Re: Beggars in Spain

Ian Andrew Bell (
Wed, 07 Jul 1999 16:03:46 -0700

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Depends on where you draw those lines.

It's people at the bottom end of the societal scale who do resource extrac-
tion and manufacturing (primary and secondary). These are what drive the
international economy. People at the top end of the scale (tertiary) work-
ers are essentially worthless unless there is something to sell.

Marx must have cited some statistics or examples of this, but damned if I
can think of anything concrete offhand (that usually applies to Marx).

The reason I said "International economy" and an interesting trend is that,
with the new compulsion for environmental responsibility and increasing
motives in tertiary industries (like the Internet) bolstered by the
information revolution, the US and other countries are essentially forcing
third-world countries into hinterland relationships where they perform the
messy ugly work of resource extraction and manufacturing, while Western
societies essentially subsist on adding "worthless" value to products and
goods by selling their markets.

The above is really a direct metaphor for the industrial revolution. And
it was the industrial revolution that brought us trade unions, the need
for social reform, and schools (why am I on this social programs kick
today?). I think a good example of a trade union, as applied to the
international trade theatre, is OPEC. Schools, in the form of technology
transfer, are metaphors for the UN and NATO; and social programs come from
the UN in orgs like UNICEF, or through the Red Cross or Salvation Army.

So anyway, the point is we're doing it on many levels, both intranationally
and internationally. And since we depend on the members of OPEC for the
world's supply of fossil fuels, so we depend on the workers of the IWA to
extract and produce the resources that ultimately drive growth within the
US economy.

Unless you like breathing coal fumes and digging pipeline trenches I
suggest you continue to pay your income taxes. :)


Jeff Bone wrote:
> Here's one to spark some debate. Do the "weak" (i.e., the
> disadvantaged, etc.) have any moral claim on the economic output and
> productivity of the "strong" (i.e., the economically competent,
> competitive, advantaged, etc.) and if so, why? Do the strong have any
> moral obligation to support the weak in any way? Why?
> jb

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