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This New Yorker piece by Atul Gawande has buried in it the solution to our under-employment crisis: stop focusing on financial outcomes for companies, and start focusing on results that make a better world.

There are several accounts of extremely labor-intensive projects that have saved millions of lives (training in Bangladesh about how to treat cholera, given door-to-door, and a similar project in Uttar Pradesh to help counter infant mortality.)

Gawande puts these projects in historical context by talking about how hard it was for the world to embrace hospital cleanliness as a life-saver, and the costs involved:

"Reactions that I’ve heard both abroad and at home have been interestingly divided. The most common objection is that, even if it works, this kind of one-on-one, on-site mentoring “isn’t scalable.” But that’s one thing it surely is. If the intervention saves as many mothers and newborns as we’re hoping—about a thousand lives in the course of a year at the target hospitals—then all that need be done is to hire and develop similar cadres of childbirth-improvement workers for other places around the country and potentially the world. To many people, that doesn’t sound like much of a solution. It would require broad mobilization, substantial expense, and perhaps even the development of a new profession. But, to combat the many antisepsis-like problems in the world, that’s exactly what has worked. Think about the creation of anesthesiology: it meant doubling the number of doctors in every operation, and we went ahead and did so. To reduce illiteracy, countries, starting with our own, built schools, trained professional teachers, and made education free and compulsory for all children. To improve farming, governments have sent hundreds of thousands of agriculture extension agents to visit farmers across America and every corner of the world and teach them up-to-date methods for increasing their crop yields. Such programs have been extraordinarily effective. They have cut the global illiteracy rate from one in three adults in 1970 to one in six today, and helped give us a Green Revolution that saved more than a billion people from starvation."

It seems to me that rediscovering the kinds of tasks that require investing human capital to make real change are exactly the kinds of things we need to focus our economic energies on.

Money and labor should follow the things that need doing, not be an end in itself, as it is so often in our distorted economy.
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99% of the financial industry has devolved into exactly the opposite of what Gawande and O'Reilly are advocating, which makes it all the more frustrating that they are being rewarded hand over fist for their economic larceny.
 
In the 19th century John Ruskin, in "Unto this Last", defined true prosperity in these terms: "wealth is life". Or in today's terms, the only wealth is that which enhances life, which includes physical health, artistic beauty, and an undefiled environment. A subtle shift in terms that has had a huge impact when it has been followed -- but it is always scorned by those whose terms are "wealth is profit".
 
We need to stop using money for the food and medical economies, and instead, feed and treat people's illnesses. From a long term view that is the most economical choice we could make!
 
I just started reading that article in the paper version that showed up today.  He chooses excellent topics.
 
stop focusing on financial outcomes for companies, and start focusing on results that make a better world

Those are the same thing.
 
+Chris Nandor - No, they're not - at least not necessarily. When a company's bottom line requires the destruction of a portion of the planet, creating misery for the people who live near it, then its financial outcome is the exact opposite of making a better world.
 
+Chris Nandor, attacking a person's avatar as a means of discrediting a comment? Seriously? That might be an all-time record of the pettiest ad hominem I've ever seen. Are you interested in having a relevant discussion or are you just trolling?
 
+Richard Harlos: how about we focus on the conversation rather than trolls, real or perceived.  You've got a flagging feature and you're welcome to use it.
That is all.
 
Great article although 7 touch points makes me think and wonder about my doctors. 
 
may be that should be taught in all (management) school worldwide that "success" is a good idea that solve a problem (energy problems? thirst problems? resources usage problems? psychological problems?) instead of the current ideas that success is just earning a lot of money. otherwise new generations will keep running after the same rabbit over and over... "make money!" my 2 cents...
 
Free-market extremists, like extremists in general, rarely present reasonable arguments. 
 
You're forgetting that Wall Street wants high unemployment to drive down wages.Of course, higher unemployment means fewer people can buy their products, which means less profit, but it's not about profit; it's about control.
 
So this is what I got:
1) Someone in charge or well respected must model the behavior to make sure physical barriers (if any) are removed.
2) People must receive the information on procedure to be followed.
3) People must perform the procedure themselves to learn it.
4) People don't trust data.  They trust people.  They trust their own experience.  Because they don't yet have the experience they need a person they trust.
5) People must see the results of their efforts or they will stop performing the desired procedure.
 
