Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hi, I'm Kiki and I forgot to bring my brain to class again. Hee hee.

I think it is official that Wharton will kick me out of class. Upenn will suspend me. Jcrew and Abercombie will stop allowing me into their stores to buy preppy clothes. Rich bubble-fied kids kids will stop talking to me and immigration will come knocking on my door anytime.

Besides rolling my eyes and making grunting noises every time my classmates make a comment like, " People in china get rich by marrying americans", I actually snapped back today. So we were back to the topic of Nike and sweatshop workers

Classmate A: I don't understand, why can't the workers in china or indonesia just ask their government for a higher wage and better living standards. In America we do that. Why can't they do it?

Me: Because none of them have a choice. Firstly, the people don't have a choice. Villagers can't just ask their government for more cash. And what? Get shot? Companies are exploiting the fact that these people don't have a choice. They are poor. THey are starving. When a factory opens in their village and offers them just enough money to have one meal, they don't have a choice but to take it and get exploited.

Classmate A: Yeah but if they really don't like their job at the factory, they should just quit.

Me: And what, eat grass?

Classmate B: Yeah, its not the responsibility of corporations to be providing decent wages to their employees, its the government's responsibility to ensure that their citizens are not being exploited. If their government can't provide them that, its their fault. I don't understand why the government can't do that?

Me: These governments are corrupt. And sometimes they don't have a choice. When you are in a country where your GDP is pathetic, and a company comes along and offers to employ your citizens and boost the income of your country, at the expense of your citizens' welfare, you don't have a choice but to take it. The government doesn't have a choice. The citizens don't have a choice. THe only entity with a choice here is that company. It has a choice to pay these people decent wages, it has a choice to increase their welfare. It is not its responsibility to provide for them. But its their choice to want to make another human's life better.

Classmate A: So why don't these countries just stop using money? There are other alternatives in life besides monetary stuff.

At this point, I realised that it was like trying to tell a rabbit how to use contraception. I just gave up. What was I suppose to say? Hey Mr I-Have-Gummy-Bears-As-My Brain, did you know that poor peasants cannot ask their parents for money? Oh...you asked why? Because their parents are poor too. Hahahaaha.....never knew that did you. Yes...they don't have dining dollars in cambodia. Or a credit card. Or an ATM card. Oh go back to some skewed form of communism you say......you mean like Vietnam before the war, or Cuba, or North Korea....all of which had/have/is going to have some form of American intervention in it......Oh yes, they should just live in communes and grow corn for food...who needs money? Who needs a GDP? Who needs voting power in the UN? Who needs to eat? Hahahaha......whao look at me, I have a Upenn degree but I've never seen a poor person before. In fact, I have never even been past 40th street. During orientation they say its just a place filled with scary bad people so I just like totally don't go there. Of course those people working in Walmart can send their kids to Upenn too. Duh....why can't they do it? $40,000 isn't that much. What happens if the employees of macdonald fall sick you say? They just go to the private clinic down the street. No sweat. I wonder if my meals and my accomodation is free. I've never seen the bill before. Hmm.....oh how do i pay for stuff? I just swipe this thin plastic card and then the cashier hands my food over. It always works. Oh look class is over....lets go to the dining hall and swipe that plastic thing again. I can't believe that small chinese girl with that strange accent was making such a fuss today..of course those countries can survive without money. And their people are just stupid because they forgot to ask their president to increase their wages. Du-uh.


Justin said...

It might be interesting to point out that since the USA is the world's greatest advocates for human rights, the US government has a responsibility to ensure that US corporations and MNCs do not step out of line.

"So why don't these countries just stop using money? There are other alternatives in life besides monetary stuff."

LOL, you really can't argue with THAT statement though. Maybe you can remind him that the American govt is a few trillion dollars in debt.


patey said...

I'm glad you finally said something; ignorance is unfortunately contagious!

NEVER hold your tongue over things like this!!!

cherry said...

Hey Justin and Patey,

haha...that class makes my blood boil all the time..can't wait to bitch with you in montreal patey...

Mark said...

Ok, I must get into this labor/human rights dispute. In response to Jusin's comment, it's not the responsibility of the US government to monitor the labor situation in countries in which MNCs operate. If anything, it's a global governance issue so the UN or WTO should become involved.

Also, we're comparing apples and oranges. Although I have not taken any kind of labor class, I can safely assume the US government did not have the level of labor laws it did 75 years ago or even earlier when the US was experiencing similar economic development at the present-day economic development of developing countries.

Many developing countries believe "cultural imperialism" could occur because the US and other western governments and NGOs are attempting to impose their beliefs and values on developing countries.

Finally, if you raise wages and labor standards, you deny developing countries of their legitimate comparative advantage. Maybe that would be good though because then less US workers would be complaining about their jobs being offshored. Back to the comparative advantage thing. Take China for example. If you raised wages and labor standards, US and EU companies would no longer go there for its cheap labor which they can exploit. Because of its economic growth which will grow for many years to come, Chinese purchasing power will equal that of the US in two decades and exceed US purchasing power in three decades (according to The Economist). China has a growing middle class. Of course, they have a lower class too. Then again, there are also many Americans that live below the poverty line. I could keep going on but I'll stop there with that point.

Sorry Charissa, I don't think this comes down to ignorance as Patey suggests. That one person may have been ignorant. However, I am a strong neo-liberal follower, and I feel there should only be moderate government intervention...let the markets do everything!

On that one long note, g'night :)

cherry said...

Whao that is a loooong note Mark...hee...Well its true that the market should work for itself, but alot of the problems come from the fact that the government of these countries and these companies are intervening in the free market, deliberately surpressing the wages that are higher if the free market is allowed to operate. Secondly, these countries have a huge comparative advantage that will eventually be eroded , but it will not be eroded from increasing the wages of the lowest class to what they deserve (because only the very lowest class are the one working in those sweatshops). China's growing middle class is where its purchasing power will surpass the rest of the world. And unfortunately, sweatshop workers who cannot afford to put two meals on the table, will never be part of that middle class that will remove China's comparative advantage.

Part of me believes in the free market and neo-liberalism. But there is always a human factor involved. And I cannot bear to support a system which because of economics, would allow a fellow human beings to be subjected to mental and physical abuse, and exploitation just because they are not our citizens or our loved ones.