Exploitation of poor nations

iBrian

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Finally found something I'd really wanted to keep an eye out for: some proper information of the exploitation of poor countries by rich nations.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3372305.stm

excerpt:

What would disturb you more, a report of the loss of millions of lives to an earthquake in China, or the imminent loss of your own little finger?

When the 18th century economist Adam Smith asked this question, he said we'd sleep soundly over the fate of millions far away but feel turmoil at our own trivial loss.

When it comes to a perceived trade-off between what we think is good for us and what's good for them, the evidence we found suggests that we're still willing to hurt the most disadvantaged on earth for sake of some vocal interest group at home.

"It's a scandal," former UK overseas development minister Clare Short said. She pointed out that the main agricultural products from Africa - coffee and cocoa, for example - are free of tariffs as long as they are unprocessed, but the minute anything is done to them which adds real value, they faces heavy tariffs from developed countries.

Germany turns out to be a major exporter of processed coffee, making profits from the processing denied to the countries of origin.

"The OECD countries are a bunch of hypocrites," said Ms Short, "It's disgraceful, the skewed rules of world trade. Even with fair trade chocolate, 90% of the value added is in Europe."

Meanwhile, she says, we preach the politics of trade liberalisation to the same countries whose products we're penalising to protect our own industries.
 
Of course trade expolits the poor nations. Read Chomsky if you really like that topic.

In WWI/WWII Germany battled England for the right of third world explotation.
 
The WTO doesn't do a whole lot of good to resolve this as it's an organization for the west to work their capitalist slave trade even more - it's a great world we live in.

Recently there have been several regions of India and Pakistan that used a certain types of crop and trees for the highest yield to sell to the west so they could actually scrape a living. Then what happens? The US manages to COPYRIGHT NATURE. The farmers now have to pay more to the US than they would have earned from the crop so it's pointless for them to do it now. I mean that's aesthetically evil on so many points it's untrue. How can this happen yet we find the time to fritter and use oil for blood, and give "aid" to the third world. Yet this always takes the form of arms (on a similar note, isn't it funny how the 5 UN permenant security council members makes up the top 5 arms trading nations...).

Personally I don't understand how people can sleep at night in their double bed in a mansion knowing it came from making a thousand people's lives a misery somewhere else - yet it happens because we like oil at 10c a barrel and shoes on the run. Yet this is the "market economy" of satisfying people to satisfy yourself...
 
Contemporary evil incarnates

Anzac said:
The WTO doesn't do a whole lot of good to resolve this as it's an organization for the west to work their capitalist slave trade even more - it's a great world we live in.

Recently there have been several regions of India and Pakistan that used a certain types of crop and trees for the highest yield to sell to the west so they could actually scrape a living. Then what happens? The US manages to COPYRIGHT NATURE. The farmers now have to pay more to the US than they would have earned from the crop so it's pointless for them to do it now. I mean that's aesthetically evil on so many points it's untrue. How can this happen yet we find the time to fritter and use oil for blood, and give "aid" to the third world. Yet this always takes the form of arms (on a similar note, isn't it funny how the 5 UN permenant security council members makes up the top 5 arms trading nations...).

Personally I don't understand how people can sleep at night in their double bed in a mansion knowing it came from making a thousand people's lives a misery somewhere else - yet it happens because we like oil at 10c a barrel and shoes on the run. Yet this is the "market economy" of satisfying people to satisfy yourself...

They are contemporary evil incarnates, grabbing predators who wear robes of international corporate legalese rigtheousness. And certainly they know themselves to be evil incarnates, and they don't give a damn. If hell exists, it's for them.

Susma Rio Sep
 
Surely by using their own free will to exploit others they are removing their exploited people's free will - to me the whole thing seems to be an ever increasing problem that no one will stop because the only people that can are those that are doing it!
 
Not to worry too much...

Anzac said:
Surely by using their own free will to exploit others they are removing their exploited people's free will - to me the whole thing seems to be an ever increasing problem that no one will stop because the only people that can are those that are doing it!

Not to worry too much, Anz. We and people like us are around and we can still talk on the Internet. So things are not so very bad. Just keep on talking against these evil incarnates, and the world will get better and better.

Susma Rio Sep
 
Susma Rio Sep said:
Not to worry too much, Anz. We and people like us are around and we can still talk on the Internet. So things are not so very bad. Just keep on talking against these evil incarnates, and the world will get better and better.

Susma Rio Sep

It's all very well talking about this ineffable evil which continues to circulate throughout modern capitalist greed and wealth but what is going to change? In the forseeable future and my lifetime (bearing in mind I am half most people's age in the forum) I don't think anything will change. Just think about how much money will be made on so many people's suffering. The amount is huge everyday what with the arms trade and all, along with any form of capitalist exploitation and imagine that over a week, month, year, decade and century. The concept is staggering.

Yet if people with sane and likemindedness gather together and force a change with dramatic results only the same cycle will begin again. Someone will always take the power of the situation and so the problem grows and grows again and there is absoultely no light at the end of the tunnel as the tunnel keeps on going further and further underground, closer and closer to more wealth, but also to certain peril. Seeing this happening with anyone who tries to reform and change things seems to be commonplace and so where does the world turn next? The rich get continually richer and the poor in even more harsh depths of poverty that I can't even concieve.
 