[In the era of the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter, we’ve become enamored of ideas that spread as effortlessly as ether. We want frictionless, “turnkey” solutions to the major difficulties of the world—hunger, disease, poverty. We prefer instructional videos to teachers, drones to troops, incentives to institutions. People and institutions can feel messy and anachronistic. They introduce, as the engineers put it, uncontrolled variability.] Favorite excerpt. Life is messy, doesn't go how you planned and requires hard work. Hank Aaron speaks in my head "Keep Swingin". Also found important the "she smile a lot" portion. Speaks of the importance of dignity and respect from those trying to implement change. This is important for our country's economic and moral future. 
 
+Chris Nandor When your government supports crony capitalism, they are not the same thing. Solution: separation of state and market.
 
+Craig Froehle Given the history of governments murdering their own citizens, not to mention enemies, I think that people who support government interventions into the economy are the extremists. 
 
+Russell Nelson Way to muddy the waters. Equating, say, a tax rebate for solar power investments with genocide by a dictator is not only ridiculous, it illustrates how far outside of reality you have to go to defend your position.
 
No, Craig., I need only point out the governments are not on your side. YOU need to justify state intervention in the economy, not me. They are on their side, and this latest NSA kerfluffle is just one of many examples of the state vs. its citizens. BTW a tax rebate for solar power investments is not necessary if solar power is indeed cheaper. If it's not cheaper, then why invest in something which is more expensive? And you can be sure that solar power companies will always sipport you and me being forced to pay for his solar power installation.
 
I don't debate libertarians and other free-market extremists. Nothing I can say will make you less wrong.
 
Why, then you lose the debate. Statism is its own form of extremism. Plus, you accept violence as necessary for an ordered society, so you start by losing.
 
+Richard Harlos says, attacking a person's avatar as a means of discrediting a comment? Seriously?

No, I didn't do that, actually.  Please re-read.  I was talking entirely about her words: I was saying that the image of "a company's bottom line requir[ing] the destruction of a portion of the planet, creating misery for the people who live near it" is a caricature, as +Tobias Thierer said.

Whether or not her picture is a caricature -- I didn't look at it -- my words make no real sense talking about a picture, rather than her words.
 
+Craig Froehle Frankly, it's extremely poor form to say "I won't argue against you because you're wrong blah blah blah."  Either argue, or don't.  Don't attack and then bow out.
 
I looked at Gawande's story differently, from the point of view of checklists. That's something he has written about before. Simple checklists in operating theaters save lives. Peter Pronovost at Johns Hopkins has done the groundwork here. 

Point is, doctors are resisting, as they resisted Lister, fearing a loss of power to nurses. It's one thing to get a nurse-caregiver to change her mind, another thing entirely to get a doctor to change his. 

So the task, in many cases, is harder than it looks. 
 
+Russell Nelson The problem with your solar power example, is that you are saying if it is cheaper to do wrong over right, then choosing to do wrong is the best choice.  That's insane.  That would infer that mass genocide is the easiest way to calm rebellion or rid the planet of a plague etc.  

This is the problem with "Money".  It devalues good choices because it creates a false equality system which for many kinds of things in our world, is just wrong.  

We need to be choosing the best valued solution, not the cheapest thing we can do!
 
+Chris Nandor Oh, really? Did the 2009 financial crisis, caused by companies pursuing money by effectively stealing it, or the recent coverage of Goldman's new looting of the commodities market, have no impact on your thinking? There is a kind of true capitalism that runs by Adam Smith's rules, and another that doesn't. Don't confuse them.
 
+Tim O'Reilly I was being very slightly facetious to male the point that your dichotomy was false. My real view is that far far more often than not, they are the same thing. Financial health, when it does not violate the actual rights of others, is always for the common good.

