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OfflineAsanteA
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Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit?
    #3564769 - 12/31/04 11:57 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

The 200 wealthiest men of this world have got more capital then the 2.000.000.000 poorest people of this world. These two billion people do not sit on their ass behind a desk but rather work dried soil with pick-axes in a 100'F sun and carry 100lbs bags of rocks around to make their living.

Most people (80%) in India earn $1 or less a day. Thats awfully close to a billion people.

In many African nations such as Sierra Leone large groups of the population earn $0.50 a day or less. Provided these Africans live to be 35-40 years of age, they will approximately earn $5.000 in their entire lifetimes.

By contrast Bill Gates has made $ 55.000.000.000 in roughly the same timespan which means he on his own has made as much money as 11.000.000 of these Africans.
Those 11 millions Africans will just about all die because of their abysmal poverty.

If you interlink their fates in a global economy you can say that 11 million Africans (100 times Heroshima's casualties) will in fact die because Bill Gates chooses to hold on to so much money that if he stopped earning a single cent he could spend $ 5.000.000 every single day for the rest of his life, which incidentally is as long as a super-poor African may live from cradle to grave.
If you interlink their fates you could argue that Bill Gates is as lethal to the poor as say an India x Pakistan nuclear war.


The question of this thread is: how super-rich would you allow yourself and others to be in relation to the super-poor?
And I specifically mean this in a Spiritual sense and in the Moral sense



You should bear in mind that if the poor gain a certain higher standard of living, the rich will most certainly be able to bathe in a proportionally higher wealth which may include serious luxuries.
On one extreme you've Ultra-Capitalism, the world we live in now where the super-rich are ten million times richer then the super-poor, while on the other hand you have Ultra-Communism where there is rich nor poor and all share the same high standard of living.

This is not about politics, not about the possibility IF it can be justified, implications for global warming et cetera but about what you honestly think is spiritually and morally justified. In this thread I'd like debate to be secondary to the full expression of one's own stance on the justice of high wealth vs low poverty. Statements of one's personal view make this thread happen while comparison discussion might keep it going for a long time.



As for me personally I am neither a strict capitalist nor a strict communist. The current situation in my view is completely indefensible but a state of complete individual financial equality would in my view be detrimental to progress. I personally would like to see a world where the richest class is one-hundred times as wealthy as the most empoverished class. In my view it is justifyable that if one makes $25.000 the other may make $2.500.000 but not below or above that floor and ceiling.

If the 200 super-rich had 10.000.000 coins each and the two billion super-poor had 1 coin each, this would roughly re-distribute so that a super-rich has 200 coins and a super-poor has got 2 coins for basically the same man/hours of work output, and this will double the physical number of coins but their life-standard would increase a hundred-thousandfold because 99,99999% of the fruits of the world's labour will not end up in 0,00001% of the world's pockets.
This is oversimplified economics but basically it says the poorest will make a humongous leap forwards while the super-rich are still very wealthy in comparison.

If within one nation the difference between richest and poorest can be made to be 100:1 then this should also be feasible for this hypothetical planet. They would still work the same hours and produce the same commodities but the difference is that there'll be dinner on the table when everybody goes home.


So where do you stand? How big should the difference between the richest and the poorest be at most? Should it be restricted at all? Should there be a difference at all? And at the heart at the matter: wat are the moral and spiritual ramifications of the how the world is and how it could be?
Please vote and let us discuss!


.
Should there be a lower and upper limit to poverty and wealth?
You may choose only one
No limits, let wealth be free and limitless
There should be a moderate narrowing of the difference
The difference should be decreased greatly
Full equality in wages, let's do away with poverty for good
Just show me the poll results
How big should the difference of income be between the richest and poorest class?
You may choose only one
Limitless
10.000 : 1
1.000 : 1
100 : 1
10 : 1
Equal


Votes accepted from (12/31/04 11:55 AM) to (No end specified)
You must vote before you can view the results of this poll



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Edited by Asante (12/31/04 12:04 PM)


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3564860 - 12/31/04 12:30 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

You should investigate how much of those ultra-rich individual's money is actually liquid. You'd find that a majority of their money is actually tied up into their businesses to keep them operating, along with various assets.

Also, Bill Gates donates 51% of his paycheck to charity.
I can surmise with certainty that most if not all, wealthy people donate substantially; and every wealthy person that I've known, personally, was always generous.

I know there's somewhat of a common stereotype of rich people being greedy and 'evil' or something... But consider the source of such stereotypes: the masses of whom are usually NOT rich. In reality, it is actually the reverse which is true; the rich and wealthy are the ones who are actually generous, and the poor/middle class who lack generosity and integrity.

Anyways, my answer to your question is: limitless. I see no need to attempt to put some cap or limit on how much money can be made by any business and such.

I remember reading somewhere that said, 'Everytime someone becomes a millionaire, they are increasing the quality/standard of living.'
I suppose this is true at least within a certain parameter. But because one becomes a millionaire in Japan, does not mean people in Rwanda, Africa are going to have better toilet paper.
This, of course, is only assuming that the said millionaire[s] are not giving back/sharing/spreading their wealth that they've created that far, of course.

So, with this in mind, one can clearly see that if such freedom and capitalism were to flourish near those malnourished regions of the world, somehow, someway... And one becomes a millionaire in that part of the world, then there you go. Economical factors can become more favorable, and from there on many good things can take place.

Basically, what it comes down to, is that money = energy, in a certain sense. It is essentially an energy tool; it can used to build... or destroy. The more money an individual has, the more energy they have to create or build a future. The more money a locale has, the more energy it has to expand and progress, if needed.

What I find interesting is, the more people someone serves, or the more problems they fix, or the more solutions they create for more people... the more energy [money] that person is rewarded with, then that person has more energy to give back to the world, and so on and so forth.

That, is beautiful to me. :smile:



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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3564879 - 12/31/04 12:34 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I think this poll is a loaded question.
My answer is not a one-liner. My answer is "it depends".