Is this subject open for discussion, or is it closed to dissent?
Anzac,
Recently there have been several regions of India and Pakistan that used a certain types of crop and trees for the highest yield to sell to the west so they could actually scrape a living. Then what happens? The US manages to COPYRIGHT NATURE. The farmers now have to pay more to the US than they would have earned from the crop so it's pointless for them to do it now.
US patents cannot be granted for things that occur naturally, which is why holistic and herbal medicine have such a rough time gaining any serious consideration in the US. In other words, since the Drug companies cannot patent herbal remedies, they cannot profit from them. So I would have to ask if you would not mind supporting your assertion about copyrighting nature please. I will clarify by saying that "improved" strains of vegetables, that is, those things that have been manipulated deliberately (such as genetically modified corn) can be patented, but corn in the generic sense cannot. So I am wondering just what the specifics are in this case.
Surely by using their own free will to exploit others they are removing their exploited people's free will - to me the whole thing seems to be an ever increasing problem that no one will stop because the only people that can are those that are doing it!
Exploitation is such a dirty little word (ok, modestly big word).

Susma,
They are contemporary evil incarnates, grabbing predators who wear robes of international corporate legalese rigtheousness. And certainly they know themselves to be evil incarnates, and they don't give a damn. If hell exists, it's for them.
Not to worry too much, Anz. We and people like us are around and we can still talk on the Internet. So things are not so very bad. Just keep on talking against these evil incarnates, and the world will get better and better.
Am I to assume neither of you are fans of Ayn Rand? In fairness, I am not a blind believer, there are concepts where she falls short in my opinion, but overall I find myself in general agreement with her philosophy.

So I will ask what, in your opinions, is a more desirable economic model? It is much too easy to sit back and lament the current state of affairs. What would you do to fix things? Do you have a perfect solution for an imperfect world? Is there a better way to make economic prosperity more universal? Are you prepared to sacrifice the creature comforts you have grown accustomed to in an effort to drag everyone down to an equilibrium? "...the poor you have with you always..." Do you sincerely believe poverty can be eradicated by giving wealth to the poor? If so, how long do you think those newly wealthy poor will remain wealthy? And where will that wealth come from? I think, in the final analysis, that no matter how much you philosophically associate yourselves with the poor, disenfranchised proletariat masses, you are both on the "rich" side of the fence economically (as evidenced by your ability to participate here). A "Robin Hood" mentally is romantic, but when all was said and done, he was a highwayman. The wealthy get wealthy by certain practices and methods. The poor (in developed countries) are poor because they do not use those practices and methods. The poor in undeveloped countries truly have no certain ability to gain wealth by developed standards, but even in such cultures there are "relatively" wealthy and poor, using the same or similar practices and methods.

I accept that irresponsible business owns more than its share of "the biggest subdivision in hell." But to blame business in a wholesale manner is every bit as irresponsible and näive as running around screaming "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!" Humans are fallible. Human society is fallible. Human economics is fallible. Our history is full of our fallibilities. If capitalism is such an ugly monster worthy of being condemned, what, pray tell, would suffice to replace it?

After less than 80 years, the most recent attempt at engineering a perfect society proved a dismal failure. Even after such a total and complete demonstration, I still hear those who brandish its banners and sound its trumpets. And I hear no viable alternative. I must insist, it is not that I do not listen, it is that there is no one proclaiming any better news.

It is not that there are the less fortunate in the world, it is that it is so easy to lament the less fortunate and not solve the problem. Too many want the government(s) to fix things, but governments do not create wealth, individual human beings create wealth. Governments do what they can to redistribute wealth. If an individual (or company/corporation) is taxed so heavily it cannot earn a profit, what incentive is there to continue creating wealth? Altruism? That wears thin in a very short time. No matter how much you give, it is never enough. Altruism has its place, but of necessity it must be limited and focused. Without profit, there is nothing to give anyway.

Money is not the root of all evil. The love of money, greed, is the root of all evil. Wealth is God's blessing. The love of that wealth is the curse.
 
Thansk, Juan...

I really must commend you, Juan, for your grasp of the more realistic picture of capitalism in our democratic system in the advanced nations of present history.

Here is one admission I will make of myself: I do tend to gripe against the establishment consisting of big business and big government. Maybe I should qualify that by being more specific to point out big businessmen and big politicians in government.

Yes, to say something that is already over-worked but nonetheless still true: it's not big business or big government or they together that is lamentable; it's the very flesh and blood people in them who are not as altruistically inclined as I would wish they were.

Please therefore, Juan, be assured from me that I am not totally and inexorably against big business and big government; even though I might give that impression. I will take back my words if they give you that impression.

They are good people and there are not so good people in big business and big government. Now, I being one of the blessed and privileged ones of the middle classes, as I am grateful to the Lord (spell that luck or chance if you prefer) for His grace in putting me there; so also I am querulous against the not so idealistically motivated people in big business and big government whom I blame for the still many not yet living a better life.

You are right, there is a very conspicuous tendency of people like me who have it so good to join in some kind of choir of frogs to chant lamentations against big business and big government, not mindful to mention that it is big business and big government in advanced democratic nations of today that has procured so much of the benefits of modern western science and technology for mankind as a whole, more than any systems in past history.

No, Juan, I am not against big business and big government, only the people in them who are not as altruistically motivated as I would want them to be.

Who are these people? You will ask me, to name names. I think at this point I have to beg off.


You and I and Anz, by being articulate if not by marching in the streets, can contribute to the further upliftment of peoples who still are not yet enjoying the kind of lifestyle we are enjoying. I myself admit to not being generous enough to march in the streets on behalf of the disenfranchised masses of contemporary world, but I think I am not guilty of the sin of indifference and silence.

Susma Rio Sep

PS I hope you would not be seemingly rather belligerent; even though I might be somewhat provocative with my way of saying things. People have told me that I should be writing a book on How to Antagonize People and Make Enemies. Hahaha.
 
