A question about the US's place in the world

""Nhep Chanda averages 75 cents a day for her efforts. For her, the idea of being exploited in a garment factory -- working only six days a week, inside instead of in the broiling sun, for up to $2 a day -- is a dream.""

Wow... heaven forbid we only make them work a ""normal"" five day work week, since we''re only paying them up to $2 a day.

the left attempts to blame Western employers who are providing these workers with better options than they had before.

Yes, and in the process, they aren''t making a significant difference in the actual community. Sure, Nhep is making $2 a day. Is that $2 providing her with a better sewage treatment system? Or giving her better health care opportunities? Or how about a good place to buy clean, healthy water and food?

And it doesn''t change the fact that the corporations are still doing this not out of the kindness of their bleeding hearts, but rather because they can use it to exploit another person''s pain and desperation to increase their profit margins and pay for that third vacation home. Which will, by the way, be nowhere near those dirty people like Nhep *edit: just to be crystal clear, I''m using extreme sarcasm in referring to them as ""dirty people""*, but will instead be someplace much more modernised.

Intent means a lot to me. It''s part of why I don''t hate Bush, but instead hate what he''s done with his presidency. I know that, misguided as he is, Bush really does mean well (at least, I like to give him the benefit of that doubt). If he doesn''t mean well, then I despise him more than I ever could have otherwise.

Is that $2 providing her with a better sewage treatment system? Or giving her better health care opportunities? Or how about a good place to buy clean, healthy water and food?

Yes. The only way these countries are going to improve their cost of living and infrastructure is through the gradual improvement of their economy. If laborers are only making $.75 a day, how much do you think a visit to the doctor costs? $1.00? $2.00? I''ll bet it''s not much more than that. Food and housing is comparably cheaper there than here. So yes, doubling someone''s income (or more) makes a huge difference in their quality of life - just as it would for anyone in the US.

Moreover, creating a manufacturing base in other countries send out ripples through the whole economy. It provides skilled labor and management, who can then start their own businesses, it provides tax revenues to create that sewage treatment plant you want, it requires all sorts of supporting jobs to be created - from better roads, to increased supply of raw materials.

So, yes, a small amount of money to you goes a long way to people with nothing.

And it doesn''t change the fact that the corporations are still doing this not out of the kindness of their bleeding hearts, but rather because they can use it to exploit another person''s pain and desperation to increase their profit margins and pay for that third vacation home.

Technically it is the desire of the American (and international for that matter) consumer for lower prices that drives companies to seek lower costs. And frankly, unless you only buy American products, even when significantly higher priced, you are ""part of the problem""...

I don''t see how sweatshops that produce sports clothing provides a skilled manufacturing base able to improve the infrastructure of their community, but hey, I''m obviously missing important steps here.

I still maintain the part of my argument where I stated that intent means a lot.

I sincerely doubt any of these corporations made these decisions based on goodwill and generosity. More like ""Hey Bob, we can shave several points off our projected diminishing profits if we just move production to Botswana. What do you think?"" ""Excellent idea, Bill! Bonuses for everyone! Well, us executives and board members, I mean."" ""Ha ha! Good one, Bob!""

Moreover, my argument about improving health care wasn''t that they can''t afford it, it''s that they don''t have good health care available to afford.

And as for the ""buying American,"" I do try whenever I can even if it''s more expensive, but it''s damn near impossible to do so anymore. Not to mention those ""made in America"" labels aren''t entirely accurate much of the time.

I sincerely doubt any of these corporations made these decisions based on goodwill and generosity.

We''re well past the point where we should have moved into another thread...

...but I will maintain, as I have before, that the desire of people to obtain profilt is what keeps prices low for billions of people around the globe, as well as pushes jobs into areas of the world that never would have seen them otherwise. Slowly raising the wage level and skill level of the Third World is the only thing that will bring about the modernization and industrial growth that also brings better health care, infrastructure and overall poverty reduction.

Would I like it to happen faster? Sure. But unless you can convince the whole world to accept higher prices, this is the best you can hope for.

