Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fraudulent Window Dressing

The proposed ‘evils’ of child labor.

The concern that much of society seems to have, as well as some of my peers, is that child labor is unethical. Let me postulate: If a family can force (no child labor laws in place) a child to work in a sweatshop for the extra cash they will. In many of the countries in question there are already educational institutions in place, these institutions have alarmingly low attendance, likely due to the presence of child labor. If a child is able to work and bring money for their family; they will work in the place of schooling. Children are working in evil sweatshops and not getting educations. Damn corporations.

This is the view of a simpleton who does not have any understanding of the real world. By making ‘sweatshop’ labor illegal, children will just be forced to look to other avenues. Among these avenues could be school, but due to the impoverished state of the areas the children will likely have to turn to illegal forms of labor such as prostitution, theft, or drug peddling. Not to mention simple ‘less than legal’ businesses that avoid following the law wherever possible. To impose laws that will limit their ability to work will only result in greater detriment.

Market social responsibility

Bhagwati mentioned the possible use of “moral suasion” in today’s market. Consumer identities such as CNN or Oprah can vilify certain corporations for their ‘In-humanitarian acts’ and the sheep of the market will crucify the evil capitalist dogs. I do see a value in this act not inasmuch the negative ‘suasion,’ but in positive publicity. This can be achieved through what some naïve individuals would call altruistic socially responsible business. I will cite the example of Merck pharmaceuticals ‘courageous fight against river blindness.’ What happened was Merck accidentally discovered the treatment for an African ailment. In this ailment a parasite enters the human body through the bite of a blackfly. Upon which larvae spread throughout the body. When the worms die they release a toxin, this triggers a host immune system response that causes intense itching and can destroy nearby tissue, such as the eye. Lovely description eh? Well Merck tried to get funding to supply the drug to people who could not afford it. Unable to get outside funding Merck decided to offer the drug to the people for free. I feel that the good publicity they gained from this venture has certainly helped Merck maintain its’ position as one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world.

This application of marketing, what Milton Friedman would call "Fraudulent window dressing", can apply to not only pharmaceuticals but also child labor, the environment, and other issues of human rights.

I feel that social responsibility and proactive ‘altruism’ (effective advertising) are both excellent practices which can alleviate the ‘evils’ of the global market.


  1. The following phrase was clumsy at best, and idiotic and treasonous at worst: "This is the view of a simpleton who does not have any understanding of the real world." Anyone who would make such a statement is obviously impotent and a wife beater.

  2. The type of a person who would make such a statement, also most likely smells of bad cheese.

  3. Careful Josh, you can get b&hammered for that tone...

  4. Oh and you too Paul.

    Keep it constructive gentlemen.

  5. You sir are a hatched-faced nutmeg dealer!

  6. Such excellent symbolism. The imagery was amazing...

    I agree that child labor is not as simple to explain as some would like. Is the problem that they are working in a factory, or that the children are in a position where their best option is to work in a factory.

    In regards to your point on publicity, I am not sure it matters where the motivations are behind actions. If the motivation is agreement with a higher moral stage or if motivation is profit seems to have little to do with the result. River Blindness is no longer a problem; something worked. My preferred example is slavery. This is an entire industry, practiced around the world until "moral persuasion" made the cost of trade greater than the benefit. Maybe some slave traders had a change of heart, just as others probably pretended to see the light when nobody would give them a contract. I must admit I had trouble with CNN as his example, but the concept stands nonetheless.

  7. I never understood tone arguments. I'm an enthusiastic internet consumer and it usually surprises me when more weight is given to tone then to the substance of the argument. There was a tempest in a teapot about tone at The Amazing Meeting recently in regards to Phil Plait's speech about the "new" atheists. I think it was titled, "Don't be a dick".

    It seems to me that whenever we focus on tone we commit logical fallacies, but at the same time people feel that it's important to keep the debate civil.

    I don't agree: I think the debate should be as civil as the arguments are logically sound. When someone deals in absolutes, and preemptively insults a poor defenseless strawman, we should respond with obscenities and senseless scorn. Also, we should make sure our responses are completely literal and avoid hyperbole.

  8. Also, I think banning should come without warning or cause. The application of the banhammer should always surprise its "victim".

  9. In my typical hack at a blog post I will attempt to sound intelligent, coherent and hopeful. Being that some of the recent blog posts from my peers were humorous but somewhat tangential, I decided to create an argument rooted in logic that made me sound like a monster. Prior to publishing this post I omitted the paragraph where I explained why I am a monster. I could not even for a second take the paragraph seriously. Josh you were correct to point out I was being an unnecessary prick, but have you been any different in your previous posts? There is less opposition to your arguments simply because no one is taking you seriously. I made a plausible argument with a tone similar to that of Rothbard or someone with ulcers. It was an interesting experiment to see the reaction to believable argument with an unbelievable tone. However I must maintain that it was merely an experiment and I'm not even the prick I pretend to be.

  10. Also to James: I do not take any issue with the idea of 'fraudulent window dressing'. In point of opinion I believe it is a superior business practice and various corporations should attempt to implement it where possible. The point that was lost in my garish argument was that I feel a positive incentive is more effect in the social market.

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  12. I have spent years working with greenhouse design and management. Many in that industry prefer the term "Glasshouse". One might call me an authority on glass houses.

    Richard, last week you authored comments that included these expressions:
    "a boner for laissez faire",
    "greedy proto-Objectivist douchebag leftist".

    You made an otherwise good argument in those comments, but the language and condescension are in the same category as Josh's ridicule in the comments above. You are in a glass house holding a stone, and I suggest you reconsider your actions.

  13. But....but....Paul said the word "damn". How dare he?!? The trick, Paul, is to rant about the right things. You can say whatever you like about Christianity on this blog (in whatever tone you choose) and if anything, it will receive a stamp of approval from the governing authorities. (Except for Sherri, who will probably cry inside but not say anything.)

    Am I upset about any of these posts? Nah.

    Do I think discussions and debates should be kept civil. Certainly.

    However with this group of people there seems to be a lot of facetious arguments aimed at stirring the pot more than making a point. You know, like a nine-year-old with a sling shot shooting at a bee's nest. He's not trying to get rid of the bees, he just wants to see the reaction.

  14. P.S. I am also guilty of being the said nine-year-old. Whenever you point a finger at someone, four are pointing back at you. (Unless you have an unusual amount of appendages on your hand, but I'll let you do the math for those cases. Hint: N-1, where N is the number of fingers on said hand. )

  15. That would be why when I point at people I use both hands as if I'm shooting lightning out of my fingertips. Only that lightning is truthiness.

    And James: If Richard throws that stone it'll at least stimulate the economy.

    P.S. I realize we are only having fun here and I agree that the tone of discussion should be civil and coherent. This was a fun exercise to illustrate why.

  16. Paul, even as I write this you are twirling a hopeful young lady across my theater. I wasn't trying to call you a monster or say you were being an insensitive prick or anything like that. I'm a fan of absolutes, as long as they are scalable and don't apply universally, and I was attempting to highlight your "absolute + strawman attack" with one of my own.

    Your post reminded me of a guy with his arm raised in the air anticipating a high-five. I didn't want to leave you hanging. Of all the people who sit across from me on thursdays and usually wear vests, you are my favorite. No hard feelings?

  17. Dude, you acted I would have expected. Not because you fell to some intellectual ploy but because you acted in the way I would have. The humorous point was made. I still feel dirty for trying to make it, but eh, it was fun.

    P.S. Thanks for the metaphorical high five.