Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

If someone comes along and offers you an opportunity superior to any other that you have, is "exploitation" an appropriate term to describe that offer?

Put more concretely, if a U.S. company pays a Cambodian $3 a day, when his next best opportunity -- digging through trash at a nasty dump -- yields 75 cents a day, has that company made him worse off or better off? If your answer is "better off," how can "exploitation" be an appropriate term to describe the transaction?

~George Mason economist Walter Williams' latest column


At 4/18/2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


By far, this is the best argument that I have ever seen for outsourcing. How can we dispute the collective good of raising other less fortunate people out of a miserable position?

Now I can feel better about working for minimum wage, living in a small apartment, and driving a car that is ready to fall apart. My ramen noodles for dinner tonight will taste even better knowing that the people in Cambodia will make some extra money.

At 4/18/2007 5:34 PM, Blogger kgleason said...

It is the luckiest day of that person's life, not exploitation. of course opportunity, which did not previously exist, is going ot exacerbate wealth inequality. the alternative is that everyone remains poor. GREAT.

At 4/19/2007 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't that a bifurcation fallacy? How about additional choices of 75 cents-a-day and a continuum of wages up to the wage a Cambodian could survive on? I don’t know many people who could be fooled with Williams’ argument. That’s a basic logical fallacy argument unworthy of somebody who has a Ph.D. (I know that’s an Ad Hominem argument, but I’m cranky today).

At 4/19/2007 1:34 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

I don't think people in Cambodia are complaining about being "exploited" or calling their work environments "sweat shops." Those complaints come from rich Westerners who seem intent on denying jobs and opportunities to desperately poor people.

At 4/20/2007 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can the Cambodians complain? They don't know how badly they are being treated because they have never been exposed to anything better. If a prisoner is to be executed for no reason and that happens to everyone he knows, and the executioner gives the prisoner the choice between being hanged or slowly starved to death, is that really a choice? Possibly a rich westerner should point out to the naive Cambodian that there are other options, such as not being killed , for the Cambodian. I don’t think the executioner should think what he did was OK because he gave the prisoner a “superior opportunity”, and I don’t think the Cambodian should feel any less wronged. After all, he’s still dead.

Why don’t the companies just do the right thing and pay a wage that their workers can live on? I don’t expect wages that would result in opulence, but basic food and shelter needs —subsistence—should be able to be met by someone who puts in an honest day’s work. Anything less is exploitation whether it is overt or covert.

At 4/20/2007 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm so satisfied to know that these who respond with their comments have such good sense about them and share the good for the good.

Good job!!! THANKS.


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