Susma,
I apologize to you, and any others, if I seemed in any way offensive. I have made it a point to try very hard not to be, here and the other forum I participate in.

I realize you and Anz are passionate about this subject. Passion is good when it is controlled and focused. In my experience, passion also can get out of control, and when it does it is not conducive to rational discussion.

I knew I would be taking a chance in posting on this thread specifically. It is not easy to take an unpopular stance, remain rational, and sound intelligent. I try. On this subject (in general) I find many who "believe", but they are not quite certain just what that belief is. This statement is an observation, not an accusation. It is well and good to desire the better for human welfare. I question the method, not the motivation.

Thank you for meeting me in the middle, and in a rational manner. I respect your opinions, and I respect you. I respectfully reserve the right to disagree, but that in no way means I think any less of you or your opinions.
 
I don't see it as offensive at all - asserting your view is all part of the board and if no one challenged what I said I could lie forever and no one would know the difference!:D

Firstly as for the patenting thing - I'm not sure it is copyrighting or patenting or something similar of that ilk but it comes under the category of ownership as such. As for natural things not being copyrighted as you can't create them - that's exactly what I said. I then looked into the subject and there is also a gene that has been copyrighted (from now on I'll use copyrighted as I think it appropriate, but I am unsure of the legal definition - I'll find it out when I dig out my soure material).

I found out the information from the latest WTO publication done by the African Leage of Nations (although it was in India, they still published the report as at the moment they are the ones losing out). I also found out about it through an Amnesty International Source Booklet and a UN Blue Paper. The US have copyrighted (again, apologies for using the word) certain parts of the plant which means the farmers have to pay for them. There has also been a case (as I mentioned earlier) of copyrighting a certain gene (I think it was an animal of some kind but again, as soon as I dig out all the information I'll pass it on) which meant that any time the animal was culled then the US (although this time it might have been the UK) profited from a portion of the cuts.

As for exploitation - I feel it's the right word to use. For instance I sit here on the internet every day wearing my clothes which cost well over 200% of what the workers "earned". Businesses decide they can move over to foreign nations to earn more money by paying people less - to me that kind of comes under that category. But then they turn around and say "wealth will pass down to everyone, it's a curve of growth". Eg. China - they have the largest economy in the world through foreign investment. The average worker earns less in a year that the minimum wage for a month in the UK (this statistic is from the WTO publication). And yes, that's been going on since the end of the second world war, I can almost feel the wealth filtering through the system. So I think the fact that some US businesses also have more money than most nations in the world to also confirm this. Microsoft could buy most of Western Africa (and actually has enough money to physically buy South Africa and the surrounding smaller nations). That's more money than anyone living there will see in a lifetime - yet what do they do with it all? Share, make the world fair? No. They keep it all and get ridiculously wealthy and greedy and continue to make more and more money. I have often found that the citizens of the US defend it more because they are the ones profiting from it, yet ALL nations of the West are guilty of it so I won't just pick on the states.

(contrary to what Susma Rio Sep says; I am against big businesses and conglomerate governments for this reason, it does show and yes it does make me prejudiced - but there is strong visible evidence in our everyday world that collaborates this evidence and as such I believe that there is a serious flaw in it).

I think people need to realise more and more how much the West depends on LEDCs for manual labour. Yet look at the West, during the same theoretical period of time we went through the "glorious industrial revolution" which turned us from smaller nations into huge empires of which we fought huge wars over. Now LEDCs which to grow into the same size (understandably) yet they can't. Why? Because they do not have the resources, for the West to go through the development we raped the rest of the world of it's resources and held everything for ourselves (if you wish to question this just look at European empires, the slave trade and the US invading just about every country in the world for oil, gun sales and coal in the last century). Now they're asking for some back so they can grow, but we don't give any back. Why? Because we're enjoying our "civilized life" on their behalf. After all, look at the only other civilized nation to exist - Rome. Built on an enormous slave trade run by an inflated bureacracy and invaded countries on a whim (remind you of anyone equally "civilized"). It is real exploitation in the true sense of the world, look at the quality of life for your average 50 year old in the US and Mozambique. In the US they're still alive, in Mozambique they would have died (they average here) a long time ago, of starvation, disease, war or floods that ravage the country. Amount of aid that wasn't arms from the west? Little to nothing. That's exploitation so why not give everyone a chance and not the wealthy?
 
Kindest Regards, Anzac,

I want to be clear I am not proselytizing. I am not out to extol the virtues of business and convert the "unbelievers." As a business major, I am biased, and have a vested interest in my bias. I also have a faith, and I must try to balance the two. If they conflict, there is a fault in the philosophy of my faith. Faults raise doubts. So I approach this issue from the vantage of "my" philosophy.

I must commend you on doing your homework, that is more than I can say for most that broach this subject.

First, I'm not certain how things work elsewhere, but the difference between patent and copyright is little more than semantic. I believe I understand what it is you mean. For clarification, patents deal with things, copyrights deal with intellectual properties. A song/book/movie is copyrighted, gadgets/gizmos/thingamajigs are patented.

There has also been a case (as I mentioned earlier) of copyrighting a certain gene (I think it was an animal of some kind but again, as soon as I dig out all the information I'll pass it on) which meant that any time the animal was culled then the US (although this time it might have been the UK) profited from a portion of the cuts.
As the genome mapping project unfolds, and specific genes are being identified, there are companies that are (here, I believe "patent" is the correct term, but as you mentioned it can be difficult, it may be "copyright") specific genes in the hope that as manipulation therapies gain acceptance, they can profit from their research. Not casting any form of judgement, that research has cost these companies great sums of money, money that must somehow be recaptured to remain profitable and stay in business. I am still not familiar with the other case in question, and something about it does not sound right (correct), at least not with what has been presented so far. I also have to consider the motivations and biases behind such "reports", as is too often the case in matters of debate, information tends to be slanted in favor of the side presenting. I admire Amnesty International for their intent and motivations, but I also understand their work necessarily requires a slanted view in their propaganda. Much the same can be said for other organizations that have a vested interest in their positions.

