Progress in an Imperfect World
A reader strongly disagrees with my last post telling me that corporations are wrong for hiring third world employees for low wages (compared to the U.S.) that they are just taking advantage of them. She says, “I would rather help them to have a reasonable lifestyle.”
JJ: Are you doing anything now to help them have a reasonable lifestyle? Probably not. You, along with the vast majority are doing nothing to advance the quality of life for third world people unless it is in your self-interest to do so. Business are composed of people and they follow the same path. Outside of a few benevolent people on the spiritual path you can’t expect any business or individual to go out of their way to help these people unless there is something in it for them.
Suppose a beggar approaches you as you walk down the street and asks for money. You reach in your pocket and all you have is a dollar. You give it to him. You wish you could give him more but that is all you can manage at the moment.
You know that the guy isn’t going to eat as good of a dinner on that as you will eat but you gave him what was practical.
Question: Did you exploit the beggar? Did you take advantage of him?
Even so, many people in the third world are begging corporations to establish a plant there so they will have a dollar or two. If corporations had to pay normal wages it would be impossible to help in any way. The only reason they will sacrifice American (Canadian Australian French etc) jobs is if the wages are much lower. If they are not significantly lower then the people will get nothing.
How is it exploitation to give them what they ask for? If the business does not make a profit a little better than the home territory then the impoverished people will get nothing.
If one thinks the businesses are doing wrong then to avoid hypocrisy the person who thinks this way should pick an individual in the third world or a beggar on the street and make sure he has as much money as he has. After all, that is what he is self-righteously asking the businessman. To sacrifice and pay third world people something like U.S. wages.
A reader responds: Of course, the corporations take advantage of people.
JJ: They act in self-interest, but I have dealt with thousands of corporations in my life and never had even one take unjust advantage of me. Where do you find these devilish ones?
Out best customer is a large corporation and they treat us great – much more fairly than the average individual.
To demonize corporations and single them out as evil is unjust in itself. After all, what are corporations? They are groups of people. To call them evil is like calling minorities evil, dentists evil or nuns or whatever.
Just like all people and groups of people some are better than others, but as a whole they are not devils in the flesh.
Reader: They don’t just make a profit, they make a huge profit.
JJ: Again, you’re lumping them all together under the same roof. The truth is this. A small handful make a huge profit (even this is usually temporary). Some make a reasonable profit, some are fighting for their lives and barely surviving. Some, as a last-ditch effort, have gone abroad in hope of turning their profit margin around so they can stay in business.
Which corporation makes the most obscene profits? It’s hard to find one that makes a greater profit margin than Microsoft. After a new operating system is developed it costs them about 30 cents to put it on a disc and they sell it for around $100. They do very little employing in the third world. Why? Because their profits are so good that they do not have to.
Reader: They CAN afford to give them more. They are just too lazy to make an effort to do that. And structure what they are doing with this goal in mind.
JJ: Just like people, some can do more others cannot. They have to make a decent profit abroad because of the great risk. For instance, American oil companies developed the fields in Saudi Arabia, and then one day the government turned on them and stole them all and claimed all development as their own. This would have bankrupted them if they had not been making a reasonable profit and had some cushion.
Reader: You think they really care? Of course they don’t, their excuse is we are helping them. But they only help them in order to help themselves.
JJ: Again, this is like saying Jews don’t care, the government doesn’t care, doctors don’t care etc.
Corporations are made of people and some care and some do not, but any business has to operate on this principle. They provide a service and for doing so they seek to make a return that will exceed their costs. We ought to be thankful they are doing this or none of us would have a job.
Some companies are unjustly accused of making an “obscene” profit. In many cases they have lost money for a year or two and then for a few months make a large profit and get criticized. Yet they have to make hay while the sun shines so they can weather the future financial storms.
Larry made a great post illustrating the truth of the situation. The branching out of business to the poorer countries is part of the process of natural evolution that will eventually bring them prosperity, but it certainly will not happen overnight.
Look at evolution of life in nature. It is not a pretty thing in many examples. In many cases an animal has to kill or injure another animal just to make it through the day. If I throw a handful of nuts out to the cute little squirrels in my back yard and a weaker one comes and takes it, a stronger one will tear into him and bite him. Then the stronger one will stay there and eat the nuts while the weaker ones just look on with their mouths drooling. The only way to feed them all is to give out more nuts than the strong one can eat.
Unfortunately, in nature scarcity is the rule rather than the exception.
Now we can look at these animals and call them greedy and evil but when we look at the overall picture we see that this is not the case. Instead, they are following their nature which is a necessary part of evolution, essential for their survival.
Even so a business must survive so it can accomplish the greater good of supplying livelihood for millions of people. To survive it must make a reasonable profit when the opportunity permits.
Bill Gates has made perhaps the most “obscene profits” in history and he also gives more money to charity than any man in history as well as creating more millionaires than any man in history.
I find that most people who criticize the obscene profits have never been in business for themselves and do not have a feel of what it takes to succeed. Having been in numerous business efforts in my life and operating a small business in the present I do understand and therefore I do not condemn.
Creating a successful business involves tremendous personal risk that few would take without a strong profit motive. I admire any person who can pull it off and play by the rules.
Even so, I hope to be a part of a force that initiates higher business principles that can bring greater equality and prosperity to all. But any effort has to take into consideration the imperfections that exist among us mortals and work with them. We cannot expect heads of corporations to have the mindset of Mother Teresa.
