market prices according to what people of a certain region can afford to pay for a product, so there is at least one other alternative

    Personally, I am not against the planned economy on principle. In principle I think that it is our ultimate destination. The problem with any planned economy is that the planner of it all must be of incredible intelligence, fairness and so on, well beyond our present capacities.

    It might be beyond your present capacities but it's certainly not beyound our capacities. Speak for yourself! We could do it if we only wanted to do it. It's just a matter of all people agreeing to one system.

    [...]Those third world countries that embrace capitalism invariably perform better than those that don't. A brief perusal of global economic indices will show this.

    Sorry, - it did not. I took a look at the global economic indices and it only showed that those 3rd world countries performed better which had certain natural resources or at least fertile soil... Others performed worse because some richer countries found it necessary to punish them by blocking them from free trade or because those countries have nothing but the people living there.

    Cultural reasons. The argument here is that globalisation is destroying indigenous cultures, and spreading the Anglo Saxon worldview to all corners of the globe. [...] I would argue that it is entirely up to these native people what they do in this regard. [...]

    That is wrong. If you try to sell a product you will notice, that this particular product with a particular design will sell differently in some regions according to which cultural background they have. For the companies it would be most profitable if there was for example one car that sold all around the world and not just in the US or in western europe.
    A hypothetical situation: Let's say Ford designs a new car for the US market and than decides to bring this car to western europe and to china.
    In western europe this car won't sell very good. It has its own ideas of design and its own car producers, that can build exactly those cars the average buyer in western europe wants.
    In china there is no company producing cars with a 'chinese' design so the chinese have to buy that car with the 'american' design and the chinese will adopt the ideas of 'american' design once they get used to it.
    You might say there is no point of it, but I tell you, there is another piece of our cultural wealth lost. It won't stop with chinese driving 'american' cars. They buy washing machines, compact disc players, television sets, radios, computers, operating systems with 'american' design. They will start listening to their music, watching their movies etc as a consequence of globalization without ever coming to a point where they could say 'stop! here I'm giving up my own culture and I adopt an alien culture'. In the end - without efforts to preserve their culture the chinese would be the perfect americans.

    I'm not saying: 'Don't sell cars to china'. It was just meant to counter your argument it would be 'entirely up to these native people' which cultural backgrounds they keep and what they adopt.

    [...]And why should a corporation be worse because it makes money? Is the profit motive immoral?

    yes, it is. The profit motive is solely a product of greed and selfishness. Although this motive proved to be beneficial at some occasions and for some people, the motive itself is immoral. And you will find that many founders of companies (except for Bill Gates, of course ;-) had more than just the profit motive because as a person they felt it was there duty to do more than just make profit.
    A corporation making money is no more led by a person but by a manager. A manager has to make profit or he is fired. There is no more one owner that says: 'in the name of charity and good will I will do something for third world countries, now' - they are owned by investment fonds which are led by managers. - At the end of the chain there are some people owning little piece of a company but without any direct influence on that company. Although these owners might feel the urge to do something good each for himself, the manager of the company is still fired if he doesn't make the maximum profit.
    You see, there are more motives than just the profit but only the profit motives survive if a company is incorporated.

    I'm not saying: 'Abolish all corporations that make money'. But 'money-making corporations try to do that with maximum efficiency leaving not much place for charity or good will'

    [...]But this is just liberal western meddling - the simple fact is that it is much better to be working for Nike for $3 a day (a lot of money in a country like India) than to be a street urchin in Calcutta.

    This is a very cynical way of seeing it. And it is not even true. If people weren't working for Nike for $3 a day (which is even in countries like India not very much) Nike would have to pay them more money to work for them because Nike has to produce it's shoes somewhere and it's only producing in India because Indians do work for $3 a day.

    If the children thought it was too little money, or had somewhere better to go, then they would not do the work.

    Well, if the question was work for $3 or starve, - even you would work for $3 a day. It's not as if they had any choice, even though you try to make it seem that way.

    Nonetheless, companies are now unwilling to employ children under any circumstances, even part time (the vast majority of children are employed part time), which has led to an increase in suffering for these children. And all because Western protestors, who know nothing, feel the need to meddle.

    This isn't correct either. As Nike IS producing shoes and it's not like they don't need ANY employees at all. If they don't employ the children, they have to employ the parents (who were formerly often unemployed) which is much better, if you ask me. It doesn't increase the suffering of a child if it hasn't got to contribute to the family income, any more.

    I think that seeking wealth is to be greatly encouraged. The reason that Bangladeshis don't give money to charity is that they don't have any money to give. Meanwhile, in America, people like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are giving 10 figure sums to charity. The profit motive, combined with a fair environment, results in wealth, and has many trickle down effects.

