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2 more things

1. (from tirani) Come to find out, if you are getting a ridiculous bargain, you're stealing from someone somewhere. For the Wal-Mart fans out there.

2. Back in touch with my old friend CHE! Visit him at www.migente.com (user: filosofo1), or his geocities page. I'm trying to convince him to get a livejournal, dammit.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2003 12:02 pm (UTC)
No Way!!
This is Che..and NO way am I ever doing a live-journal thingy..then you all these weirdos (like Kimmie) reading things about you and commenting...that just sick. But if you want me to add you to my Friendster's list, just send me a message and I'll think about it. :)
Dec. 23rd, 2003 08:20 pm (UTC)
Re: No Way!!
You know you want to :P
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 30th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)
Re: No Way!!
I hear you got in touch with him just fine on your own :)
Dec. 23rd, 2003 12:36 pm (UTC)
That's a very interesting article about walmart. Do we make anything in this country any more? What the heck do we (the US) do for a living now?
Dec. 24th, 2003 04:21 am (UTC)
service - we clean things for each other and sell things to each other.
Dec. 23rd, 2003 03:57 pm (UTC)

Holy shit!
Dec. 23rd, 2003 06:28 pm (UTC)
The flip side to the coin is that once those U.S. born pickle-packers are no longer needed, they can eventually get jobs doing something at a higher level than packing pickles. Like designing 2 gallon pickle jars to put the chinese pickle-packers out of work and put the madagascar pickle-packers into it. Of course, this assumes that the U.S. pickle-packers are even capable of learning new, useful jobskills, and that such training is available to them.

Economics is a sticky wicket. There's a whole education you can get for it, and even when you're done, you still end up debating issues just like the pickle-packer one.

I really just like using the phrase: Pickle-Packer
Dec. 24th, 2003 04:23 am (UTC)
Of course, this assumes that the U.S. pickle-packers are even capable of learning new, useful jobskills, and that such training is available to them.

Also, while that puts a positive spin on the whole thing, we're still exploiting someone, they just don't happen to be our countrymen.
Dec. 23rd, 2003 11:04 pm (UTC)
Regarding what the US makes, the US economy has been moving away from manufacturing and moving to service jobs for the last 50 years. I've never worked in a manufacturing job, and I can't think of anyone I know who has. (OK, I've done R&D for a manufacturer of auto pollution control catalysts, but not manufacturing itself).

US GDP rose at 8.2% annual rate in 3Q03, the fastest rate in nearly 20 years. Personal income is up, unemployment is now slowly going down, inflation is low, and suprisingly manufacturing is showing the best growth in 20 years.

And we can buy cheap stuff at Wal-Mart!

Mega-super-stores are putting incredible price pressure on producers, just like Medicaid does with pharmaceutical companies. But this means better prices for consumers, which increases our standard of living. And these companies wouldn't produce for the Wal-Marts unless they were getting something out of it - they get incredible sales volume.

Plus the mega-marts are one-stop-shopping, which I find saves a lot of time, one of our most precious resources. If I need to purchase something odd, I can get it on the Internet. Where am I going to find a Mom N' Pop Frog "69" Taxidermy shop in Greenbelt?

Of course, I'm more of a Target man myself...
Dec. 24th, 2003 04:28 am (UTC)
And we can buy cheap stuff at Wal-Mart!

That's great... but you seem to be ignoring the part where you're still stealing from someone when you let the company focus on the bottom line so completely. Yay, I get cheap stuff, and someone who is already not making a living wage to make my t-shirt in Hong Kong just had 5 cents cut off their pay. I made that example up but it still bothers me.

But this means better prices for consumers, which increases our standard of living.

I don't feel good about better prices for consumers if it is at the expense of someone else. Particularly when I have it so much infinitely better than that anonymous person. And isn't "standard of living" just a set of numbers? My experience of numbers like that is that they are used to justify all kinds of BS. Like, "there are immigrant children starving in Texas, but look! our standard of living is higher!!"

Yes, I like one stop shopping too. But I should try to do it with a conscience, right?
Dec. 24th, 2003 09:26 pm (UTC)
I generally consider "stealing" "taking the property of another without right or consent," so I don't consider reduction of pay for a job someone is consensually involved in stealing, as pay is not someone's property until it is paid to them.

