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View Diary: Median U.S. household income fell 5% between 1999 and 2009. Globalization remains the core problem (201 comments)

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  •  Here's the problem MB: (6+ / 0-)

    I can't think of any remedy to this situation that doesn't cut off the developing world from achieving a much better standard of living. No, paying crap wages for backbreaking work won't create that now, but it clearly provides a path--the one we took.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:25:09 PM PDT

    •  Why is that true? (7+ / 0-)

      Why does the developing world have to produce goods for export instead of for their own domestic consumption? There's two halves to the model. The first half is here we insist on exploiting cheap labor to make profit margins go up. The other half is in the developing world where credit is provided by us only for an export-driven economy.

      These are political choices, on both sides; not laws of physics. (though often there is little choice for developing countries since credit is needed to get businesses started)

      Whatever happened to the idea of workers being able to afford the things they make?

      •  The answer to that question is simple, really (4+ / 0-)

        The developing world is astonishingly, tragically, painfully poor.

        Ok, so I read the polls.

        by andgarden on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:33:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think most Americans realize (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          andgarden, Sparhawk, Matt Z, fritzi56

          that despite our problems, we are all pretty rich relative to the average person living in India, or Mali, or Nicaragua. What has basically been happening over the past 50 years is that the poorest have been catching up with the richest. Unfortunately, they have a long way to go. It is absolutely the case that this seismic shift is causing much pain in the developed world. But was there really any alternative, was this not inevitable?

          I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

          by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:47:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know if it was inevitable, (5+ / 0-)

            or if it really has to be so bad for the developed world. But I cannot in good conscience insist that the poorest people in the world stay in their place just so I'm paid a little bit more.

            This is a really hard problem with serious consequences for everyone.

            Ok, so I read the polls.

            by andgarden on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:50:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is a very liberal site. (3+ / 0-)

              Yet many of the commenters are basically against allowing the foreign poor the opportunity to come to our country to enjoy what we have, and against the foreign poor taking "our" jobs. When it comes to protecting what's mine, liberals and conservatives begin to sound very much alike.

              I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

              by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:57:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think that's exactly right (5+ / 0-)

                In principle, this debate is rather like that about progressive taxation. The problem is that, relative to the rest of the world, we are all really quite rich.

                Ok, so I read the polls.

                by andgarden on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 03:59:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  doc2, andgarden, Matt Z, Balto

                  People are majorly in favor of things like humanitarian aid to Africa, but when it comes to really helping those people out by (for example) siting factories there, they don't like it at all.

                  People are far more willing to do 'feel good' altruism (look, I sponsored a family!) than to make any serious sacrifice. The serious sacrifice should always be made by the rich(-er than me).

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 04:16:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  an argument made of straw (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                New Rule

                First off there's no "we" of which you speak.

                There's rich people with a fuckton of money. And there's everybody else. And the gap is growing bigger every day.

                The rich people get that way by off-shoring things to places that don't have as many laws protecting people (their health, their right to organize, etc). Child labor? Lock the people in factories without fire exits? Allow people to stand over a smoldering pile of toxic waste extracting precious metals? Come one, come all, it's a free for all out there.

                Arbitrage is used destroy the protections that working people have fought for against the ravages of capitalism. There are lots of political choices in the margins of what some folks here are passing off as "inevitable"... choices that radically affect the lives of billions of people.

            •  the corporados are already solving that problem (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rexxnyc, Meteor Blades

              for you. In their own interests, of course.

              As they keep moving all the jobs from one low-wage haven to another, they will equalize everyone's wages everywhere.  Ours will go down, most others will go up.

          •  not really (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades

            The gap between the richest and the poorest has been growing larger all across the world. And our richest are not even THE richest anymore----an increasing number of "the richest people in the world" are not Americans.

            •  In the poorest countries, the gap (3+ / 0-)

              is less important (to the poor) than the standard of living of the poor. And that standard (in Asia and in parts of S. America) has risen dramatically.

              I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

              by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 04:22:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  and it will continue to go up (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                truong son traveler

                Indeed, it will inevitably equalize itself with ours.

