- Capitalism and Alternatives -

i have a problem with wealth that is created through exploitation.

Posted by: Copenhagen ( L'America ) on April 05, 1999 at 16:31:00:

In Reply to: Mind the wealth 'gap' posted by Gee on March 30, 1999 at 15:48:28:

: Since the beginning of the industrial revolution human productivity has proven to be greatly expandable. The economist Angus Maddison has been studying economic growth since the 1950's. In 1995, under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, he published a book, Monitoring the World Economy 1820-1992. The earth had fewer natural resources and no more farm land in 1992 than it had in 1820 and in that period the earth's population multiplied by five.

Well now that is interesting. I suspect that the reason the earth has no more farm land in 1992 than it did in 1820 would be due to the fact of unsustainable farming practices, whereby land that has been cleared for farming becomes infertile after a few years when the topsoil is washed away. As a result of the land becoming barren, more farm land must be produced by clearing forests. But then after a few years these lands also become barren, etc etc.

So this is really just another example of the 'capitalist' profit motive destroying the worlds natural resources.

: But (in 1990 US$) the value of everything produced in the world grew from $695 billion in 1820 to almost $28 trillion in 1992 and the amount of that production per person went from $651 to $5,145. If mony is not your thing then simply compare what can be done now in terms of farming, building, communications compared to 1820. That is wealth creation.

Oh come now Gee talking dollars over the span of one and a half centuries completely ignores the effect of inflation.

: To such is levelled the popular bromide "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

What about the statisitc that 10% of the worlds population control 90% of the worlds wwealth? (that figure isn't exact, but i know it is in the ball park). Indeed the 'popular bromide' you express must be looked at in this context, it is the very rich who keep getting richer (the top 10%), it is the gap between the economic elites and the rest that is widening.

: In addition to giving figures for individual countries, the U.N. consolidates averages into three groups: "More Developed Regions," "Less Developed Regions," and "Least Developed Regions." The last meaning countries that are very poor indeed; Laos, Madagasgar, Chad for instance. Lets compare infant deaths. In the early 1950's the richer countries in the world had an average of 58 deaths per 1000 live births. They now have an average of 11. Over the same period the poorest countries went from 194 deaths per 1000 to 109. The "gap" was 136 dead babies 40 years ago and the "gap" is 98 dead babies now. This is still too many dead babies, in my opinion, but the difference isn't increasing. The rich are getting richer but the poor aren't becoming worse off. So is the issue "too many dead babies compared to the west"? Thats relativism.

I have no doubt that a menial injection of western medicine can have a significant impact upon life expectazncies (eg pencilin, vaccines, etc). I doubt if any of the multinationals acting in 3rd world countries has had a positive effect on the life expectanicies of the population (given their predilection for child and/ or slave labour where possible).

: So really the goal should be making everyone richer, not stopping westerners - these gaps are relative, they dont cost other people, there is no need for re-distribution, but for creation. Unless ofcourse the goal isnt wealth creation, but equalisation - no matter what the cost.

As i said earlier it is the very rich who are getting richer.

: Perhaps its useful to rethink negative views on wealth. Instead of worrying over wealth gaps start thinking about wealth. Wealth is good. Everybody knows that about his own wealth. If you got rich it would be a great thing. You'd improve your life. You'd improve your family's life. You'd purchase education, travel, knowledge about the world. You'd invest in wise and worthwhile things. You'd give money to worthy causes. You'd help your friends and neighbors. Your life would be better if you got rich. The lives of the people around you would be better if you got rich. Your wealth is good. So why isn't everybody else's wealth good, too?

I don't have a problem with wealth, i have a problem with wealth that is created through exploitation. What was it Kant said?- Every man is an ends in himself, not a means to an end.

: Redistribution is not an effective answer to poverty, wealth creation is much better. Is that something agreeable?

I agree that there will probably always be those who are wealthy and those who are comparitively not. But what is in issue here is the degree of difference between the rich and the poor. The wealth of a large multinational when placed in comparison with a starving ethiopian is obscene.

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