You have to realize that alot of the wealth that Bill Gates and the like have is not liquid. It's tied up in stock and the like. They can't just spend it all. And if I were that wealthy, I'd probably want to both A) help people out and B) keep the wealth machine running. The Gates Foundation does alot of cool stuff, but Microsoft does alot of bad stuff. I'd try to balance it out...

Another factor is HOW I became so rich. Alot of Bill Gates' wealth had to do with the monopolistic business practices he engaged in. I would try to avoid that in the first place.

But let's say I did something really badass like getting cold fusion to work (free energy). I'd firstly try to make some money off it from the wealthy countries/people/whomever, then after a few million bucks (or whatever I'd need to live on comfortably and independently, which wouldn't be $88 billion or whatever Gates is worth) I'd license it for free (or sell it merely at cost) to the poorer nations. I wouldn't immediately give it away to the poorer countries, unless I could be sure that those countries/corporations/people that CAN afford it compensated me for my amazing contribution to the world. I would also fight hard to not lose my right to decide who gets it (and when) and I'd be open about my plans for making those who can afford it pay and giving it away (or selling at cost) to those who cannot afford it.

It's about balance... and that is entirely subjective, though the extremes are easily pointed out.


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3564885 - 12/31/04 12:35 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Dammit... I was beaten by four minutes. Doh!


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Sclorch]
    #3564917 - 12/31/04 12:43 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

it does depend
wealth if totally regulated may lose it's efficacy.

I think the opportunity to see the results of one's labour should not be denied to anyone, and if disaster strikes we need to help those in need.

governments' roles are developing towards that.
the issue about limiting wealth is a red herring.

we have learned that need includes:
food, education, health,
in some places health includes clothing and housing and waterworks.

we will learn better what "the opportunity to realize the results of one's work" is. This already happens but will need facilitation and equalization: fewer and fewer should be denied this right; more and more shall be encouraged to use this right.

money itself is a side issue except to those who make it a main issue which is nuts.


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3564923 - 12/31/04 12:45 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

The only way one can put a cap on the earning potential of people is through physically preventing them from performing the actions they have decided will yield the wealth they seek. In other words, one must initiate force against them. This is a no-no.

If the acquisition of wealth were a zero-sum game -- in other words if in order for Gates to amass his 60 billion it was necessary for millions of others to have a total of 60 billion seized from them by force, then it would be a different matter. Fortunately, the creation of wealth is not a zero sum game. The amount of wealth in existence is not static but instead steadily increases.

People like Gates deliver incalculable benefit to the human race in general and to millions of individuals in particular. In comparison to the sum value of those benefits they generate the amount of actual dollars (or yen or whatever) they personally receive is a paltry sum indeed.



pinky


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Phred]
    #3565281 - 12/31/04 02:18 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)



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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3565325 - 12/31/04 02:28 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I think pinky already covered it. One person becoming wealthy does not prevent another person from doing so. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, among others, free market economics has actually lowered the income gap. See, the thing is, government doesn't work. Just about every government program ends up having negative, unintended consequences, and sometimes even hurts the people it's supposed to help. Now, these wealthy people can donate great sums of their wealth to charity in order to help those less fortunate than them, and this does help quite a bit. However, what the world's poor need most is not a handout, but rather the opportunity to succeed.


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: silversoul7]
    #3565622 - 12/31/04 03:55 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

ive had a long standing dilemma about my own wealth status. its easy to say oh its so obsecene how much money bill gates has, but ill tell you if you are on this computer, and have never gone hungry, and have clothes and a heated house and have gone to school , you are obscenely wealthy. its true everyone on this board more or less is in the top 10% of the worlds wealthies people. i dont live in a mansion but im not blind to the fact that i am born into obscene privelage and the things i consume in one week would keep 6 families alive for 2 weeks. or something.

its unfair, it makes no sense, but thank god.


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Moonshoe]
    #3565654 - 12/31/04 04:08 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I've been born into a priviledged life too, but I've shed my liberal guilt about it a while back. Fact is that if you took all the money in the world and distributed it equally to every person, within a couple years you'd have rich and poor once again. A completely egalitarian society cannot be maintained indefinitely. Not that the rich shouldn't help the poor. I give what I can, and try to be helpful to most people I meet. I think land reform is much more essential to alleviating poverty than income redistribution is. The poor need opportunities, not handouts, and the land monopoly maintained through land speculation is one of their biggest obstacles. Also, many regulations which are supposed to curbe the percieved evils of "big business" end up causing more harm to the poor more than they do to big multinational corporations who can simply relocate.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: silversoul7]
    #3565872 - 12/31/04 06:02 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I'm against handouts, too... and I'm definitely for giving people the opportunity succeed. This is far more important.

Land reform... that's a good idea, but how?


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Sclorch]
    #3565911 - 12/31/04 06:13 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Sclorch said:
Land reform... that's a good idea, but how?



Well, there's different ways of going about it, and I'm too lazy to explain it myself, but this does a reasonable job of how I'd like to see it done: clicky


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OfflineAsanteA
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Phred]
    #3567694 - 01/01/05 08:15 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

The only way one can put a cap on the earning potential of people is through physically preventing them from performing the actions they have decided will yield the wealth they seek. In other words, one must initiate force against them. This is a no-no.

If the acquisition of wealth were a zero-sum game -- in other words if in order for Gates to amass his 60 billion it was necessary for millions of others to have a total of 60 billion seized from them by force, then it would be a different matter. Fortunately, the creation of wealth is not a zero sum game. The amount of wealth in existence is not static but instead steadily increases.




Alas I cannot agree.

Bill Gates' money does not come out of a machine. There is a worldwide workforce that produces commodities. The wealthy nations seize the potential wealth of the poorer nations by force.
The Third World produces all sorts of commodities: Copper, Aluminium, Diamonds, Iron, Coffee, Cocoa, the list goes on and on.

