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Old 04-08-2011, 02:09 AM   #151
brantonli
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

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Originally Posted by RedBlackAttack
The minimum wage is, what? $7.50 per hour? It varies from state-to-state, I think.

But, is that not doable for a massive corporation like Wal-Mart and others like it? Listen, I know the goal of capitalism is to make as big a profit as you possibly can within the legal boundaries. That is the reason that we don't operate under a purely capitalistic society, though... Never have and never should, in my estimation.

I feel like Wal-Mart, who drapes itself in the American flag whenever it suits the PR image that it likes to portray, could be a hero of the modern American industry... If they even partially manufactured their goods in America and allowed their workers to unionize (those who wanted to take part in such a union), they could lead the way for a new generation of truly patriotic companies that did what they could to keep their massive fortune in America and maybe give their workers a little better lives... Maybe even help bring back our consuming middle class.

Instead, they export ALL manufacturing jobs. They will fire you literally on the spot for even mentioning the word 'union' to co-workers in the actual stores. They don't offer health benefits to most workers and, the ones that they do, are a complete joke of an insurance benefit. Administrators in the stores have been caught encouraging employees to apply for welfare because they are offering just minimum wage and so few hours that a lot of the people who work there still qualify for government assistance...

They are the epitome of the greedy corporation as far as I'm concerned.


I'm not going to lie, since when has ANY firm ever done this? Especially a firm listed on the stock market, why would share holders give a sh*t about 'giving something back to the country'? Every company would love to have that kind of PR stunt and be making the same profits, but they can't, simply because it raises costs.


Quote:
This shouldn't be a left-right debate... This is literally at the heart of the decimation of the American middle class, the reason that CEO earnings have spiked so ridiculously and the reason there has been a massive shift in wealth to the top.

The money is still flowing in. These corporations have become so absurdly powerful and so absurdly wealthy... They would still do VERY well with American workers and manufacturers. Things have just gotten completely out-of-hand.

The problem here is that you are essentially saying there's a need to curb the profit-maximising motive of the company, and for a company to sacrifice some of those profits for the sake of others. That is not impossible, but imagine trying to structure an incentive scheme to make people do so!

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, if anything that's what every country should try and make their firms do, but the current capitalistic setup in the West simply does not allow firms to do so, even if they actually want to.

Let me give an example of how Wal-Mart can claim to source everything ethically but still cut corners. In The China Price, the author actually follows an inspection from a firm employed by Wal-Mart to check up on factories in China, and if those factories fail too many times, then they are essentially chucked out and Wal-MArt finds new manufacturers (Which isn't difficult given it's China). But what factory owners just do is have 2 factories, one for inspection, and one for actual production of goods. Obviously the 2nd one is hidden away, and not inspected. In fact, the pressure FROM Wal-Mart to get things done on time is so huge that it is impossible for factories to produce goods legally. The demand is so big that they HAVE to break the law, or else risk losing their business. And mind you, they aren't forcing people to work for them either, loads of people are very willing to work for pennies if it means their children 500 miles away can get a decent education.


And I'm interested in the tariff argument. Obviously there will be revenue flows from the tariffs (after all that's what a tariff is, a tax on imports). What will you do with the revenue from the tariff? And how will you justify raising living costs of the average American? 'Why should I care somebody in Cleveland is getting a job when not only my expenses are rising, but my income hasn't budged in over a decade?!' Bear in mind that the median household salary in 2009 was $50,303, while the median household salary in 1999 was $51,295 (adjusted for inflation).

Saying raising tariffs is good, but what will be done with the money?