    First of all, I want you to acknowledge that it's not corporations giving money to charity, but persons. Second, it is not the profit motive that makes them spend money for charity. Third, if someone has more money than he could spend in his life reasonably and gives one or two percent of it to charity, - you would call THAT an achievement? It wouldn't hurt Bill Gates to spend 60 billion $ to charity tomorrow and you call 2 or 3 billion $ a trickle down effect? The only reason he doesn't spend more money for charity is the profit motive. Which other motive could make him keep so much money although he knows he's not going to spend it anyway?

    There is a very simple reason that America is the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation. It is because it is the most business friendly.

    Oh, I though it was because of its imperialism and militarism. - You're right! They don't need atomic bombs, sub marines, etc. or preventing others from gaining advantage from their own technical advances. - Just being business friendly makes you wealthy and powerful. You know, you should print this on flyers and give them out to the people of Somalia.

    It was even discovered by companies - Columbus didn't come to the Americas in the spirit of exploration, after all. He came to make a quick buck.

    Which has yet to be proven.

    The only way we as a civilisation will move forward is if we realise both our own nature and the nature of others.

    Here you are say being against globalization is against our nature? If so, you ARE even MORE stupid than I thought.

    I find the antiglobalisation protestors to be extremely misguided in this regard, and more damningly, they appear to have a core of racism and western patronage in their attitude towards the rest of the world.

    You didn't really have any compelling arguments for the racism-part and I remain unsure if what you mean by western patronage is that bad at all. Trying to protect others is not misguided, and it is in the nature of at least some humans to do so.

    We should let the people of the world decide for themselves, through the aggregate of their everyday actions of taking jobs, working, buying and selling. Through the ultimate democracy that will decide this issue - the global marketplace.

    As I showed you, people aren't really free to choose for which company and under which conditions to work, they aren't free to buy what they want (they can only buy what they can afford and they can't always take into consideration how it was produced, nor do they always know) and they certainly can't sell what they want (many people have nothing to sell, than themselves. They have no chance to gain the knowledge nor the tools to produce anything by themselves)

    You let it seem as if it was the people that decided in a capitalistic world. But you are wrong and you didn't even prove your thesis. The world's companies do have a strong influence on any decision taken by the people. Those companies, as I said above, are not led by people, but by managers who are fired if they don't make enough profit. Those managers as leaders of a company are no real persons (they may be persons when they come home), they are the incorporated profit motive. Therefore those companies must be controlled.
    Sumed up, my point is globalization cannot only mean free trade or the whole world being business friendly. It has also to mean global control of the global market. The WTO does not sufficiently control the market. And as long we have no means to control a global market, we should delay the process of globalization until we do have.
    Moreover YOU are a cynic. Your views are dangerous and immoral. Most important: YOU do NOT speak for the silent majority. The ONLY reason you are led to believe you did, is that the majority chose to remain silent.



    oh, come on (none / 0) (#251)
    by Sleepy In Seattle on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:18:58 AM EST

    We could do it [a planned economy] if we only wanted to do it. It's just a matter of all people agreeing to one system.

    No, we can't, not even in principle. A planned economy assumes that you can build some kind of model that explains perfectly how people make economic decisions and then perform some optimization that would achieve maximum utility or happiness or some such. But there's no way to create such a model in the first place, because every individual's preferences are individual and there's no way to capture information on how individual preferences vary with every possible combination of tradeoffs, over time, relative to other individuals' preferences, and so on.

    I took a look at the global economic indices and it only showed that those 3rd world countries performed better which had certain natural resources or at least fertile soil

    I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I can think of a handful of counterexamples off the top of my head. Japan was a poor country in the early part of the 20th century, and has very limited land and natural resources relative to the size of its population. Today, of course, it's the second-largest (? not positive about that) economy in the world. Or look at Hong Kong or Singapore, neither of which has any fertile soil or natural resources to speak of.

    In the end - without efforts to preserve their culture the chinese would be the perfect americans.

    Cultures evolve over time. Always have, always will. American culture is not some monolithic thing -- it borrows heavily from other cultures itself. Just look at how African-American culture has become a mainstream part of American culture in general just in the past decade, or how Latino culture is influencing American culture. The big difference with cultural evolution these days it's that it's usually voluntary, based on people accepting the products and people of other countries, rather than forced through conquest and rape. The Chinese are free to ignore the influence of the outside world if they wish; they've certainly done it in the past, and they could do it again.

    I want you to acknowledge that it's not corporations giving money to charity, but persons

    Not entirely true. Virtually every museum I visit, for example, has prominent signage listing corporate donors who have contributed 7-figure sums.

    You also complain about Bill Gates only giving away "2 or 3 billion $". You ought to check your facts. As of 1999, Gates had given in excess of $17 billion to his foundation, and he's said publicly many times that he plans to give away the vast majority of his wealth before he dies. Remember that right now he's only, what, 41 or so.

