RE: exploitation (was capitalist religion)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 13:06:27 MDT

Jerry writes

>> Ehrenbach is completely right (in her recent book _Nickled and Dimed_
>> which detailed her sojourns as a low paid worker) when she said that
>> we all exploit these low paid workers. In fact, our own wealth and
>> status depends upon their presence. If they were not poor and working
>> to obtain the resources we possess, much of our wealth would be
>> worthless.... just pieces of green paper.

(P.S. for all you newbies out there: the ">>" means Jerry didn't write that)

> Why am I "exploiting" the guy at the drive through mcdonalds?
> If he's a teen working there, I'd say its a great job for him.
> If it's a 30 year old man with a family working there, I'd say
> he's made some REAL bad choices in his life. I guess you could
> argue that our society exploits stupidity or lazyness...

I doubt if you'd argue that :-) But in a free society, I don't
see what's wrong with exploitation. Suppose that there is a great
labor surplus suddenly, and finally I can start a company that I've
dreamed about because labor is now so cheap. What should we do with
the old Marxist term "exploit"? Am I exploiting the labor shortage
and in particular the people I hire?

Some will say 'yes' if it's also true that I'm making a killing.
Suppose that I'm raking in the bucks at an unbelievable rate.
Then the real signal that goes out through the economy is DO WHAT

On the other hand, suppose that our culture is riddled with
opponents of so-called exploitation, and I have to share all
my profits with them. It now may (or may not be) worth it to
me to execute my plan, take the risks, and so on. Besides, if
if I have yet further liberal "compassion", and instead of
charging what the market will bear, I make as little profit
as possible. The result: the consumers stand in long lines
to get my widgits, and no one else has much incentive to
"exploit" those customers!

Why is the foregoing illustration unappreciated by many
who favor taxes on "obscene" profits?


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:54 MDT