The wealthy nations have a stranglehold of debt on the Third World. At the same time they only pay a scandalously low price for Third World commodities. How about trade embargoes? If the Third World can produce a sack of grain for $1 and a Kansas farmer produces the same sacks for $10, there comes a tax of $12 on the Third World sack, to be payed to the USA if it is to be sold within their borders.

The result is that the workforce and unreplenishable natural resources (like Copper ore) of the Third World are drained for money that is drained from the Third World.

The reality of the matter is that the Third World, with exceptions, is growing poorer and poorer. How come? Every day they generate workforce and export ores, wood, grain and have you not and they keep growing poorer and poorer. Do they burn the money?

No, the money that is earned by their hard work is sucked to the First World to sponsor our fat asses. The Sierra Leone Gross National Income per capita is $300 annual. Worldwide it is $3.000
In my First World nation it is almost $30.000
So a large part of our wealth is slaved out of the Third World's workforce. We use that money to buy computers, which puts the accumulated money in fewer, bigger pockets.

Microsoft corners the market for their Windows OS and other BS and so the money that is drained from the third world, the second world and the first world combined ends up in the pockets of Bill Gates who with his $ 55.000.000.000 has "earned" as much money as ten million Sierra Leonans do combined in their entire lifetimes.

That is where the money of the Super Rich comes from.
That is the REAL story behind the glitter and glamour of the Super Rich. The Third World is literally dying to pay our standard of living and the money is lifted off us to feed the Super Rich.

Not true? Then how come that if you are the same computer software programmer you are now, but then in Sierra Leone, you only get paid $25 a week? Is your work of less quality? Doesn't your software get used by the same multitude of millions of computer users around the world? The only reason is that if you are in the Third World, you are in the dungeon of the extortion system where money gets tortured out of you at an average life expectancy of 35 years of age.

Take a look at India. it is so large it is a World in itself.
80% of the people live on wages of $1 a day or less. Then there are Indian people who make $1.000.000 a day. Have they got a chicken that lays golden eggs? Hell no, they strangle it out of the poor masses, and if they need a kidney because they blew one stuffing themselves with Caviar they take one off of a healthy pauper for $500 because that poor man has to feed his starving children.

THIS is the true story of what unbridled capitalism does to the world. This is where all the money comes from.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but I stand amazed that in this thread alot of mention is made of the right to limitless wealth, because that by definition means limitless extortion of the poor, to tap their workforce and drain the money from them afterwards.

Quote:

The amount of wealth in existence is not static but instead steadily increases.



Not in most parts of the Third World if you look at the rise of the First World in comparison, and not the meager rise of their economies compared with itself. These nations are getting poorer while their workers and sale of natural resources generate money every day.
That money gets sucked out of those nations straight to the First World.

Quote:

People like Gates deliver incalculable benefit to the human race



If you are a goatherder who has to squeeze the tits of goats every day for milk and STILL get extorted out of goat after goat, like most people of the human race actually live, then Bill Gates offers not a single benefit to you but rather is the wolf that steals your goats.

If you are that goatherder, like most of the world are, Bill Gates brings you nothing but misery because you recieve nothing yet pay all to the extorters of the extorters to the extorters which is Bill Gates. Millions die, have died and will die to pay for the tens of thousands of million dollars that Bill has raked in.

And if the countries he extorts with his "low income nation" Microsoft factories are hit by a Tsunami and he gives 3 million out of his fifty-five thousand million three half-starved goatherders with loosely rolled-up newspapers should come to whack him again and again until he stops sucking. I do not condone but understand that they would rather use steel pipes and it remains open to debate who the biggest criminal is in the moral (not legal) sense.

If you are a goatherder your assets are not liquid, they are goats. These goats keep you alive and you have to keep the goats alive by saving food out of your mouth. If you sell them you get the money to pay your debt at once and then die because you have nothing. But then again you are forty which is reeeally old where you live anyway.

If you are Bill Gates your assets are not liquid, but you can sell them off and get so much money that you can spend five million dollars (that is a thousand lifetime wages in Africa) every single day of the rest of your life
That's it. I'm rolling up my saturday newspaper and pay Bill a visit in Richmond. Please join me and feel free to take something of your own. A length of Somalian copper tubing might be appropriate.


I'm no Communist! Nor will I actually physically beat the liquid shit out of Bill Gates in RL. But we should really remember that 80% of all money is in all possible ways extorted out of 80% of the world's people, because they go to work every day from dawn till dusk just like we do.
Unbridled capitalism in my view is the ultimate form of slavery, because you declare whole nations your slaves, you don't provide food or shelter for them, but you only take away all their natural resources and the fruits of their labour from money you extort from them too.

In my view you should either enrich the poor or bridle the rich but in both ways both will happen at once because they are intertwined.
One World.


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OfflineAsanteA
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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Moonshoe]
    #3567712 - 01/01/05 08:49 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

MOONSHOE said:
but ill tell you if you are on this computer, and have never gone hungry, and have clothes and a heated house and have gone to school , you are obscenely wealthy.




An onine friend of mine in Great Britain (which, he assures me, is not all thast great) is "on this computer" because he is at work as an underpayed ISP service assistant. He can barely afford rent, occasionally plugs holes in his roof because the landlord does zero upkeep in his ghetto-ish quarters, brews and stills his own booze because he can't afford the real thing to support the alcohol habit his poverty escapism kinda forced him into. He can't go out and have a beer in the pub but visits friends ON FOOT walking some miles and if his health fails he has no insurance, no retirement plan and alot of debts.

This guy lives in the First World, but to the First World's standards he actually lives in the Third World. He is in the trap and squeezed and extorted like others who fell into the poverty pit.

So its not just the Third World and i would call some Shroomerites hardly privileged because they live in a world they can't afford to take part in.

Most Shroomerites got it good. Others have to steal wood from a boarded-shut house to make a door to save them from aggressive drunk family members.

I personally have got it reasonably good and feel privileged. Others, even Shroomerites, have to string their shoe with a piece of cord they found on the street. So please don't generalize.
WE got it made, Moonshoe, but not everyone online has got that.