As for exploitation - I feel it's the right word to use. For instance I sit here on the internet every day wearing my clothes which cost well over 200% of what the workers "earned".
OK, let us try to briefly consider this. Besides the cost of wages, the company producing those clothes has many other intrinsic costs that are not figured in your assessment. So do the wholesalers and retailers. For illustration, I'm going to pretend your sneakers (tennis shoes, or whatever they may be called) cost you $30 US. The worker who made those shoes perhaps made $2, but the company also has material costs, machine costs, legal costs, exportation costs, building and maintenance costs, etc. The wholesaler purchases those shoes (in bulk) for perhaps $7, now he must add transportation costs, storage costs, wages, legal costs, import fees, building and maintenance costs, etc. The retailer purchases those shoes from the wholesaler for perhaps $15 a pair, and now has to add all of his related and associated costs, and he lists them for $40. And no one buys, so he must reduce the price until they sell, finally, at $30. He sometimes only breaks even, but if he continues to only break even, he will go out of business. So he must try very hard to turn a profit, which is his reward for taking the risk of doing business (the same is true of the manufacturer and the wholesaler).

If there is no profit, what incentive is there for the company to conduct business? Simply because you need shoes? Why should he give you shoes if it is not worth his while to do so? Altruism costs money, and if he has no money, why should he be altruistic? Now, I am playing the game at the "discount" end of the spectrum, if you happen to be silly enough to pay $100 for those shoes, because of a name tag or something, that is your mistake. If, on the other hand, those same shoes were produced in a developed country that pays higher wages, perhaps the transportation and some of the related import/export type fees would be lowered or non-existent, but the offset in higher wages and attendant benefits creates a $50 pair of shoes, at the discount level (wages shoot from $2 to $12, plus benefits which offset the adding shipping and import/export fees). In order to remain competitive at the price (consumer) level, manufacturers are required in the unfolding nature of globalism to seek out their best interests, which means in very simplistic terms, lowest wages. This is not 100% accurate, but for this demonstration will serve.

Please consider also, that prior to the introduction of manufacturing in many of these areas, there were no real (spelled: legal) ways for common worker level people to gain any "dollars." So while what they earn is miniscule by developed standards, it is very much more than they are accustomed to. To look at the issue from $12 to $2, yes, it seems exploitative. Try looking at the issue from $0 to $2. In that sense, wealth is trickling down. This imaginary worker would be even farther behind without the influx of foreign investment. And his nation is then able to tax those proceeds, and use those tax monies to develop infrastructure and provide for the common welfare. This, is what you see as "bad?"

Microsoft could buy most of Western Africa (and actually has enough money to physically buy South Africa and the surrounding smaller nations).
I am not a huge fan of Bill Gates (personally, I think MicroSoft practices the worst of the practices the "robber barons" ever did in dealing with his competitors), but I would have to say the evidence speaks highly of his business model. People vote with their money, if you will. If they do not like your product, they will not buy, you will bankrupt and go out of business. If they like your product, they will buy, and you will profit and stay in business. That is a simplistic explanation, but it is essentially how the whole thing works.

Truly crooked businesses do not stay in business for long, as a rule. There are exceptions, but that is because they became crooked after they became wealthy. If they become known for being crooked, they also stand to loose and are eventually driven from the market by the lack of consumer "votes." Incidentally, didn't Gates bequeath some many millions of dollars to some world charity about a year ago? I don't recall the details, but my point is that he could because he was able. It is nice to want to give to this or that cause, but if you don't have it to give it is only wishful thinking.

contrary to what Susma Rio Sep says; I am against big businesses and conglomerate governments for this reason, it does show and yes it does make me prejudiced - but there is strong visible evidence in our everyday world that collaborates this evidence and as such I believe that there is a serious flaw in it
Very well, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. So I come back to my earlier question, what would you do to change things? Communism/Socialism do not work. They do not work because they do not create wealth. If there is no wealth created, there is none to disburse or distribute amongst the masses. What we have in existence now are hybrids, there are no truly fully Communistic or Socialistic nations. The experiments in nationalized industries proved that running business with no profit is a pipedream, hence the divestiture of industries in virtually all segments by every nation with a lick of sense. In rare instances, certain segments are subsidized for common welfare, because they cannot stand alone in a competitive market. Amtrak, the US passenger rail service, comes to mind as an example. They consistently operate at a deficit, left to their own, there would be no interstate passenger rail service in the states because they would bankrupt.

The most telling component in my view in the comparison between "pure" capitalism and "pure" communism, is the psychology of the masses. In a pure communist state, the people have an attitude of "gimme, I'm entitled!" There is no concern about creating wealth, because there is no reward for doing so. There is no incentive to be productive (unless there is a gun pointed at their head, which entails an entirely different discussion). The attitude is "as long as I've got mine, who cares about you?" There is no brotherly concern or compassion fostered, in the purest sense religious expression is anathema and/or illegal. It tends in a very real sense to reduce the common people to the level of "dog eat dog." The people remain on the bottom rungs of Maslow's hierarchy.