 
+Tim O'Reilly thought provoking article, thanks. Why do some innovations spread so quickly and others languish for years? The authoritarian and authoritative approaches work differently in diverse populations, but regardless of whether a directive is given as an order or promoted as an incentive the intrinsic motivation of the individual responsible for the task has to be considered in any good recipe for success. The 19th century surgeons, victims of cholera, and obstetric nurses in India all shared the aspect of harrowing tasks that required genuine physical and psychological (ommitted here are the words emotional or  mental due to negative connotation) labor under less then pleasant conditions. This in itself puts the coach, mentor, or teacher at a disadvantage when disseminating the latest innovations, if only due to the effect of human exhaustion and the ease with which one falls onto the path of least resistance, the path where they have found success (or with what presents itself as success for the time being). It will always be the positive relationships that help us grow. +Riven Homewood I agree that that the bottom line all to often can dictate answers when best practices should be followed but are ignored to facilitate immediate financial savings. The problems remain. 
 
Wouldn't it be awesome to have someone in mass media who can take such intelligent New Yorker pieces and present it in a way that the general public can digest?

Can anyone think of a TV personality who can do that?

Jon Stewart comes close but his show's format limits what can be done.


 
The point of the article is how ideas take hold. Like infection control or anesthetics.

Take for example +Margalit Gur-Arie point to point encryption and the Internet and how that disrupts waste fraud and abuse in health care versus encryption endorsed by HHS where middlemen ISP hold the private keys instead of the senders. What could go wrong? And how does one create transparency that demonstrates security?

This is a perfect example of what +Russell Nelson was saying.

If the government chooses to violate due process, then changing data in an untraceable manner is more cost effective and subtle then using drones.

How could that happen?

Why would the QOE use an encrypted phone to inquire about medical issues surrounding delivery of a baby? Because of proven abuse of data integrity and confidentiality for financial motivations.

Jon Postel changed the root nameservers back in the 90s to his control and then later dies in the hospital?

I smell a good conspiracy movie plot here. The issue of who controlled the Internet was settled at that point and it was no longer the pioneers.

Who then takes over the DNS in that plot line and who profits from the dot com bubble?

Where does that eventually end up with one of the most massive fraud trials and what happens to the same company later?

Before you say that would never happen, the Nuremberg trials focused entirely on the medical ethics subject which put into place many safeguards which have been subsequently, even recently violated leading to reprisals against humanitarian aid workers and settlements for state sponsored eugenics in North Carolina.

Or the MK Ultra experiments where the government was allowed to destroy the data. The cake is a lie.

The cost incentives are skewed towards fraud, not more secure systems that prevent the equivalent of sepsis in data and critical medical data integrity is put at risk from people who have massive incentives to manipulate it. 
 
+Tim O'Reilly wrote, "This New Yorker piece by Atul Gawande has buried in it the solution to our under-employment crisis: stop focusing on financial outcomes for companies, and start focusing on results that make a better world."

Indeed, not only for the under-employment crisis, but for many others.

When the object under consideration is a luxury item, the profit-motive trumping all else appears quite benign when contrasted with an object in consideration of basic human needs for well-being such as food, shelter, and medical care.

I think the conclusion of the piece is sound, and stands quite contrary to a profit-driven context for meeting basic human needs for well-being:

“Why did you listen to her?” I asked. “She had only a fraction of your experience.”

In the beginning, she didn’t, the nurse admitted. “The first day she came, I felt the workload on my head was increasing.” From the second time, however, the nurse began feeling better about the visits. She even began looking forward to them.

“Why?” I asked.

All the nurse could think to say was “She was nice.”

“She was nice?”

“She smiled a lot.”

“That was it?”

“It wasn’t like talking to someone who was trying to find mistakes,” she said. “It was like talking to a friend.”

That, I think, was the answer.
_____

I completely agree with this last part: "It wasn’t like talking to someone who was trying to find mistakes," she said. "It was like talking to a friend."

Contrast that with the usual polarized rhetoric between left and right, gay and straight, male and female, rich and poor, etc. Maybe we'd all do well (myself included) to be a friend to those who think & behave differently than we think is best vs. trying to find mistakes and instigating conflict.
 
Very good advice that I will try harder to incorporate into my life as well...
 
+Richard Harlos says, I think the conclusion of the piece ... stands quite contrary to a profit-driven context for meeting basic human needs for well-being

It doesn't, actually.  It is entirely in line with the profit motive.  I think that maybe you misunderstand the profit motive.  The profit motive is based on the notion that people always act according to what they believe is in their best interests.

This is really a truism, of course: we never, ever, do anything that we believe isn't the most beneficial to ourselves, whether in the long or short term or whatever.  Even if what you do is miss a meeting because you helped someone across the street, what some people might call putting others before yourself ... no, you benefitted in numerous ways, such as in feeling good about yourself.