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3567832 - 01/01/05 10:49 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

From Wiccan Seeker's opening post in the thread:

Quote:

The question of this thread is: how super-rich would you allow yourself and others to be in relation to the super-poor?
And I specifically mean this in a Spiritual sense and in the Moral sense.

This is not about politics, not about the possibility IF it can be justified, implications for global warming et cetera but about what you honestly think is spiritually and morally justified.




Bearing in mind the above statements on how you would prefer to see the debate framed, I'd like to address your points.

You wrote:

Bill Gates' money does not come out of a machine.

Correct. Like all wealth produced in the world, the wealth Gates's dollars and stock options represent came from productive human effort. So does the lesser wealth a Somalian goatherd creates. All humans survive through productive effort. The relevant moral question is --

Whose effort sustains whose life?

I have yet to see a convincing argument that your effort should be taken from you forcefully and used to support my life. Or that Steve Jobs's or Bill Gates's effort should be taken from them forcefully and used to support a million or so people they've never met in some country they've never visited. Forcing people to work against their will for the benefit of another is by definition slavery. I personally find slavery to be immoral. The moral relativists who post in this forum say there is no such thing as immorality -- that it is all a question of personal taste. What one finds immoral another will not. I therefore expect to see no responses from any moral relativists in this thread.

There is a worldwide workforce that produces commodities.

Correct. The moral points to be considered here are --

-- Are other humans forcing them to produce those commodities?
-- Are the commodities they produce seized from them by force?

The wealthy nations seize the potential wealth of the poorer nations by force.

I can't think of a case where this is true. I'm going to need a specific example. Wealthy countries don't forcefully seize goods, they trade for them. They either pay the price the producer of those goods asks or they do without.

The Third World produces all sorts of commodities: Copper, Aluminium, Diamonds, Iron, Coffee, Cocoa, the list goes on and on.

It is fortunate for them that they do. If they didn't the citizens of those countries would be even worse off than they are today.

The wealthy nations have a stranglehold of debt on the Third World.

You'll need to provide me an example of a lender nation forcing the government of a Third World nation at gunpoint to borrow more money than they had the capability to repay. I can't think of such a case myself.

At the same time they only pay a scandalously low price for Third World commodities.

The seller always sets his price. If the buyer believes the price is too high, he will not buy, and the seller is left free to search out a buyer who will pay the price the seller believes is just.

How about trade embargoes?

Trade embargoes are a perfect example of what I pointed out in my first post --
Quote:

The only way one can put a cap on the earning potential of people is through physically preventing them from performing the actions they have decided will yield the wealth they seek.



A trade embargo is a textbook example of some humans (government agents in this case) physically preventing some other humans (the buyer and the seller) from performing the actions they have decided will yield the wealth they seek. Therefore trade embargos are immoral. Trade embargoes are of course a political measure, and my understanding was that you preferred to keep this discussion on a spiritual and moral plane, so I will not address them further.

The result is that the workforce and unreplenishable natural resources (like Copper ore) of the Third World are drained for money that is drained from the Third World.

What you call "draining", other people call "commerce". The copper produced through human effort is exchanged at a mutually agreed price for other goods produced through human effort. Were the goods exchanged for that copper "drained" from the First World?

As a side note, while it is true there is a finite amount of copper on Earth, it is (unlike oil) recyclable. Further, copper sitting under a mountain does no one any good -- least of all the poor living in the country in which that mountain is located. If you disapprove of wealthier nations purchasing copper from the poorer nations, would you say it is spiritually or morally better for the people of the poor nations to leave the copper in the ground and instead make their living through some method other than copper mining?

The reality of the matter is that the Third World, with exceptions, is growing poorer and poorer

If true, how would ceasing to produce coconuts, cashews, cocoa, coffee, copper, cocaine and cigars (for example) make them less poor? What would they do instead? Or do you think should they continue to produce all those things but only sell them to other poor nations?

Every day they generate workforce and export ores, wood, grain and have you not and they keep growing poorer and poorer. Do they burn the money?

The majority of the poorest countries in the world are either politically unstable (torn by tribal warfare and near-constant revolution) or are ruled by despots. They grow poorer not because they don't produce, but because what they produce is seized from them by their governments. But this is straying into the realm of politics, so I'll stop here.

No, the money that is earned by their hard work is sucked to the First World to sponsor our fat asses.

So your solution is for them to cease trading with wealthier nations? What if a Somali goatherd wishes to sell his goat cheese to the French, who are eager and willing to pay triple the price for his cheese that he can get locally? What spiritual or moral justification do you propose from interfering with his decision to sell his product for the most he can obtain?

So a large part of our wealth is slaved out of the Third World's workforce.

This is true of many of the products coming from totalitarian countries. This is one reason I go to considerable effort to avoid buying goods produced in Red China for example. But I have no qualms buying a nice juicy Argentinian steak. Slave labor isn't involved in producing that steak.

We use that money to buy computers, which puts the accumulated money in fewer, bigger pockets.

I'm not following you. We are talking about commercial transactions here. Goods are being exchanged for other goods. The only way a French merchant has ten kilos of Somali goat cheese to put on his shelves which he didn't have yesterday is because a Somali goatherd now has ten bottles of French wine to put in his tent which he didn't have yesterday. Each participant has lost something he once possessed in order to gain something new (of more worth to him personally) he didn't possess. Is the Somali goatherd not also lining his pockets?

Microsoft corners the market for their Windows OS and other BS and so the money that is drained from the third world, the second world and the first world combined ends up in the pockets of Bill Gates...

Morally, what does it matter how the people buying Microsoft products obtained the dollars they need to buy it? Would Gates be any less wealthy if the hundred bucks extra (or whatever the actual amount is these days) you had to pay for your computer because it runs Windows was earned through you selling your artwork or through you selling copper pipe you fabricated from copper ore you bought from Chile?

That is where the money of the Super Rich comes from.

