“Low-Wage Costa Ricans Make Baseballs for Millionaires.”
That was the headline on one of those New York Times “news” stories that continued its recent tradition of disguised editorials. The headline said it all but the story ran on and on anyway, with details and quotes that added nothing to the familiar story that
Perhaps the best refutation of the implied message of this “news” story also appeared in the New York Times, in a frankly labeled op-ed piece by the paper’s own Nicholas D. Kristof. Writing from
The workers in
“Nhep Chanda averages 75 cents a day for her efforts. For her, the idea of being exploited in a garment factory — working only six days a week, inside instead of in the broiling sun, for up to $2 a day — is a dream.”
By and large, multinational companies pay about double the local wages in
Why are these international capitalists passing up supposedly golden opportunities for exploitation? Because they understand economics better than most intellectuals and politicians, who are content to score cheap points, without worrying about the logic or the consequences.
If outsiders succeed in pressuring or forcing multinational companies to pay higher wages, that will make it more economical for those companies to relocate many of their operations to more affluent countries, where the higher productivity of the workers there will cover the higher wage rates.
At the heart of all this is a confusion between the vagaries of fate and the sins of man. All of us wish that workers in
It is tragic that people in some societies simply have not had the same opportunities to develop more valuable skills and that those societies have not had economic and political systems that promote economic progress comparable to that in most Western countries.
Low pay is one symptom of that fact — and changing the symptom will not change the underlying problem, which is that the people in such countries got a raw deal from fate, history, geography or culture. But the left attempts to blame Western employers who are providing these workers with better options than they had before.
The left-wing spin is that the poor are poor because the rich are rich. That opens the door for a big power-grab by the left in the name of “fairness” or “social justice” or whatever other rhetoric resonates with the unwary and the ill-informed.
Unfortunately, this theory does not also resonate with the facts. Whether domestically or internationally, investors looking for the highest rates of return usually steer clear of poor areas and put their money where there are people with more advanced skills, living in more prosperous countries, even if they have to pay much higher salaries in such countries.