Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Economics of Dog Turd Polishing

Sarah Hoyt has a piece here that describes growing up and getting your primary education in Portugal. Over there, Marx is thought to be a demigod who had the whole world figured out. Alas, there were some shortcomings to his thinking, and in spite of some 100 million people being killed to make it so, it still ain't so.

The comments to the article are worth a read too. My favorite is from ManekiNeko, who visited China to look into a manufacturing center for his company. We hear all the time how evil it is that we wear sneakers made in some South Asian "sweatshop" by exploited peasants making $.50/hour. Here's the story from the point of view of that exploited peasant:

When China first opened up their economic zone in ShenZhen province (a few hours from Hong Kong), multinational businesses rushed in and set up shop for the cheap labor. The company I worked for at the time sent me to China in the early 1990's to see the facilities. I recall walking through a factory there, and stopped in the break room. There were a few workers on break, and a very large map of China on the wall. I spoke to one of their workers (via an interpreter) with the following exchange:

Me (pointing to southeastern corner of the map) "We're here, where do you come from?"

Worker (points to the upper left corner of China) "I come from a small village here."

Me: "How long was the train ride to get here?"

Worker: "No train. I walked. About two months."

Me: "Why did you walk so long and so far?"

Worker: "Wages in my village are (US equivalent $0.50/hour). Here in this factory I make (USD $2.12).

I went back to my hotel and looked up the distance between the two locations - and determined he walked the equivalent distance of Cheyenne, Wyoming to Los Angeles, CA in order to quadruple his salary.

So yes, this one individual definitely voted for industrialization with his feet.

How hard do you suppose it would be in this country to find someone from, say Detroit, who took what he could fit in his car, including his family, abandoned whatever he could not fit into it, and drove to Texas in search of work?

The article is not terribly long, and is well worth the read.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I can tell you, that I have loaded my car and crossed this country more than once for a wage increase far less impressive than 400%.