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"Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:39 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:we're all complicit to some degree, given our society's reliance on the products of such abhorrent business practices, but we don't all seek out ways to financially profit from that exploitation.
Don't we do exactly that when we purchase an item for its low price, placing price ahead of labor practice concerns?
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby Twigz2011 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:45 pm

If the profit motive is paramount, then the actions suggested here satisfy the goal. Actions described would qualify someone to run a hedge fund with no concern for anything but the highest return for investors. Is past performance indicative of future behavior? Maybe. Is it a good idea to elect anyone with this background and scruples to the highest office and face of a nation as powerful as ours, with the freedoms and quality of life we enjoy a good idea? Guess it depends on what the majority of the voting population wants for a leader. All else equal, choosing between someone who intentionally decides to exploit a situation where a life is valued less highly than a life of one fortunate enough to be born in the United States, and an opponent who didn't do these things (or just never had the chance to ), I think i'd be inclined towards the latter without additional information. If true, should this behavior not dissuade someone from voting for someone who engaged in this activity? even if they disagree and choose not to support the political adversary. What offsets this type of worldview and makes it OK? Someone else would have done it, if any individual in question didn't exploit a situation that we wouldn't (shouldn't) allow, is not a satisfactory answer to me. I cannot fathom a thinking person would find it so. I await persuasion otherwise, regardless of the name or party affiliation inserted to fit a pronoun or situation.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby pjbogart » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:03 pm

Regardless, it's a lot of false equivalency to compare the active participation in slave labor to the incidental benefit of purchasing cheap goods. In many instances we hardly have a choice but to purchase goods made by low wage and poorly treated employees. I like to think that where I have a reasonable option, I spend a little more for the American made product, but even purchasing goods made in America is no particular guarantee that the wages and working conditions are good. Hell, just shopping at Wal-Mart or McDonald's could be deemed immoral.

You can shop here: Made In the USA or Made In USA Forever. The clothing is actually quite nice and not terribly expensive, in fact quite a bit cheaper than any designer clothing you might buy.

But the more important point is that when I buy a foreign made product I don't sit around and gloat about how much money I saved by capitalizing on slave labor, if in fact I did so. There's a huge difference between purchasing something from China for cheap vs. going to China, seeking out some slave labor with low wages and horrible working conditions in order to pour millions of dollars into my own pocket.

I really don't understand how you can even compare those scenarios.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:24 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:we're all complicit to some degree, given our society's reliance on the products of such abhorrent business practices, but we don't all seek out ways to financially profit from that exploitation.
Don't we do exactly that when we purchase an item for its low price, placing price ahead of labor practice concerns?
No. Now who's being naive when it comes to the hard realities of global trade?
Are you seriously suggesting there's an equivalency between owning and operating a sweatshop and buying a pair of shoes produced in one? That's like suggesting that as a U.S. taxpayer, I am just as responsible for the death of innocent civilians as the people who ordered an air strike.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:30 pm

pjbogart wrote:But the more important point is that when I buy a foreign made product I don't sit around and gloat about how much money I saved by capitalizing on slave labor, if in fact I did so.
I'd also add that I -- and clearly many others on this board -- actually think about and struggle with such decisions. For example, I've made a very concerted effort to buy as much locally produced food as possible (for a variety of reasons) regardless of whether it puts a bigger dent in my bank account. But I've also come to terms with the fact that I like eating bananas, no matter what their source.

I have a seriously difficult time imagining Romney having the same internal debate.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby rabble » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:45 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:The "someone else would have" argument doesn't absolve anyone, but it certainly makes the situation more complicated.

Only if you're simple minded. Most people with morals understand that the world is full of bad people who do bad things, which does not give anyone a license to do something bad and reap its benefits before someone else does it.
ArturoBandini wrote:If anything, it implicates more people as having fault in the matter (other businessmen, Chinese government, U.S. government, complacent consumers).

Gosh. Yeah I guess you're right, it does take more than one person to run a slave operation. That never occurred to me.

Romney is only one person participating in a vast slavery machine.

I wonder if the fact that he's running for president might set him apart from that group?
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby snoqueen » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:57 pm

sidebar: Meantime, Bain (though Romney is busy elsewhere, obviously) is still up to its old tricks right here in Madison, where Weather Central will be laying off 21 workers:

http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/we ... f887a.html

Weather Central, founded in 1974 by Terry Kelly, of Madison, was purchased by Weather Services International in August for an undisclosed amount. It is part of The Weather Channel Cos., owned by NBC Universal and private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby snoqueen » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:03 pm

And the issue is not "did Romney exploit slave labor while the rest of us did not?" but more like "did Romney exploit slave labor and then boast about it to his wealthy colleagues and donors?" or maybe "did he exploit slave labor and find himself so naive he couldn't even recognize it, or find himself so blind to human misery it wasn't even part of the narrative he was constructing?"

It's that naive nature (worldly in one way, but completely oblivious in another) or that blindness to human misery that disqualifies him for the presidency, not the profit-taking.