To the critics of business profits, I again ask: Do you practice what you preach? Do you take from your obscene wages and give to those not making as much as you so they are equal with you?
No you say. You give some but need most of your wages just to survive.
That’s the way a business feels.
Reader Comment: Wow JJ, You are beginning to sound like you work for the Bush administration, …
JJ: Actually, I seek to speak the truth and let it do its work no matter who is offended.
Because I say that corporations are an essential part of current society and perform a necessary function you link me with the Bush Administration.
Actually the small businessperson is much more likely to support Bush. The large corporations and big money often oppose Bush and conservatives in general. Bill Gates and most executives at the largest business corporation – Microsoft are Democrats as well as Steve Jobs and most of Apple. They refuse to advertise in any media linked to a conservative.
George Soros another big corporate guy dedicated his fortune to defeating Bush. This guy has done more to hurt the little guy than any corporation paying low wages. He made a lot of his money by trading currencies and one time almost caused the collapse of Great Britain’s money.
Move-On.org, a corporation dedicated to defeating Bush obtained half of its financing in the first quarter of 2004 from just two large corporate guys.
Many corporations associated with supporting Bush often give and equal amount of money to Democrats. Unfortunately, the political parties are both a little like the Mafia subtly demanding protection money.
Reader: Corporations are run by humans but at a certain level they lose their humanity. This is part of the matrix that we need to get out of in order to get out from under the control of the beast.
JJ: Associating corporations with a fictional movie idea is a stretch. There are also benevolent corporations feeding impoverished children in third world countries. Like any group containing fallible people there are good and bad in them all.
Reader: JJ, thinks that we can use it to bring forth Zion but I feel that it is what is stopping Zion because in business if you don’t play by the beasts rules you don’t get to play.
JJ: First, I’m, not sure what you mean by “it.” Perhaps you mean corporations. What is a corporation? It is a group of people getting together for a stated purpose. In this sense, I suppose even Zion could be called a corporation for it will be composed of a group of people getting together for a stated purpose.
Rules and laws have nothing to do with the beast. Blind authority is what creates the beast. Some corporations support unjust authority and some do not. Most corporations and individuals are deceived by such authority.
My main point was that you cannot lump any group of people together and call them all evil.
Reader: JJ, I must say I agree with most of the spiritual teachings but where you are coming from in the world issues makes me nervous.
JJ: You covered some territory that has little to do with what I have written, but you haven’t specifically told me anything with which you disagree. If you can tell me exactly where you disagree with me then I could appropriately respond. Accusing me of being a spokesman for the Bush administration says nothing concrete or specific.
Reader: There is enough! We have enough of everything. Abundance is everywhere! We only have to proclaim it for ourselves. Do you realize just what we pay in the USA to go golfing for a year would feed India for a year. All of India! I am not saying just feed them but to teach them to work for themselves.
JJ: This is what corporations are now doing. They are both teaching them and feeding them. More often than you realize when you call technical support or a credit card company you get a laborer from India who is happy to have a corporate job.
Yes, if all those (either individuals or corporations) who had abundance helped the poor, the poor would all get fed, but how do you accomplish this? The Bolshevik Revolution attempted to do this and it turned into the Soviet tyranny which took away freedom and made the country go into poverty.
Just saying something like “If everyone just gave their golfing fees, their cigarette money, sacrificed going to movies etc, the XYZ could be helped,” does nothing.
Let’s face it. Neither people (in general) nor corporations nor governments are going to give up all their spending on pleasure or non necessities to help the poor. It’s not in their nature, and to say “they should do it” is just being unrealistically moralistic.
When you were making $50,000 a year you could have sacrificed and lived on $30,000 and given $20,000 to the poor, but I’ll bet you didn’t do it, but you are happy to tell others what they “should’ do with their money.
Reader: I can’t believe that exploitation has been condoned in this group.
JJ: Exploitation has not been condoned in this group by anyone.
Reader: When one person benefits greater from a situation than another person because of their circumstance that is exploitation.
JJ: There is never equal benefit in any situation. One person always benefits more than another in any exchange. Just like no two snowflakes are alike no two exchanges are exactly equal. Close to equal or equal satisfaction is the best that can be achieved. Remember the corporations establish plants in third world countries because they are invited, often with happy anticipation.
Reader: So give the people in India or where ever a wage in their country that is comparable to the wage they would give in the USA.
JJ: If corporations were forced to do this then the Indians would not be employed at all and would be poorer than ever. The corporations simply wouldn’t go there and would keep the jobs in their own country. A lot of average Americans would be happy with that.
In seeking real change, we must deal with reality, not wishful thinking.
(NOTE: In 2005 when this was written the GDP of India was $820 Billion. In 2021 it had increased to $3,173 Billion. Today the people of India are much richer than they were in 2005 thanks to the help from our greedy corporations)
Reader:: I think Americans are too greedy and have caused our cost of living to skyrocket because of our greed and now we are caught in a vicious circle.
JJ: Why single out Americans? They are no more greedy than anyone else, all things being equal. Nobody’s perfect.
It appears to me from my experience that the average person can buy much more with his wages now than 40 years ago. I think we’ve made progress. Maybe that’s the difference between seeing the glass half full or half empty.
To obtain a grasp of my ideas for change in business read my treatise on The Molecular Business at: LINK
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language. Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
Aug 5, 2005
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