Free Market / Slave Market

The so-called Free Market may move a lot of money around, and provide at least minimal income for a lot of people, but it is anti-democratic, and can be quite dangerous, not to mention that it’s not all that free. It assists in concentrating wealth with the rich, and functions to assure that labor is grossly underpaid. In our global economy this has been apparent for a long time, as production moves again and again to the place where workers can be paid even less, their very lives endangered, and environment put at risk the most. In a democratic world there must be strong legal restraints that prevent these things from happening, and we don’t have them.

There is great danger in an uncontrolled Free Market.

There is great danger in an uncontrolled Free Market. Since the entire purpose of capitalism is to maximize profit, every company will take every step available to that end. They will pay the absolute least amount they can to their workers, and be careless about doing harm to the lives of their employees as long as there is a large pool of poor and desperate potential workers to replace them. There have been three major garment factory fires that killed hundreds in recent weeks. In each case, the factory itself was a death trap where safety was ignored in favor of higher profit. These were in third world countries, but the US is not immune.

Consider the recent fires that killed hundreds
of garment workers in Bangladesh and Karachi.

In Bangladesh, the factory had been cited for unsafe conditions a number of times, but the owners did not care. Walmart says the factory was de-listed to work for them, and says they secretly made Walmart garments through a third party. Given Walmart’s odious past behavior, I wouldn’t vouch that this is true. In Pakistan, both factories had been certified safe, when they obviously were not. There was no penalty for any of these safety violations. Only the power of the law can prevent businesses from doing these things. Without strong laws, evenly enforced, they will honor the demands of capitalism alone.

Only laws can control the capitalist imperative.

The corporation is negatively motivated to behave responsibly toward the community and the environment, because social responsibility is seen as reducing the all-important profit. Reduction of profit may or may not result, but the company becomes directly responsible for environmental and community degradation when it is a bad citizen. The entire world eventually suffers because of it. It is clear, then, that only laws and regulations can control the natural tendency of business to follow the capitalist imperative to maximize profit, which many will do even when the lives of workers and the health of our life support system are at risk.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post. Funny how we can pile our charges of hypocrisy on Jefferson for being a slave holder, yet blithely buy clothing and electronics made by wage-just-shy-of-slave labor.


  2. We in Australia are very fortunate in that for more than a century now we have had a strong Union Movement throughout the land.

    Consequently we now have a National Wage System. and the minimum wage is set not by each state as in the USA but by a federal authority. As at this time the minimum wage for an adult worker here is $15.96 an hour or $606.40 per week.

    This is viewed annually: the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) represents all workers in this country; union members or not, and always push for a wage increase. Most times they are successful in getting all workers an increase in their rate of pay.

    Your followers may find this link of interest.


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