By contrast, capitalism produces a common psychology of "let's get out and do!" If one expects to eat tonight, then they had better (and in a pure state, willingly) earn their supper. The concern is in creating wealth, because that wealth is yours to enjoy. There is common concern to be productive, because the rewards are yours to do with as you please. If you desire to be charitable, you may because you can. In an idealistically pure state, your success is not at the expense of others, mutual success creates a "win-win" atmosphere. If I help you to succeed, and you are successful, then your success continues and furthers my success. Concern (for others) and compassion, while not "mandated", are also not discouraged. The people are not reduced to an animal level, they are provided with the means and ability to achieve the higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy.

Bear in mind, this was an exercise in extremes. Neither capitalism nor communism nor socialism operate in ideal circumstances. That's just the world we live in. But of the three methods so far espoused by the developed world, I think I'll stick with capitalism. It may have its faults, but it provides an outlet for any who make the effort to rise above their misery. But it is not a free ride, nor should it be. I will make this concession, there are those who are not able, legitimately (that is, physically or mentally incapacitated), to participate. They, and only they, should be assisted.

(if you wish to question this just look at European empires, the slave trade and the US invading just about every country in the world for oil, gun sales and coal in the last century).
Isn't this just a bit exaggerated? US had no empire, certainly not in the sense here implied. While the US did engage in slave trade, whom did they learn it from, and who stood to profit by it (both coming and going)? "Invading just about every country?", I think the exaggeration here speaks for itself. Not to mention, what "invading" we did was primarily to save Britain's backside, and eventually release Europe from the stranglehold of Hitler. We have no need to import coal.

What I will acquiesce to, is that as global politics have evolved post WWII, we have had to engage most (if not all) of the nations of the world politically. That hardly means "invasion." (Unless one wishes to engage discussion of the Cold War, which entailed the Korean war through to the first round in Iraq, although it could plausibly be argued that the current situation in Iraq is but a continuation from that time). Especially post WWII, when the bulk of Europe was in economic ruin, we did step in and take some advantage of the situation, hence we emerged as the premier nation financially and economically, which didn't seem to be an issue so long as the dollar was backed by gold. Once national currencies were allowed to float against each other, some of that advantage shifted, and Europe saw the benefit in establishing their own common currency, hence the Euro. As foreign capital spread east from the states into Japan and then China and SE Asia, it bolstered their economies and created the Asian Tigers. And a predominant portion of all of this was driven by the American consumer, without which the business behind it could not thrive to make it happen. So should Americans be biased in favor of such?, you tell me. I am less surprised that other nations, particularly those in Europe, would view such unfavorably, particularly since it appears to be at their expense. But no one else, post WWII, was in a financial situation to do anything constructive about it. Methinks your protest is much like biting the hand that feeds.

I think you will find that things are changing. It is gradual, which is economically a good thing (there's no need to create another 1929 global economic crash). But there is a shift developing as nations finally get their feet back under them after the economic disaster that emerged post WWII.

All men are not created equal. It is a wonderful platitude to strive for, but by nature and reality equality is not fact. Nations that are lower on the scale will probably remain there unless some dramatic shift in natural resource value occurs. But overall, the potential to elevate living standards for the more destitute is not only possible, it is (albeit slowly) happening.

After all, look at the only other civilized nation to exist - Rome. Built on an enormous slave trade run by an inflated bureacracy and invaded countries on a whim (remind you of anyone equally "civilized").
Anybody who knows anything about the founding of America knows that the Roman system of government was specifically the blueprint from which our style of government was derived. This is nothing profound. At the risk sounding as though I may be bragging, look at what Rome achieved, and then look at what America has achieved. I don't find this an insult, more rather, it is a compliment.
 
Had to split the post, sorry, I guess I'm a little longwinded today.:)

There is one major point of difference however. While what you say about Rome "raping" the other nations to live off of them holds some merit, one must if being honest acknowledge the contributions America has made to the world. The man in Mozambique (since he is a nameless analogy, he will serve to illustrate) probably lives as long as he does because American contributions to medicine allowed him to overcome certain endemic disease, some American missionary dug his village a well and built a school, and some American farmer grew crops that were later sent as food aid. In short, without American assistance, his life would be even more miserable. Yet it seems no matter how much you give, always somebody wants more. Somewhat aside, would it not be even better to teach the man in Mozambique how to do for himself, rather than how to live off of handouts?

I know this comes across almost as a perverse "rah-rah" speech for America. I promise, that was not my intent. I know other nations have and continue to contribute to the wellbeing of the less fortunate in other nations. America is not guiltless, neither is it guilt free. Which ultimately is my point, humans are fallible. Until a better system comes about, I will hold to the one I see as providing the greatest opportunity for the most people possible. It is too easy to look only at the bad in things, and ignore the good. As with so much in life and in this world, things are not simple.

Trying to whittle everything down to its simplistic essence is self-deceptive, because it inherently overlooks mitigating factors, and disposes us to our preconceived notions. Are any of us perfect? Do any of us hold the answers? I don't, but I haven't heard anything better yet.
 
Very interesting discussion, and very well-argumented points. Let's join.

First of all, when we talk about the WTO, I think we should differentiate between the organization and the states that are part of it. The organisation itself if not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it seems that a lot of information you found and used in this thread came from the WTO! It is an organisation which goal is among other things facilitating negociations to achieve free trade. That in itself is not bad. The fact is that the negociations have generally proven unsuccessful these last years, not because of the WTO, but becasue the industrial countries did not agree to make concessions to the poorer countries - and reciprocally. As already said, industrial countries keep higher import tariffs on goods they process themselves, and on agricultural products they produce. It clearly seems unfair to poorer countries...

Why would they do that? Why are there higher import tariffs on precessed goods than on raw material? Simply because the industrialized countries have the means to process to raw material, but don't have the material itself. Without tariffs, as was very rightly siad, the producers of raw material would process it themselves for a much cheaper price. This would mean loss of jobs in industrialised countries. Not only the governments of these countries cannot accept this, but the population generally would not.