So the profit motive is just an application of this truism, but it also helps explain why simply looking for the biggest dollar isn't always the best course of action to satisfy the profit motive, because people aren't numbers on a spreadsheet.

Anyway, to reiterate the point: there is nothing whatsoever in the conclusion of the piece that is in any way a contrast to the profit motive.
 
+Chris Nandor , there's a difference between doing a thing because your values lead you in a particular direction, and then feeling good about that congruence... and doing a thing solely to obtain some good feeling.

I don't help someone in order to feel good. I help because I want to keep alive that aspect of my humanity, and the willingness to act accordingly; it's a question of values more than of feelings. And yes, I do feel good when I manifest such congruence but I don't help primarily for the good feeling; it's merely a pleasant side effect.

In contrast, I think it's fair to say that most companies are not doing what they do as a matter of congruence between personal (vs. corporate) values and behavior; they're doing it for the profit, first and foremost.

That may seem like a subtle distinction but it's certainly a significant one and quite worth noticing.
 
+Chris Nandor I'm not sure I agree with your perspective regarding the drive for a monetary profit model as the motive for altruism and the subsequent question about why some ideas catch on and others do not in this article. Surely, a surgeon who did not have the benefit of anesthesia or anti bacterial procedures was not making nearly the profit that he or she was after the advent of these innovations, not to mention adding a partner (the anesthesiologists) to the practice. That's money. The living patient who could then be depended upon to pay their bill was also money. Still, it took decades for the practices to catch on, and if I was a 19th century surgeon I can imagine the amount of vodka I would want to drink every night to find restful sleep after the smells, the sounds, and the sights of my day. I wouldn't necessarily have the capacity myself to even recognize the profit motive that might be involved without the relationship with someone who had already found the success. and  However twisted the idea might be; a better profit model in the scenarios used to illustrate the article might be insurance sales and funerary services. In India women are paid Rs14 to have their children in the hospital. On India funeral.com the quote for a funeral is: New Delhi the embalming costs are Rs. 4000/-(exclusive of appraisals to staff for handling) and an official receipt is issued.
C.M.C. hospital in Ludhiana (Punjab) the costs of Embalming a body is Rs 25,000/- 
The point of the article was not how profit based models promote innovation, I think the article supports the fact that profit based models are less effective tools for innovation and that tapping into intrinsic motivation works.
 
+Richard Harlos says, there's a difference between doing a thing because your values lead you in a particular direction, and then feeling good about that congruence... and doing a thing solely to obtain some good feeling.

No, there's not, actually!


I don't help someone in order to feel good. I help because I want to keep alive that aspect of my humanity, and the willingness to act accordingly

Exactly.  And when you do those things that fit in with your values, it makes you feel good.  When you don't, it makes you feel bad.  It's very simple.


it's a question of values more than of feelings

Nope.  The two are directly intertwined.  Now maybe I am using "feelings" slightly differently from you, so to explain a bit further: you want to do things that further your values.  It is a desire.  You want to fulfill that desire, therefore you act accordingly.  It's all the same.

Put more simply: if you did not want to doing things that are consistent with your values, you would not.  In the end, you only and always do what you want to do.


In contrast, I think it's fair to say that most companies are not doing what they do as a matter of congruence between personal (vs. corporate) values and behavior; they're doing it for the profit, first and foremost.

You're not drawing a distinction at all.  They do what they want, you do what you want, and both massively benefit humanity, so long as they are not taking away the rights of others.
 
+michelle amato says, I'm not sure I agree with your perspective regarding the drive for a monetary profit model as the motive for altruism

My point is that there is no such thing as altruism.  We all do what we personally want to do.  If we help others, it is because it satisfies our own needs and desires.  If it did not, we would not help others.  If you thought helping others would be a bad thing for you personally, you wouldn't do it.  You do it because you think it is good for you to do so (and it is!).


The point of the article was not how profit based models promote innovation

I didn't say it was.  I was responding specifically to the flawed assertion that there is a significant difference -- and in most cases, there is no difference at all -- between positive "financial outcomes for companies" and "results that make a better world."


I think the article supports the fact that profit based models are less effective tools for innovation and that tapping into intrinsic motivation works.