(figures from here http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/20...ty-rate-rises/)

Last edited by brantonli : 04-08-2011 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:18 AM   #152
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

The tariff thing could really do more harm than good IMO. We can't only think of companies like wal-mart. Wal-mart would be able to weather the storm of high tariffs. But what about smaller companies? If these guys are barely staying afloat now, what will super high tariff costs do to them? They'll either go under or have to move their company completely out of the US.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:28 AM   #153
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

You'd have to put tariffs on every single country for a tariff to work in a globalised world (for example, I believe South Africa put tariffs on Chinese textiles, and all that happened was that Mauritian textile imports just shot up). And 2, you'd be breaking the World Trading Organisation rules on whatever tariff you set up, because you will never get all countries to agree to disadvantage themselves.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:45 AM   #154
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

Like I said in my last post, I'm not going to get into a full-fledged debate about this thing tonight. I will check back tomorrow and maybe I will feel like engaging, but not tonight... Just checked quickly before I hit the sack and saw the recent comments.

The WTO went hand-in-hand with NAFTA. Both were instituted in the mid-90s... Both have had awful unintended consequences. The GATT, which preceded it, was agreement enough, imo.

But, the WTO simply puts forth the rules of international trade. It is an incredibly complicated organization that actually still uses some of the old GATT statutes to settle disputes. There is nothing that goes through the WTO that is as cut-and-dry as "a few of the members reject it, so it won't happen"... Especially when the United States is involved. And, plenty of countries that are a part of the WTO institute tariffs, including the United States. I'm just looking to expand on them and re-institute some old policies that worked better, from my vantage point.

We had large tariffs and major caps on imported goods for the vast majority of our nation's history. We've been dealing with the WTO and NAFTA for about 15 years now and I believe it has had devastating consequences. Btw, small business performed quite well prior to globalization and the doing away with most tariffs, joe.

A strong middle class is what drives consumption. If we are able to retrieve some of the major manufacturing jobs back into the United States and unskilled workers have a place to turn, the consumer base will help sustain all businesses, large and small. As a matter of fact, if the tariffs and import caps impact anyone positively, it is the small businesses.

The consequences of the WTO and NAFTA are pretty clear... They can be easily explained... And there is no going back simply because we might have to jump through some hoops with the WTO? I'm not willing to accept that.

Further, I just can't see -- without bringing back a strong consumer base in a middle class -- how the United States is ever going to recover from the massive shift of wealth we have had happening for the past three decades.

As long as there are a very limited number of jobs for the unskilled workers (the majority of the country), we are going to have a very weak middle class and thus a limited consumer base.

The answer to the problem seems pretty clear to me... We don't really make anything anymore and we import nearly all of our goods. If someone else can devise a system that brings manufacturing back to America, but it isn't done through tariffs or import caps, I'm all ears.

That is... I'm all ears tomorrow.

G'night, folks.

Last edited by RedBlackAttack : 04-08-2011 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:53 AM   #155
Mr. Grieves
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

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Originally Posted by brantonli
You'd have to put tariffs on every single country for a tariff to work in a globalised world (for example, I believe South Africa put tariffs on Chinese textiles, and all that happened was that Mauritian textile imports just shot up). And 2, you'd be breaking the World Trading Organisation rules on whatever tariff you set up, because you will never get all countries to agree to disadvantage themselves.

The UN doesn't stop America form doing anything, how would the WTO?
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:45 AM   #156
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Default Re: Interesting article about the extreme wealth disparity in the US

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Originally Posted by magnax1
Germany and France look more like the exception then the norm to me. Britain Italy Spain and some of the other smaller countries are in trade deficits like the US.

Yes, partly true but the EU as a whole, more importantly the "traditional" EU which consists onlyof Western Europe countries that share the Euro cannot be compared to the US in terms of trade balance. The US is running a massive debt for years whereas EU is close to braking even or more improtant those countries that share the EURO have even a slight surplus. In that regard the EU and the Euro is doing much better than the US

For reference see:
http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=MEI_TRD
and pick "net trade in goods" from the subject and look at e.g. the 2009 and 2010 annual values. YouŽll see that the EURO countries have a positive trade balance whereas the US is running a massive deficit.
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