Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Is it possible to have a functioning economy without exploitation?

I don't mean that as a rhetorical question, I really can't think of a positive example, either now or in history.

Obviously in this country we've encouraged immigrants to come here, as a source of cheap labor, then exploit and abuse them once they're here. Calling them "illegal" makes it easy to exploit them, because people who are afraid of being deported won't complain about mistreatment. The last thing they want is to call attention to themselves.

But is it any different elsewhere?

China's economy is growing rapidly. It's one of the few places in the world right now with a strong economy. But it's still a "planned" economy, part of which means you need the government's permission to move from one part of the country to another. But just as many people (until recently) moved from poor countries to the United States, because this was where the jobs were, the Chinese poor are moving to wherever there are jobs in China, whether or not they have permission, which is difficult and expensive to get.

Factory owners like the system because "illegal" migrants are afraid to complain. Local governments like it, too, because it means they don't have to pay health care costs, or educate migrant children. Everyone likes it, except the people who are exploited, and they have no power.

I can think of lots of examples of countries that work like this. I would love to find an example of one that didn't, one that worked well for all its people.

Canada, maybe?

I'd have to do more research, but getting an answer starts with asking yourself a question.

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