In Praise of Exploitation

I've got a TCS essay up on the economics of "exploitation" in developing nations. It'll be nothing surprising or new to this crowd, but it never hurts to drag out the data bazooka.

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EPZs are revilable for not

EPZs are revilable for not simply comprising the whole nation.

you sir have made a fatal

you sir have made a fatal mistake in your article; you failed to understand the meaning of subjectivity. An extra dollar to a pauper cannot be seen as being more beneficial than giving a dollar to a millionaire, since these subjective values cannot be compared. This issue in your article needs to be resolved, and i'm sure most others who understand subjectivity would agree.

Well, if you argue that

Well, if you argue that everything is subjective then there is no point discussing anything. Neither can you say that allowing a poor person to starve to death is worse than taking away a rich mans new car. Maybe the poor person is suicidal, maybe the rich guy really loves new cars.

But all things being equal, the average result is that giving another dollar to a poor person helps him more than giving that same dollar to an already rich person.

I'm with LoneSnark, if

I'm with LoneSnark, if that's a fatal mistake most of us are probably ghosts.

You can call it a fatal

You can call it a fatal error when you find me a millionaire who values an extra dollar more than a homeless pauper does. I suggest starting with Buddhist monks and Ebenezer Scrooge types, you might actually have some luck.

More seriously, there is subjectivity and there is crude subjectivism. DMU is a formal notion concerning preference satisfaction; preferences are by definition subjective in the sense that they vary from person to person and are generally capricious, but their existence and satisfaction (or lack of it) are objective facts. One could construct an economy of artificial intelligence programs that followed the same rules. People's utility curves will vary from individual to individual, but they always slope downward and the variance isn't so great that we can't make some robust generalizations.

I believe the Randian,

I believe the Randian, prsaunde, that commented on TCS made absolutely no sense. :roll:

TLDR, but DMU only applies

TLDR, but DMU only applies to the individual making the choice: that the millionth dollar received will be of less value than the first. While an extra dollar to a millionare might be of less value than an extra dollar to a pauper, this is not a case of DMU. In any case, in order measure inter-personal "value" you need some common unit by which to compare them; such does not exist.

Well, if you argue that

Well, if you argue that everything is subjective then there is no point discussing anything.

Value is subjective. No one is arguing that everything is subjective. Nice try, though.

Neither can you say that allowing a poor person to starve to death is worse than taking away a rich mans new car.

Quite the opposite. Theft is criminal. Lack of compassion is not.

You can call it a fatal error when you find me a millionaire who values an extra dollar more than a homeless pauper does.

And you can call your argument valid when you prove that a pauper values an extra dollar more than a millionaire.

TLDR, but DMU only applies to the individual making the choice...

Exactly. It is astonishing how closely the comments in this thread have mirrored Mises' description of faulty arguments for socialism. Astonishing and disappointing.

And before you comment on

And before you comment on the ethics or morality of allowing poor people to starve to death, do realize that you are doing so as we speak.

Utility in neo-classical

Utility in neo-classical economics is not an intra-personal comparable concept. DMU applies to the utility of wealth for the same person, not across people. Afterall, you can scale a given person's utility function with any monotonic transformation and still have a valid utility function for the underlying preferences.

This is why egalitarian conceptions based on utility fail-- they assume intra-personal comparisions, which hasn't been done for over a hundred years.

P.I. & Cornelius -- You guys

P.I. & Cornelius -- You guys are right. My short sketch was confused; the argument is still intuitively unobjectionable, but needs cleaning up. This is a topic that deserves its own post when I have time, but for now a promisory note will have to suffice...