And this brings us to what I think is actually the real issue. Yes, a number of "big businesses" are out there to make money. But if trade was suddenly absolutely free, the fact is that lots of jobs would be lost in the West. If governments decided to cancel all trade barriers, they would be met by strong opposition from your/my neighbour, not necessarily from "big business". It is not necessarily that the "big busineses" want to exploit the poorer countries, it is more so that our fellow citizens would not be ready to bear the costs (human and monetary). We should not only look at the "big business" but also at ourselves.

It is not the WTO that keeps unfair trade barriers up, it is the state, and the governments of Western states are elected by us. I don't believe somebody who would come-up and say "let's get the poorer nations the money they deserve, even if it costs us" would get much votes. Unfortunate, but a fact.

Now as far as business making profit... Well, that's what business is for. Let's look at the structure of a corporation. It raises money by selling its shares to investors. Investors are people like you and me, some are rich, but a lot of them are middle-class. The profit of the corporations is usually translated into dividends that go to the sharholders, that means to us. If I invest $1000 in shares of a corporation, I certainly would want it to make a profit, otherwise I might as well use my money to go to the restaurant. It is very true that a number of people abuse their position as managers and controlling sharholders to make so much money for themselves that it becomes disgusting, but this is a minority of investors. Even banks and mutual funds, who are nowadays big investors, are actually investing our money in order to pay us the interests of our savings account and cover their costs. If "big business" would not make any profit, the citizens of Western countries would not either.

Is this fair to the citizens of poorer countries? Probably not. But as was very aptly said before, we tend to think first at our own interests.

Unfortunately, I don't think we can change all this very much, because humans are selfish and lazy a**h**es for the most part. After studying politics for a number of years, I found that this sentence explains quite a lot of what's happening everywhere.

Capitalism creates inaqualities because of the "selfish" part, and communism failed in part because of the "lazy" part.

Also, it is true that salaries are extremely low in developping countries, but this must be compared with the cost of living in these countries. Somebody receiving $100 a months would be a beggar in Europe, but could probably live adequately (although not in the luxury we are used to) in Bengladesh. Generally, even the poorer countries have grown during the last years and have become less poor. The problem is that richer countries have gotten richer quicker, so that the difference has increased. Is it fair? No, but I don't think it is correct to say that the poorer countries are getting poorer. What is correct is that the richer countries (and, as a consequence, we) are getting richer.

Well, I'l stop for now.

Baud
 
Thanks for the reply - and I'll continue to do my homework for as long as it takes on the subject (which, I have :D). Also, I'm still unsure of the patent/copyright thing, but you're method seems obvious and clear so I'll use it.

juantoo3 said:
As the genome mapping project unfolds, and specific genes are being identified, there are companies that are (here, I believe "patent" is the correct term, but as you mentioned it can be difficult, it may be "copyright") specific genes in the hope that as manipulation therapies gain acceptance, they can profit from their research. Not casting any form of judgement, that research has cost these companies great sums of money, money that must somehow be recaptured to remain profitable and stay in business.

So firstly, now because you're the first person to categorize a gene you gain all the rights to it? Just because I have the same gene in my body as the one you have spent twenty years and $10,000,000 for means you have thr right to it. I wouldn't mind AS much if they just reserved the rights to it, but it's the fact they request money for it that pushes it too far. It's called paying a tax for being a human and that's a little too far. However, this argument stems a little deeper.
If the patents in Europe mean nothing in the states (which is why you have to do them twice) then how come the US ones are global. Because the scientists patent the device in the US then it applies on the international market. At first glance this wouldn't seem SO bad if the US ones applied globally and there was hefty scrutiny but everything and anything in the states that can be patented - is! If there is a profit to be made then there is always someone on the other end to profit from it - this to me seems to be at the heart of the matter (not just the US, but the rich west - once having their wealth, they refuse to let any of it go).

juantoo3 said:
The worker who made those shoes perhaps made $2, but the company also has material costs, machine costs, legal costs, exportation costs, building and maintenance costs, etc.

And that isn't exploitation? How much do you earn per hour? (this isn't meant in a derogatory way, this is meant as a rhetorical question). A damn slight more than that worker will. How much would you earn per hour for doing the same work as them in the states or in Europe for that matter? A whole lot more, because of minimum wages and the like. This is why they move all their investments abroad so they can profit more off of it. If they wanted to reduce shipping costs and maintainance then they would build the factory in the west. However, it is proportionally much cheaper to pay your workers little per hour and ship it over than it is to make a factory in the west. The company isn't losing out anything at all by paying foreign workers (child workers more often than not, but that's a different story) and shipping them over - they're profiting.

juantoo3 said:
Now, I am playing the game at the "discount" end of the spectrum, if you happen to be silly enough to pay $100 for those shoes, because of a name tag or something, that is your mistake.

Now people with general common sense and true caring for the world would buy a pair of shoes because they stop their feet from corroding and not because they have a logo on them. I for one buy shoes for that purpose and not for the designer logo. However, it is because the vast majority of the west buys shoes for the logo and not for the shoe that means out of the $100 you pay for your shoes, $2 goes to the worker. Most people should see that they're paying money for fat cat corporations but they continue to buy the shoes because of the social implications not wearing them would create. That's more to do with the west's mind set which in turn means we want shoes with logos on them - because we're told we are. As a result we go out and buy them. At the other end of the scale thousands of people are given jobs - great! Or is it when you work longer hours than any westerners for 1/1000 of the earnings at least! That's really exploitation - moving your industry somewhere else to pay people less to make more money for yourself.

juantoo3 said:
This imaginary worker would be even farther behind without the influx of foreign investment. And his nation is then able to tax those proceeds, and use those tax monies to develop infrastructure and provide for the common welfare. This, is what you see as "bad?".