It comes from trade, yes. I fail to see the moral inequity here. If you don't want to buy the products Gates provides, don't buy them. It's that simple. I don't buy Microsoft products -- not because I think Gates is acting immorally but because I think their products for the most part suck ass.

The Third World is literally dying to pay our standard of living and the money is lifted off us to feed the Super Rich.

The Super Rich aren't killing anyone, and your money isn't "lifted" off you. When is the last time you had someone seize your money? Muggers and governments seize your money. Merchants trade for it.

Not true? Then how come that if you are the same computer software programmer you are now, but then in Sierra Leone, you only get paid $25 a week?

Because that is what the software companies are willing to pay for software produced by programmers in Sierra Leone. If the SL programmer feels his work is worth more than that, he is free to seek employment with a Sierra Leone software company.

The only reason is that if you are in the Third World, you are in the dungeon of the extortion system where money gets tortured out of you at an average life expectancy of 35 years of age.

Oh, please! Let's try to keep the hyperbole out of this, shall we? Software programmers in Sierra Leone aren't being tortured, and they aren't dying at age 35 either. If a software programmer agrees to sell the code he produces for a price he sets, who has been harmed? Point out to us the immoral actions being performed in his case.

Then there are Indian people who make $1.000.000 a day. Have they got a chicken that lays golden eggs? Hell no, they strangle it out of the poor masses...

More hyperbole. Unless the Indian making a million a day has workers chained to their desks, I fail to see the moral code being violated here.

... and if they need a kidney because they blew one stuffing themselves with Caviar they take one off of a healthy pauper for $500 because that poor man has to feed his starving children.

Would that poor man still have starving children if there were no one willing to buy his kidney? Note that the kidney recipient doesn't "take" his kidney -- he buys it, at the price the donor sets. If the donor doesn't get his price, the recipient doesn't get his kidney.

THIS is the true story of what unbridled capitalism does to the world. This is where all the money comes from.

Embargoes are contrary to unbridled capitalism. So is slave labor.

Unless I misunderstand, your complaint with the concept of exchanging goods voluntarily seems to be that the sellers in the Third World countries are not charging enough for the product of their efforts. I believe in this case the spiritual thing to do would be to start an information campaign to persuade Third World vendors to raise their prices. No force would be involved in this case, so charges of acting immorally wouldn't hold water. I guess the problem is that since so few in the Third World have access to information about the outside world and are so poorly educated, they haven't yet realized it's in their best interests to raise the cost of their labor.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but I stand amazed that in this thread alot of mention is made of the right to limitless wealth...

Of course no one has a limitless right (or any right) to the wealth produced by others. They must trade for it. But that works both ways. Stephen King has no right to the money I earned slinging drinks in a tourist bar. But I have no right to the money he earned writing "The Stand". As it happens, more people want to buy a copy of "The Stand" than want to buy my pi?a coladas. But that's not Stephen King's fault.

... because that by definition means limitless extortion of the poor, to tap their workforce and drain the money from them afterwards.

Actually, it doesn't. What resources did Bill Gates extort from Sierra Leone? What resources did Stephen King extort from Sierra Leone? Donald Trump? Roy Kroc? Theresa Heinz Kerry?

Quote:

pinky wrote:

The amount of wealth in existence is not static but instead steadily increases.




WS responded -- "Not in most parts of the Third World if you look at the rise of the First World in comparison, and not the meager rise of their economies compared with itself. These nations are getting poorer while their workers and sale of natural resources generate money every day."

The amount of wealth in existence increases steadily. That doesn't mean that every human in the world (productive or not) sees his own wealth increase at the same rate. I can't play a musical instrument or compose a tune to save my life, so it's highly unlikey I would make as much money selling my songs as Joni Mitchell gets for hers. Similarly, my woodworking skills are pretty much zero so any kitchen cabinets I managed to cobble together would fetch less on the market than that of a proficient carpenter. Nonetheless, the amount of songs people are willing to pay money to hear increases steadily, as do the number of kitchen cabinets in the world.

I don't understand why you feel a successful cabinet maker or a successful songwriter must have the rewards of their efforts seized from them by force in order to give at no cost those rewards to unsuccessful songwriters and cabinet makers. What is moral about that? What is spiritual about that?

That money gets sucked out of those nations straight to the First World.

Again with the hyperbole. Nothing is being "sucked out" of anywhere. People work. They trade the stuff their work creates with others. If it turns out the stuff they create is too shoddy to bring in as much as they'd like to get, whose fault is that? Or if the stuff they produce is so commonplace that the buyer has a thousand other sources from whom he can purchase the same thing for less, whose fault is that? It's certainly not the fault of the buyer. Note that I'm not saying it's necessarily the fault of the producer either.

If you are a goatherder who has to squeeze the tits of goats every day for milk and STILL get extorted out of goat after goat, like most people of the human race actually live, then Bill Gates offers not a single benefit to you but rather is the wolf that steals your goats.

How did Bill Gates harm the goatherd? He didn't. Gates has done nothing bad to that goatherd and in fact has improved the goatherd's lot in life by providing high-paying jobs to yuppie trendoids who can now afford to buy imported goat cheese rather than boring old Wisconsin cheddar. Gates has increased demand for goat cheese, which cannot help but benefit the goat herder.

If you are that goatherder, like most of the world are, Bill Gates brings you nothing but misery because you recieve nothing yet pay all to the extorters of the extorters to the extorters which is Bill Gates.

Again with the hyperbole. No one is "extorting" anything here. I suggest you check a dictionary for the definition of "extortion".

Millions die, have died and will die to pay for the tens of thousands of million dollars that Bill has raked in.

Who has Gates killed? No one. Are you seriously proposing that if the people of the world were still running their desktop computers under CP/M less people would have been killed?

And if the countries he extorts with his "low income nation" Microsoft factories are hit by a Tsunami and he gives 3 million out of his fifty-five thousand million...

As has been pointed out here already, Gates donates half his income to charity. Voluntarily.

... three half-starved goatherders with loosely rolled-up newspapers should come to whack him again and again until he stops sucking.