There is always a trade off. Raise the wage of people making shirts, and you raise the price of that shirt by at least the same amount. Which means you have taken money away from the people buying the shirt - taken money away they could have used ontheirhealth care, education, retirement savings, etc. You may argue that the consumer in the West has more to give, but their cost of living is commensurately higher, as well. It may cost them more, in real terms.

We''re well past the point where we should have moved into another thread...

Very true. Although how we first got to this debate actually was on topic...

Raise the wage of people making shirts, and you raise the price of that shirt by at least the same amount. Which means you have taken money away from the people buying the shirt - taken money away they could have used on their health care, education, retirement savings, etc.

Only partly true.

Raise the wage of people making shirts, and you then have to face a choice: raise the price of selling those shirts to consumers, or reduce the dividends paid to (mostly already wealthy) stockholders and reduce the pay of the (probably overpaid) executives from some obscenely large sum to a somewhat less obscenely large sum.

Well, the guys in charge are never going to take a hit, even though they have no need for the ridiculous amount of money they''ve already got, so of course the cost is going to be passed on to the consumers. Or rather, the guys in charge will simply pass the buck on.

I know that you and many others disagree with me on this, but the whole top-heavy system is part of the problem. We have these horribly wealthy people who honestly have no need for that kind of wealth, when the money some of them have got is enough to provide for a small nation.

I find such wealth offensive, especially since it''s amassed at the expense of ""the little people"" (and no, I''m not talking about that new Fox TV show in the Everything Else forum :lol:).

Were I that wealthy, I honestly couldn''t sleep at night for the guilt, especially since most of them gain it through dirty (but marginally legal) business practices. I never want that kind of wealth; if I had it I would be trying to make a real difference with it.

Frankly, I view most of the arguments in favor of these corporate practices to simply be a means of justifying the rich and their means of acquiring that wealth at the expense of everyone else.

I don''t think I''ll ever be convinced otherwise. But who knows; strange things happen in life.

Sooner or later this whole top-heavy economic system is going to tip over and crash down upon itself. I really hope I''m not around when it happens, because it''s going to be messy. Someone needs to take some of these Jenga blocks and start reinforcing the base before it''s too late.

Someone needs to take some of these Jenga blocks and start reinforcing the base before it''s too late.

Which is what happens when you double (or more) the standard of living for the workers at the bottom by ""exploting"" them. You are complaining that there are no Jenga blocks being added to the base - well there are, they just may not be as big as you would like. All I would say to that is that your perspective has little to do with the actual situations of those who are benefited by globalization, and that the alternative really is no Jenga blocks at all.

"ralcydan" wrote:

Let them. We didn''t need them to invade before, why should we even bother asking next time?

I think you overestimate the ability the US ha to project its power. Put it this way: how well would the invasion of Iraq have fared if none of the surrounding countries would''ve let their countries be used as bases, allowed overflights, etc? The US can get along without participation by other countries, but not without some sort of consent.

Some random thoughts that entered my head while reading this which I''ve no time to put along relevant quotes since I''m very late already. Again.

A military empire is wholly unnecessary if you achieve cultural and economical dominance. It''d only be a drain of resources.

If the trickle-down theory works so bloody well, why are people''s lifes still unmitigated sh*t in the Free Trade Zones?

Since the markup in price is more than 1000%, they could very well afford not to raise the price for cunsumers. They could just cut down a bit on those massive brand-building campaigns they shove down our throats. (Thinking of the Nikes of the world.)

A military empire is wholly unnecessary if you achieve cultural and economical dominance. It''d only be a drain of resources.

Based on what? The long line on non-millitary powers throughout history? Never heard of ''em.

A military empire is wholly unnecessary if you achieve cultural and economical dominance. It''d only be a drain of resources.

It works in Civ3.

"Gorack" wrote:
A military empire is wholly unnecessary if you achieve cultural and economical dominance. It''d only be a drain of resources.

Based on what? The long line on non-millitary powers throughout history? Never heard of ''em.

just because something doesnt have centuries of history, doesnt render concept untrue. You are forgetting that civilized world is awfully young. Hell, just two centuries ago you might have to wait for months before news from company branch in distant country reached you. Makes it hard to talk about possibility of cultural dominance, doesnt it?

just because something doesnt have centuries of history, doesnt render concept untrue. You are forgetting that civilized world is awfully young. Hell, just two centuries ago you might have to wait for months before news from company branch in distant country reached you. Makes it hard to talk about possibility of cultural dominance, doesnt it?