Foreign investment is a good idea. Putting back the wealth the west took from their nations several centuries ago, and as a result they have suffered and we have profitted. It seems only fair to put foreign investment back - but what does that really mean? Over time the west has done nothing but sell other countries vast amounts of arms, exploited workers and sent countries into turmoil - don't believe me - then let's look at the examples.

Before World War Two, before everything really went haywire the world situation war very different - the poor were extremely poor and the rich were extremely rich - sorry, did I say things were different? I meant the same (that's more an internal joke than anything else). You have to go back a long way to the root of the problem. The largest area of poverty is China and Africa. China because few people hold all the wealth for such a gargantuan population. However, China has (without foreign aid as Russia provided little to none after the second world war, despite NATO propoganda) managed to crawl it's way back without investment and although the situation is still bad, China has the economic strength to more than rival the US. Japan - totally destroyed during the second world war - look at it now - a corporate powerhouse. Other examples, Germany - but wait, the Marshal Plan? Yes, that was because the US didn't want the Russians to expand their "Evil communism" and by doing so they pumped an absolute fortune of money back into the German economy. As a result Germany is now an economic powerhouse. That's because the US didn't want the money back because it served THEIR OWN INTERESTS. With the developing world the only interest it serves is to make cheap clothes and to get oil from (Kazhakstan...). As soon as it breaks out of this loop then there is no purpose to it and the US loses it's strangehold on the rest of the world's economic power. It is not in US policy to allow the rest of the world to come level with it's economy so it then requests all it's money back, with interest, which these nations cannot afford to pay. As a result their foreign aid consists of old obselete US arms (and huge amounts of Russian and Chinese arms that fuel the advance of even more potent weapons), making the US economy grow by them earing nothing and as a result there is a cycle of civil war.

Now to be fair, this isn't just the US at all. The US has the most influence in the international scene in this respect and they don't want things to change (WTO never really takes off when the African nations walk out because the US refuses to change it's policy...). However, the arms and "aid" package provided by the rest of the west is equally is bad and the amount of money that can be made out of nations that can't afford to feed themselves it phenomenal. To me that seems to be exploitation and not aid. Aid would be to selflessly surrender the thousands and millions of dollars they are sitting on and allow other countries to develop beyond the feudal system.

As for MicroSoft it's not technically true. As Ludwig von Mises describes capitalism: "The more people you please the better for you, to satifsy the consumer it the provider's aim". As the equivalent of Marx to Communism he was a leading authority on the subject. The whole point of capitalism is to provide competition so the better company profits more - hence CAPITALism. However, in the case of MicroSoft there is no feasible alternative (I however, am a profound Linux user) as people have been used to MicroSoft for years and years and refuse to change. Windows, however flawed it is, will continue to be bought and as such they're a lone superpower with no presence as to whether they will be challenged (reminds me of a certain nation-state...)

juantoo3 said:
Incidentally, didn't Gates bequeath some many millions of dollars to some world charity about a year ago? I don't recall the details, but my point is that he could because he was able. It is nice to want to give to this or that cause, but if you don't have it to give it is only wishful thinking.

There was a very good reason for Mr Gates to do this, as with his billion dollars to underpriviledged college aspirants - the US was threatening to tear the company in two because it had become so large. Straight away he gains popular support by his acts of charity and the company stays whole - more profit for him - a very selfless act of foreign aid.

juantoo3 said:
Communism/Socialism do not work.

And a very good question/statement/conclusion - but why? Because people WANT to profit, want to make more for themselves and couldn't give to hoots about what happens to anyone else. People set out for self preservation alone and nothing more, no matter what anyone says about selfless acts and compassion - it's all meaningless garbage. We, as a "humane" humanity like to see others fail where we prosper, we like to make money and own, possess and be greedy. This is why it never works. If everyone took one moment out and looked at what has become of it - making mistakes in computer programmes so people will buy the replacement, making cars so they rust whereas it is just as cheap to protect against it, cutting corners in health and safety because of profit margins, sitting in a thirty-four house mansion whilst thirty four people go homeless elsewhere because you like your space. That's capitalism. Whilst all very nice and "consumerist" - it isn't really. You're not satifsying people to improve your own profit, you're just out to improve your own profit full stop. People now go into whole 40 year long careers because they can make more money than one they would truly enjoy - is that the benefit of several thousand years of society. Communism - power to the people? It doesn't work, those who wish to seek about changing power take the power from the people and keep it for themselves; a very capitalist act if I do say so myself. The fact that people can't get the power and give it away surely suggests there should be no power in the first place? Then if there was no government the country would collapse! Why? Because those people who were previously capitalists who lose their corporate interests are then fuelled by their own and in turn go out and get as much as they can for themselves regardless of everyone else. Everyone else then panics and does the same, then those that don't have it start killing those that do so they can have some (resources, food or whatever). If you stood back and looked at how stupid that is the you'd understand that as humans we are animals and nothing more. The day we can walk around without fear of being stolen from or without the desire to steal then I will agree that we are truly sentient and humane.

juantoo3 said:
"as long as I've got mine, who cares about you?".

To me that seems a very capitalist ideological stance rather than a communist one (however, as the left/right spectrum shows, the two are closer than first imagined).

juantoo3 said:
to reduce the common people to the level of "dog eat dog."

