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Why do people hate the WTO?

 
 
yeahman
 
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 07:51 am
i'm a bit naive perhaps but i don't get why the WTO, IMF, World Bank, NAFTA, FTAA... are so hated.

granted that the governence of the WTO is inefficient which may hurt 3rd world nations, but is there anything wrong with its ideals? free trade encourages competition so that the countries that benefit the most will be the ones with the better educated and harder working workers.

the only legitament concerns that i could see is that it would export jobs from industrialized nations, mulinational corporations would dominate local businesses, and there may be insufficent protection of worker rights and the enviroment.

i admit that there needs to be some groundrules for the protection of the enviroment and some worker rights (which doesn't include wages imo). but i don't agree with the other concerns.

about the export of jobs. it happened with the automobile industry. it resulted in a huge win for consumers. american companies were forced to actually compete. we got better gas mileage and overall quality at a lower price.

one may argue that today we're exporting service jobs which may reduce costs but does not improve quality. america does lose. but can we really expect to maintain this disparity in income between industrialized and 3rd world nations forever?
during the 80's and 90's it was the cheap east asian labor that was the target of american labor's criticism. but as their economic skyrocketed so did their wages. it's no longer as profitable to operate sweatshops in south korea. perhaps in 30 years india will be outsourcing IT jobs to africa. doesn't free trade equalize wages in the long run?

as for the concern that multinational corporations will take over the world, i say good for them. it's the consumers that win.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 07:59 am
The greatest portion of the protestors I saw at the WTO conference in Seattle a few years ago were under the impression that the WTO was responsible for the exploitation of the lives and the land of the poorest people in the world. Which may be true, to a certain extent, but I'd have to think that trade, however tacky or inequitable, has to be preferable to war, and states that trade with each other are far less likely to go to war. Or something...

Anyway, to answer your question a bit: I didn't see much in the way of organized labor on the ground at those protests. (It did bother me that at the protest of the 2000 election a number of folks seemed to want to make it about the WTO and, inexplicably, The Gap...)
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 10:30 am
I agree with most of what you said but this.
Quote:
as for the concern that multinational corporations will take over the world, i say good for them. it's the consumers that win.

I think this is the fear, McJobs.
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yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 04:31 pm
so what's the best way to help unskilled workers? minimum wage?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 04:44 pm
Th ewhole wage issue is a farce. The same people who protest against the WTO and bring up the wage issue are the very ones that push for the "Living Wage" laws here.

If a "Living Wage" is a good idea here why shouldn't a company be able to go into an under-developed country and pay people a "living Wage" based on the economic conditions where those people live?
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yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 05:25 pm
i don't think that makes "living wage" a bad idea. of course we're not gonna pay malaysian sweatshop workers $6.15/hour plus benefits. but we can pay the living wage of that country.

should trade agreements include minimum wages based on the economic conditions where those people live? it'll help the under-developed countries but it would do nothing but hurt industrialized nations.

still, morally, i feel that there needs to be wage protection for unskilled workers.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 07:35 pm
ye110man wrote:
i don't think that makes "living wage" a bad idea. of course we're not gonna pay malaysian sweatshop workers $6.15/hour plus benefits. but we can pay the living wage of that country.


But most of the anti-WTO crowd seems to think they shouldn't only make $6.15/hr. but more like $13/hr because that's the living wage here. Read some of the WTO Free Trade WWW sites.

Quote:
should trade agreements include minimum wages based on the economic conditions where those people live? it'll help the under-developed countries but it would do nothing but hurt industrialized nations.

still, morally, i feel that there needs to be wage protection for unskilled workers.


IMO, what any agreement should or shouldn't include is up to the countries negotiating. If Nigeria or Malaysia wants to include wage provisions (or set their own national minimum wage standard) then that's up to them to include in the agreement and monitor to see that the agreement is complied with.
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yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 08:15 pm
fishin' wrote:
IMO, what any agreement should or shouldn't include is up to the countries negotiating. If Nigeria or Malaysia wants to include wage provisions (or set their own national minimum wage standard) then that's up to them to include in the agreement and monitor to see that the agreement is complied with.

that works in bilateral trade agreements. what about wider trading blocs (FTAA) or the entire world (WTO)?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 09:23 pm
Why doesn't it work with multi-national agreements as well???? To my knowledge there isn't anything in the WTO agreements that prevents a country from implementing laws that protect worker safety or require that they be paid a minimum wage. They can't implement laws that are really trade protectism in disguise but they can easily implement true safety/wage laws.

If a country disagrees with an agreement (like the WTO agreements) then it shouldn't sign onto it.

The larger problem with these agreements is that all sides want to use the pretense of free trade as a means of pushing through their political and/or social engineering agendas.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2003 11:59 am
Re: Why do people hate the WTO?
ye110man wrote:
i'm a bit naive perhaps but i don't get why the WTO, IMF, World Bank, NAFTA, FTAA... are so hated.

Because the alternative is inconvenient, no matter how correct it may be. "People are suffering because imperialist multinational organizations push them around" -- this mobilizes Bolivian self-defense instincts and the chivalry of rich country globalization critics. Now consider the alternative: "People are suffering because their very own governments aren't doing their jobs". It's a much better explanation in terms of its truth, it's not a story that mobilizes international activism. As a consequence, most international activists subscribe to the first explanation.
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