                That's the whole intent of globalization.

                •  It is not the "intent" of globalization. (4+ / 0-)

                  This isn't being driven by people trying to eliminate poverty. This is being driven by the profit motive, and by the motive of we consumers to buy products that are cheaper and better. We want inexpensive products from China, thus Walmart exists. If China and Walmart didn't exist, we would still want inexpensive products, and there would be some other China and some other Walmart.

                  I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                  by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 04:36:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it's not the direct intent (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    truong son traveler

                    The direct intent is to continually move to the lowest wages.

                    But the effect of that is to equalize all the wages. And the corporados know that is a necessary consequence.

                    •  You seem to blame them for this. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      truong son traveler

                      But trying to produce products at a lower cost is their job. And it is what we, the global consumer, demands from them. This is not being driven by a bunch of evil people who are different from us. This is us; we may not see it as obvious, but this is us.

                      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                      by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 05:33:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  not at all (3+ / 0-)

                        The problem is inherent in the social structure itself, not in the motives of the people who live in it. The problem is NOT that business people are greedy selfish bastards (though of course most ARE since the system rewards those who are greedy and selfish). The problem is that those who are NOT greedy and selfish lose out in competition to those who are, and therefore the effect of the system's structure is to drag everybody down to the lowest common level whether they like it or not.  If we replaced all the economic managers and owners tomorrow with clones of Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama, within weeks they'd all be acting the same as before. They have no choice. The very structure of the economic system--the very set of rewards and penalties it imposes--makes everyone evil whether they want to be or not.

                        That is the true tragedy of that social system.  It removes the humanity even of the people who benefit most from it.

              •  Right (3+ / 0-)

                Chinese laborers couldn't give a rats ass how much richer Bill Gates is than they are. What they see is "A factory job! Now I'll have metal pots and pans, and steady food supplies to cook with them!"

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 04:32:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Now I have a toilet. (4+ / 0-)

                  Now my family will not starve. Now we will not die of rickets or malaria or African sleeping sickness.

                  This is what our jobs mean to the desperately poor all over the world. It sucks for the displaced American, absolutely, and the pain is real. But there is another side of this, which is that truly desperate people are getting to make their first step up the development ladder.

                  I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                  by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 04:38:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  they are making the second step too (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    fritzi56

                    Once they see rich people living large on their backs, they organize to demand more.

                    Which is of course exactly what the companies moved there to avoid in the first place.  So they move to another low-wage haven--and start the same process all over again.

                    Eventually they run out of countries.  Then they're fucked.

                    •  No, they're not. When labor costs (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk

                      cannot be kept down any longer, prices will rise.

                      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                      by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 05:35:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  prices will rise. profits won't. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Meteor Blades

                        Big difference.

                        A fatal difference.  "The free market" can't live without continuously increasing profits.

                        All businesses must be like Rome--"expand or die".

                        •  Flat profits are not going to kill (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Sparhawk

                          the "free market". If/when total profits flatline, there will still be lots of companies growing quickly while other companies are dying. That's all the market needs.

                          I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                          by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:24:03 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  you are quite mistaken (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            New Rule

                            When economic entities are the size of nations and cost trillions of dollars to set up, there will absolutely NOT be "lots of new companies forming quickly while other companies are dying".

                            That may have been true of 19th century Adam Smithian economies made up of lilliputian English shopkeepers.

                            It is absolutely not true in an economy  where a handful of gargantuan multinational megacorporations dominate every industry.

                            The Adam Smithian world of free market economic theory simply does not exist any more.  The corporados killed it over a century ago.

                            And that is precisely why free market libertarian economics always fails--it simply does not correspond to the real world.

                          •  Okay. We'll see. (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                            by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:49:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  we can already see . . . (0+ / 0-)

                            When's the last time anybody formed a new global car manufacturer that could compete with Ford or Volkswagen?

                            Or an oil company that could compete with BP or Exxon?

                            And if YOU were to give it a try, what bank do you suppose would loan you the gazillion bucks you'd need to do it?