Why should people who have benefited from Gates's actions initiate violence against him?

I do not condone but understand that they would rather use steel pipes and it remains open to debate who the biggest criminal is in the moral (not legal) sense.

Of course it's not "open to debate". Clearly beating someone with steel pipes is immoral, while exchanging goods with others is not. Let's be reasonable.

If you are a goatherder your assets are not liquid, they are goats.

Goats are bought and sold all the time. They are as liquid as anything else.

These goats keep you alive and you have to keep the goats alive by saving food out of your mouth. If you sell them you get the money to pay your debt at once and then die because you have nothing.

This is no different from any other business. If you sell your means of production, you stop producing.

I'm no Communist!

Perhaps not. But the ideas you espouse are immoral.

But we should really remember that 80% of all money is in all possible ways extorted out of 80% of the world's people, because they go to work every day from dawn till dusk just like we do.

So how does this make them victims of "extortion" but not us? Explain the difference for us, please.

Unbridled capitalism in my view is the ultimate form of slavery, because you declare whole nations your slaves, you don't provide food or shelter for them, but you only take away all their natural resources and the fruits of their labour from money you extort from them too.

Capitalism is the antithesis of slavery. Under institutionalized slavery, the product of people's (slaves) efforts are seized from them by force. Under Capitalism, people deal with each other as traders. If one cannot come to a voluntary agreement on a transaction, the transaction doesn't occur. No force is involved, just persuasion. To call this "slavery" is to apply a Bizarro World definition to the terms "slavery" and "Capitalism".

In my view you should either enrich the poor or bridle the rich but in both ways both will happen at once because they are intertwined.

And how do you propose to get stuff with which to enrich the poor? If it is through persuasion, then I am on your side 100%.

How do you propose to "bridle" the rich? Again, if it is through persuasion then I am on your side. Persuade Stephen King to stop writing books. He doesn't need more money and people can read novels by other authors, or not read novels at all. Persuade Gates to dissolve Microsoft. He has all the money he needs, right? People can use UNIX or Mac OS and Wordperfect, or do without computers at all. Or write their own code. Persuade MacDonald's to close their doors. Ray Kroc's heirs don't need any more money, and people certainly have many more choices for lunch than a Big Mac.

Once Microsoft vanishes, King stops writing, and Big Macs are a thing of the past, Somalian goatherds will achieve the prosperity currently denied them -- that much is clear. But such end results must morally be achieved through persuasion, not through force.

pinky


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Phred]
    #3567999 - 01/01/05 01:05 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Pinksharkmark:

If there is absolutely no logic to be seen is somebody's many points, you feel forced to repeat phrases of "I can't see why you would" and the overall picture you get is total a chaotic mayhem of gibberish, wouldn't Ockham's Razor dictate it more likely that you misunderstand a crucial part of somebody's stance? Please don't debate this, I hope you see what i mean :wink:




1...trade embargoes on the reality level prevent third-world nations from getting a decent price on the western market. This is the spearpoint of just about any third-world charity's agenda. Third World nations cannot dictate their price, they are forced to be the lowest bidder where the First World states what it will pay and the Third World nation who agrees first gets the contract. They depend on this for survival, not luxury so there will always be someone who accepts the low pay.

This isn't free trade, this is extortion.
With extortion I mean:  Illegal use of one's powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.
Within America this would be illegal. In foreign trade with the Third World this is policy.
That is why charities bring out coffee etc under brands such as FAIR TRADE(tm), because the trade is unfair by any standard the western nations practice internally. Read up on it at the website of just about any of the major charities.

2...Third World nations have far too little money to meet their needs, which include debts to richer countries. They have so little money it is a matter of Survival. That means they have to sell off anyhthing they got to the richer countries to live to see the next year. And as you saw in #1, the buyer dictates the price because the seller is desperate.

The First World trades with the Third World exactly like a heroin dealer does with a junkie: The heroin in this example is MONEY and the withdrawal DEATH. The dependent country will do *anything* to get that what it needs for survival and the independent country keeps the dependent country paying in such a way that it gives all it has without collapsing but keeping dependent.

That's not capitalism, but it is how capitalist countries do their business with empoverished countries.
"you are in no position to ask shit, gimme everything you got NOW"
Pick a charity that laments about international trade and no matter which one you pick it will tell this tale of economic vampirism.
Wouldn't it be God-awfully unjust if it were true?
Websearch! Look for the facts independent from my words!

Imagine a poker game you got to play for survival.
There's little money to you, but you got to bet it for survival.
Whatever your hand is, whenever you bet your $10 the rich dude slaps a 100 on the table and says: "Can't pay up? Owned."
A pretty lousy way to live your life, is it not?
Wouldn't you at one point get up and punch that bastard in the nose?



My solution is a simple one and it is contrary tho what you thought it would be.

My solution is that we, the First World should stop sucking
the Third World dry *RIGHT NOW*.
Let THEM dictate the price for coffee and copper. And if we want copper, or coffee on the mousepad, no tricks: cough up the dough!

And you know what? Money gets redistributed. Nations become independent because they got a cash reserve. They are taken seriously as equal trade partners all of a sudden.
Eventually the Third World will cease to exist and you got nations that do well and less well, but not nearly as extreme as it is now.

Then you introduce the alien concept of minimum wages. Western Companies of simple commodities (lessay clothes) use Tactics 1 and 2 on the TW local population: Give em juuust enough so they keep coming back but as little as possible.

Why the flock do I pay $50 for a pair of pants the seamstress got $0.05 for? I want her to get five bucks, put that next to the five bucks it takes to get it to my store and subtract those $10 and leave $40 for the traders to fight over instead of $44.95
Because it is 10% of the consumer price but a 10.000% wages increase for the poor girl in the sweatshop.
Shewt I'll pay $55 and stamp "FAIR TRADE" on the zipper but give her the $5 dammit :mad2:

If you got fair trade in international commerce, and have established 8-hour shifts/40-hour weeks and a DECENT minimum wage in all countries of the world the world will move to a situation where the poor are far less poor and the rich are far less rich.
And not because the poor got handouts and the rich got ripped off, but rather the rich were given a graceful way to back out of an extremely unjust exploitation they were pulling and the poor will be given wealth enough to afford a decent standard of living.

