So, while continuiously waiting for Gods & Radicals to say anything about what happened in Orlando (I guess the fear of Islamic Violence enacted by a Muslim Democrat is just too much for them to handle), I have been flipping through some of their other posts as they come out. I thought about doing that Nature one, but when you’re five paragraphs into “Radical and Chill” and they start giving an argument for needing the morals to enact global genocide…
Still, I found an even better gem. See, there’s this thing going around where you should #NeverTrump. Because electing a woman who breaks more laws than Lex Luthor and who apparently helped a man get away with raping a little girl event though she knew he was guilty, is preferable and morally better than…a rich guy who says mean things and doesn’t have a record of violating our nations laws.
Though I do think most of the G&R people were pulling for Sanders, so I have to ask. How did it feel to have all those delegates taken away and redistributed to someone who didn’t earn them?
Still, apparently someone over at Gods & Radicals is willing to help Make America Great again. I am speaking of Sable Aradia and their newest post: 23 Things: There is No Such Thing as a Free Market
23 Things is a series that examines and explores the theories presented in Oxford-trained economist Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. I will examine each of his 23 Things by taking some of the material from his book, and breaking it down through the application of my own lens. For more information, I recommend his excellent book!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How does a socialist/communist reading some Asian guys book on economics (which is probably socialist/communist as well) have anything to do with the glorious future God Emperor of Mankind? Well…surprisingly, a man who has made, lost, and remade fortunes knows something about economies. And economics, like most sciencies, tends to function by certain rules.
So let’s see where this goes.
What They Tell You: Markets need to be free. When the government interferes to dictate what market participants can or cannot do, resources cannot flow to their most efficient use. If people cannot do the things that they find most profitable, they lose the incentive to invest and innovate.”
As Chang points out, no market is actually a free market. There are always regulations and rules that change the market considerably, and we just unconditionally accept a lot of the existing limitations. Free market economists who claim that people trying to put limitations on the market are politically motivated are equally politically motivated.
Everything is always politics, isn’t it?
Still, as much as I am a “Free market capitalist” I do recognize that, like everything, nothing is completely free. Free Speech, for example, is never completely free because people will self police themselves. Well, unless they’re me. Or Milo. Or Trump.
Okay, so, sometimes speech is completely free. The whole Idea of the “Free market” though is to have a market which exists with as little regulation/interference as possible. Because then everyone can at least try to do what they want, and that chaos generally brings about a lot of innovation and other good things. But sometimes, well, you got to regulate because as much as people can do good with freedom, they can occasionally do bad with it too.
Here are a few of the innate regulations to the market that we have accepted as part of our “free market economy”:
Dis gon be gud.
In 1819, the UK’s Cotton Factory Regulation Act, was tabled in the British Parliament. It forbade the employment of young children under the age of nine. Older children’s hours were to be limited to 12 hours a day. The new rules only applied to cotton factories, which were especially dangerous. It was an incredibly controversial bill. Opponents believed that it undermined the free market completely. Some members of the House of Lords even opposed it on the grounds that “labour should be free.” Children wanted to work; factory owners wanted to employ them; what was the problem?
You know, there’s an Aisha joke in here to be had. But then we’re talking about the UK banning child labor…not the Caliphate legalizing pedophilia. So I’ll forgo, this time.
Still, on the surface, what is the problem with children working for pay if employers want to pay them. Now, this might seem odd by today’s standards, but back in 1819 industrialization was still new and most people were still coming from agricultural backgrounds where children started working the farms with their parents as soon as was physically possible (there were no mechanized resourced, it all had to be done by hand). That’s actually why we have “summer vacation” is because that was the time kids had to leave school to go help their parents on the farm.
Still, the cotton factories were dangerous (children were employeed because they could get into the tight spaces and clean out the machines, but work safety issues led to a lot of accidents. These accidents were not always the fault of “cheep” business owners either, but it ultimately came to the point where something had to be done.
Which is why I’m not against some regulations myself. Worker safety has to be a thing. If you kill all your workers, there’s no one left to do the job.
Now of course no one today would suggest that workers should not be paid; but part of the reason that large employers close their North American factories and go to developing countries is that between the reduced currency values, and the willingness of hungrier people to do more for less, it seriously reduces their labour costs. It’s the main reason that large corporations support globalization.