This isn't a fact, and the article doesn't support that notion.  You can only arrive at this view by ignoring how the profit motive actually works.
 
+Chris Nandor I still disagree with you. It is a broad assertion to assume that I am ignoring "how the profit motive actually works". If you are correct, then please enlighten me. Based on some of the what was written in the article; Why didn't 19th century surgeons recognize the money to be made? How does India profit from saving babies and mothers? How am I ignoring how the profit motive actually works.
Altruism is real. The best part of altruistic behavior is that individuals who practice altruism do benefit from their choices. There is a difference though, between "feeling good" about helping a short person get the crackers off the top shelf at the market and actually "having the box of crackers" that were previously out of reach. Feelings may produce the same hormones in both the actor (the tall shopper) and the audience (the short shopper), but only one of the participants actually gets the goods.
There have been things in life that were out of my reach and the people who who helped me, likely did feel good about themselves when they were through with their good deeds (this would include employers), but it was me who had the new found substance, thanks to my synaptic tendencies I am able to use these substances in ways that others may not identify. It doesn't "just" feel good to me, it is substantial.
 
Profit models (business) are different than human models (foundation and government): from the Bill Gates 2013 Annual Letter:
 "Unlike business, where profit is the "bottom line," foundations and government programs pick their own goals. In the United States our foundation focuses mostly on improving education, so our goals include reducing the number of kids who drop out of high school. In poor countries we focus on health, agriculture, and family planning. Given a goal, you decide on what key variable you need to change to achieve it-the same way a business picks objectives for inside the company like customer satisfaction-and develop a plan for change and a way of measuring the change. You use the measurement as feedback to make adjustments. I think a lot of efforts fail because they don't focus on the right measure or they don't invest enough in doing it accurately."
 
+michelle amato says, Why didn't 19th century surgeons recognize the money to be made?

Because they didn't.  I don't understand how you think the question enlightens us.

How does India profit from saving babies and mothers?

... and this is why I say you don't understand the profit motive.  Again: the profit motive is just an application of the underlying motive of every single thing we ever do: satisfying our own personal needs and desires.

That is, I am not saying that everything we do will make us more money, I am saying that everything we do has the same underlying motivation.  Trying to separate out a profit motive from our other motives really doesn't reflect reality.


Altruism is real.

If by "altruism" you mean sacrificing your own desires for someone else, true "selflessness," then no, it does not.  Anyone who has ever helped you did so because they, at some level, wanted to.  Everyone you've ever helped you did so because, at some level, you wanted to.  They did not sacrifice their own desires to help you, they fulfilled their desires by helping you.


Profit models (business) are different than human models (foundation and government)

They are different manifestations of the exact same thing: organizing free people to accomplish a goal that fulfills desires.  Of course, businesses are far more effective at creating good for the world and government and foundations are.


Unlike business, where profit is the "bottom line," foundations and government programs pick their own goals.

Businesses also pick their own goals.  All the time.  That's a nonsensical claim.


In the United States our foundation focuses mostly on improving education, so our goals include reducing the number of kids who drop out of high school.

... which is something I know personally of several businesses that are also directly involved in.  Again, it's a nonsensical claim that businesses don't do this.


I think a lot of efforts fail because they don't focus on the right measure or they don't invest enough in doing it accurately.

That's clearly true, but it doesn't separate businesses from foundations.  (And, for what it's worth, government almost never measures its own successes and failures, for mostly obvious reasons.)
 
+michelle amato Once we realize that all of us always do what we think is best for ourselves, it becomes obvious that when someone says something like "we should focus more on what's best for the planet instead of profit" or some such thing, what those people are really saying is that their desires are better than your desires.

Maybe that is true, and they can make that case, but usually they can't, and so they attempt to use things like government force to get their way instead, to enshrine as a matter of law that their values are better than yours.  And it's hard to imagine a much greater crime than that.
 
+Chris Nandor This article didn't address those concepts. The question was, why or how do innovations grow while others remain stagnant? Anesthesia, sterilizing medical equipment, re-hydration to overcome fatal illness, and checklists for better care of mothers and babies are not the controversial topics of governmental interference over personal sovereignty.  
 
+michelle amato says, This article didn't address those concepts

And -- as I already said -- I was commenting on +Tim O'Reilly's comment about the article.

