Arggh.... For anyone out there taking an interest in this blog, sorry for not posting for a few days. Kindof busy at work, and spending less time reading, which is good in that I'm being more responsible, really. I usually try to make a quick read of my favorite blogs first thing in the morning while I'm settling in, then another go during lunch (if I brown bag it), or at the end of the day right before I leave the office. I usually write about something that catches my eye, or some issue that is hot on my mind. Last week saw me not being able to do any of that, and the couple of times I could have written, I just absolutely could not think of anything to say that hadn't already been said much better by others.
That being said, let me comment on a post I wrote, perhaps too hastily, last week. In fact it is the previous post. I'm wondering if I should have compared the protestors in Seattle to the German thugs (Nazis) who are responsible for KristallNacht. Now one way to lose an argument immediately, at least most of the time, is to accuse your opponent, or like-minded people, of being fascists or Nazis (another way is to still claim, even after multiple recounts, that Al Gore won). Now I pretty much made that claim. I should defend that statement, or risk labeling myself a loser.
First off, let me say that I don't really care for the government intervention implied in what the WTO stands for either. The WTO, in its usurping of national sovereignties, has the potential for a lot of mischief, including political manipulation of economic markets. I don't think that's such a good idea. The WTO protestors aren't protesting for this reason however. They are protesting because they think that capitalism is bad, and they aren't really happy when people are allowed to be free to prosper. Consider the issue of labor and low wages. Is it really true that American companies only go overseas to take advantage of cheap labor? And if so, are the workers better off, or worse off, for it? I don't have actual numbers available (I'm writing off the top of my head really, based on reading I've done from Reason magazine, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Competive Enterprise Institute), but let me try to answer them rationally. We can look up the numbers later when more time is available.
Do companies go overseas to save money on labor? I'd say they do. They want to be more efficient and save money. That's not really a bad thing. I know it's not pleasant to have many Americans out of work, I don't want to deny that. But if companies deny basic economic realities in running their business, bad things will happen in the long run, including being priced out of world markets and stagnant investment opportunities for investors. Now the impression I get from most anti-free-trade activists is that government control of our economy can handle competition from foreign markets, and as far as investment opportunities, well they only help the rich. That phrase, "the rich", always bothers me when I hear someone use it as an argument for economic policy. "The tax cut is a give-away to the rich" was how I remember Al Gore saying it in the debates. Well, does he think we should all be the same? Really, now, if you don't like rich people, and you think the government ought to do something about it, aren't you arguing in effect for a socialist government that limits how prosperous people can be?
The second question: Are foreign workers better off for American companies having an overseas presence? I'd say they definitely are. The poorest people in foreign countries are those who are not working at all. This isn't to say that any wage is fair, but I do think that most Americans are not qualified to be judges of economic fairness, not even in our own economy. Planned economies are made of such ideas, and they don't work. If American companies were to close up shop and leave their foreign facilities, their workers would be a lot worse off for it. I saw a cartoon in Reason magazine once, showing a starving child begging for food, while an activist said to him "Don't worry kid, help is on the way! We're gonna close down that sweatshop real soon!" They think poverty is caused by people who are working for low wages, when the truth is that the people are poor because most of them are not working at all.
Well, I rambled enough. Now to the point: The protestors hate capitalism because they can't stand to see prosperity, and some are willing to commit acts of violence in order to fight it, forcing their way, economic totalitarianism, on others. The Nazis, being National Socialists, had similar motivation. When National Socialism failed to provide for the economic needs of its citizens, their political leaders looked for scapegoats, and they turned on the Jews. The perception was fed that the Jews controlled the money (I don't know how prosperous the Jews really were, but the rumours were there, and apparently believed, just as similar sentiments are expressed in the Arab world today).
I'm going to commit to a discipline of writing on this blog at least four times a week, not necessarily every day, as I have to reserve time for other commitments, and I do not do any writing from work. If I can't write four times in any future week, I'll call in sick or claim vacation time.