Oh boy. Did Sable just start down the road of anti-globalization? Are they really about to argue for protectionism and closed borders? Holy shit. I’m amazed Rhyd let this get published.
See, this is actually what Trump argues for. Get rid of the globalization. Close borders, essentially pass regulations that would force American businesses to bring back their jobs to America by making it prohibitively expensive for them to outsource to the cheaper labor. Now…I’m not going to deny that there are a lot of free market issues there, but hey.
So much for #NeverTrump and #NeverAltRight.
Also, this is why large corporations lobby governments to permit such things as Canada’s shameful Temporary Foreign Worker program, which, nominally, was supposed to allow people with hard-to-find skills to come to Canada and work at jobs that are difficult to fill in Canada; but which was actually used by large corporations to create a class of sharecroppers for low-paying service jobs, artificially suppressing wages and working conditions for everyone. The Liberal government has now re-instituted this program due to pressure from lobbyists, after the Conservative government was forced to shut it down because a restaurant owner in Saskatchewan fired a twenty-plus year employee to hire Temporary Foreign Workers to work at a lesser wage, lesser hours, and higher pressure. The Temporary Foreign Worker program is a good example of how necessary wage regulations are, and how some employers will continually try to chip away at them anyway.
As Chang points out, restrictions on immigration have more effect on wages than any other factor, including minimum wage legislation.
Oh holy shit, Sable, stop, stop right there before…
This is hilarious. One of Trump’s biggest things has been building the wall on the border to prevent criminals from coming over. Partially to stop the violence, but also so that illegal immigrants can’t come across and take jobs away from American Citizens. Driving down wages and stripping lawful people from being able to support themselves and their families with the jobs that are left after Globalization has shipped so many of the good jobs to cheaper markets.
I’m amazed the “diversity and inclusion” people over at G&R are actually allowing someone to put forth an argument for Alt-Right, Trumpian protectionist policies using the exact same arguments. This is awesome!
When you think about it, the fight against slavery was the first attempt to regulate wages and working conditions. And to this day, human traffickers continue to import workers, often children, to work under abusive and oppressive conditions in order to cheat labour costs.
Bravo. A Humanitarian argument for enforcing our border and immigration laws. Because when people have to come here legally, they are protected by our laws and we can prevent their being exploited. But when we allow for an open border where people can be smuggled across, we open the gateway for abusers to create forms of slavery.
Working Conditions and Safety
Note how controversial that 12 hour limit of a day’s work was! Now we generally accept that a human being can only work for so long because exhaustion sets in. This is one of many regulations that have been enacted to protect workers in the labour market. The early days of the Industrial Revolution were a horror story of factory owners taking advantage of the poor and allowing human suffering on an unprecedented scale. This sobering video shows a few of the things that child labourers were expected to do before legislation protected them; and a few of those things still go on in places where the laws protecting workers are not so firm. And Karen Silkwood taught us why the struggle must continue.
Yet another argument against Globalization. In the West, we have certain ideas about Ethical treatment of human beings. Ideas based around our respect for individual people and their rights. Ideas which are not universal to this world. Indeed, one of the reasons labor is so expensive in the West and cheap elsewhere is that they do not have our ideals. So they have no problem with overburdening the worker because they are completely replaceable in areas filled with “over population.” Not unlike Europe at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Which creates a self sustaining problem. If labor is cheap, each family must produce more laborers to support itself. This in turn floods the market with more labor, driving the price of labor down. Interestingly enough, this happened in the West when women were allowed to go to work full time like men. The labor market doubled, the wages went down, and that’s why so many families are now “two income families” where as just fifty years ago the same quality of life (if not better) could be purchased by a single income family.
By limiting the labor force, one improve the quality of life for the worker because they have more negotiating power in the “supply vs demand” arena. This in turn drives down the cost of goods (fewer dollars means more power in those dollars) and drives up the value of money earned. Forcing businesses to return to their home nations then allows that nation’s people to earn that money rather than another nation (like China, which has grown wealthy through the unethical exploitation of its workers), and forces businesses to enact ethical labor practices.