And it's not just about government, it's about understanding motivation. Government force is just one manifestation of that lack of understanding.
 
Tim mentioned Adam Smith (ethical capitalism) and said, "It seems to me that rediscovering the kinds of tasks that require investing human capital to make real change are exactly the kinds of things we need to focus our economic energies on.
Money and labor should follow the things that need doing, not be an end in itself, as it is so often in our distorted economy."
I likely missed an excerpt, unless your point is that unbridled capitalism is good for innovation, which I will not agree is a strategy for growth. That system collapses in on itself. 
 
+Chris Nandor I think, you think, you are right and that's great. I am not convinced. If there is a problem with governmental intervention on the types of issues that are mentioned in this article, I see it as a problem with the tools of intervention, the egos of the people charged with completing the tasks, and the lack of using appropriate means of measurement, but not the goals.
 
+michelle amato says, I likely missed an excerpt

It's right at the top: Tim was creating a false dichotomy between "focusing on financial outcomes for companies, and ... focusing on results that make a better world."  They are not always the same, but a. they almost always are (except where someone's rights are being violated), and b. it is irrelevant since people will do what they think is best for themselves and their values regardless.

You tell me to focus on results that make a better world, and maybe I work in advertising or marketing or reality TV shows or pop music, and I think I am focused on results that make a better world.  Tim's not actually saying anything with that aphorism.


I am not convinced. If there is a problem with governmental intervention ...

Again, I was not talking about government intervention.  That is just one example of misunderstanding motivations.  And once you do, it is clear that (for example) government intervention is always bad except to the extent necessary to secure liberty (which is very unspecific, and there can be a lot of debate over what is necessary to that end), simply because anything more is people forcing their values onto others, which is in itself wrong, not to mention extraordinarily inefficient.
 
+Chris Nandor, the thing about your perspective is that, to me, it sounds like you're begging the question that maximizing profit makes for a better world.

I get that impression because you keep using the words "profit motive" but what you're elaborating goes beyond the scope of maximizing profit. Whether intentionally or not, I think you're conflating the two. Rational self interest is a superset of maximizing profit and, frankly, I'm not sure you or anyone else can justify the positive claim that the profit motive--no matter how innate it may be to human beings--necessarily makes for a better world. Individual instances may be cited; granted. But, as a universal principle, I don't think it's rationally defensible.

If that's what you're claiming, I'm interested to hear more of your thoughts along this line, i.e., 'bear the burden' :)
 
+Richard Harlos My view, which I think is well-demonstrated, is that people acting freely makes a better world, as long as they do not violate the rights of others.

That goes for everything, including making profit.  And frankly, I think the evidence demonstrates that free economies have been the greatest force for social good, by orders of magnitude, than any other force, including charity and religion, in terms of people lifted out of poverty, diseases cured, lives improved, knowledge transmitted, and so on.

I have yet to see a single example of "maximizing profit" -- what I call "generating wealth" -- that didn't make the world a better place (again, excluding where the rights of others were violated to make that profit), because at the end of the day, no matter what you're doing, more wealth makes for a better world.  Everyone agrees with this, hence foundations and charities and governments always wanting more wealth from other people.
 
But how far do you go back in order to claim the status of 'not violating the rights of others,' +Chris Nandor?

How many stories of companies--sometimes multinational--employing sweatshop & child labor in order to bring products to the world? Sure American person's life is enriched by finding cheaper X at retailer Y, but what about the many people employed by Y who are offered conditions that, comparatively, may be 'better' than what they had before the offer, but are still nonetheless deplorable from a human-rights standpoint?

Do you count those selective benefits as a 'better world' while not actually clarifying that what you mean by 'better' may be true comparatively but still quite in violation of others rights? It seems to me that you do; again, I'm not speaking to your motive, but rather to the rhetoric.

How much of the 'better world' that you perceive today was built on the backs and lives of people who were enslaved by degrees against their will? And, how much of that 'better' are you able to quantify as being founded upon exploitation?

I think these are fair characterizations & questions, and I hope you'll address them as such.
 
+Richard Harlos says,  But how far do you go back in order to claim the status of 'not violating the rights of others'

Don't violate the rights of others.  Pretty straightforward.


How many stories of companies--sometimes multinational--employing sweatshop & child labor in order to bring products to the world?

