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Invisiblesir tripsalot
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1136689 - 12/12/02 09:03 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Just don't let it happen again.


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"Little racoons and old possums 'n' stuff all live up in here. They've got to have a little place to sit." Bob Ross.


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Invisiblesir tripsalot
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1136698 - 12/12/02 09:06 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

The pedophile in me is wanting to go and fuck a child in Thailand for a fair price. What gives you the right to judge that(it must be cultural)? BTW the bumbfight people are in legal trouble.


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"Little racoons and old possums 'n' stuff all live up in here. They've got to have a little place to sit." Bob Ross.


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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: carbonhoots]
    #1136705 - 12/12/02 09:11 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

carbonhoots writes:

Where in this cycle is the acknowlegement that people NEED money to live.

Not quite accurate. People need food and clothing and shelter, etc., and the usual way to obtain these thing is through purchasing them. It's not the only way, just the most common. A lot of humans lived before the concept of currency was invented. However, lets stipulate that money is essential to life and move on.

Some greedy hellbound fucks exploit this situation because they know in some environments, people will put up with a lot of shit.

Where I live there are no greedy hellbound fucks around to exploit anyone. How do I get some money so I can live?

They (with exeptions of course) care only for thier own profit, and will squeeze to the breaking point to increase it, EVEN IF THEY ARE ALREADY FILTHY RICH.

What if my filthy rich factory owner uncle dies and I inherit all his stuff -- money, factory, cars, mansion; the whole nine yards. I now have enough to live the rest of my life in comfort. I decide to close down the factory, gut it, and spend all but a fraction of my fortune on filling the ex-factory with modern art. There is now a really cool museum where there was none before. I allow anyone who wants to view this art to do so at no charge. I retain just enough of my inheritance to pay the taxes on a studio apartment and provide myself with the bare necessities (food, replacement clothing, medicines, etc.) for the statistically probable length of my life.

Am I acting morally?

pinky


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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: sir tripsalot]
    #1136714 - 12/12/02 09:15 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

The pedophile in me is wanting to go and fuck a child in Thailand for a fair price.

And your pedophilia relates to corporate "greed" exactly how?

BTW the bumbfight people are in legal trouble.

Ah. I must have missed something then. What country did this take place in? What are they charged with?

pinky



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Invisiblesir tripsalot
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1136826 - 12/12/02 10:50 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

How does it relate? Well I think it is unexceptible to exploit children, you think it is up to the culture to decide. So I brought up sex with children which is a commen practice in some parts of Thailand. You seem to think going abroad and taking a part in these practices(illegal here at least) are O.K.
Part of your argument is "If we don't do it someone else will" This I find tobe a copout.And about Toys R us having to research to see if children are slaving over making the products? Damn straight they should pay the dollars to find out. Ignorance is not an excuse.


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"Little racoons and old possums 'n' stuff all live up in here. They've got to have a little place to sit." Bob Ross.


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: sir tripsalot]
    #1137421 - 12/13/02 05:45 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Good point trips. If an american wants to have sex with a 6 year old girl and he can pay for it why isn't this right pink? As you yourself say:

An employer needs employees. He makes job offers. The terms and conditions of the offer comply with the laws in place at the time. Potential employees decide whether or not the offer is acceptable to them. A contract is (or isn't) signed. At some point, some of the employees may regret their decision and quit. The employer then makes new job offers to other potential employees, perhaps (or perhaps not) more attractive offers. The cycle continues.

Paedophiliac prostitution fits this cycle perfectly.


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Don't worry, B. Caapi


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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: sir tripsalot]
    #1137911 - 12/13/02 09:38 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

How does it relate?

Sigh. How does it relate to corporations operating for a profit, not individuals indulging their sexual perversions.

Well I think it is unexceptible to exploit children, you think it is up to the culture to decide.

No, I do NOT think it is up to a culture to decide. I am sorry I didn't make it clearer, but my whole "cultural equality" riff was tongue in cheek. Clearly some cultural practices are just plain wrong, even evil. Those who yatter on about how no one has the right to diss different cultures are just plain dumb. Certain practices of certain societies are immoral whether the majority of the people in the society acknowledge it or not.

Having said that, when we examine the specific case of "children" working (as I was doing), the cultural aspect of child labor laws is not irrelevant. As hongomon correctly pointed out, even within a given society there are anomalies in the definition of both what constitutes a "child" and what constitutes "child labor".

In the less developed countries (and even in rural areas of the more developed countries), "children" tend to start work at an earlier age than do those in the more developed countries. Neither the "children" nor the adult members of that society consider it to be "exploitation of children".

Part of your argument is "If we don't do it someone else will"

No it isn't. Please point out the part in this thread where I espoused such a concept. I do not espouse doing something JUST because someone else is. There are many things people do that I won't do. What I said was that no one has the right to prevent someone from trading with another, providing both parties to the trade agree to the terms of the trade.

And about Toys R us having to research to see if children are slaving over making the products? Damn straight they should pay the dollars to find out. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Ignorance is not an excuse? So when your neighbor buys a toy from Toys 'r' Us without even asking where it was manufactured she is guilty of exploiting children?

Ignorance is not an excuse? The final-level distributor from whom Toys 'r' Us buys their goods may offer literally thousands of different products, and Toys 'r' Us certainly buys from several distributors -- probably dozens. Any one of those distributors is capable of misrepresenting the origin of any one of their products either knowingly or unwittingly (in the case where they have been misled by THEIR distributor) or through ignorance. In order for Toys 'r' Us to KNOW unequivocally all the origins of that single item (out of the thousands they carry) they must literally send an employee on an airplane to investigate every single stage of that item's manufacture and shipping. And that's just for ONE item, remember. Multiply that procedure by hundreds or thousands and see how profitable your business becomes.

Ignorance is not an excuse? Have you ever bought one of those ubiquitous little hash pipes made out of interchangeable threaded brass tubes and fittings? The longest tube (the pipestem) has a sheath of colored plastic tubing or sometimes wood around it and a threaded white or black plastic collar-type mouthpiece. You know the ones I mean -- they've been around since the Sixties -- every head shop I've ever seen has them.

Were you aware of the appalling conditions the Brazilian miners who extracted the copper and zinc ore that were used to make the brass endured? According to hongomon, there are ten year old kids lugging thirty kilo bags of rocks around in those mines. What about the long hours in insanely hot and dangerous conditions they endure in front of smelters and blast furnaces? Or the steady deterioration of the eyesight and aching backs of those running the threading machinery and the lathes that shape the cast brass fittings that end up as elbow joints and bowls?

The bits and pieces that comprise that pipe are sold in bulk for pennies a pound, and your headshop charges you fifteen bucks or more for the smallest, simplest one in their display case. That's a HUGE profit margin -- far larger than the profit margin on a Wal-Mart T-shirt.

So all that human suffering took place in order for some stoner on Unemployment Insurance to zone out in front of the boob tube with a tube of Pringles at his elbow and that pipe in his mouth. According to you, the head shop owner is guilty of exploitation. By extension, so is the stoner who bought the pipe.

pinky


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Edited by pinksharkmark (12/13/02 10:28 AM)


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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Xlea321]
    #1138030 - 12/13/02 10:20 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Alex123 writes:

If an american wants to have sex with a 6 year old girl and he can pay for it why isn't this right pink?

This falls under the legal concept of "age of consent". Although there are variations from culture to culture in the laws regarding sexual congress with minors, I can't think of one offhand that considers a female child to be an "adult" in the sexual context before their first menstrual cycle. Other cultures set the age of consent higher. I believe in most American states it is 16. To complicate matters further, some societies may have varying gradations of "age of consent" that depend on the age of the sexual partner. For example, a 16 year old boy having sex with a 15 year old girl may not be violating the law, while a 35 year old man having sex with a 15 year old girl may be. Regardless, the case of a 6 year old is easy to decide -- forbidden.

The law (or custom, or tradition in the case of primitive societies with no written legal code) in every society of which I am aware recognizes that in many matters, a child under a certain age lacks the necessary wisdom to make decisions on her own. In such a case a parent or close relative or legal guardian is responsible for making the decision on behalf of the child. In the case of an orphan with no individual to act on her behalf, the courts assume the responsibility for the child -- the legal term for this situation is in loco parentis.

To address the point of an American businessman wishing to have sex with a Thai female, the relevant question is whether or not the female has reached the age of consent under Thai law. If she has, then any Thai man may have sex with her if and only if she voluntarily agrees. It therefore follows that (absent any Thai law to the contrary) any American or English or German man may do the same, again of course assuming she voluntarily agrees. If the female chooses to charge a fee for the sex act, that is her right. In the eyes of the Thai society (or Thai culture, if you will) no one has been harmed or even exploited in this scenario.

In the context of factory labor in a foreign country, the same principle applies. If the law in Singapore says that a boy (or girl) may begin work at age 14, then it is up to that boy or girl -- not to anyone else -- to make the decision to work for a Singapore company or an American company or not to work at all.

That's the way objective law works -- at a certain landmark age (and note that there may be several such ages: age of sexual consent, age to begin work, age at which to leave school, age to vote, age to drink, age to marry without parents' permission, age to become eligible for military service, age at which one becomes liable for criminal prosecution, etc.) additional legal rights of the individual become recognized by society until such time as the individual is legally a full and independent member of that society.

My example of an employer offering a job to a potential employee applies only to those who have had their right to work recognized by the society in which the place of work is located. This is why I included the phrase "The terms and conditions of the offer comply with the laws in place at the time."

If you would take the time to actually read what I write, we could both save ourselves some time.

pinky


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1138803 - 12/13/02 02:32 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"But judges and district attorneys are democratically elected in America, and jurors aren't even officials -- they are selected more or less randomly from the populace. Are you saying that no democratically elected American judge or prosecutor or juror has ever taken a bribe?"

Obviously not. But democratically elected officials with limited terms are easier to remove.

"Poverty and wealth are relative terms. The girl who was the subject of that story (even though she was the lowest-paid employee in that factory and was cheated out of much of what she did earn) was wealthier than any two dozen people combined in the village from where she came. So wealthy, in fact, that even though she was clearly a frugal person she chose to buy a nice dress and "squander" some of her savings on a stack of pictures, each of which cost an entire week's earnings back home. You and I consider her poor. Do the villagers back home?"

The people back home may not make as much money working the land but at least they're not worked to death in a factory.

"Far from "keeping" her in poverty, that corporation made it possible for her to increase her net worth enormously, despite blatantly violating pretty near every one of China's labor laws."

Gee, Pinky, I wonder what DYING did to her "net worth" as you call it. It certainly put a crimp on her "future earning potential."

"Note that the journalist who wrote that article chose (understandably) to report on one of the worst foreign factories, not one of the best, and to write about the lowest paid worker rather than the higher paid ones, so we are discussing a worst-case scenario here. The other workers in that factory, much less the workers in less illegal factories, are even less poor than she was."

He chose to write about this factory because somebody actually died. That makes good copy. If you check the websites I provided, however, you will see that these conditions are hardly extraordinary.

"Let's take this down the chain. You seem knowledgeable enough to realize that the pieces manufactured in the Chinese subcontractor's factory and then sold to the Korean factory (corporation number one) would typically then be sold to a distributor (corporation number two) with distribution rights for the Pacific rim, who then sold it to an American distributor (corporation number three) who then sold it to an American retail store such as Toys 'r' Us (corporation number four) who then sold it to your neighbor."

In some cases the supply chain is that long. In others it is not.

"You are saying that Toys 'r' Us has an obligation to spend enough time and money to trace it back and verify (I mean REALLY verify, not just take the word of corporations one through three, who may be lying) that everything they purchase from corporation number three has had every component in it manufactured under humane conditions. It further follows that Toys 'r' Us has the obligation to ensure that every worker who was involved in extracting, packing and shipping of all the materials (including the miners who dug the ore and the workers in the refinery if the toy has metal parts and the drillers on the oil rigs if the toy has plastic parts, the dock workers who loaded it onto the ship, the seamen on the tramp steamer, etc.) used in the manufacture of that toy at every stage of its construction were treated humanely. If they fail to do so, they are guilty of exploitation."

Do they have to go that far? That would probably be unrealistic, granted. But here's the issue, pinky: many watchdog groups have provided them with solid information of what's going in their subcontractors' factories. This information was provided to them at no cost whatsoever. Yet they still do nothing and then deny that anything is wrong. If they're unwilling to do ANYTHING whatsoever on information that was given to them at NO COST WHATSOEVER, it's clear that they really don't give a shit about human life.

"Maybe they don't see it that way. Maybe they feel that by buying toys manufatured in China, they are increasing the likelihood of many Chinese families surviving. After all, the people of that girl's village say the only way they can survive is for some of them to travel vast distances and work in foreign-owned factories. Why should Toys 'r' Us assume those villagers are lying? Toys 'r' Us kills two birds with one stone -- they achieve their selfish end of increasing their own profit while simultaneously achieving the altruistic end of literally saving someone (actually MANY someones) from death by slow starvation."

You know, Japan achieved its current position after World War II in spite of not having any foreign companies having factories in their country. In fact, it could be argued that Japan achieved its current position precisely BECAUSE they didn't have foreign corporations taking advantage of their (at the time) low-paid and highly skilled workers.

"Correct. But who determines what is moral and what is not? We both agree that the factory owners in this case were acting immorally. We have yet to establish that ALL foreign factory owners in China do so."

I never said that ALL factory owners in China do so. Apparently just the ones that these particular employees have access to.

"Wait a minute. Are you now claiming that all the workers in those factories are fated to die slowly? The girl in that article died. I must have missed the part where all her co-workers did."

Not yet. But given the pollution levels and working standards in their factory, their lives will be cut short by decades, easily.

"Well, we certainly know that in the case of China at least, Communism hasn't been particularly successful at solving those problems either. What politico-economic system would you recommend China adopt?"

China is Communist in name. The Communist Party has absolute control of the government. No political or religious dissent is allowed. On the economic front, many heavy industries are still state-owned. But everything else is more or less completely open. Completely unregulated. In fact: Libertarian. Yes, that's right. Have you been to China? I have. All of those pesky laws about worker safety, product safety, pollution, etc. all rendered invalid. You can walk into any pharmacy in China and find a cornucopia of Western drugs that you would need a prescription for anywhere else--all available without a prescription. Hundreds of thousands of businesses operate under the radar and completely regulation free (either because they're not noticed or because they bribe the powers that be). At the level of small business, the situation is much freer than that in the US and infinitely freer than it is in Europe. Wild west capitalism at its best. The result: stupendous growth. Oh, and 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.

What China needs, first and foremost, is the rule of law. And then, perhaps if this and the next generation of leaders finally dies, perhaps they may even be able to make a move towards democracy. But capitalism is already there.

"The only solutions I can come up with to the bribery issue are:"

There ARE no failsafe solutions to the problem of bribery. Human nature being what it is, corruption will always be with us in some form or another. But, all other factors held equal, the more democractic a nation is, the less leeway there is for bribery per se. It's much harder to bribe an entire nation than it is to bribe a number of very powerful officials. Yes, yes, I know all of your arguments about the "tyranny of the majority." I for one, however, would rather have the tyranny of the majority than the tyranny of the oligarchy. This is unfortunately the state we have fallen into the US, and would certainly be the case in any truly Capitalist system. There are really only three possible government arrangements:
democracy, centralized authority, or feudalism. A Capitalist society would eventually revert either to feudalism or oligarchy (a non-governmental form of centralized authority).


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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1139362 - 12/13/02 06:42 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

But democratically elected officials with limited terms are easier to remove.

A democratically elected official with a four year term can accept a lot of bribes before he is democratically removed. As you yourself state towards the end of your reply, there really IS no way to solve the bribery problem, therefore it logically follows that the best course of action is to reduce the number of officials to the bare minimum, and to restrict their area of influence to the bare minimum. Laissez-faire Capitalism achieves both these objectives.

By the way, I have no objection to the concept of electing those officials to a limited term rather than appointing them to a limited term or choosing them at random through a lottery to serve a limited term or whatever. HOW they are selected is less important than what they do (and, much more importantly, don't do).

The people back home may not make as much money working the land but at least they're not worked to death in a factory.

According to the report, the people back home make NO money working the land -- or at least they are not allowed to KEEP any money. According to the report, they grow more indebted each year by an average of 12 dollars per head. They say they cannot survive by working the land. Lack of survival equals death, does it not?

Gee, Pinky, I wonder what DYING did to her "net worth" as you call it.

She died. Her co-workers didn't. Perhaps she had some congenital heart defect. There have been reported cases of apparently perfectly healthy American teenagers dying during physical education classes in high school from such defects. Since the autopsy was flubbed, no one will ever know the true cause of her death. Due to the circumstances, I believe it is likely that whatever caused her death was at the very least aggravated by the demands of her work, but there is no way to be certain of that. Interestingly enough, when I was working at the Post Office back in the Seventies, a seemingly perfectly fit man in his thirties dropped dead while sorting letters, right after returning from the lunch break. Scared the crap out of everybody. It turned out cause of death was an aneurysm -- an artery somewhere in his brain just blew out for no apparent reason.

He chose to write about this factory because somebody actually died. That makes good copy.

Precisely. The very fact that someone actually died was noteworthy -- an unusual occurance.

If they're unwilling to do ANYTHING whatsoever on information that was given to them at NO COST WHATSOEVER...

Ah! Now THAT is a valid point. These watchdog agencies don't uncover EVERY case of factories that ignore local labor laws, but they definitely do catch quite a few of them. Is it okay if Toys 'r' Us makes their decisions based solely on the reports of these agencies?

... it's clear that they really don't give a shit about human life.

This does not necessarily follow. See my previous "two birds with one stone" analogy -- "Maybe they don't see it that way. Maybe they feel that by buying toys manufatured in China, they are increasing the likelihood of many Chinese families surviving.... bla bla bla". After all, there is not much point in paying workers to make things that no one is in a position to buy. The consumers in Western societies are in a position to buy their goods, but very few Chinese are in the same position. It logically follows that the export of goods is essential in order for the Chinese to improve their financial situation, does it not?

What if no Western corporations are involved in the process at all? What if the Chinese employees work only in Chinese-owned factories, who then sell directly to American retail outlets -- no middlemen at all. Just straight from the factory to the sales counter. Better yet, let's cut out even the American retail outlet, and say that it goes from a Chinese-owned factory to a Chinese-owned retail store located in mid-town Manhattan or wherever. Do you have an objection to that?

You know, Japan achieved its current position after World War II in spite of not having any foreign companies having factories in their country.

Massive aid to rebuild the country may have been a contributing factor, don't you think?

In fact, it could be argued that Japan achieved its current position precisely BECAUSE they didn't have foreign corporations taking advantage of their (at the time) low-paid and highly skilled workers.

First, let's remember that the Chinese workers being "taken advantage of" in the article you provided are far from being "highly-skilled".

Second, if the Japanese went from being a bankrupt country with next to no resources to being wealthy, why has China been unable to do the same?

Third, let me ask you why you don't seem to have a problem with those Japanese workers having been low-paid. Is it because they were being paid pitiful wages by a Japanese corporation rather than by an American corporation? Is it okay for Japanese to "exploit" Japanese?

Finally, do you consider that the Westerners who bought all those billions of dollars worth of cheap postwar "made in Japan" gizmos and gewgaws and widgets were "exploiting" the Japanese workers?

Hundreds of thousands of businesses operate under the radar and completely regulation free (either because they're not noticed or because they bribe the powers that be). At the level of small business, the situation is much freer than that in the US and infinitely freer than it is in Europe. Wild west capitalism at its best. The result: stupendous growth.

So Capitalism is in the process of raising the per capita wealth of the Chinese?

Oh, and 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.

I can believe that. A lot of that pollution was probably inherited from the pre-capitalist era (Communist-bloc Europe and the USSR became notoriously polluted with no capitalism being involved), and a lot from the sheer weight of numbers in those cities, but a lot of it undoubtedly comes from capitalist activity as well. It takes time, technology, and money to clean up pollution. Sounds like the capitalist sector of China will eventually provide enough of all three for the Chinese to start attacking their environmental issues.

What China needs, first and foremost, is the rule of law.

Agreed. Without that, there is no way to protect individual rights. Without individual rights, there is no way to achieve prosperity.

And then, perhaps if this and the next generation of leaders finally dies, perhaps they may even be able to make a move towards democracy. But capitalism is already there.

Pockets of it certainly are, particularly in the coastal areas. With luck, those pockets will expand.

It's much harder to bribe an entire nation than it is to bribe a number of very powerful officials.

Career politicians would disagree; they have found it relatively easy to bribe an entire nation. Promise the electorate benefits and lower taxes, then hope everyone will believe the same load of empty promises the next election, ad infinitum. Literally BUYING votes (busing homeless and welfare recipients to the polling booths and handing out $20 bills) might be considered bribery as well.

I for one, however, would rather have the tyranny of the majority than the tyranny of the oligarchy (a non-governmental form of centralized authority).

Please explain to us how a non-governmental "centralized authority" has the power to force one to do anything. For that matter, please explain how such a body has any "authority" at all.

This is unfortunately the state we have fallen into the US, and would certainly be the case in any truly Capitalist system.

That is far from certain. Saying something is so doesn't make it so. Exactly how would a society in which every individual has complete freedom (except the "freedom" to initiate force against others), a society in which individuals deal with each other only by voluntary consent, end up as a tyranny? Outline the steps by which this inevitably occurs, please.

There are really only three possible government arrangements: democracy, centralized authority, or feudalism.

Or Laissez-faire Capitalism, or individual self-government.

A Capitalist society would eventually revert either to feudalism or oligarchy.

I invite you to expand on the process by which this eventually occurs.

pinky


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1139547 - 12/13/02 08:51 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

You know, Japan achieved its current position after World War II in spite of not having any foreign companies having factories in their country. In fact, it could be argued that Japan achieved its current position precisely BECAUSE they didn't have foreign corporations taking advantage of their (at the time) low-paid and highly skilled workers.

Amen Echo. You look at the countries where the foreign corporations are allowed sweatshops and they are hellholes, Japan never had a single foreign sweatshop and it's an economic powerhouse. Kinda puts the cat among the pigeons on the "we help countries develop" myth.


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1139636 - 12/13/02 10:05 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"Precisely. The very fact that someone actually died was noteworthy -- an unusual occurance."

Not at all. It was simply a story that this particular journalist was lead to by his sources. Similar stories may very well happen all the time
and not come to the attention of foreign journalists.

"This does not necessarily follow. See my previous "two birds with one stone" analogy -- "Maybe they don't see it that way. Maybe
they feel that by buying toys manufatured in China, they are increasing the likelihood of many Chinese families
surviving.... bla bla bla". After all, there is not much point in paying workers to make things that no one is in a position to buy. The
consumers in Western societies are in a position to buy their goods, but very few Chinese are in the same position. "

Do you have any idea how corporations make decisions? Obviously not. They don't sit around thinking "wow, we're increasing the
likelihood of many Chinese families surviving." All they're thinking is "this is the cheapest dependable supplier." End of story, Pinky. As for
"very few Chinese are in the same position," that's crap. China has, at last count 1.4 billion people. At least one hundred million of them
are already in a position to be consumers of reasonable means. A market that size is already quite formidable. With time it will be even
more formidable.

"What if no Western corporations are involved in the process at all? What if the Chinese employees work only in Chinese-owned
factories, who then sell directly to American retail outlets -- no middlemen at all. Just straight from the factory to the sales counter.
Better yet, let's cut out even the American retail outlet, and say that it goes from a Chinese-owned factory to a Chinese-owned
retail store located in mid-town Manhattan or wherever. Do you have an objection to that?"

That depends on how those Chinese businesses treat their own employees and do business. This is not some simple arithmetic of "American companies=bad,"
"Chinese companies=good" Chinese capitalists are just as inhuman as their counterparts all over the world.

"You know, Japan achieved its current position after World War II in spite of not having any foreign companies having factories in
their country.

Massive aid to rebuild the country may have been a contributing factor, don't you think?"

A contributing factor, yes. The US military umbrella and the Korean war were also contributing factors. So what? "Contributing" factors
do not the whole story make.

"First, let's remember that the Chinese workers being "taken advantage of" in the article you provided are far from being
"highly-skilled".

Second, if the Japanese went from being a bankrupt country with next to no resources to being wealthy, why has China been unable
to do the same?

Third, let me ask you why you don't seem to have a problem with those Japanese workers having been low-paid. Is it because they
were being paid pitiful wages by a Japanese corporation rather than by an American corporation? Is it okay for Japanese to "exploit"
Japanese?"

Chinese workers in general are more dependable and more highly skilled than their counterparts in most parts of the world, including
most of Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and certainly Africa. They're the best bargain in town, which is why China has
become the factory of the world. A full third to a half of the material goods in a typical American home are made in China.

Why has China not matched Japan's achievement? Many reasons: it's too massive and overpopulated to govern effectively, Chinese
people don't have the same group-oriented bent as the Japanese, the same unswerving loyalty to the company, Japan had an earlier
start (late 19th century) on modernization and industrialization, and so on and so forth. Of course you would downplay all of these factors,
(and there are many more) and resort to your usual simpleminded reductionism: become Japan is closer to pure Capitalism. Right? Bullshit. Japan
rose to prominence because of "convoy capitalism." If you don't know what that is, I'll explain it in the next post.

Postwar Japanese companies didn't exploit their workers in the same way that Chinese employers do now. It was the postwar period that
saw the development of lifetime employment in Japan, a contract of mutual trust and loyalty between company and employee that has
never been matched anywhere else. Japanese willingly pay higher prices for goods in order to keep unemployment low. Japan has a much
larger middle class than the US and even larger than many socialist Scandinavian countries. Executive salaries were kept modest. Japan is about as
different from Capitalism and Anglo-American quasi-capitalism as a country can get while still being called "capitalist."

"So Capitalism is in the process of raising the per capita wealth of the Chinese? "
Yes, at an unacceptable price. But since your brain seems incapable of computing other than dollar signs (like your hero Ayn Rand, who
had a dollar sign prominently displayed at her funeral) you will never accept that any price is too high to raise per capita wealth. There
are other ways to do it: the Japanese model is one.

"Career politicians would disagree; they have found it relatively easy to bribe an entire nation. Promise the electorate benefits and
lower taxes, then hope everyone will believe the same load of empty promises the next election, ad infinitum. Literally BUYING votes
(busing homeless and welfare recipients to the polling booths and handing out $20 bills) might be considered bribery as well."

You criticize others for insulting the intelligence of the majority. You don't seem to have a high opinion of them yourself. Fair enough. But reality
sooner or later catches up to bite the ass of every politician who doesn't deliver the goods.

"Please explain to us how a non-governmental "centralized authority" has the power to force one to do anything. For that matter,
please explain how such a body has any "authority" at all. "

Good God, Pinky, how many times does one have to explain the same thing over and over again before you finally get it? In an oligarchy,
the rich and powerful BUY the governmental authority. Either that or they buy and train their own personal armies. Either one will do the trick.
And who's to protect the poor and powerless in such a case? "The objective laws"? When the officials who are charged to enforce those laws
are bought off by the rich and powerful? What kind of fantasy world are you living in? Do you think that in your Randian Libertarian Utopia when
somebody tries to buy the police the police will answer "You can't bribe me! I'm a Libertarian!"

"That is far from certain. Saying something is so doesn't make it so. Exactly how would a society in which every individual has
complete freedom (except the "freedom" to initiate force against others), a society in which individuals deal with each other only by
voluntary consent, end up as a tyranny? Outline the steps by which this inevitably occurs, please."

1. Certain groups and individuals attain ridiculous levels of wealth and power.
2. Said groups and individuals buy off the very people who are supposed to enforce the "complete freedom" of every individual.

Can I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will "inevitably" occur? No. Neither can you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that
this inevitably will NOT occur. It only stands for reasonable people to make their own decision as to what the likelihood of each outcome
might be, and cast their votes accordingly. So far they've been voting overwhelmingly against the Libertarians.

"A Capitalist society would eventually revert either to feudalism or oligarchy.

I invite you to expand on the process by which this eventually occurs."

Excessive wealth and power will accrue to the hands of the few. They will either set themselves up in competition with one another and establish
competing domains of power and influence--feudalism. Either that or they decide to work together to maintain their power over the larger populace--
oligarchy.

There are really only three possible government arrangements: democracy, centralized authority, or feudalism.

Or Laissez-faire Capitalism, or individual self-government.

No truly Laissez-faire Capitalist state has ever existed. Libertarians themselves admit as much. They never go further to wonder whether there might not be a good reason for this.

Individual self-government? Sure, maybe in extremely sparsely populated and undeveloped areas. In mass society this is an impossibility, as is
demonstrated by the fact that no mass individual self-government society has yet existed.

Libertarians remind me a lot of turn of the century communists. They believe that their untested political arrangements will magically
usher in a glorious new era of peace, prosperity, and individual freedom. Anybody with a decent head on his shoulders over the age of 20 or 25
realizes that those who make such magnificent (indeed, utopian) promises are probably selling snake oil.



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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1139700 - 12/13/02 10:50 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Good God, Pinky, how many times does one have to explain the same thing over and over again before you finally get it?

This is a question I've been wondering myself.


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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1140184 - 12/14/02 06:36 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

Do you have any idea how corporations make decisions?

Actually, having worked in upper-middle-management for quite a large one, and having spent countless hours in various corporate seminars and conferences, yes I do. Amazingly enough, sheer short-term bottom line profit is not the only factor in the decision-making process. Just one example from my own company -- every employee, even the janitors and mailroom clerks and stockroom attendants, was paid substantially more than minimum wage, although we would have had no problem whatsoever filling those positions at minimum wage. Every employee in the company (including janitors etc.) received the supplementary medical plan (full dental, all prescriptions at $2, semi-private hospital room, etc.). Every employee (including janitors) could buy as much stock in the company as he wished and receive an equal number of stocks free. Every employee (including janitors, etc.) received at least a week more per year paid vacation per year than the law required. There's more, but you get the idea. And my company was far from unique in this.

The company didn't need to do any of those things in order to attract competent employees. All of those things decreased bottom line profits.

Note that many companies also contibute to charities. Ever hear of Ronald MacDonald house? And before you mention tax breaks, look up some of the relevant tax codes. You'll find that in many cases the amounts contributed to charities exceed significantly the savings from taxes. Effect? Reduced profits.

All they're thinking is "this is the cheapest dependable supplier."

Many of our suppliers were not the cheapest, or even the second cheapest dependable supplier.

China has, at last count 1.4 billion people. At least one hundred million of them are already in a position to be consumers of reasonable means.

There are a hundred million consumers of fuzzy stuffed animals in China? Unlikely. There are, however, that many in the West.

A market that size is already quite formidable. With time it will be even more formidable.

And how did that 100 million group attain their position of "consumers of reasonable means?" Through capitalism. What will increase the size of that group? Capitalism.

That depends on how those Chinese businesses treat their own employees and do business.

I refer only to the Chinese businessess who adhere scrupulously to the Chinese labor laws, inspectors or no inspectors.

Chinese workers in general are more dependable and more highly skilled than their counterparts in most parts of the world, including most of Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and certainly Africa.

Apparently you don't feel the laborers in the state-owned industries are being exploited, just the ones in the capitalist industries, so let's ignore the state employees and focus just on those similar to the girl in the article. According to that article those workers (200 million of them) are almost exclusively migrant workers from fleaspeck villages in the interior where their education is so minimal they haven't even heard the promises of socialist cradle-to-grave security, much less received any job training. Please explain to us how a teenage peasant girl becomes "highly-skilled" under those circumstances.

Of course you would downplay all of these factors, (and there are many more) and resort to your usual simpleminded reductionism: become Japan is closer to pure Capitalism.

Nope. I won't ignore any of them if you won't ignore the factor of capitalism. But I will say that if China had embraced small-c capitalism at the same time and to the same degree that Japan did there would today be no stories coming out of China as moving as the one you provided. I will go further and say that if such had been the case, China would have surpassed Japan long ago.

Yes, at an unacceptable price.

Unacceptable to whom? Apparently it's acceptable to the people involved -- the Chinese.

But since your brain seems incapable of computing other than dollar signs (like your hero Ayn Rand...

Ah. Can't address the principle, so you resort to the personal attacks? I was waiting for this.

As you are well aware, Ayn Rand neither invented Laissez-faire Capitalism nor did she bother to do much more than give a passing mention of its beneficial effects in the real world (although other far more economically and politically sophisticated commentators have.) She cared not a whit about the economics of Capitalism -- her reason for supporting it was strictly moral; Laissez-faire Capitalism is the only system in which the rights of the individual are fully recognized. The fact that it is also the best system for improving the financial worth of those living under it was to her merely icing on the cake -- literally a side issue, as it was to the Founding Fathers and, for that matter, to me.

Even if Ayn Rand had never been born, Laissez-faire Capitalism would still retain all those attributes.

You will never accept that any price is too high to raise per capita wealth.

Incorrect. I oppose any method of increasing per capita wealth which involves the violation of individual rights.

There are other ways to do it: the Japanese model is one.

Slavery is another. I oppose slavery.

You criticize others for insulting the intelligence of the majority. You don't seem to have a high opinion of them yourself.

It has nothing to do with the the intelligence of the majority. It has to do with what knowledge they have acquired to date. How many of the intelligent people on this message board even know what Laissez-faire Capitalism is? How many Americans have taken the time to sit down and strip away the oh-so-carefully-crafted reasonable-sounding political rhetoric spouted by Nanny-state candidates and match those statements against reality? You and I both know far more about political theory than the average American voter not because we are necessarily more intelligent than they are, but because it is an area of special interest to us. Even at that we spent years and years attaining our current level of knowledge.

But reality sooner or later catches up to bite the ass of every politician who doesn't deliver the goods.

Such is not always the case. The question is, what are "the goods" that the electorate wants?

"Please explain to us how a non-governmental "centralized authority" has the power to force one to do anything. For that matter, please explain how such a body has any "authority" at all. "
Good God, Pinky, how many times does one have to explain the same thing over and over again before you finally get it? In an oligarchy, the rich and powerful BUY the governmental authority.

So the rich and powerful bribe the police chiefs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to violate their constitutional oaths and initiate force against the citizenry? What is the reaction of those officials who can't be bribed? Do they oppose the corrupt ones or go along with it? Why doesn't the electorate democratically throw out the corrupt officials who have been bought?

Either that or they buy and train their own personal armies.

Why would government's army allow the private armies to do what they will?

And who's to protect the poor and powerless in such a case? "The objective laws"?

The courts and the armies of the government.

When the officials who are charged to enforce those laws are bought off by the rich and powerful?

You can't buy them all off. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, couldn't stop the lawsuit against Microsoft. At&T couldn't stop the breakup of their company.

Do you think that in your Randian Libertarian Utopia when somebody tries to buy the police the police will answer "You can't bribe me! I'm a Libertarian!"

Are individual policeman amenable to bribes in a Libertarian society? Yup. Are they amenable to bribes in any society? Yup. You have correctly stated that bribes cannot be eliminated regardless of the political system in place, and I have agreed with you, so let's stop re-hashing it. Your challenge is to explain to us how a bribed policeman is more of a threat to the populace in a Capitalist society than he is in a Socialist society or in a Democratic society or in a Feudal society or in a _______ society.

Exactly how would a society in which every individual has complete freedom (except the "freedom" to initiate force against others), a society in which individuals deal with each other only by voluntary consent, end up as a tyranny?

1. Certain groups and individuals attain ridiculous levels of wealth and power.

You are conflating wealth and power. This is a common error and I must admit I am surprised to see you make it. There are numerous wealthy individuals in America with no power and numerous powerful individuals in Iran with no wealth. In order to have "power" one must exercise force. This is the whole concept of government, after all.

2. Said groups and individuals buy off the very people who are supposed to enforce the "complete freedom" of every individual.

We have already established that this can occur under any system of government. See "bribery".

What you are saying is that the inevitable end result of any attempt by humans to form a just government is doomed to eventual failure because men cannot be trusted. Thomas Jefferson believed that this was true, so you are in good company. On the other hand, the United States, which started off closer to Laissez-faire Capitalism than any other society of which I am aware (thanks in large part to Jefferson), is still far from being a tyranny.

Let's assume you are right, and that even a Laissez-faire Capitalist government will eventually disintegrate into a tyranny. I submit that the process will occur much more gradually under Capitalism than under any other form of government (it takes time to gut a constitution), that it gives more warning of the impending collapse than any other (freedom of the press), and that it gives the best chance for the populace to toss out the corrupt bums and install uncorrupted ones (the right to bear arms).

As a side note, some of the Founding Fathers were in favor of a "means test" for those aspiring to public office as a way of trying to eliminate the bribery issue. Their rationale was that the wealthy would be less likely to accept bribes. In retrospect, this seems pretty naive, doesn't it?

It only stands for reasonable people to make their own decision as to what the likelihood of each outcome might be, and cast their votes accordingly. So far they've been voting overwhelmingly against the Libertarians.

For about a thousand years reasonable people metaphorically cast their votes overwhelmingly for the Catholic Church. That didn't make it right. Reasonable Muslims are still voting for Sharia law. That doesn't make it right.

Excessive wealth and power will accrue to the hands of the few. They will either set themselves up in competition with one another...

With you so far.

... and establish competing domains of power and influence--feudalism. Either that or they decide to work together to maintain their power over the larger populace -- oligarchy.

Why will the government not prevent them from using force against the populace?

Libertarians remind me a lot of turn of the century communists. They believe that their untested political arrangements will magically usher in a glorious new era of peace, prosperity, and individual freedom.

Untested? Not fully tested, true. Collectivists claim that true Collectivism has never been fully tested either, so we must settle for observing the results of societies which tend towards either Capitalism or Collectivism.

The closest thing to a Laissez-faire Capitalist country of which we are aware is the United States of America. Is it not more prosperous and free than the countries furthest from Laissez-faire Capitalism? Are their citizens not more free than the citizens of the countries furthest from Capitalism?

Anybody with a decent head on his shoulders over the age of 20 or 25 realizes that those who make such magnificent (indeed, utopian) promises are probably selling snake oil.

On this we agree, which is why one rarely sees a Collectivist over that age. Given human nature, Utopia is an unattainable goal, so we must try for the next best thing. The best we can realistically aim for is the system which does the least harm; a system under which every individual is free to live his life to the best of his ability and left free to deal with other individuals by mutual consent while still other individuals are prevented from fucking with him while he does so. Laissez-faire Capitalism fits the bill. Collectivism doesn't.

pinky


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1141351 - 12/14/02 04:43 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"Actually, having worked in upper-middle-management for quite a large one, and having spent countless hours in various corporate seminars and conferences, yes I do. Amazingly enough, sheer short-term bottom line profit is not the only factor in the decision-making process. Just one example from my own company -- every employee, even the janitors and mailroom clerks and stockroom attendants, was paid substantially more than minimum wage, although we would have had no problem whatsoever filling those positions at minimum wage. Every employee in the company (including janitors etc.) received the supplementary medical plan (full dental, all prescriptions at $2, semi-private hospital room, etc.). Every employee (including janitors) could buy as much stock in the company as he wished and receive an equal number of stocks free. Every employee (including janitors, etc.) received at least a week more per year paid vacation per year than the law required. There's more, but you get the idea. And my company was far from unique in this."

Your example is anecdotal and there is nothing to suggest it is representative. Of course there are ethical and honorable corporations in this world. There are even mutual funds, such as Working Assets, whose purpose is to identify such companies and encourage investment in them. Such ethical corporations are also surprisingly profitable. Which makes the actions of immoral corporations that much more unforgiveable. My question is: why are you making justifications for the actions of the immoral corporations?

"There are a hundred million consumers of fuzzy stuffed animals in China? Unlikely. There are, however, that many in the West."

Actually, if all we're talking about is fuzzy stuffed animals, there are probably TWO hundred million potential consumers for those in China. They're not particularly expensive, even in China.

"And how did that 100 million group attain their position of "consumers of reasonable means?" Through capitalism. What will increase the size of that group? Capitalism."

So what? Your statement rests on the assumption that sweatshops are a necessary part of capitalism. Wrong.

"I refer only to the Chinese businessess who adhere scrupulously to the Chinese labor laws, inspectors or no inspectors"

Fine. More power to them.

"Apparently you don't feel the laborers in the state-owned industries are being exploited, just the ones in the capitalist industries"

And on what do you base that? I'm sure many employees in state-owned Chinese industries are also being exploited. Once again, what does this have to do with Western corporations running sweatshops? Answer: nothing. You're ducking the issue. The issue is that you're acting as an apologist for sweatshops.

"Unacceptable to whom? Apparently it's acceptable to the people involved -- the Chinese. "

Hahaha! We could MAYBE say that if China were democratic. It's indicative of your style of thinking to turn a nation of 1.4 billion people into a monolithic mass while all time claiming to stand for individuality. I know many, many Chinese people for whom it is completely UNacceptable. But I won't hold that against you since you probably don't meet many Chinese people in the DR.

"Ah. Can't address the principle, so you resort to the personal attacks? I was waiting for this."

Ah, Pinky, how I love these little exchanges. You duck issues so often by feigning ignorance or pretending not to understand that it's difficult not to get a little hot under the collar. Sorry for the nastiness.

"Such is not always the case. The question is, what are "the goods" that the electorate wants?"

"Goods" was not the best choice of words. What I meant is "delivering on promises made."

"So the rich and powerful bribe the police chiefs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to violate their constitutional oaths and initiate force against the citizenry? What is the reaction of those officials who can't be bribed? Do they oppose the corrupt ones or go along with it? Why doesn't the electorate democratically throw out the corrupt officials who have been bought?"

Oh, so now you've come around to admitting that democratic representation is a GOOD thing after all. Well, I'm glad we were able to reach agreement on that.

"You can't buy them all off. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, couldn't stop the lawsuit against Microsoft. At&T couldn't stop the breakup of their company."

Have you read the news recently? Microsoft is in the clear. The anti-trust suit is dead in the water, and a breakup of the company is at this point a total impossibility.

Laissez faire capitalism always favors those with capital at the expense of those without capital. The more capital one has, the more one is favored under this system. Although it is not absolutely ESSENTIAL to possess capital in order to create capital (yes, good ideas, if protected by patent law, can do the same thing), it is orders of magnitude easier to create capital when one already posssess it. Even though the US is not fully laissez-faire, the nation's richest man, at the height of his wealth, had a net worth (90 some billion) that was TWO AND A HALF MILLION TIMES as great as the per capita GDP of the nation in which he resided. The disparities in wealth would logically be greater in a laissez faire system than in a system of progressive income tax, inheritance tax, etc. Greater income disparities give those who HAVE wealth much more wealth with which to buy influence.

But this discussion is no longer pertinent since you have already agreed with me that democracy is essential. Taxation, wealth redistribution, etc., are all separate issues that we've already addressed to our hearts' content in other threads.

"Let's assume you are right, and that even a Laissez-faire Capitalist government will eventually disintegrate into a tyranny. I submit that the process will occur much more gradually under Capitalism than under any other form of government (it takes time to gut a constitution), that it gives more warning of the impending collapse than any other (freedom of the press), and that it gives the best chance for the populace to toss out the corrupt bums and install uncorrupted ones (the right to bear arms)."

Non-Capitalist democracies can also have constitutions. Freedom of press is not unique to Capitalism. The right to bear arms is meaningless in the face of a government that has tanks, attack jets, chemical and biological weapons, nukes, etc. ad nauseam.

"For about a thousand years reasonable people metaphorically cast their votes overwhelmingly for the Catholic Church. That didn't make it right. Reasonable Muslims are still voting for Sharia law. That doesn't make it right."

Indeed, but it also not my right (and is certainly not within my power) to impose a system of government on millions of people who do not want it. Even if I believe that system of government is intrinsically and demonstrably right. Even if that system of government makes individual liberty its foundation. How is laissez-faire Capitalism going to become a reality if not through a democratic decision to adopt it as the law of the land? A massive electoral victory for the Libertarians is not in the cards any time soon. So what's it going to be? Armed insurgence? Revolution?

"The closest thing to a Laissez-faire Capitalist country of which we are aware is the United States of America. Is it not more prosperous and free than the countries furthest from Laissez-faire Capitalism? Are their citizens not more free than the citizens of the countries furthest from Capitalism?"

Wait a second. Didn't you say some months ago that the Dominican Republic had learned from the "mistakes" of the US and was in fact CLOSER to laissez-faire Capitalism? Yes, yes, I'm certain you did say something like that. Gee, funny how things change. So I guess we'll have to take the Dominican Republic as the model to judge by. Hmmmm . . .

As for citizens of the US being more free, not at all. We are more free in two respects: in terms of owning guns and in terms of making money. However, there are many countries which enjoy much greater social freedom, freedom of expression, freedom from draconian drug laws, freedom from inhumane conditions of incarceration if one breaks said draconian drug laws, etc. etc. The Bush Administration is currently trying to turn this country into a police state, trying to break down barriers between Church and State, trying to eliminate transparency in government, and gunning for a foreign war of invasion without even deigning to share with the public the "evidence" it claims to have justifying such an invasion. Meanwhile sending inspectors to look for the evidence it apparently already has, without sharing that evidence with the inspectors to make their job easier, etc. The situation is positively Kafkaesque and I for one am making arrangement to leave the country within the year if things get worse.

"On this we agree, which is why one rarely sees a Collectivist over that age. Given human nature, Utopia is an unattainable goal, so we must try for the next best thing. The best we can realistically aim for is the system which does the least harm; a system under which every individual is free to live his life to the best of his ability and left free to deal with other individuals by mutual consent while still other individuals are prevented from fucking with him while he does so. Laissez-faire Capitalism fits the bill. Collectivism doesn't."

No, limited capitalism within the context of democracy fits the bill. Limited capitalism is not the same thing as Collectivism. I've taken the trouble to understand your definition of Capitalism with a capital "C". Maybe you should take the trouble to learn that not everybody who opposes your favored brand of Capitalism is a Collectivist.

Somehow this thread has morphed into a rerun of threads we have had before. I think I'm really beginning to understand Nietzsche's dictum of "the eternal recurrence of the same." The point is still this: throughout this thread you have been making justifications for sweatshop labor practices. My question is: why? Is sweatshop-ism a necessary aspect of Capitalism? Why do you make excuses for American companies that engage sweatshop labor? I have never once argued that the state should step in and forcibly stop those companies from doing what they're doing. I have simply argued that what they are doing is wrong and that consumers should educate themselves on the practices of the companies they patronize. They should vote with their dollars and their voices to send a message to those companies. Yet at every turn you try to find some way to rationalize and justify sweatshopism. What does this even have to do with individual liberty, for chrissakes? Those companies that engage in such practices are morally reprehensible. Nothing you have written changes my mind about that, and I will continue asserting the immorality of such corporations (which is not a blanket indictment of ALL corporations or businesses) as long as such practices continue.

The fact is that Libertarians are more interested in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich than they are in individual rights. Currently there is only ONE organization in the US that is fighting in the trenches to protect Americans' civil liberties from all-out assault: the ACLU. Even longtime conservatives such as Congressman Dick Armey have seen the light and become "card-carrying members" of this organization. And what are the "libertarians" doing while the United States sinks into crisis and big-brother authoritarianism? Sitting with their thumbs up their asses from all I can tell. Either that or expending time and effort on internet discussion forums defending sweatshops.

My own personal hunch on this is that some libertarians would actually LIKE to see the United States go to hell in a handbasket. Great revolutions can only occur in the wake of creat chaos. If the status quo collapses in a quagmire of financial collapse, terrorism, war, police-state tactics, and so on, then marginal and/or extreme political movments (and this includes the far Right and far Left) as well might have an opportunity to gain influence and power. Of course many people will suffer and die in order for this or that group of crackpots to test out their pet political theories on a live populace. Only time will tell how all of this plays out.


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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1141612 - 12/14/02 07:46 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

Your example is anecdotal and there is nothing to suggest it is representative.

The report of the young girl dying in her workplace in China is anecdotal and there is nothing to suggest it is representative.

Of course there are ethical and honorable corporations in this world. There are even mutual funds, such as Working Assets, whose purpose is to identify such companies and encourage investment in them. Such ethical corporations are also surprisingly profitable.

The company I used to work for was both ethical and profitable. As I said, it was far from unique.

My question is: why are you making justifications for the actions of the immoral corporations?

We disagree on what is "immoral". A corporation that offers a job to an employee with all the terms and conditions of employment clearly explained up front (those terms and conditions being in strict compliance with the labor laws of the host country) who then scrupulously adheres to the employment contract is not acting immorally. The company in the article you provided was acting immorally not because it offered her a job, but because it violated her contract of employment.

So what? Your statement rests on the assumption that sweatshops are a necessary part of capitalism.

No, that's your assumption. Sweatshops are not a necessary part of Capitalism. Neither are brothels or circus freak shows.

I'm sure many employees in state-owned Chinese industries are also being exploited.

In what way are they being exploited? By being overworked and underpaid? Do you think that the Chinese government is not paying them as much as they can afford to? Or do you think the Chinese government is not providing them with safe working conditions? Or both?

You're ducking the issue. The issue is that you're acting as an apologist for sweatshops.

I am acting as an apologist for whichever corporation offers a job to an employee with all the terms and conditions of employment clearly explained up front (those terms and conditions being in strict compliance with the labor laws of the host country) who then scrupulously adheres to the employment contract.

It's indicative of your style of thinking to turn a nation of 1.4 billion people into a monolithic mass while all time claiming to stand for individuality. I know many, many Chinese people for whom it is completely UNacceptable.

Is it unacceptable to the Chinese who are actually involved -- the ones who willingly accept employment in these factories?

Have you read the news recently? Microsoft is in the clear. The anti-trust suit is dead in the water, and a breakup of the company is at this point a total impossibility.

So it was a frivolous lawsuit that cost the shareholders (and taxpayers) billions of dollars in legal fees and lost revenue (and taxes on that revenue), but at least Microsoft is able to get on with business. AT&T was not so fortunate.

Greater income disparities give those who HAVE wealth much more wealth with which to buy influence.

*SIGH*. Yes, yes, yes... we have both stipulated repeatedly that the wealthy have an easier time buying (bribery, remember) political pull regardless of the system of government in place than those without wealth. Since we both agree that men in power regardless of the system of government in place cannot all be trusted, does it not logically follow that the way to minimize the damage a bribed politician may do is to restrict the power politicians wield to the absolute bare essentials? Laissez-faire Capitalism is the only system which does this.

But this discussion is no longer pertinent since you have already agreed with me that democracy is essential.

Not essential, no. But I repeat that I have no objection to representatives of a constitutionally-limited Laissez-faire Capitalist republic being chosen through democratic methods.

The right to bear arms is meaningless in the face of a government that has tanks, attack jets, chemical and biological weapons, nukes, etc. ad nauseam.

Tell that to the Viet Cong.

Indeed, but it also not my right (and is certainly not within my power) to impose a system of government on millions of people who do not want it.

How can you IMPOSE freedom on someone? You simply stop fucking with him.

How is laissez-faire Capitalism going to become a reality if not through a democratic decision to adopt it as the law of the land? A massive electoral victory for the Libertarians is not in the cards any time soon. So what's it going to be? Armed insurgence? Revolution?

If I were in a country such as Cambodia, I would be in favor of a revolution. I personally think it is not necessary (yet) to go that route in the United States. I believe the recent developments (which you summarize so neatly a little further on) in the US will result in people voting for candidates who have as their platform less government interference in the lives of the citizenry.

Didn't you say some months ago that the Dominican Republic had learned from the "mistakes" of the US and was in fact CLOSER to laissez-faire Capitalism? Yes, yes, I'm certain you did say something like that. Gee, funny how things change.

Then you will recall I did also say that the newest Dominican government was rapidly reversing the trend. Sadly, it continues to do so. I may have to bail from here in the next year or so. Not sure yet where I'll end up.

As for citizens of the US being more free, not at all. We are more free in two respects: in terms of owning guns and in terms of making money.

And freedom of speech.

However, there are many countries which enjoy much greater social freedom, freedom of expression...

If by that you mean greater freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I call you on it. Example, please.

I for one am making arrangement to leave the country within the year if things get worse.

Wouldn't it be ironic if we both end up in the same place?

I've taken the trouble to understand your definition of Capitalism with a capital "C". Maybe you should take the trouble to learn that not everybody who opposes your favored brand of Capitalism is a Collectivist.

I must have not been sufficiently clear in my definition of Capitalism, then. In a "Limited capitalist" state, who decides what the limitations are to be? From your posts so far I think I can guess... the majority (in other words, the Collective). The group (the Collective) trumps the individual. Anything goes, as long as the Yea group (the Collective) outnumbers the Nay group, am I right? If you prefer I can call it "Groupism" or Majorityism" or "Yeaism" rather than Collectivism.

Somehow this thread has morphed into a rerun of threads we have had before.

Not surprising, since you are one of the few contributors to this forum who understands that these things depend on fundamental principles. You and I hold different fundamental principles, the ramifications of which effect our positions on different specific applications of ethics to political and economic practice. It is inevitable that no matter what the starting point of a specific newspaper article under discussion may be, sooner or later we end up back at the bedrock.

The point is still this: throughout this thread you have been making justifications for sweatshop labor practices. My question is: why? Is sweatshop-ism a necessary aspect of Capitalism?

It is neither necessary nor is it prohibited. To a Laissez-faire Capitalist all that is germane is: are the rights of the employees being violated by the employer or are they not? In the case of a "sweatshop", no one's rights are being violated. The workers are not forced to work in them, and even if they choose to work in them they are not forced to keep working in them. They can quit at any time.

...consumers should educate themselves on the practices of the companies they patronize. They should vote with their dollars and their voices to send a message to those companies.

I agree. No one should buy products from companies which offend their sense of what is right. I repeat, I myself have never knowingly purchased a product that was made in the People's Republic of China -- I go to considerable effort and expense because of that scruple. Not only that, I fully support -- even encourage -- the right of everyone to involve themselves in a boycott campaign of companies they perceive to be bad.

But the business of educating oneself is not as simple as it seems at first glance. As just one example, if every consumer in the West were to do as I do and refuse to buy Chinese products, the standard of living of 200 million Chinese workers (bad as it is at the moment) would plummet.

Yet at every turn you try to find some way to rationalize and justify sweatshopism. What does this even have to do with individual liberty, for chrissakes?

It has EVERYTHING to do with individual liberty. The difference between those "sweatshops", bad as they are, and the oldschool Chinese paradigm of collective farms and State factories is that the workers are free to refuse to work there.

The fact is that Libertarians are more interested in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich than they are in individual rights.

That is completely untrue.

Currently there is only ONE organization in the US that is fighting in the trenches to protect Americans' civil liberties from all-out assault: the ACLU.

Are there no members of the ACLU who are Libertarians? Funny... I'm sure I have seen at least a couple of ACLU lawyers described in the press as Libertarian.

And what are the "libertarians" doing while the United States sinks into crisis and big-brother authoritarianism?

Many are running for office. Many more are voting for the ones who are running for office.

My own personal hunch on this is that some libertarians would actually LIKE to see the United States go to hell in a handbasket.

Doubtless some would. Certainly many of the Socialist posters in this forum would be delighted to see that happen, judging from their posts.

pinky


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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1142418 - 12/15/02 07:45 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)



In response to EchoVortex's question, And what are the "libertarians" doing while the United States sinks into crisis and big-brother authoritarianism? I provide this link:

http://www.freestateproject.com/

Shroomophile brought this to our attention in his post titled "Free State". It will be interesting to follow their progress.

pinky



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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1143155 - 12/15/02 01:51 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"I am acting as an apologist for whichever corporation offers a job to an employee with all the terms and conditions of employment clearly explained up front (those terms and conditions being in strict compliance with the labor laws of the host country) who then scrupulously adheres to the employment contract."

In the absence of strictly enforced worker protection and minimum wage laws, the choice for most unskilled workers is between one dishonest exploitative company or another. Either that or not working at all. What good jobs may exist in all likelihood have already been taken. Without a minimum wage law, for example, employers can collude to depress worker wages (especially for low or unskilled workers) to a point that is impossible to live on, even though the employers could pay more. Now the standard libertarian argument is that one employer could offer more money in order to attract better workers. This assumes that any given arrangement automatically becomes a free and open market. Even if a few companies decide to take that route though (and that is especially unlikely in the case of unskilled workers, who are considered more or less interchangeable, so why pay more?) it will still not make a difference for most of those workers. It is in the interest of most employers to collude to keep wages as low as possible, which in the absence of laws preventing them from doing so is precisely what most of them will do.

"So it was a frivolous lawsuit that cost the shareholders (and taxpayers) billions of dollars in legal fees and lost revenue (and taxes on that revenue), but at least Microsoft is able to get on with business. AT&T was not so fortunate."

It wasn't frivolous at all, at least not in the opinion of many consumers, many state attorneys general, and many judges. It was killed by a politically motivated judge and we will probably never know just how much money changed hands to give us that result. The breakup of AT&T was a tremendous boon to American consumers and to the telecommunications industry in general. A similar breakup of Microsoft would have had similarly beneficial effects on the software business.

"Tell that to the Viet Cong."

Reread your history: the Viet Cong was armed and financed by the Soviets. They were not a "civilian militia."

"How can you IMPOSE freedom on someone? You simply stop fucking with him. "

You IMPOSE a set of values on a society that may not want those values. If a given society wants to stop a person from putting up banners across from elementary schools explicitly depicting sex acts with animals, they could arguably have the right to stop that person from putting up those banners. There are cases in which another's unlimited freedom may be detrimental to me even if he or she doesn't actually initiate direct force against me. If a given society does not accept "initiation of force" as the ONLY recognized infringement of one person's rights upon another's, your defintion of freedom will not be acceptable to them. You seem completely oblivious to the fact that words do not exactly equal their referents. "Freedom," like any other concept, is a matter of interpretation. Different societies will interpret it differently. You seem incapable of accepting that any person's definition could differ from yours.

"does it not logically follow that the way to minimize the damage a bribed politician may do is to restrict the power politicians wield to the absolute bare essentials? Laissez-faire Capitalism is the only system which does this."

The most damage that can be done by bribed officials is precisely that which can be done by those in the "courts, cops, and military" which you assert is the basis of a "minarchy." The rest is child's play, arguably insignificant.

"If by that you mean greater freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I call you on it. Example, please."

The US has flag desecration laws, government censorship of the press in cases of "national security," various gag laws, etc. There have historically been many abuses as well, such as during the "Red Scare" of the '20s and during the McCarthy era. At that time it wasn't censorship laws per se that were the issue, rather blacklisting and witch-hunts. In any event, I'll limit myself to the present.

Sweden, for example, has greater free speech than the United States. Possession of child pornography is legal there (although production or distribution of same is illegal). They don't give a crap about flag desecration either. There are also many countries whose free speech situation is more or less as good as the US: most of Europe for example, except perhaps Germany where there are laws prohibiting "revisionist" histories of the Holocaust.

"But the business of educating oneself is not as simple as it seems at first glance. As just one example, if every consumer in the West were to do as I do and refuse to buy Chinese products, the standard of living of 200 million Chinese workers (bad as it is at the moment) would plummet."

If we all refused to buy all Chinese-made goods simply because they come from a Communist regime, yes that would probably happen. But if we refused to buy from companies that have or condone immoral labor practices, what would more likely happen is that those companies would reform their practices. It would create a situation in which they would have MORE to lose by taking unfair advantage of workers than they would to gain.

"It has EVERYTHING to do with individual liberty. The difference between those "sweatshops", bad as they are, and the oldschool Chinese paradigm of collective farms and State factories is that the workers are free to refuse to work there."

I see, up to the old "false choice" trick again. You create a false choice between sweatshops and "collective farms and State factories," as if those were the only two possibilities. Totally wrong. The choice is between sweatshops and humane working conditions. By humane I do not mean "luxurious" or anything of the sort, anything that would drive companies under.



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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: Phred]
    #1143320 - 12/15/02 02:51 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"In response to EchoVortex's question, And what are the "libertarians" doing while the United States sinks into crisis and big-brother authoritarianism? I provide this link:

http://www.freestateproject.com/"

Now that genuinely sounds interesting. I'll keep on eye out for this group and if they can actually get this thing off the ground I'll follow closely just what happens in their experimental community. As I've stated before, I'm not a bigot about it. There are indeed certain aspects of Libertarianism that are attractive to me, and I'm certainly open to seeing how such a system would work in the real world. In the meantime, however, I still take a rather unrosy view of pure laissez-faire Capitalism.



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OfflinePhred
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Re: When You Say You Hate Corporate America... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1144222 - 12/15/02 08:55 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

In the absence of strictly enforced worker protection and minimum wage laws, the choice for most unskilled workers is between one dishonest exploitative company or another. Either that or not working at all. What good jobs may exist in all likelihood have already been taken.

What you are saying, in essence, is that it is immoral to offer a job to anyone unless you can offer a "good" job, which raises the question once again of who decides what a "good" job is. Unless I misunderstand your point, you believe the decision should be made by legislators (democratically elected legislators, of course) rather than by jobseekers. Are there not jobseekers who would prefer to work for less than minimum wage (even if only till they find something better) rather than remain unemployed; jobseekers who believe that something is better than nothing? What gives the government the moral right to thwart that preference?

Without a minimum wage law, for example, employers can collude to depress worker wages (especially for low or unskilled workers)...

They could do that. But that only works if every employer agrees to do it. Even before there was such a thing as minimum wage laws, there was always competition among employers (they were competitors after all) for good employees. Henry Ford is one who "broke ranks" because he understood that by paying more than others did he got more dedicated workers, hence better productivity, hence market advantage, hence increased profits. His initial extra investment in higher wages was more than repaid.

...(and that is especially unlikely in the case of unskilled workers, who are considered more or less interchangeable, so why pay more?)...

Even in the case of unskilled workers, there is always a demand for competent unskilled workers. They are most definitely not "more or less" interchangeable. A ditch digger who can dig a hundred meters of trench a day is objectively worth more than one who can dig seventy meters a day, and it makes economic sense to pay such a worker more. I see this all the time here in the Dominican Republic; the construction contractors who pay their workers better are the ones who get the most contracts. A developer here who awards a bid to the lowest bidder (inevitably the one with the lowest-paid workers) does so only once, believe me. Moving from construction to service, there are no remaining bars and restaurants here in Cabarete who pay their staff minimum wage. All of them started paying the same wage; the government-mandated minimum (effectively the same as voluntary collusion), but it didn't take long for the first of them to "break ranks". Where I live you will never hear a restaurant owner complaining "Damn, I wish I didn't have to pay my staff so much," but you will hear over and over, "Damn! I wish I could find more staff worth paying!"

It was killed by a politically motivated judge and we will probably never know just how much money changed hands to give us that result.

If in fact the decision was "politically motivated", it supports my contention that it is incorrect to allow politicians powers over economic matters. If it was a case of bribery, you have already admitted that bribery will occur in any political context.

Reread your history: the Viet Cong was armed and financed by the Soviets. They were not a "civilian militia."

Your claim was: "The right to bear arms is meaningless in the face of a government that has tanks, attack jets, chemical and biological weapons, nukes, etc. ad nauseam." The Viet Cong had none of those things, but they were a civilian militia.

You IMPOSE a set of values on a society that may not want those values.

Not at all. You leave each and every person free to choose his OWN values.

If a given society wants to stop a person from putting up banners across from elementary schools explicitly depicting sex acts with animals...

Whose school is it? It is the owner's right to decorate his property as he sees fit.

...they could arguably have the right to stop that person from putting up those banners.

You once accused me of using "ridiculous" examples. Why on earth would anyone do such a thing? How could he possibly attract the teachers he needed to run his school, let alone persuade anyone to enroll their children there?

There are cases in which another's unlimited freedom may be detrimental to me...

"Detrimental" is a slippery word. Have your rights been violated? If not, precisely HOW have you been affected "detrimentally"?

...even if he or she doesn't actually initiate direct force against me.

Example, please.

If a given society does not accept "initiation of force" as the ONLY recognized infringement of one person's rights upon another's, your defintion of freedom will not be acceptable to them.

Correct. Can you give me a hypothetical example of a society where not ONLY the initiation of physical force (and as always, by logical extension, fraud) but also ___________ are both considered actions which violate individual rights? In such a society, what would be the accepted definition of "freedom"?

You seem incapable of accepting that any person's definition could differ from yours.

Not so. I realize that some people have different understandings of the same word. That is why I have always been careful to precisely define my use of the word "freedom" so that there are no misunderstandings about what I am saying. That is also why I usually yield when someone is uncomfortable with the way I use any word which subsumes a number of complex abstract concepts (see my offer to substitute "Groupism" or Majorityism" or "Yeaism" for Collectivism). If you believe that I am misusing the word "freedom" in the current context -- if you feel that individual freedom requires more than just the absence of others initiating force against someone -- please go ahead and add whatever further essentials you feel I have left out. I will then modify my statements on "freedom" accordingly.

The most damage that can be done by bribed officials is precisely that which can be done by those in the "courts, cops, and military" which you assert is the basis of a "minarchy."

Correct, which brings us right back to the undeniable fact that your preferred society of democratically limited capitalism also contains courts, cops, and military. This is precisely why people like Murray Rothbard advocate the elimination of even THOSE institutions.

The rest is child's play, arguably insignificant.

If the effects of what government officials do or don't do in areas other than courts, cops, and military is child's play and insignificant, what justification is there for them being there in the first place? Why pay taxes if the benefits are insignificant?

Let's examine a few things governments do which don't have anything to do with protection of the individual (courts, cops, military), but have consequences no reasonable person would consider "insignificant".

Governments inflate the money supply. Result: lifetimes worth of savings vanish.
Governments impose tariffs. Result: the cost of living goes up.
Governments grant subsidies. Result: businesses with political influence crush those without.
Governments restrict entry into certain markets. Result: coercive monopolies are created to those with political influence.
Governments expropriate property. Result: people are displaced from their homes and businesses against their will.
Governments initiate "visible minority" quotas for businesses. Result: non-minorities get screwed.

There's lot's more, but I don't want to get tedious about it. Are these government actions insignificant?

The US has flag desecration laws...

As do other countries.

...government censorship of the press in cases of "national security"...

This is universal. I can't think of a single country that doesn't have this.

...various gag laws, etc.

Again, this is universal.

Sweden, for example, has greater free speech than the United States. Possession of child pornography is legal there (although production or distribution of same is illegal). They don't give a crap about flag desecration either.

Do they also allow people to put banners depicting sex with animals on their property? Just kidding.

If we all refused to buy all Chinese-made goods simply because they come from a Communist regime, yes that would probably happen. But if we refused to buy from companies that have or condone immoral labor practices, what would more likely happen is that those companies would reform their practices.

Didn't you say, "I'm sure many employees in state-owned Chinese industries are also being exploited"? Oh, wait... I see, only "many" of the state workers are being exploited, not all of them. Okay then, how can we know which products were produced in factories staffed only by non-exploited government workers? If it is okay to buy from a government "corporation" where only SOME of the workers are exploited, why is it not okay to buy from a private corporation where only some of the workers are exploited? I must confess I fail to see the difference, so I will continue to boycott ALL Chinese products.

You create a false choice between sweatshops and "collective farms and State factories," as if those were the only two possibilities. Totally wrong. The choice is between sweatshops and humane working conditions.

The above comment logically implies that collective farms and State industries do not offer humane working conditions, so apparently there is no "false choice" in China -- state factories and private sweatshops suck equally. There is no third alternative. How can there be if we accept your argument? According to you, there are no capitalist factories that aren't sweatshops and never will be because the owners will always be free to collude with each other to keep wages at rock bottom.

It therefore follows that the only way to increase the wages is through government decree, but the government won't increase it because that would mean they would have to pay the workers in the State factories more, which they apparently lack the capacity to do. So it looks to me like the only thing Chinese employees who want to improve their working conditions can do is to band together, get a business development loan from the World Bank or a venture capitalist, and start their own businesses.

"By humane I do not mean "luxurious" or anything of the sort, anything that would drive companies under."

Would providing humane working conditions drive the Chinese government under? One would think the government of a country with a population of 1.4 billion people, a government with essentially unlimited power within its borders, would have sufficient wherewithal to provide humane working conditions for its employees.

Here's a question: If it is possible for a corporation to be both profitable and humane (and your comment on the ethical mutual funds show that it is), why is it that no such corporation has opened a factory in China yet?

pinky


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