taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Monday, February 28, 2005

Wal Mart again, sorry:

Robert Reich makes a good point about Wal Mart in today's Times, namely that when we act in our own self-interest as consumers, we are actually acting against our own self-interest as worker-citizens. We force companies to do everything in thier power to bring us low prices, thereby forcing down wages, which affects all of us--though of course, we don't see it that way when we're looking for the best possible deal on formula.

His solution? Moderate government regulation, stronger labor laws, higher minimum wage, and stronger fair-trade agreements. Gotta love those Clinton Democrats! "Just a LITTLE government regulation, thanks.. not TOO much... a skosh, maybe... oh, no, that's too much!"

I tend to agree on this one, though. Corporations aren't inherently evil--they're simply acting in their own self-interest, as are we all. The problem arises when we define our own self-interest so narrowly that we fail to see the larger ways in which our immediate gain cancels out our long-term well-being. But us little monkeys are notoriously bad at the long view.

That's why I'm going to go smoke a cigarette now.


At 6:33 PM, Blogger Joshua Berlow said...

I don't buy Reich's baloney, for a number of reasons.

First off, he's been saying this for years. I'm surprised that it's in today's paper, as if him saying this was news.

Let's just look at "fair trade" agreements for a sec. This is merely a euphemism for taxes. It means tariffs on imported goods. Tariffs are what killed off manufacturing in Baltimore. While we were tariffing instead of modernizing, the rest of the world learned how to make less expensive and better stuff. Even the Clinton Democrats weren't against free trade. Remember the Boston Tea Party? That was against a tariff on tea.

Furthermore, just for the sake of argument let's say I agree that a tariff on furniture might keep a job in North Carolina- but put someone out of work in Brazil. Are jobs for Brazilians any less important (in the long run) than jobs for North Carolinians?

I could go on about this ad infinitum, but I won't, since this is your blog and not mine.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Joshua Berlow said...

"Worker-citizen"?! snicker.


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