Suppose you found out your $100 silk shirt was sown by an 11 yo girl for $0.05 in a 1O0'F sweatshop where she was beaten by the manager, and that she was there and not in school because Mom was in debt and she had lost three siblings to famine? This is not a hyperbole but the shirt on your back might well be made by an exploited child!
Websearch it: there's much info on child exploitation in nthe production of western clothes with big brands being involved!

In my view humane standards applied in the First World should be universal. (minimum wage and minimum requirements for living and working) Then, in my view, the minimum wage should be upped untill the difference between the richest and the poorest was 100:1 at most.

Trade should be encouraged but humane norms should be universally applied and then realistically upped.

Likewise I rather see 20 x 5 million in a lottery then 1 x 100 million. That 100 winner is not going to be 20x happier because it's 100 and not 5.


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3568061 - 01/01/05 01:53 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Most people who are rich are rich because of their hardwork, but the people who receive money through inheritance... I can understand the complaining with that.... but if you work for your money it certainly CAN be justified


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: ld50negative1]
    #3568221 - 01/01/05 03:18 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

The moral question in part boils down to:
Would you think it is morally defensible that somebody earns $50.000 a day in the office or sports while another earns $0.50 a day by hauling 100lbs bags of rocks under a burning desert sun?

Even genocide CAN be justified :grin:
The point is partly if you yourself would think it's justified that one of our kind earns 100.000 times less the another for his hard work?

Shouldn't the inherent value of every human being keep us from keeping about half the world on the starvation line and 30% substantially poor while others (like Bill Gates) walk around with $55.000.000.000 ?


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3568283 - 01/01/05 03:57 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

both


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Re: Being super-wealthy in a world with abysmal poverty: would you justify it in mind or spirit? [Re: Asante]
    #3569365 - 01/02/05 12:35 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Wiccan_Seeker writes:

If there is absolutely no logic to be seen is somebody's many points you feel forced to repeat phrases of "I can't see why you would" and the overall picture you get is total a chaotic mayhem of gibberish, wouldn't Ockham's Razor dictate it more likely that you misunderstand a crucial part of somebody's stance? Please don't debate this, I hope you see what i mean.

No, I don't see what you mean, but I don't misunderstand any of your stance either. I understand it perfectly. Your stance is that people should be limited by force in what they achieve ("bridled", to use your term) and have the product of their effort seized from them by force and distributed (minus the distributors' commission, of course) to people they've neither met nor harmed in any way. Your opening question was this (emphasis mine):

Quote:

The question of this thread is: how super-rich would you allow yourself and others to be in relation to the super-poor?
And I specifically mean this in a Spiritual sense and in the Moral sense.





I gave my reply -- that interfering with the peaceful and voluntary exchange of goods among consenting humans is immoral and showed why. You disagreed either that:

- The initiation of force against peaceful individuals is immoral
and/or
- That the production and acquisition of wealth is not a zero sum game.

I am unsure which of my two paragraphs you were referring to when you said you disagree. Maybe with both? Perhaps you could clear that up for me.

To continue, you said in your latest post that:

1...trade embargoes on the reality level prevent third-world nations from getting a decent price on the western market.

Agreed. I have said already that trade embargoes are a perfect illustration of the principle I laid out in my first post in the thread. We both believe there should be no trade barriers. Since trade barriers are government invention and hence political, there is no need to discuss it further. You explicitly stated you didn't want to bring politics into this. I am attempting to honor that request, so I'll stop here.

Third World nations cannot dictate their price, they are forced (emphasis mine) to be the lowest bidder where the First World states what it will pay and the Third World nation who agrees first gets the contract.

That's how commerce works. It's rare indeed that I will buy a length of lumber (for example) from someone whose price is higher than that of their competitors -- assuming of course the quality of each length of lumber is equivalent. If the buyer sends out bids and tells the bidders beforehand what the maximum price he will pay will be, who has been harmed? If no one can meet the requested price, the buyer either raises his limit or does without that which he seeks. In actual fact, the Third World countries have a huge advantage in this game because they can almost always underbid wealthier nations due to their lower production costs.

They depend on this for survival, not luxury so there will always be someone who accepts the low pay.

We all depend on trade for our survival. And no, there will not always be someone who accepts low pay. I won't sell my pi?a colada to you (or anyone) for ten cents, for example. No one else will either. Your choice is to cough up more coin or drink water.

2...Third World nations have far too little money to meet their needs, which include debts to richer countries.

This is the second point on which we agree. We disagree on why they have too little money. As I said in my last post, the reason they have too little money is that they have too little political and economic freedom. But again this strays into government policy and hence politics. I respect your wish to keep this purely on a moral and spiritual plane and avoid politics so I won't elaborate further.

They have so little money it is a matter of Survival. That means they have to sell off anyhthing they got to the richer countries to live to see the next year. And as you saw in #1, the buyer dictates the price because the seller is desperate.

Actually, that is not correct. The seller dictates the price. If the buyer doesn't want to pay the price the seller asks, the buyer does without.

The First World trades with the Third World exactly like a heroin dealer does with a junkie: The heroin in this example is MONEY and the withdrawal DEATH.

If people living in Third World countries would be better off not selling their stuff to First World countries but instead selling their stuff to each other, then the point I raised in my last post is valid -- the spiritual and moral way to bring Third Worlders out of poverty is to mount an education campaign persuading them to raise their prices if the stuff is destined for export. Oh, wait. That is a textbook example of a trade barrier. Sorry. let me try that again --

The moral thing to do is teach the Third Worlders to charge more for their stuff regardless of whether it is sold to a customer within their borders or to one outside their borders.

