Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

This point of view compares a marginal improvement with a massive improvement and concludes that bringing about a marginal improvement when you could cause a massive improvement is wrong.

This is a false comparison because there's a third option, which is doing nothing. Doing nothing is worse than causing any size of improvement, and almost all of us are doing nothing. If we are to accept that paying Filipino workers slightly more than the local economy is offering is wrong, then we must also accept that not paying them anything is wrong, in which case we should be going after the hordes of people who aren't doing anything instead of the people who are only doing a tiny little bit.

That’s not the only possible ethical judgment. You’re assuming a kind of utilitarian perspective, but I think most people have at least an implicit virtue ethical perspective, which might come into play when evaluating the morality of a person who lives a life of leisure and freedom funded by maximizing the arbitrage from a third world labor force employed for repetitive and alienated tasks. Especially when the thesis that minimal wages now inexorably increase later seems on the surface like a neoliberal just-so story.

I think the developing world considers bosses that provide them with comfortable middle class incomes by local standards doing work which is far more attractive than alternative employment opportunities to be a tad more virtuous than the equally wealthy Westerners clamouring for the elimination of their jobs though...

Nothing could really be more damaging to the development of poorer countries than condemning them to subsistence incomes because we've decided it's only ethical for businesses to employ their workers if they're productive enough after all other hurdles are considered to earn Western wages.

I sounded more judging than I really am. The contrast between virtue as perceived by one’s peers and global utility is a fascinating problem. Few people appreciate the virtue of someone like Norman Borlaug, but if you personally abstain from eating meat you can score pretty highly.

You can’t put people who are paying nothing in the same table because they aren’t receiving any work in compensation. If they were, that would be slavery and obviously more morally wrong.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact