Tue, 04 Nov 2003

A Moral Obligation

A Friend asked me today "Why must a company always seek out the lowest paid worker worldwide to produce the product of the company? Isn't there some moral obligation other than to the owners or shareholders of the company?"

I'll accept that they *do* have the moral obligation you desire. It is to the customers of the company as much as to the employees. By seeking to reduce the costs, they are able to sell their products for the lowest price. They don't necessarily want to be that moral, but the free market is always watching. (This is a personification, of course. Only people can watch. It is the people who participate in a free market who are watching. But for the sake of keeping the prose moving forward, I say that it is the free market that is watching, thus eliminating bulky parenthesized notes. Um, like this one.)

Why do people of good will concentrate so very much on labor and forget consumers? People are only laborers for 8 hours a day -- they are consumers for the other 16 hours a day. An economist would hold the interests of consumers to be twice as important as those of laborers. If the company has to charge high prices to pay lots of money to its laborers, then they are hurting their customers. From a public policy point of view, that's bad thing.

Haha, fooled you! No, I'm not talking about minimum wage laws yet. Gotta save that for a day when I really want to go off on a rant. Fewer economic interventions are more pernicious than minimum wage laws.
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