The dependent country will do *anything* to get that what it needs for survival and the independent country keeps the dependent country paying in such a way that it gives all it has without collapsing but keeping dependent.

What would the dependent country do if there were no buyers outside their borders? How would they survive then? Let's face it, a businessman need not concern himself with the country of residence of his customers. All he requires to succeed are enough customers who will pay the price he has determined is sufficient to keep his business profitable.

That's not capitalism, but it is how capitalist countries do their business with empoverished countries.
"you are in no position to ask shit, gimme everything you got NOW"


First of all, there are no Capitalist countries. Every country currently in existence apart from the totalitarian ones is of the "mixed economy" model. Secondly, when the buyer asks "gimme everything you got NOW," and the seller says, "No thanks," what recourse does the buyer have? But by talking of embargoes, and "mixed economy country A" versus "mixed economy country B" we are once again straying into the field of politics. Let's stop talking politics and remain focused on the moral aspect of trade.

Pick a charity that laments about international trade and no matter which one you pick it will tell this tale of economic vampirism. Wouldn't it be God-awfully unjust if it were true? Websearch! Look for the facts independent from my words!

The people who run charities have their own agendas and are not shy about bending facts in attempting to persuade people to give them money. As for me doing the websearch, need I remind you of the phrase "burden of proof"? It's not up to me to show the Bill Gates's of the world are extorting and torturing and killing (which they aren't) in order to obtain their coffee and cocoa. You're the one making the claim. It's your responsibility to support it.

Imagine a poker game you got to play for survival.

As has been explained already, the production of wealth is not a zero sum game, nor does it depend on random card shuffling. The analogy is irrelevant to the moral principle you asked us to discuss.

Wouldn't you at one point get up and punch that bastard in the nose?

No.

My solution is that we, the First World should stop sucking
the Third World dry *RIGHT NOW*.
Let THEM dictate the price for coffee and copper. And if we want copper, or coffee on the mousepad, no tricks: cough up the dough!


This is the third point in which we are in complete agreement. I suggest you re-read this paragraph from my last post, paying particular attention to the bolded sentence :

Quote:

Unless I misunderstand, your complaint with the concept of exchanging goods voluntarily seems to be that the sellers in the Third World countries are not charging enough for the product of their efforts. I believe in this case the spiritual thing to do would be to start an information campaign to persuade Third World vendors to raise their prices. No force would be involved in this case, so charges of acting immorally wouldn't hold water. I guess the problem is that since so few in the Third World have access to information about the outside world and are so poorly educated, they haven't yet realized it's in their best interests to raise the cost of their labor.




Trade should be encouraged but humane norms should be universally applied and then realistically upped.

In other words, you believe it is moral for some humans to forcibly prevent other humans from exchanging goods under terms each of the people involved in the transaction finds acceptable. For you, such trade is immoral: it can only be moral if it takes place under conditions set by someone other than those involved in the deal (i.e government. Back to politics again). This is where you and I disagree. I say it's no one's business but the parties involved in the transaction.

If someone wants to work for five bucks a day when the minimum wage is seven bucks a day, and someone else can afford to hire him at five bucks but not at seven, the potential employee remains unemployed and the potential employer remains shortstaffed -- because someone other than the two parties involved in the deal says they aren't allowed complete the deal. Or if a Somali goatherd wants to sell his cheese to a Frenchman for two bucks a kilo rather than to his neighboring Somali for a buck a kilo, he will be prevented from doing so.




May I politely remind you that you missed a few questions of mine? Could you address them if you feel like it? Take your time.


1 - Whose effort sustains whose life?
2 - in relation to Third World people producing commodities sold outside their borders:
a) - Are other humans forcing them to produce those commodities?
b) - Are the commodities they produce seized from them by force?
3 - Would you name a couple of wealthy countries (be specific please) which "seize the potential wealth of the poorer nations by force". Please be specific about which wealth is being seized and through which type of force (invasion or threat thereof, perhaps?)
4 - Would you provide an example of a lender (by name, please) forcing Third Worlders to borrow more money than they have the capability to repay?
5 - Would you say it is spiritually/morally better for the people of the poor nations to leave their copper in the ground and instead make their living through some method other than copper mining?
6a - How would ceasing to produce coconuts, cashews, cocoa, coffee, copper, cocaine and cigars (for example) make Third World countries less poor?
6b - What would they do instead?
6c - Or do you think should they continue to produce all those things but only sell them to other poor nations?
7a - In the case of a Somali goatherd wishing to sell his goat cheese to the French, what spiritual or moral justification do you give for interfering with his decision to sell his product for the most he can obtain?
7b - Is the Somali goatherd not also lining his pockets?
8a - Morally, what does it matter how the people buying Microsoft products obtained the dollars they need to buy it?
8b - Would Gates be any less wealthy if the hundred bucks extra you had to pay for your computer was earned through you selling your artwork or through you selling copper pipe you fabricated from copper ore you bought from Chile?
9 - Would the kidney seller still have starving children if there were no one willing to buy his kidney?
10 - What resources did Bill Gates "extort" from Sierra Leone? What resources did Stephen King "extort" from Sierra Leone? Donald Trump? Roy Kroc? Theresa Heinz Kerry?
11a - What is moral about seizing the wealth earned by a successful cabinet maker or a successful songwriter and giving it to unsuccessful songwriters and cabinet makers? Or to Somali goatherds, for that matter.
11b - If it turns out the stuff they create is too shoddy to bring in as much as they'd like to get, whose fault is that?
12a - How did Bill Gates harm the goatherd?
12b - Who has Gates killed?
12c - If the people of the world were still running their desktop computers under CP/M would fewer people have been killed?
12d - Why should people who have benefited from Gates's actions initiate violence against him?
13 - So how does this make them (the Third Worlders who work) victims of "extortion" but not us? Explain the difference for us, please.

Please note I have shortened some of these questions for the sake of tidier formatting. You may wish to review my previous post in order to refresh your memory of the context in which they were asked.

I look forward to your reply.


pinky


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