I reject that freely offering people a job is violating their rights.  You may find it offensive in various ways, but it cannot reasonably be said to violate their rights.

In the case of "sweatshops," even Paul Krugman says that both parties are better off from the arrangement than they would be without the "sweatshop."  You appear to concede the same.  So I don't see the problem.

You could argue children cannot reasonably given consent, or have some other problem, in regard to child labor.  I won't argue the point; I'll just say that if you think it violates their rights, then so be it.


Sure American person's life is enriched by finding cheaper X at retailer Y, but what about the many people employed by Y who are offered conditions that, comparatively, may be 'better' than what they had before the offer, but are still nonetheless deplorable from a human-rights standpoint?

My response to that is very simple, and blunt, and perhaps offensive to you: you are being extremely arrogant and unreasonably paternalistic.  If it is better than what they had before, and they are doing it freely, their rights are not being violated.  If they want to do it, knowing full well the alternatives and opportunities, who the hell are you to get in their way?

Further -- and again, Krugman said essentially the same as I am -- the only way to get an economy from there to here is procedurally.  You can't just say, "here's some jobs that pay much more than we need to pay, but we will pay it because we think we should," because economically that doesn't work.  If I am going to pay that much, it won't be in the place where I could pay less, because there's reasons why I can pay less, including education of the workforce, security of the nation and city and factory, and so on.  You get what you pay for, so in those locations, I'd be paying for more than what I am getting.

Look at India, look at China, look at Taiwan ... these nations have seen massive improvements in their standards of living because of sweatshops.  The people gained more wealth, and everything else -- education, standards of living, and more wealth -- followed.


Do you count those selective benefits as a 'better world' while not actually clarifying that what you mean by 'better' may be true comparatively but still quite in violation of others rights?

Similarly to your claim that the rights of those people are being violated by freely taking jobs in sweatshops, you also seem to think a "better world" is what you think it should be, rather than what other people think it should be.  Yes, "better" is not specific, because it necessarily means something different to everyone, and their actions are based on that.

Indeed, it is simple tautology that a better world is one where people act freely, unless you believe either that you know what is better moreso than the rest of us do, or you believe that you know better how to achieve our own goals for ourselves better than we do.

Put more simply: my desires being fulfilled is something that I necessarily think makes the world a better place; therefore, I believe that people acting freely necessarily makes a better world.  And that necessarily includes maximizing profit.


How much of the 'better world' that you perceive today was built on the backs and lives of people who were enslaved by degrees against their will?

Too much.  And more today than ever.  Consider the trillions of dollars the American government takes from its people every year to provide what is, in their opinion, a "better world."  It's extraordinarily immoral.

Perhaps you didn't mean that.  Perhaps you do not consider taxpayers "enslaved."  I don't either, but I do consider the government to be building its vision of a better world on the backs and lives of taxpayers against their will, regardless of whether we call it "enslavement."


And, how much of that 'better' are you able to quantify as being founded upon exploitation?

Because I would quantify the good by how accurately the desires of free people are realized, the question doesn't mean much, unless you're talking about (for example) the exploitation of slaves in the United States being related to its economic successes of today.  I reject that, because -- despite Chris Matthews' recent apology for slavery on behalf of me -- I generally bear no blame or responsibility for the actions of others.

I can only work with what I have, and I do not enslave people or commit crimes against them.  What I do to make this world a better place is not diminished or degraded because of what came before me.

Slavery still exists today.  I just got an alert on my phone that three children were rescued from sex slavers in Seattle.  Today.  (The alert called them "pimps," but that doesn't well-described the greatest crime here, which was slavery.)  I'd rather focus on going after actual instances of slavery than flagellating myself over something my great-great-grandparents probably didn't do.
 
+Chris Nandor 
Advertizing? Reality TV? Marketing? Agree to disagree.

Diplomacy is a form of protecting liberties, and although I don't agree with the vast majority of the direction that are government is moving in, giving aid to countries in Africa for things like condemns is (forgive the double entendre) a prophylactic against the spread of disease.Disease that could eventually make it's way to my country, where just as few people are interested in using them. Hence the spread of disease (usually among the under or uninsured), therefore, Foreign Aid is a proactive solution, rather than a reactive solution to what either way costs me, the tax payer, money. 
Diplomacy and Foreign Aid are a form of protecting the liberty of the citizens of a country. As you stated, "it is irrelevant since people will do what they think is best for themselves and their values regardless", and that is why considering how many people spend much of their time paying attention to advertizing campaigns, reality TV, and marketing schemes that there is a need for governmental intervention. It's sad, but true.
Peace.
 