But it ought to be based on something. I''m curious what it is.

But it ought to be based on something. I''m curious what it is.

Look at what an influence the cultures of different nations have had on each other in just the past half-century. American culture in particular has ""infiltrated"" Japan, China, India, South America, and more of Europe. Also, their cultures have in turn influenced ours.

Most of the influence so far has been through entertainment industries, but in some ways religion and politics have done so as well. And frankly, entertainment isn''t called ""the opiate of the masses"" for no reason.

Ah, allow me to clarify. I might not have put that all that well. Firstly, economic dominance is the goal of any empire. It is, as they say, all about the money. Whether you control territories or not is irrelevant, as long as they''re subservient. It''s actually preferrable not to, since having a large military presence is a drain on the resources. Cultural dominace follows from economic dominance, with all the Nikes and Big Macs and MTVs and whatnot, and areas with a homogenous culture is far less likely to go to war with each other. Unless a bloody conflict between Canada and the US breaks out in the near future and proves me completely wrong, natch.

A military force might still be necessary to secure compliance of course, but going around occupying stuff just for the heck of it is wholly unecessary. That''s pretty much my reasoning, and that''s what I think of when people start mumbling about US imperialism. You''re more than welcome to go poke holes in it.

Looks the same to me, especially when you have no examples of it affecting us outside of Iraq,

One is cause, the other effect. You created that dichotomy, not me. You are welcome to think that''s what I''m saying, but I explained otherwise...

outside of trying to tell me that trade conflicts (which happen annually if not more often) are a new development this year...

Apparently, I provided no examples, except for the one you disliked.

Anyway, I already went through the fact that since they can''t disengage from us, other nations will use many ways to register their displeasure. Trade disputes are one. You''re saying the dispute must be new; while there are likely some that are that I have not cited, that seems to be trivially false. New disagreements can show up in established behaviors.

You are burrowing pretty far into my argument, just to make a point. Why not just refute it at a higher level, and be done? The US is acting like an empire, and that makes other countries nervous, and they react in various ways. Arguing over the minutiae is not going to change that point.

I never bet against the potential of the United States to do anything. This is of course the core difference in so many issues - inluding Iraq. One side is can-do, the other bets against success.

When success is predicated on continual military, economic and political dominance, and as simple a change as a new president or a shift in control of the House and Senate can change that utterly, I bet with history. Dominance based on force is not as long-lived as dominance based on interaction. To me, pulling back from this before we run smack into something we can''t handle would be success; thus I''m betting for success. I''m also a can-do person. I just believe there are some things we shouldn''t do. It''s the whole Golden Rule thing.

No country has ever acheived a permanent superpower status, and that''s worth remembering.

Robear

Ral:

A military force might still be necessary to secure compliance of course, but going around occupying stuff just for the heck of it is wholly unecessary. That''s pretty much my reasoning, and that''s what I think of when people start mumbling about US imperialism.

I said:

Actually, an empire is a large grouping of territories, of different nationalities and forms of governance, under the control of an emperor. Clearly, we are not forming an empire.

Ral says:

Firstly, economic dominance is the goal of any empire. It is, as they say, all about the money. Whether you control territories or not is irrelevant, as long as they''re subservient.

I say:

An empire can project power in many areas besides it''s homeland neighbors. We can do that, and do do it. (So did the Soviets.) It also has a similar effect on economics, and the political situation of countries that otherwise would be out of reach. And we have deliberately established those relationships, in areas we did not have them in before.

Huh. What were we disagreeing about, again? We have the same view on a putative American Empire - that it''s related to behavior, rather than conquest.

Cultural dominace follows from economic dominance, with all the Nikes and Big Macs and MTVs and whatnot, and areas with a homogenous culture is far less likely to go to war with each other.

Oh, there it is...cultural dominance is not the same as cultural homogeneity. Just because countries can''t avoid McDonalds and Nike, doesn''t mean they are on our side.

