Fair Economy?

Posted on: April 14, 2011

Structural violence is a form of violence that a social structure inflicts, thus preventing people from meeting their basic needs. After human society was established, structural violence had always co-existed with people. It is a person’s natrual instinct to form groups based on similarities and discriminate the alienated others. Such violence still exists until today in various forms.

Economic society is not an exception. To fulfill the greed of the powerful nations, they usually inflict structural violence upon weaker countries. In general, structural violence allows companies to gain more profit than when they act fairly and equally. One major forms of economic structural violence is exploitation.

Exploitation is when the employer forces the workers to overwork beyond humane limits. Exploitation appeared in different forms as time passed by. In ancient times, slavery had the owner class and the slave class. Being born as a slave made the act of exploitation justified to the society with its accepted hierarcy. In the Middle Ages, feudalism worked as a exploitation. A castle’s lord forced serfs to overwork for them. This was also a hierarchy, but not that serfs had the duty to become slaves of lords. Its is just that to survive, serfs needed land, which they made a contract with lords to borrow some land in exchange with their labor. However, the high interest rate of land rent made serfs to work like slaves.

In modern society, exploitation seems impossible since there is no existing hierarcy in a democratic society. However, the equality of people turned out to be just an ideal option, as capitalism soon budged into people’s lives. As market economy became the main, capitalism followed, forming an unseen hierarchy. Capitalist class and labor class were divided, the former having the economical power. The labor class does not have any resources except for their labor, which they “sell” to the capitalist class. Exploitation is usually inflicted on the lowest labor class, who desperately needs money to meet their basic needs and survive. Companies know that these people cannot evade even the harsh working conditions, since it is the literally only way to live and cannot quit for the sake of their lives. Thus, the ones in higher status force workers to become slaves for themselves.

The capitalitst class and labor class idea is expanded into countries. There are rich, powerful countires, while there are poor, weak countries. Rich countries usually include the first-world countries, while  the other third-world countries. Developed countries usually produce capitals, which they get raw materias from the developing countries. Such act leads to never-ending cycle of developed countries’ economy growing and the delay of developing countries. When rich countries import raw materials, it is frequent that they under pay the poor countries, gaining additional profit. This is an act of exploitation since the poor countries do not get adequate reward for the labor of providing base material.

Exploitation is a obstacle which hinders the growth of fair economy in the international world. Fair trade is needed for the happiness of all, not of few. Many tries are being done to achieve fair economy.

Some humanist organizations inform people about companies inflicting exploitation. Acknowledgement motivate people to use less of products provided by those companies, thus affecting the companies to change their method of production. An exmple is the child exploitation of soccer balls. At one time, it was revealed that famous sports companies, such as Nike, produced their soccer balls by child explotation. People were offended by this fact, thus boycotted those companies. The companies changed their wrong method, saving the children.

Another solution is fair trade product. Recently, fair trade products, such as fair trade chocolate, received spotlight by the media. Fair trade chocolate is chocolate made from cacao beans that was fairly payed back. Even though it is more expensive than other chocolates, it is meaningful. When people realize its value and prefer fair trade product over products using exploitaition, it would change other companies to do fair trade.

People and companies act for their profits. Such natural instinct makes it almost impossible to achieve fair economy. However, it people show the world that they like fair economy better, will affect the compnies since they will know that it is more profitable for them to act fairly. Every small changes make huge changes. It is important that people take interest in having fair economy and change even small parts of their acts.


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