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reply to amigo_boy
Re: Probably Not a Bad Thing The one thing that you did overlook is that we developed in the early 1900s when many technologies did not exist to make our efforts cleaner. Sure, I bet there were some preventative measures, but many people didn't know what we do now about toxins causing illnesses. With that said, these same companies have that knowledge but are fully aware they can save money by avoiding cleanup and regulations by going to these said places. Basically, we didnt know then or have the means. We know now, and the U.S. requires certain standards. These companies choose to circumvent them by going elsewhere to places where they aren't enforced or easily overlooked. Couple that with the initial low wages, and yep, you got it right. We are not level at all. Sad. I think this time we're in FULL agreement.
said by jc100:We had burning rivers in the '70s and '80s.
The one thing that you did overlook is that we developed in the early 1900s when many technologies did not exist to make our efforts cleaner.
It's interesting to consider whether US companies are going to other countries to evade US laws, or if they're just going somewhere that, by its own cost/benefit calculus doesn't impose the same laws and is more "business friendly." Maybe it seems like a distinction without a difference, but are they guilty of doing the wrong thing if a country doesn't feel it's the wrong thing?
I'm not defending US corporations. If they had their way they'd undo our social standards so they can do here what they do internationally. I'm sure they'll fight improved social standards internationally just because it will affect their bottom line.
Ok, but are you trying to justify this as a normal process of industrialization, or are you saying it's wrong? I mean personally, companies and people should learn from the past to avoid similar mistakes. That's my take anyway. Being that these companies seem to lack any interest in keeping these countries clean, lends credence that the lack of environmental rules is one huge reason they jumped ship. Obviously, they save tens of millions by just dumping and not having to clean up after themselves. Here, that would be unacceptable. They know it, and find other places where rules are overlooked or not in place.
Similarly, I agree, these companies would have us all working for nothing if they had their way. They would pay pennies, follow no safety regulations, etc. Basically, it would be similar to the practices of the early 1900s and before. A good book by the way is Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". Great read about how workers back there were treated. Essentially, he looked at meat packing plants and how people who were injured were treated. Let's just say if you lost an arm, they still sold that batch of food. Likewise, if you were sick or got hurt, it was tough luck. That's what we DON'T want again obviously. America has progressed from that stage. Sadly, companies want to go back to old standards and find others who have not.
said by jc100:To me, it's a "chicken and egg" thing. A society can't afford the luxury of enhanced social standards without a stronger economy (material standards) to pay for it.
are you trying to justify this as a normal process of industrialization, or are you saying it's wrong?
It's a contradiction. Free marketeers would say corporations are *helping* underdeveloped countries reach higher standards by polluting and exploiting workers. I agree with that to a large extent. There's no other way for a poor country to mature and develop than to go through this phase. But, I wouldn't say corporations are benevolent entities. I'm sure they'll collude with the elite of those countries to stifle social reform.
That's why (sorry to be repetitious) I think the problem is that free trade agreements don't take into account social disparity. They grease the skids for corporations to do business in other countries by imposing western norms (flattening disparity of practices in commercial and financial markets). But, they do virtually nothing with respect to expectations for labor markets society norms (like environmentalism).
Free marketeers say the benefit of globalization is that these societies will mature and advance like we did. It's a natural process. "Invisible Hand" of the economy (Adam Smith). But, what's so invisible about trade agreements that alter the market in favor of corporations? Why couldn't corporations be naturally led to those opportunities without this "helping hand?" And, if we believe in "helping hands" (which we do, since our free market is really *socialized* capitalism), why aren't we including in these agreements social/labor expectations?
The risk of imposing western norms on foreign commercial and financial practices (to help corporations have a more "predictable" opportunity) is that we may be helping the enslavement of people. They may not have the means of enacting change which even free marketeers say is the goal of globalization.
As Marco pointed out, Mexico is a good example. We should have used the lucrativeness of that agreement to expect social reforms such as a reduction of the *immense* disparity of wealth. Maybe immigration wouldn't be a problem if Mexicans had more opportunity at home.
said by jc100:I agree. But, it could sound imperialistic to tell other countries "we learned the hard way, therefore you should find a better way to develop yourself." If we hold US corporations to our standards it's essentially the same thing.
people should learn from the past to avoid similar mistakes.
said by jc100:I'm on the fence concerning this topic. It's easy to view this anachronistically and say it was horrible how... But, things weren't so good when individuals farmed their own plot of land (or worse, someone else's). Poverty, hunger, homelessness when your crop didn't come in.
workers back there were treated.
Workers didn't go to the big cities (and meat packing plants, et. al.) because a gun was held to their heads. They must've gone because it was perceived to be "better." It was only after some exposure to this relative improvement that they realized it could be "even better" and that, just as capitalists could use their collective wealth (the fruit of past labor) for their benefit (to the detriment of others), these new laborers realized they could use their collective labor (the tool to create wealth) for their benefit (to the detriment of others).
Since then it's been a continuous debate over who's benefiting too much.
There's an interesting tie-in to the 2nd Amendment. It's no coincidence that the Natl. Guard was created by the 1903 Dick Act, replacing the militia over the following 2 decades through an additional 3-4 acts. When called out to break up strikes (at the request of fat-cat industrialists calling the governor for favors), the militia frequently took the side of the strikers, protecting them from company thugs. Corporations weren't big fans of that particular social institution.