Robear

"Most" wrote:

ral, you are being agressively unfair to Robear.
And, come on - ""dozens of connections"" between Saddam and terrorists are basically: ""someone in Iraq met with some terrorist types"". Great, well, so did Pakistanis. Attack on Afganistan was justified and because of that US gathered serious coalition. Attack on Iraq was just administration trying to ride the wave. Of course that wide support disappeared.
And current brawl over poor intelligence will not help. Next time US says it has ""new and startling evidence"" people will just grin. And why shouldnt they?

So you mean Saddam didn''t fund, train, and pay bombers? What about all of those checks they were given on TV....

So you mean Saddam didn''t fund, train, and pay bombers? What about all of those checks they were given on tv?""

I don''t recall hearing that we invaded because of payments to the survivors of Palestinian suicide bombers. If that''s all that can be shown on the terror side, Iraq was hardly an threat to the US. Once you get into the Al Quaida side of things, no one is sure of anything, as Most points out, because our intelligence services seem to have failed us.

Robear

"Robear" wrote:
So you mean Saddam didn''t fund, train, and pay bombers? What about all of those checks they were given on tv?""

I don''t recall hearing that we invaded because of payments to the survivors of Palestinian suicide bombers. If that''s all that can be shown on the terror side, Iraq was hardly an threat to the US. Once you get into the Al Quaida side of things, no one is sure of anything, as Most points out, because our intelligence services seem to have failed us.

Robear

I thought we were in a war with terrorist groups not just Al Quaida? I have never heard Bush say that it was against Al Quaida but the terrorists network, and since terrorist groups are connected in beliefs and willing to help the team, I think it is a very worthwhile thing to do.

I thought we were in a war with terrorist groups not just Al Quaida?

I thought so too, but every time I suggest that means we are going to invade Iran, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan and the Phillipines, people get upset. <---joke

Since we are unwilling to be involved in Palestine, why would we deal with Hamas and the other terror groups with a proxy invasion of Iraq? Did the invasion of Iraq drop terror in Israel? In Iraq? On the other hand, if we are truly fighting every terror group in the world, not just the ones that threaten us (as I understood it to be), why did we go for the fourth or fifth-string country, when two of it''s neighbors are far more deeply involved in terrorism? (Iran sponsors Hezbollah, and Syria has actually occupied another country and maintains training camps there, as well as sheltering Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. I''m pretty sure I got those groups affiliated correctly, let me know if I did not.) And where are we going next?

If the questions is ""What country should we invade to put an end to active terror organizations"", the answer was hardly Iraq. No offense intended, but that''s the confusion I see with that argument. The Iraq invasion only made sense with the combination of a number of serious threats, to it''s people, it''s neighbors, and us, and unfortunately many of those threats were not actual.

Robear

"Farscry" wrote:

Raise the wage of people making shirts, and you then have to face a choice: raise the price of selling those shirts to consumers, or reduce the dividends paid to (mostly already wealthy) stockholders

Farscry, that ''obscene'' profit that you refer to is what allows companies to grow and employ more people. Those ''obscene'' dividends are responsible for wealth creation for the 60% of the American population that owns equities, the vast majority of whom are not ''wealthy''.

I say this again, not trying to be insulting, but you have absolutely no idea how economics and monetary policy work.

"ALG" wrote:

If the trickle-down theory works so bloody well, why are people''s lifes still unmitigated sh*t in the Free Trade Zones?

Which Free Trade Zone are you referring to ALG? Mexico?

"Farscry" wrote:

Look at what an influence the cultures of different nations have had on each other in just the past half-century. American culture in particular has ""infiltrated"" Japan, China, India, South America, and more of Europe. Also, their cultures have in turn influenced ours.

That''s not empire, that''s free will - people of one country voluntarily purchase the goods or entertainment from another.

"Robear" wrote:

Why not just refute it at a higher level, and be done? The US is acting like an empire, and that makes other countries nervous

I have refuted it. Nothing we are doing is imperial, unless you are ignorant of what ""empire"" means - apparently a lot of people are.

"Robear" wrote:

Huh. What were we disagreeing about, again? We have the same view on a putative American Empire - that it''s related to behavior, rather than conquest.

