The disparity between ethics and poverty

I am an anti-corporation kind of guy. I am sure I’ve written on this subject before. I hate that we get cheap products because basically these companies employ slave labor in order to produce our goods so cheaply, I hate that they profit so much on this slave labor (less than a penny for a pair of socks that cost me a buck? wtf?), I hate that companies have no care for the world around them, etc.

However, every now and then I stop and think about the essential dilemma with slave labor. Yes it is wrong to pay people pennies a day in order for the corps to make millions a day… but at the same time these countries that this type of labor is in are so detrimentally poor that these pennies a day that the corps pay these people means the world to them. It could mean the difference between eating and not eating which may eventually, as you know, lead to death.

So the problem is, if we stop paying these people pennies a day, the chances are these people won’t get paid more, they will just not have jobs anymore. After all, the initial reason for the lower pay was to offset costs of shipping from these areas to the Americas and if that cost offset is no longer there well we may as well just employ here in America (which being an American I admit is not necessarily a bad thing). 1

But the real dilemma I guess is, are Americans really more worthy of living than Chinese? I am not necessarily against the Chinese having jobs and becoming a good nation to live. I am just against slavery I guess. So how do make these two sides be equal? How can we give the world jobs that pay better, maintain reasonable prices (I personally am willing to pay more for goods if I know they are being made well), and at the same time provide jobs to the poor?

I don’t know, this seems unreasonable to ask for and I don’t know why. The sad fact of the matter that the main problem here lies in the stock market constantly forcing companies to NEED to make more money regardless of how much money they are making currently. Companies will always want to make more money, but I don’t think private companies are as cut throat as public companies because they won’t get killed in the stock market if they make the same amount of money every quarter. I think private companies generally treat their employees with the respect they deserve.

But sadly this theory is long gone in America. Everyone sees the cash involved in going public and so they do so eventually. Even Google that once touted that they would do no evil, and then did so by going public, so is there ever hope for this in sight?

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  1. And of course I will not discuss other adverse effects to this here such as increased costs of goods in the first place if labor is no longer cheap, companies will always strive for the 1000000% profit that they currently enjoy, if not more.