Your Facts Are Evil

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In my recent article, Common Sense in Sweatshop Cents, I debunked the notion that labor occupations, expressed as a percentage of total employment in third world countries, are heavily exploited by sweatshops. To my surprise, the hate mail began to flow in.

It is quite common, writing for LewRockwell.com and Mises.org, to receive a substantial amount of hate mail and "crazy" mail. But this article produced much more than usual! Shocked, I quickly reread my article to see exactly what was wrong.

Perhaps I was too insensitive or had used the wrong word here or there? But no! The entire article is almost value free. I simply showed and logically explained those statistics that counter arguments claiming sweatshops are the only source of employment in third world countries.

The CIA Factbook section on labor force by occupation percentages clearly shows that most people in impoverished countries work in agriculture. In some cases, more people worked in the service industry than in the manufacturing industry!

Nonetheless, the hate mail continued calling me an evil bastard who supports: enslaving children, killing people, fascism, and a complete abandonment of Catholic principles. Nowhere in the article do I actually say sweatshops are good or bad. I simply explain that the data demonstrates, as expressed as a percentage of labor force by occupation, that there are, logically, other occupations that must exist in third world countries outside of sweatshop labor.

The problem is not my opinion. The problem is facts. The truth is too hard for some people to bear. I’m not ignorant of the practices that occur in many of these sweatshops. I know people get hurt and in some instances die. I also know the wages are horrible. But most importantly I know and understand economics.

The truth is too frightening for most people to handle. The facts are evil. No one wants to hear that these problems can’t be solved easily. No one wants to hear that slow competition for labor accompanied by currently low wages and horrible working conditions is the only way to lift third world countries out of poverty.

I might be only 21 but I’m an adult. I can face facts: people will be harmed. People will be hurt in sweatshops, yes, but I also understand that this is a natural progression toward better pay and better working conditions. We saw this progression through the Industrial Revolution. Recently, the same events have been repeated in South Korea and Taiwan lifting the areas out of absolute poverty.

It is time for some people to grow up and realize the world is a cruel place with few quick fixes. If government rules and regulations actually did something to alleviate poverty, I wouldn’t be talking about this issue right now. My question to those supporting government policies such as minimum wage, regulations, public housing, and welfare is: "How many times do your programs have to fail before you stop hurting the people you are trying to help?"

These programs aren’t working! Some of them have a nearly century-long track record of failure. This is the same with the sweatshop boycotts. How many factories have to be closed in the third world before you say to yourself, "Hey, they’re not improving wages or working conditions. They’re closing factories." It is time to face the facts.

I know it’s difficult to admit you’re wrong. It is the most terrible truth in this society that those trying to do the most good are in many instances doing the greatest evil. If you are one of these people, it’s time to study and understand the policies that you support and possibly just possibly admit you were wrong.

This is one of the main reasons you cannot ever convert a sociologist to free-market views. Sociology is an almost entirely false study covering Marxism to outright misinformation. How could a professor of sociology look at the facts and say "Holy crap! I’ve spent the past twenty years of my life supporting further destitution in the third world." No it’s not possible. Sociologists claim people are filled with greed. Yes, I agree, but they are also filled with arrogance and pride which won’t let them see the truth even when it’s right in front of their face.

There is nothing evil which I advocated in my article. It’s just that the truth is not pretty. Here’s another one for these liberal whiners. You are born and you will probably die a painful death. The nature of life is always trying to get away from pain and discomfort. The world is filled with both. The sooner you realize the truth, the sooner actual solutions can be found.

We must work with the rules of economics that we are given in this world. No policy or regulation will make everyone rich. If it could, it would have been done a long time ago.

If you want to help poor people, please do your research. Step 1: Identify the problem. What is causing poverty? Step 2: Evaluate plans and study history to understand which plans work and which ones don’t. Once again, face the facts. Step 3: Once you understand the facts, make your decision.

The political parties in this country have done a great disservice by making every issue black and white. If you’re free market, then you must support the rich. If you’re a Democrat, you must support the poor. But can most people who vote Democrat tell me the difference between private versus public housing? Can they tell me the effects of minimum wage in an argument that can’t be torn apart by a free market economist in less than a minute? No most cannot. Yet millions go voting for these policies year after year not knowing what they’re voting for. They just keep voting because some politician told them their policy will help the poor.

If your intention is to help, study the supposed solutions as well as their alternatives. Just because someone tells you minimum wage is intended to help the poor does not mean this actually happens. Try to read both sides of the story. Look at the facts and then make your decision.

People accuse free marketers of supporting corporations. This is another attempt at making things black and white. Who is telling you these ideas? Politicians. And what are they supporting? Their next election. Things such as minimum wage are not solutions but they are the great political tools in fooling unknowing masses.

Think about it. Minimum wage sounds like a great deal. You raise people’s wages and nobody gets hurt. Then you spread ideas that anyone who feels differently is rich and supports "evil" corporations. It’s a great deal. You demonize the other side so no one will actually ever see that their views are also trying to help the poor.

Free market writers aren’t evil people who hate the poor. Lots of us were at one point liberals or socialists. We started out this way because we also had the intention of helping people. I myself worked for the Sierra Club for a short period of time. One of our greatest writers, Walter Block, admits that he was a socialist early in college.

Why are myself and Walter Block no longer liberal? Because one day we had to courage to open our eyes to new ideas. We looked at the facts and realized that socialist ideas actually hurt the people that they are trying to help. As I said earlier, you have to cut your losses and go with what is true and factual.

I don’t write about free markets because I believe in keeping the poor down and empowering corporations. I write about the free market because it is the best way to help the poor. If government programs actually did help the poor without outright robbery of someone else, I would support them. If boycotts of sweatshops did increase wages and improve working conditions, I would support them. The fact is that they don’t. The facts are what leads me in my view not my gut feelings over the name of a certain policy.

I’m sorry that the facts I present may destroy someone’s comfort zone. I’m sorry that you might read an article on LewRockwell.com and Mises.org and realize that these facts point out blatant flaws in socialist theories. It’s ok. The quicker you can face the truth, the quicker you can stop hurting others by supporting failing policies and ideas.

The world is a cruel place outside comforting lies that boycotts, minimum wage laws, and government programs can stop poverty. Open your eyes. See the facts. You may not like them but that’s life. And one more thing… welcome to the real world.

Vedran Vuk [send him mail] is a student of Economics at Loyola University of New Orleans, and a 2006 Summer Fellow at the Mises Institute.

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