Yeah, ""we"" do have the same view of empire, based on that quote you cite. Of course, the quote you cite wasn''t from me - it was from Alien Love Gardener. This happens a lot with you. I wonder if the philosophical basis of your arguments doesn''t suffer from the same inattentiveness as your postings...

"Robear" wrote:

Just because countries can''t avoid McDonalds and Nike

Another quote not from me, but you are both wrong - people can avoid any American product they like. Again, it''s called free will and choice.

"Robear" wrote:

I don''t recall hearing that we invaded because of payments to the survivors of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Convenient then that you ignore the actual examples of terrorism that have been shown, so that you can attack this straw man.

"Robear" wrote:

I suggest that means we are going to invade Iran, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan and the Phillipines, people get upset.

Maybe they think there is something wrong with you for being such a war monger. It doesn''t automatically follow that since we invaded Iraq, we have to invade every country with ties to terror - perhaps you have never heard of diplomacy, economic sacntions and incentives, and threatening force without having to use it - but thank God the administration has.

"Robear" wrote:

if we are truly fighting every terror group in the world, not just the ones that threaten us (as I understood it to be), why did we go for the fourth or fifth-string country, when two of it''s neighbors are far more deeply involved in terrorism?

""Sometimes you have to kill a chicken to scare the monkey."" The results speak for themselves:
The real ripples of war.

"Robear" wrote:

If the questions is ""What country should we invade to put an end to active terror organizations"", the answer was hardly Iraq

For the last time: After WWII, America pushed for democratic reform throughout Europe and Asia. It succeeded. Democracy took root. However, we didn''t push for reform in Africa because of the lack of strategic interests or in the Middle East because of oil and the lack of a perceived threat.

Since that time, the Arab world has resisted all attempts at modernization and democracy, and become home to an incredible level of anti-Americanism.

The only way to prevent another September 11 is to engage the Middle East the way we engaged Europe 60 years ago. For decades we have tried to pussy-foot around that fact through bribes and pacification, through handling terrorism as if it were a crime and not a cultural issue, and keeping a naval presence in the region. The old manner of handling the situation merely isolated the problem. It didn''t deal with it.

To fix the problem, we must introduce Democracy to the region. We must create a friendly nation that will allow us to project both military might as well as cultural ideas. And so we come to Iraq.

Iraq is the perfect nation for such a grand experiment. It is a wealthy nation, rich with the resource that we need. It had a dictator that had little outside support and was reviled by his own people. Iraq had thumbed its nose at the UN so many times that even the most pacifistic anti-US countries couldn''t bring themselves to support Saddam.

For the last time

You should be so lucky...

Ral, in all seriousness, if there''s a problem you know where to find me.

Robear

I wonder if the philosophical basis of your arguments doesn''t suffer from the same inattentiveness as your postings...

Nah. I''m terrible with names in real life too.

Robear

Maybe they think there is something wrong with you for being such a war monger.

And you deliberately pulled the smiley AND the joke pointer from that comment. Why?

Robear

"Robear" wrote:

And you deliberately pulled the smiley AND the joke pointer from that comment. Why?

From whose comment? Mine? It didn''t have a smiley because I didn''t intend it to be a joke. If you are referring to your comment, I''m not sure which part of it was intended to be a joke - since you really do suggest that it is inconsistent not to invade additional countries after Iraq. I''m always surprised at people who are ostensibly anti-war pushing such an aggressive agenda.

"Robear" wrote:

Ral, in all seriousness, if there''s a problem you know where to find me.

And in all seriousness, I have no idea what you are talking about.

If you are referring to your comment, I''m not sure which part of it was intended to be a joke - since you really do suggest that it is inconsistent not to invade additional countries after Iraq.

It was one sentence in it''s own paragraph.

I suggest that there has been no clear statement of how we pick targets, not that we should invade further countries.

And in all seriousness, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Well, that''s an answer anyway. I was concerned you had not received my earlier pm, that''s all.

Oh, and sorry I mixed up you and ALG. I should not have been so flip about it, it really is a problem for me. I''ll try to be more careful.

Robear