Here's a cross-link to another current forum topic where a voter decides on Obama because "at least he wasn't brought up filthy rich." Same conclusion, arrived at from the other direction:

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=55703
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:09 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
ArturoBandini wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:we're all complicit to some degree, given our society's reliance on the products of such abhorrent business practices, but we don't all seek out ways to financially profit from that exploitation.
Don't we do exactly that when we purchase an item for its low price, placing price ahead of labor practice concerns?
No. Now who's being naive when it comes to the hard realities of global trade?
Are you seriously suggesting there's an equivalency between owning and operating a sweatshop and buying a pair of shoes produced in one? That's like suggesting that as a U.S. taxpayer, I am just as responsible for the death of innocent civilians as the people who ordered an air strike.
There is some degree of ethical similarity, not total equivalence, between buying a sweatshop and knowingly buying things made in a sweatshop*.

The difference with your taxpayer analogy is that people born in the United States don't have a choice to decline to pay taxes to fund drone bombings (aside from extreme measures like renouncing their citizenship).

(edit, speaking to everyone, not just Wagstaff): And why have we all accepted the term "slave labor" as aptly descriptive in this case? Did Romney say "slave labor"? Is there any evidence that these workers were actually being held against their will, or weren't being paid the small wage they were expecting? It's an important distinction to make.

*2nd edit: My "sweatshop" comment assumes, for the sake of argument, that proverbial sweatshops are wrong, and has nothing to do with actual sweatshops, which may or may not be wrong depending on the circumstances.
Last edited by ArturoBandini on Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:17 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:I'd also add that I -- and clearly many others on this board -- actually think about and struggle with such decisions. For example, I've made a very concerted effort to buy as much locally produced food as possible (for a variety of reasons) regardless of whether it puts a bigger dent in my bank account. But I've also come to terms with the fact that I like eating bananas, no matter what their source.
I'm assuming that last statement implies that you sometimes purchase bananas sourced from unknown or known-uncouth provenance. If so, does this invalidate your other statement that I've bolded?

I'm conflicted on local food vs. mass-market stuff, and imports versus Made-in-USA goods. There are arguments that go both ways. But global trade is a good thing! Especially with food - we should be optimizing our agricultural inputs of labor and resources in the areas where agriculture works best (meaning, not everywhere people live). This is basic comparative advantage stuff and it is easy to demonstrate that it is a net benefit for all parties involved. Similar arguments apply to purchasing electronics made in Taiwan, etc.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:20 pm

rabble wrote:
ArturoBandini wrote:The "someone else would have" argument doesn't absolve anyone, but it certainly makes the situation more complicated.

Only if you're simple minded. Most people with morals understand that the world is full of bad people who do bad things, which does not give anyone a license to do something bad and reap its benefits before someone else does it.
Do you think that my post disagrees with this?
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:23 pm

pjbogart wrote:Regardless, it's a lot of false equivalency to compare the active participation in slave labor to the incidental benefit of purchasing cheap goods. In many instances we hardly have a choice but to purchase goods made by low wage and poorly treated employees.
I don't see why the situation is so different. If you, as a consumer, hardly have any choice other than buying exploitative goods, then don't buy anything. Do like Romney should have done and walk away, right?
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:40 pm

snoqueen wrote:It's that naive nature (worldly in one way, but completely oblivious in another) or that blindness to human misery that disqualifies him for the presidency, not the profit-taking.

Here's a cross-link to another current forum topic where a voter decides on Obama because "at least he wasn't brought up filthy rich." Same conclusion, arrived at from the other direction:
If you were to start from scratch, independent of this conversation, would "Great Capacity for Human Empathy" make it onto your top ten list of Presidential qualifications? (Maybe so, I dunno, it's your list.)

But for me, it doesn't matter much whether a President has some idea of what it's like to stand in line at a food kitchen, for instance. How will this prove useful in executing the duties of the Presidency? The President is at the bridge of a vast bureaucratic machine over which he has only partial control. There are so many skills and qualifications that seem much more critical to me (for example, collaborative skills with asshole representatives).
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:12 am

ArturoBandini wrote:(edit, speaking to everyone, not just Wagstaff): And why have we all accepted the term "slave labor" as aptly descriptive in this case?
I hope that's not directed at me at all, since I've never used that term. Or does merely posting on this thread suggest that I tacitly agree?

I accept that my taxpayer analogy was off the mark.
How about this: It's the difference between illegally recording a concert and selling copies for profit, and merely purchasing a single copy of that bootleg for personal use. Clearly (I hope you agree), the latter is far less immoral than the former and, I would argue, by a pretty huge margin.

ArturoBandini wrote:I'm assuming that last statement implies that you sometimes purchase bananas sourced from unknown or known-uncouth provenance. If so, does this invalidate your other statement that I've bolded?
No, since bananas cannot be grown locally, and I clearly stated I buy local food "when possible." Heck, I'll buy non-local produce if it's clearly superior. Not everything I want to eat is best grown in Wisconsin, after all.

ArturoBandini wrote:I'm conflicted on local food vs. mass-market stuff, and imports versus Made-in-USA goods... global trade is a good thing! Especially with food - we should be optimizing our agricultural inputs of labor and resources in the areas where agriculture works best
I completely agree with you here, which I would think was implied by my feelings about bananas.
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Re: "Romney boasts about Bain's slave labor profits"

Postby rabble » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:30 am

Okay, let me see if I've got the gist of it. It might not be slave labor. It's built like a prison but the people in it might just be oppressed, mistreated workers and that makes a difference.

Romney's not excused but it's complicated because there's lots of people involved and anybody who buys anything made in China is just as bad as Romney.

How am I doing?
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