But then again, there are plenty of people who would consider my uncle, who runs a plastic bag factory in El Salvador, to be an "oppressor" because he provides jobs to people who decided that they would like to make more than they could working in the fields picking coffee under the burning tropical sun, and took the risk to leave the countryside and come to the city of San Salvador looking for a better life, and are now making more money. Johan Norberg found a similar pattern in his discussions with Nike factory workers in Ho Chi Mihn City.

I don't believe one can shop truly with a conscience. I believe the web of economic and political interactions of the production of any good is inherently way too complex for anyone to fully analyze. I know there is a lot of "fair trade" labeled goods, but is buying this really helping to build sustainable economies in developing countries, or is it just setting up a fake inefficient economy for a fall?

About the only thing we can be sure of is that free market transactions are entered into by parties because they both benefit - the wealth of both sides of the transaction increase. This is an incredible generalization and abstraction, but it does explain why global poverty rates and head-counts have gone down over the last 30 years as more countries (especially populous ones like India and China) have moved from command economies to free market ones.

The greatest threat to the continuation of global poverty reduction, I feel, is 1) trade barriers 2) developed world command subsidies, especially agriculture 3) lack of effective protection of private property in developing countries and 4) macroeconomic failures in management of developing country currencies, which have really been the scourge of Latin American economies. El Salvador just took care of #4 by fully dollarizing. Of course, I also believe in incredibly liberal immigration and guest worker laws as well, which would also help fight global poverty.

Regardless, no economy has ever grown through economic inefficiency. Wal-Mart drives economic efficiency - and companies continue to strive to supply them.

I wouldn't rant about this if I didn't think you were a smart person who cared ;)
Dec. 30th, 2003 09:56 am (UTC)
What is with people thinking I'm personally insulting their relatives lately? You're not the only one.

Anyways, it sounds like what you are saying is "this is better than really crappy, it's just merely crappy" and "you can't make it any better with your consumer dollars, so why try".

free market transactions are entered into by parties because they both benefit

I'm sure it never happens because someone doesn't have a choice, or someone/group are coerced or compelled.

Wal-Mart drives economic efficiency

For the benefit of the corporation, not the individual. Or what I was saying is that it's for the benefit of individuals who already have it, I suppose, relatively better than the people at the remote other end of the transaction. But what do I know, not much really. I'm still not going to shop at Wal-Mart.

Ah, capitalism, world of dream-like opportunity. I guess the idea I'm finally getting is that people are going to screw each other under any system, so we might as well screw each other under free-market capitalism.

My harsh tone is not directed at you, personally. I am sorry if it comes off that way. I would be better off at having a conversation where I got across that I was not mad at you personally face to face.
Dec. 30th, 2003 10:40 am (UTC)
You aren't harsh at all!

Don't worry, I wasn't thinking you were insulting my relative. I always go a little overboard in globalism/anti-globalism discussions. It's my pet issue for a lot of reasons. I spend a lot of time doing research and online debating of it. Probably too much.
Jan. 3rd, 2004 05:19 am (UTC)
Ah, I see where the problem is. I was not having an anti-globalism discussion. I was having an anti-exploitation discussion.
Dec. 24th, 2003 04:48 am (UTC)
Here's a paragraph from the article that underscores what I'm saying here...

Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize about globalization: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences. Says Steve Dobbins, president of thread maker Carolina Mills: "We want clean air, clear water, good living conditions, the best health care in the world--yet we aren't willing to pay for anything manufactured under those restrictions."

And frankly I feel like the pharmaceutical business is not really comparable... it's a whole different ball game of research costs and ethics. You buy jeans because you need to wear them to work or something. You buy Darvoset because your doctor told you you needed it. I also think that pharmaceutical advertising is just wrong, but that's a whole other ball of wax.
Dec. 24th, 2003 06:56 am (UTC)
McDonald's, in a way, does the same thing to the food industry. They stopped selling the shrimp salad years ago not because it didn't sell well, but because they were buying such a huge amount of shrimp for it that they drove the wholesale price of shrimp in the world up high enough they couldn't afford to buy it anymore and make a profit... When they announced the were bringing the McChicken sandwich back a few years ago wholesale chicken prices jumped like 5 cents overnight.
Dec. 27th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)
Ahh, yes, this does not surprise me. I am a little surprised that it wasn't covered in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation which I read a while back. Excellent book.
Dec. 24th, 2003 07:12 am (UTC)
Very thought provoking article, thanks for the link!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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