This one still sticks in the craw of certain large corporations, but most people now agree that environmental regulations must exist to protect innocent bystanders and the planet. In places where those environmental regulations are relaxed, such as China, the results are clear. Contrary to popular belief, this has happened before, resulting in the enactment of a series of restrictions on permitted air pollutants. But companies still try to get past the restrictions. Recently Volkswagen has been caught altering their emissions regulators to cheat at emissions tests without actually lowering emissions.
With the Volkswagen thing, they cheated because the emission levels are so strict that it’s really hard to pass them. Especially when you’re trying to make an affordable car. Not an excuse, mind you, but that was the reason.
Still, Sable at least has been reading my posts where I’ve repeatedly mentioned that China is just about the worst polluter on the planet. Because it doesn’t care. Engaging in a Trumpian, anti-globalist economic policy which forces businesses back home where they have to obey our regulations will not only help the workers in our nations, but will help protect the environment as well. Which is what Sable seems to be siding on here. I wonder if I should send them the hat…
Food and Drug Regulation
Despite a reputation for permitting lowered standards for big money corporations, the Food and Drug Administration, and regulatory boards like it that exist in most countries, was created to limit what could be sold to consumers and make sure, to the best of their ability, that products for sale were safe. Certain foods are required to be processed in particular ways in order to be considered safe for sale. Prior to these regulatory boards there was no standard of safety for products that were sold for human consumption, and people could make any kind of claims they wanted. As frustrating as I sometimes find them as an herbalist, I recognize their work as necessary and important. Without these boards, disasters like suicides caused by improper application of SSRIs, and like birth defects caused by thalidomide, would be everyday occurrences. Recently, poisoning in pet foods caused renal failure in thousands of cats and dogs because we do not apply FDA standards to pet food.
Oh, sable, really going for our nationalist, Western Ethical standards here. I’m worried you’re not going to get to right for G&R anymore after this. I mean, you’re totally not buying into diversity and inclusion with this attitude. You’re insisting that our values are best values, where as other nations who do not think and regulate like us are essentially bad actors and unethical in how they live.
We require professions that have significant impact on human lives to have licensing systems; such as lawyers, or doctors. We require police forces to serve a public trust rather than any private individual or company. We only allow companies with a certain amount of capital to set up chartered banks. All of these restrictions are, nominally, to protect the public; and to a large degree they do.
Oh boy, really getting Alt-Right and Jingoistic. I mean, really, so many non-white nations do not have these kinds of regulations. I’m sure this meets some definition of racism or something, insisting that the “American Way” of doing things as superior to the way other people do things. Still, I want to welcome Sable to the side of the enlightened and noble. What’s your shirt size, we’ll see about getting one of those for you too.
Restrictions on Trade
There are rules about what sorts of products may be sold and under what conditions. Businesses that sell faulty products are required to refund the customer’s money. Businesses that sell dangerous products are legally responsible for those products. Countries and even states and provinces restrict what can be imported across their borders and often assign tariffs and taxes to protect their local industries. We do not permit the open buying of votes or narcotics. Even the underregulated stock market, whose lax rules led directly to the 2008 financial meltdown, has restrictions on who can trade and how.
Even in normal times, interest rates are set by a central bank, which restricts what people are allowed to charge others for the privilege of borrowing money; and after the 2008 crisis, interest rates plummeted because of a political decision to build up the economy and increase investment by lowering interest rates. One of the enshrined champions of “free market economies,” George W. Bush, used $700 billion taxpayer dollars to buy up assets that were choking the economy; one of the biggest financial interventions by the State in history.
Well, Sable is “got woke son.” Arguing for immigration reform, building walls, forcing business to hire Americans and act Ethical, and even making sure they don’t do stupid stuff to crash the economy in revenge or make unsafe products.
As Chang says himself:
We see a regulation when we don’t endorse the moral values behind it. The nineteenth-century high-tariff restriction on free trade by the US federal government outraged slave-owners, who at the same time saw nothing wrong with trading people in a free market. To those who believed that people can be owned, banning trade in slaves was objectionable in the same way as restricting trade in manufactured goods.”
So, what restrictions should we impose on the market? Should we favour the wealthy, or the common human being? Should we do what is in the best interests of a lucky few, or what is in the best interests of everyone else? It’s up to us, but only if we demand the right to make the choice.
Now if only I could see the faces of the other G&R people when they realize one of their own just made the case for Trump and the Alt-Right with economics.