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You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

Why the activism of some fellow Americans scares me.

I'm afraid of some American Christians.

I am an American, but I haven't lived in the United States in a while. I live in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, and when you pick me up at the Minneapolis airport, I might invite you to ...

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Displaying 6–10 of 94 comments.

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Roger McKinney

May 24, 2013  9:36am

So now you’re interested in economics? At least enough to learn the basics of supply and demand. But if you would read a little further in an economic text book, you would learn what determines supply and demand. Demand is low for labor in poor countries because the productivity of the workers is low and capital is scarce. They need lots of training and investment in capital to provide them tools to work with. I see you learned your tiny bit of economics from the Brookings Institute, one of the most socialist think tanks in the nation. Their economics is mostly half-truths. They won’t tell you an outright lie, but they won’t tell you the rest of the story that would change your mind, as in the supply-demand principle for labor. They stop with the supply-demand principle and ignore what determines supply and demand, leading you to draw the wrong conclusions.

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Roger McKinney

May 24, 2013  9:35am

Paul, I speak of business owners in poor nations because I know from experience, having lived in several, and from reading what they are like. I’m sorry you don’t know much about the poor world, but your ignorance does not make my evidence mere assertions. BTW, the foreign companies who purchase products are not business owners by definition. Yes, they know about the corruption. But they also aren’t as arrogant as most Americans and assume they can change the local culture. They have two choices, buy or not buy. If they buy, they help the poor. The benefits to the poor outweigh the negatives.

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Paul Schryba

May 23, 2013  11:00pm

Your assertion that low wages, etc. are necessary to combat poverty is also open to question. A study published by the Brookings Institution (http://www.fordham.edu/economics/mcleod/Lustig&McLeod_small.pdf) concludes: "Our main empirical finding is that minimum wages and poverty are inversely related: that is, an increase in real minimum wages is accompanied by a fall in poverty." The study is not advocating increases in minimum wages, nor are they arguing that they are most efficient- but "an increase in real minimum wages is accompanied by a fall in poverty." I am not advocating mandated minimum wages; only advocating making informed, conscious decisions to value decent wages, safe workplace conditions, and environmental safeguards- as I believe your fellow conservative, Jim Ricker, did earlier.

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Paul Schryba

May 23, 2013  10:27pm

Let's continue: "Corruption causes the unsafe working conditions and environmental problems, not the low wages." "Exploitative jobs at subsistence wages...Increasing demand for certified goods made at fair wages, in decent conditions, with environmental safeguards will create more jobs with those conditions." The statement was "Exploitative jobs AT subsistence wages..." not "Exploitative jobs CAUSED by subsistence wages..." Point being, that providing safe conditions and environmental protections all cost money, placing those companies who provide such at a cost disadvantage compared to those companies that don't (where laws governing same are either largely absent or unenforced, which I are presuming in this case). What you are consistently implying in all this, is that low wages, poor working conditions, and environmental exploitation are necessary to provide jobs for the poor under the conditions that are assumed.

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Paul Schryba

May 23, 2013  9:54pm

not whether or not those conditions existed because of lack of awareness/ability of local business owners awareness/ability to deal with the situation. Foreign companies choose to buy products from those countries, knowing widespread corruption exists. That is my assumption, based on your own stated knowledge of conditions in those countries and my assumption that smart, ethical businessmen/women do not purchase without investigating first. You assert-absolute statement- that "The low price in poor countries is due to low wage rates, which are due to low productivity." There are many reasons for low wage rates; one of them is an excess of labor (supply) over demand. Here's one example were excess supply coincides with low wages: http://www.grady.uga.edu/annualsurveys/Supplemental_Reports/SupplementalRpt _9.php With what certainty, and on what do you base your assertion that it is low productivity that causes these low wage rates, and not other factors?

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