Again, that seems to be a very capitalist stance as that way the bigger dog would win. Not neccessarily (I can never spell that!) the larger physically, but those with more money and more of the resource in question. The idea behind that is to you have what you want but I'll have what I want. In the communist state there is a mentality of "no matter what I do I'll get it anyway - so why bother?". Wrong, again, that's capitalism. REAL AND ACTUAL COMMUNISM isn't commumism. If you read Marx your ideas of communism will be brought to a halt. All Marx says is "The basis of the communist manifesto is the abolition of private property". And that's it. Nothing about equal distribution, nothing about equal pay or anything; these are all social values imposed upon them. All real communists care about is state owned everything (as property in real terms is everything). In order to travel further into what you believe to be communism you must confront socialism as that is in essence what you are looking at.
 
juantoo3 said:
There is common concern to be productive, because the rewards are yours to do with as you please. If you desire to be charitable, you may because you can. In an idealistically pure state, your success is not at the expense of others, mutual success creates a "win-win" atmosphere.

I don't wholeheartedly agree with that statement because in real capitalism, you're not all that productive. If you don't work hard you'll be out on the street fending for yourself with nothing. In that case you need to work to survive in essence. After you've got past surivival it extends into now I've started, I'll make as much for myself as I can. No one stands back and says "that person has nowhere to live now I've evicted them, I'll temporarily put them up in a shelther" - it's "sod them, I'm happy as I am and I'm not surrendering it". That's why when on the TV you see charity adverts and think "what a pity" but how many people run down and lobby/petition their local MP and say "this is an injustice of humanity"? None. You want to keep what you've "earned" and not give any of it to anyone else. Alright, maybe £10 a month or so, is that really significant? Do you actually give thinking that you can go out and make an honest difference to everyone's lives. After all, the clothes on your back, the shoes on your feet were made by them. As soon as the bottom element of the ladder goes out, another one is created as every journey starts with a single step...

To my knowledge the US doesn't have to modern standards what you'd call an empire. As in the "good old days" when Germany and Britain went to war over it as to who had who's then no, it's not one of those. As for the comment on the slave trade - definitely Europe! Which was the first nation to make concentration camps - England! I don't have a vendetta against the US, I don't have a vendetta against anyone. However, I see it as a total micarriage of any form of "justice" that I can sit here and watch people starve day after day live and uncut on my TV whilst I have a TV to watch it from, a computer to complain about and then I can see there are people who are even better off than me, and in turn, better off than them and so on and so on. To me that seems highly feudal for the 21st century.

juantoo3 said:
Not to mention, what "invading" we did was primarily to save Britain's backside.

Well, if we're going down that road there are a few things i'd like to highlight.

1. In BOTH world wars who was selling arms to the Germans prior to them joining the conflict?
2. Who joined several years after the war started and had seen Europe already fall under a spell of conflict.
3. Whilst I am anti-US in terms of the things the nation stands for (i.e. unrestrained capitalism) I'm actually glad they finally joined in as it was a fairly unilateral conflict and "world war" shows the level of involvement.
4. Which country was the only one you asked for all the war loans back despite using the same country as an airbase for the next 60 years?
5. As for the strangehold of Hitler, I'm hardly sure that's fair. More people died in China during the entire of the European conflict (including Russian military and civilians). When was the last time any western nation helped the Chinese in WW2? We fought for ourselves and let their problem sort itself out - despite several times asking for western involvement - even right up to 6 August 1945.

To my other eyes the US has military forces in more than 100 nations across the globe, controls the UN in eventual decisions (then you say Iraq! Iraq! - well who went in and attacked anyway, yet recieved no sanctions, yet at a snap of fingers and Iraq had sanctions for 10 years which indirectly killed 500,000 people). The US is developing what can be collectively known as an empire - and now the age of empires is over there is no superpower left to stop them and so they do whatever they like when they like (look at the Big Brother anti-foreigner policy just invented to protect from terrorism - has no one thought poking the wasp nest would irritate them?)

juantoo3 said:
All men are not created equal. It is a wonderful platitude to strive for, but by nature and reality equality is not fact.

As you claim to be a capitalist I think it's amazing you can say that (not meant in a sarcastic, cheeky way, I really am). If everyone I knew who thought that capitalism should be used stood up and said that I'd be very proud. It's because people wallow in the misconception that we are created equal that they accept it. However, that isn't to say people can't strive for something better without infringing on another's right as a person.

juantoo3 said:
Anybody who knows anything about the founding of America knows that the Roman system of government was specifically the blueprint from which our style of government was derived. This is nothing profound. At the risk sounding as though I may be bragging, look at what Rome achieved, and then look at what America has achieved. I don't find this an insult, more rather, it is a compliment.

The Romans really were greedy capitalists - look at what they did. Using military force despite inflated bureaucracy they invade other nations and then eventually replace each other as temporary dictator when they get tired and irritated. Enslave populations and watch thousands suffer whilst Rome sits in splendour from all the wealth and prosperity. Eventually Rome fell because of bickering amongst the senators over who had power and who should take power. Then the empire died and wasn't seen again until the Byzantium empire also collapsed beneath the Turks in 1453. Well see how far capitalism and military force coupled with bureaucracy over other nations happens. Not only do I believe the US shouldn't do it, I believe no other nation should as it implies inherent superior/inferiority.
 
Sorry about that, had a lot to get off of my chest as I did an exam paper today all about Fairtrade and it sparked up a whole debate about capitalism and so I thought I'd pour my heart out.
 
No problem, glad you got it off your chest! I will have to respond another day however, as I'm pressed for time, I've been on here too long already today.

I will add you have given me some issues to consider. It is very apparent to me you are not one of the "run of the mill" believers, for that I applaud you.

Until next time, kindest regards!
 
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