                          •  Chery Automobile (0+ / 0-)

                            a Chinese firm. And in five years

                            "Our brands such as Roewe and MG will have a reputation and fame similar to the international brands like Buick and Volkswagen," by 2015, SAIC Motor Co. President Chen Hong said at the exhibition.
                  •  This is an interesting discussion in ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk

                    ...the abstract of generic Chinese moving up and generic Americans moving down. But I rarely hear any of the people making this argument willing to be one of those displaced Americans. Or offering any answers as to what reasonable policies can be built to smooth the transition to full globalization. Instead, it's usually some version of that's the way the cookie crumbles.  

                    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

                    by Meteor Blades on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:18:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      doc2, truong son traveler
                      Instead, it's usually some version of that's the way the cookie crumbles.  

                      I don't know, can you think of a kindler, gentler way for Americans to take a huge standard of living hit in favor of foreigners?

                      No one wants to lose their job or make extreme sacrifices for other people. This is a natural thing, but there is no helping it now. Jobs that can be done by machines or lower-cost labor elsewhere will be done by machines and lower-cost labor elsewhere.

                      I'm in favor of retraining/education, unemployment insurance, at least partially socialized health care, all those other liberal programs we all support, etc but at the end of the day it sucks to lose your job and everyone on this probably-50%-overpopulated planet isn't going to come out of this situation smiling. The resources to support such an outcome do not exist.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:24:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  the resources do exist (3+ / 0-)

                        IIRC, the total per capita global GDP is something like $10,000/year for every man, woman and child on the planet.  Enough for a good living for everybody.

                        The problem of course is that one half of one percent of the world's population monopolizes that wealth, while most of the world lives on two dollars a day.

                        Our problem has never been that there aren't enough resources for everybody.  Our problem has always been that a small minority has most of the resources, and the rest of us live on the crumbs.

                        •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                          In 2006, the "real" (adjusted for inflation) median annual household income rose 1.3% to $50,233.00 according to the Census Bureau.[4]

                          According to Wiki, US median income was $50,233 in 2006 and mean income was $60,528. Assuming those numbers are roughly the same as today, that implies that USians need to take between a 20-40% pay cut before we're in line with your own global GDP estimates. And that implies no inequality at all, something that even in a perfect world would probably be undesirable.

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 09:33:37 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Oh come on. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      andgarden

                      You are saying that it is not reasonable for a person to support a policy requiring some randomly distributed sacrifice, without volunteering to be the sacrificee. Every policy represents tradeoffs.

                      Would it soften the blow to a laid-off US worker if he were given a couple of photos of families who took his job in say, India, and told how much they were grateful for it? No, of course not. But that doesn't mean that it may not have been for the collective good. What if one negatively impacted American family resulted in ten VERY positively impacted Indian families - is that not worthy of even a thoughtful pause?

                      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                      by doc2 on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 08:24:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  until they see the Chinese equivilent of Bill Gate (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  fritzi56

                  with solid gold pots and pans, and steady supplies of caviar prepared with them by imported French chefs----all bought with the wealth that THEY produced.

                  And that's when the strikes and work stoppages and other such unpleasantness begins.

      •  what will happen is (0+ / 0-)

        that as the multinational corporations move their plants to a low-wage haven, it will inevitably spark a movement among those workers for better pay and better conditions. At first, the corproados will grant them, in an attempt to buy off any problems.  But sooner or later the corporados will give up, and simply move the whole kit and kaboodle to some other low-wage haven, where the process begins anew. Alas for them, though, the world is only so big. Eventually, the corporados will move through every country on the planet, leaving behind a string of organized workforces with a standard of living higher than they had before.

        At which point the corporados are screwed.

        •  Your theory would be nice (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          j1j2j3j4

          if it corresponded to reality.
          In Mexico they did not leave behind anything but drugs lords, kidnap, and murder before moving on to lower wage pastures.

          The political/social rights simply aren't there for organizing a workforce, most places where corporations want to exploit the most. The part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights where workers are guaranteed a right to join a labor union is ignored most places (even in the USA, to a large extent)

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