 
+Chris Nandor, I'm going to excuse myself from this conversation because it no longer interests me. Consider it my way of making the world a better place :) Ciao!
 
+michelle amato says, Advertizing? Reality TV? Marketing? Agree to disagree.

Thank you for demonstrating the point I was making to +Richard Harlos.  It is only through extreme -- and rationally unjustifiable -- arrogance that you could claim to know better than someone else specifically what makes the world a better place. Surely you have your opinions, and they are valid, but so do other people.  *That* -- diversity of thought and action, and the freedom to do it -- is what makes the world a better place, not following your preferences for what are worthy pursuits, or not.

As to aid to Africa against the spread of HIV, you make a strong case that this is a valid pursuit.  What you utterly fail to do is make the case that government engages in this pursuit better or more effectively than private organizations do, or -- in the absence of government aid -- would.  Indeed, it's clear that generally, private charities see a greater percentage of their money go to actually helping people.


Diplomacy and Foreign Aid are a form of protecting the liberty of the citizens of a country.

Foreign aid can be, but rarely (I think of the case of North Korea as an example, where we give them "aid" as a bribe to not blow up our allies). Diplomacy is important to secure liberty, sure, and I never spoke against it.


As you stated, "it is irrelevant since people will do what they think is best for themselves and their values regardless", and that is why considering how many people spend much of their time paying attention to advertizing campaigns, reality TV, and marketing schemes that there is a need for governmental intervention.

You're not actually making a logical case, but a purely emotional one: because "those people" are so stupid and do such pointless things, they need to be controlled. Heck, if I were to play god as you seem to want to do, I'd point out that because your views are so irrational, perhaps you need government to intervene in your life and tell you what to do.


It's sad, but true.

It's neither.  People acting freely is not sad, it's the most perfect thing that they can do.  And government isn't needed to control them, only to secure their rights, so that they can act freely.

That's what Thomas Jefferson said, anyway, and I see no reason to think it wasn't true then, or isn't true now.
 
+Chris Nandor,
You say, "You're not actually making a logical case, but a purely emotional one: because "those people" are so stupid and do such pointless things, they need to be controlled. Heck, if I were to play god as you seem to want to do, I'd point out that because your views are so irrational, perhaps you need government to intervene in your life and tell you what to do."

Pot calling the kettle black.
 
+michelle amato says, Pot calling the kettle black.

I am not the one trying to control people, you are.  I am not the one telling anyone else what their values and opinions should be, you are.  I am not the one calling -- despite any actual evidence -- the pursuits of others worthless, you are.  I am not the one wanting to play god, you are.

I was simply, in that last sentence, pointing out that your "let government control them because what they want to do is stupid" policy could easily be turned around on you, or anyone else.
 
+Chris Nandoor. I responded to a claim that all corporate profit-making was good for society by saying that not all profit making was necessarily good for society, and cited a specific type of instance in which it was not. If you want more specificity, here is one recent example in which a portion of the planet is being destroyed, harming those who live near it, while a corporation is profiting from the despoilation:

"Currently, tar sands operations are licensed to divert 652 million cubic meters of fresh water each year, 80% from the Athabasca River. In comparison, this amounts to approximately 7 times the annual water needs of the city of Edmonton. About 1.8 million cubic metres of this water becomes highly toxic tailings waste each day.

...

In 2006, unexpectedly high rate of rare cancers were reported in the community of Fort Chipewyan. In 2008, Alberta Health confirmed a 30% rise in the number of cancers between 1995 -2006.

...

Caribou populations have been severely impacted by tar sands extraction. The Beaver Lake Cree First Nation has experienced a 74% decline of the Cold Lake herd since 1998 and a 71% decline of the Athabasca River herd since 1996. Today, just 175 – 275 caribou remain. By 2025, the total population is expected to be less than 50 and locally extinct by 2040."  (source: http://www.ienearth.org/what-we-do/tar-sands/)
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