    Trying to protect others is not misguided

    Unfortunately, it sometimes is, because it's coupled with an attitude that says "I know what's good for you". The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    [ Parent ]

    Moral Companies? Amoral you mean (5.00 / 1) (#248)
    by ccpirate on Thu May 17, 2001 at 06:47:59 PM EST

    However, multinational companies (to which we will return), are fundamentally moral organisations, in the sense that they are based on fair tenets.

    This is exactly opposite of what corporations are. Corporations, almost by definition, are amoral. Or to put it more correctly, they are effectively amoral. They ARE moral, but they have only one moral code. "Maximize shareholder value." Literally any action they take can be justified provided that it furthers this cause. The argument could be made that amoral humans also exist, and can be driven to any action for religious or other reasons. This is true, but this is generally limited to those humans that society in general would consider anti-social or criminal.

    ALL corporations are this way. All corporations would be considered sociopaths if they were real people. The fun part is that they are required to be this way by law, at least in the US. Indeed they can be sued for placing any other priority above "Maximizing shareholder value." The result of this amoral view has been seen in things like the Love Canal fiasco, Superfund sites, etc. Blind eyes were turned to the damage being done to human beings by corporations because there was no ROI for human happiness. "Maximizing shareholder value" most easily met through polluting the environment and killing people.

    Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has doubtless seen examples of this attitude in action to a greater or lesser extent. Beliefs like "if we don't do it, someone else will" are readily evident in conversations where the ethical aspects of the business are questioned. As long as there is no law or regulation against it, any course of action that adds shareholder value is considered fair game.

    Maybe YOU are willing to trust yourself to the benevolence of your "moral" corporations, but having lived with the consequences of the amazingly poor decisions made by these companies in the last century, forgive the rest of us if we are not eager to do so.

    Love Canal is a bad example for your point (4.00 / 1) (#252)
    by WinPimp2K on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:05:24 PM EST

    Hooker Chemical (the company that owned the land and used it for a dump site) consistently tried to prevent the development of the land above the dump. This link provides some rather interesting historical background especially in light of the disaster there. (Sure, its Liberatarian propoganda, but that doesn't mean it is all wrong)In short, Hooker Chemical sold the Love Canal property to the Board of Education for a dollar so they could try and put limits on the use the land would be put to - at a time when the Board was fully prepared to condemn the property and seize it under eminent doamin.

    And no, this doesn't mean that I think corporations are inherently moral - I just think that Love Canal is not an example of amoral corporate behavior. It is a very good example of amoral behavior on the part of a government agency though.

    [ Parent ]

    Whats Wrong with Capitalism & Socialism (5.00 / 1) (#249)
    by ainsje on Sun May 20, 2001 at 11:32:45 AM EST

    The problem with most arguments about globalization is that they tend to result in either cheerleading for Capitalism or Socialism without focusing on the problems inherent in the two systems.

    Under a purely capitalist system where the means of production are held by a minority of the population; the vast majority of men will be denied sufficiency and security.

    They will be denied sufficiency because the capitalist, acting in his own rational self-interest, will pay his employees as little as possible, even if it is less then they require to live.

    They will also be denied security because the capitalist, acting in his own self-interest, has no use for an employee who cannot produce. In old-age, sickness, or pain the worker is of no use to the capitalist.

    This denial of sufficiency and security is a problem. It is completely incompatible with any moral code and the people in any democratic society will demand that their government provide a solution.

    Socialism, where the means of production are held in trust by the political officers of the community, is an apparent solution. The political officers will provide jobs for the people and insure that the results of their labor are fairly distributed.

    In theory, socialism is a happy solution to the problem. In fact it is ultimately disasterous. The worker in a socialist state finds himself required either by law or compelling circumstance (ie there is no one else to work for)to work for the state. He is no longer a free man, able to sell his work or not as he pleases. He is, in fact, a slave; required to work for those who own the means of production. In return for his work he will receive sufficiency and security, which he has purchased at the loss of his freedom.

    The problem I have with much of the globalization movement is that it appears to be nothing more than a bargin struck between large corperations and governments. In return for providing some measure of sufficiency and security for the nations of the world the large corperations will insure that they continue to control more property, to grow in power, and to ultimately bring about the compelling circumstances which will require people to work for them. Globalization is nothing less then a return to slavery.

    At this point, the kuro5hin reader may say, "Be that as it may, you haven't proposed a viable solution to the problem." So I will propose one.

    Under both capitalism and socialism the bulk of the property is held by a few people whether they are businessmen or in government. The reason both groups are able to opress the worker are because they own the means by which wealth is produced. The best way to ensure the worker is not opressed is to ensure that the bulk of the workers posses some type of capital; that they have a share of the means of production. This common possession of capitol would solve the two problems of sufficiency and security. Through ownership of capital the worker would receive sums increasing his salary and providing a source of income during difficult times; poor health and old age.

    This means that government and communities should encourage maximum ownership of the means of production. Small businesses should be encouraged at the expense of large ones. Where large businesses are necessary, they should be 'distributed corperations' with many of their functions outsourced to smaller, local businesses. People should try to own the means by which they make their living e.g. truck drivers should own their own trucks.

    Certain piece of intellectual property should be held in common for the benefit of all...like, say, operating systems.

    Employee stock ownership plans should be encouraged. Also, programs which reward purchasers of a companies goods with shares of ownership should be implemented.

    This would result in a wide distribution of property and wealth. There would still be rich and poor...but society would tend much more towards equality; and people (and markets) would be truly free.


    Good laws derive from evil habits. -Macrobius
    Problems with your proposal (none / 0) (#250)
    by Sleepy In Seattle on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:51:50 AM EST

    One of the things I've never understood about perceived flaws in capitalism is this distinction that gets drawn between the oppressors who own capital and the oppressed workers who are powerless to do anything but work for the oppressors. Maybe I just don't buy into oppression as a concept, at least not in this day and age, where anyone (at least in a modern economy like the U.S.) has options and can strike out on their own. I don't expect anyone to provide sufficiency and security for me except myself, and fortunately it's not hard to go out and become your own little capitalist corporation if you decide you don't want to work for the big bad oppressors any more. In fact, it's almost ridiculous how easy it is -- I know because I did it the other day. Ten minutes on the Web and $15 got me a business license; a few more minutes on the Web, two signatures, a fax, and a phone call later I had a business bank account. That's hardly a high barrier to anyone's becoming a capitalist themselves.

    Increasingly, the means by which wealth is produced is not through traditional physical capital, it's through intellectual capital. And nobody can own the thoughts inside your head.

    And possession of physical capital is far more widespread than you probably realize. More than 50 percent of the U.S. population owns stock, either directly or indirectly. Now, clearly, those holdings are not evenly distribued, but the fact remains that a majority of people, not a minority, have at least partial ownership of the "means of production".

    [ Parent ]

    Mexico, Jakarta, New Delhi, Gaza, Juarez (4.00 / 1) (#254)
    by agharta on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:34:14 PM EST

    (The following is an advertisement of the future)

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    Weak Randianism is in style this spring. It´s all the rage. New pascal colors, replacing the solid colors of the fifties and sixties, make the argument much more attractive to wear. While tougher fabric, solid lead, make the inevitable counter argument much easier to ignore. The most notable change from the original Randian argument is the eased emphasis on spelling and logical argumentation. Instead of tight writing and complex patterns, looseness and simplicity have taken their place. Well, partially. Many of the old features that made Randianism popular during the fifties and sixties, are back! With avengeance! Just take a look at the beautiful models on our catwalk: Assuming that communism had "spread around the world" was popular, and is back. Ignoring the poverty in the third world was popular, and is back. Ignoring underlying social relations was very popular, and is obviously back. And attacking the weak philosophers, while ignoring the strong, is ... back.

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    For those who did not like the satire of ideologists above, here is a shorter version, ad hominem style first and then a direct attack on the Urban Existentialist´s first point:

    1. Those who defend "laissez faire" capitalism ought to spell the word right. FAIRE, not fair. Respect results from doing things right. I do not respect you.

    2. Living standards and wealth are two different concepts. You seem to be confusing the two. Wealth is something people produce through work. It is the product of their labour, both mentally and menially. The wealth produced by the world economy may well of increased fivefold since the sixties, but what is your point? A lot of wealth can be held in the hands of a tiny number of people. Ninety-five percent of the wealth you speak of is in the hands of ultra-elite and the global middle class. Perhaps five percent of that growth has touched the masses living in abject poverty (2 billion). But this is a mere pittance since the global population has increased twofold since the fifties. In other words, the number of poor, those who control 1.2% of the world´s wealth, has increased by a silly number.

    Living standards are objective guidelines written by international organizations whose goal is to educate the global population about poverty. For instance, those who are not living in abject poverty have access to clean drinking water, a certain amount of calories per week, a solid shelter, and basic medical needs. Those who live in card board boxes, drink urine, shit, and soap with their water, whose stomachs grumble twenty-three hours a day, and die of the flu ARE living in abject poverty. These are very objective guidelines. You got clean water? You are not living in abject poverty. You got enough food? No abject poverty tag for you! Very objective. I sure the simple minds can even process this information.



    Globalisation - Speaking out for the silent majority. | 256 comments (246 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
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