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Southwark Refuse Disposal

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Tuesday 29 July 2003 11.50am
Thank you for that "argument". As I said no-one has yet convinced me that society would stop "functioning" without management consultants or accountants. Anyone else want to try?

pleased to see I haven't lost the knack of rattling your cage. I never made the claim that what I did provided a lot of value to society but then I get paid b**ger all for what I do in any case so whats the problem? However, despite this low income I do my bit to help people through voluntary work. So, rather than attack me personally (which you have a habit of doing for some reason) why don't you let us all know what value you provide to society? are you an accountant by any chance?

Post edited (29 Jul 03 12:52)
Tuesday 29 July 2003 12.06pm

I think they are poor because mainly because they are badly run. Lack of democracy, widespread corruption, absence of a free press all contribute to misery and poverty for the majority.

The ulimate effect of this is famine and starvation. Amartya Sen won a Nobel prize for his work that showed there had been very few deaths from famine in countries that had open democracies.

Democary and a free press will not automatically turn a poor country into a wealthy one overnight but it certainly gives the best foundations from which to build upon.


Tuesday 29 July 2003 12.32pm
I agree that a lot of poor countries are badly run for the most part but there are important geographical considerations as well - for example many third world countries are in geographical areas that are constantly beset by drought, freak weather, earthquakes etc. This has also had a huge historical impact on the economic health and development of many nations. For a great recent study of this phenomenon read The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes. As for Sen he is a great thinker on this subject too although I doubt very much that he would disagree with the claim that unfair trade rules and unaccountable corporate power are also having a detrimental effect on poor countries.

As for having democracy and a free press - yes this is important for the health of a nation but do you think we should help people who are unfortunate not to live in democracies or just leave them to their own devices and thank our lucky stars that we weren't born there? or put another way, do you think that having 90% of the world's population living in dire poverty is good for us rich Westerners or do you think that this situation is not sustainable and we should not even try and sustain it?
Tuesday 29 July 2003 12.55pm
Hmmm, a thread re. waste disposal on the SE1 forum isn't the right place for this but....

Re. geographical/climatical reasons, I don't think your argument is always valid. Parts of the USA suffer from severe drought, and destructive tornadoes while Japan is regularly hit by earthquakes and tsunami and tornadoes. These are the two richest countries in the world.

With regards to natural reosurce allocation, its difficult to think what such rich countries as Hong Kong, Japan have been blessed with (fish?)...however many countries in central and south Africa have an abundance of mineral deposits and oil yet are still mired in poverty. I think it comes down to democracy and free press again.

I don't see how capitalism benfits from widespread poverty or igonorance - after all it is dependent on finding willing and able customers, and a skilled and educated workforce for its survival. Your interventionist point about helping people who are not fortunate enough to live in democracies is interesting. Were you pro the invasion of Iraq?
Tuesday 29 July 2003 1.15pm
the geographical point was more about the historical development of the economies of nations. The US is rich yes which is why it can recover from natural disaster relatively quickly compared to third world countries. The US became rich, however, because it was cultivated and developed by countries (e.g.UK) that did not suffer from geographical problems but also because the parts of the US that were developed first were the areas that had relatively temperate climates (and no need for horrendous air conditioning systems which are now so prevalent in the US!)

yes third world countries have excellent natural resources which is why it is even more unfair that they cannot reap the benefit from them (see my point about unfair trade rules and subsidies but also problems with crippling debt). I have written before on this topic on a previous thread so see my comments there about the comparison between the US's debt and third world debt - how there is one rule for the West when it comes to paying debt and another for poor countries.

I presume your answer to my question was 'no' then. so how do you propose we help people living in non-democracies? Yes I support helping countries remove dictators or unfair regimes. This does not always have to be done via military force though (as can cause more problems) it can be done via trade and economics. For example, why do British and US arms traders (the two biggest arms traders in the wolrd) still continue to sell arms to well-known dictatorships in poor countries? despite the fact that the British arms industry is heavily subsidised by the British tax payer this is unethical at the very least. For example, why do we have diplomatic relations still with China and Russia despite their appalling human rights records? Such an approach worked with apartheid in South Africa - where there's genuine desire for change and support for change then there is no reason at all why the West cannot force other unfair regimes out of business. The fact of the matter is that we don't sever relations with many countries for capitalist reasons and that is why I say that global capitalism is ultimately responsible for millions of deaths. The sad fact now, however, is that we are so reliant on this unfair system for our general standard of living in the West that I'm not sure we could change it even if there was the will to.
Tuesday 29 July 2003 1.36pm

As usual, you miss the point.

It is your right, and modern British society's luxury that you can do a Philosophy PhD (and be paid not a lot for it). I find it a joy to live in such a society that has the wealth to afford to pay people to do a 'job' (the inverted commas are there lest you object to your vocation's being described as a job) without any obvious benefit to society. Poets, musicians etc. etc. fall into this category as well.

However, where do you think the money comes from, and how do you think it gets there, and whom do you think makes sure that it does? Why, those of us with city jobs (yes, you are right I do have such a job).

Primitive societies do not have this luxury.

Please would you answer my questions! - perhaps you don't think that Southwark's overspend matters...
Tuesday 29 July 2003 2.21pm

You make some interesting points...but I disagree with most of them! I don't want to waste others time by carrying on a two way discussion on a public board - if you want to debate the issues raised please feel free to mail me at [email protected]


Tuesday 29 July 2003 3.17pm
T'was only a bag of rubbish, I heard the maiden cry!

Tuesday 29 July 2003 4.19pm
poets, musicians, academics, intellectuals.....all have no obvious benefit to society you say? then why is it millions of pounds are spent every year by the consumer public on going to galleries, buying books, going to talks, concerts and gigs? You underestimate the 'economic' value of these pursuits let alone their 'human' value - which by the way I think is vastly more important.

and yes you do a city job...quelle surprise. it doesn't surprise me therefore that you wish to dwell in that self-important and vastly overpaid bubble of yours and kid yourself that your job is SO important to the rest of us. That old chestnut that wiithout you city types there would be no jobs, no money etc. well you can kid yourself but for most people such jobs are worthless and in many respects detrimental to the rest of us. Our economy is so reliant on consumer spending rather than exports that it is very weak. One of the reasons for that is a lot of the jobs people do now produce nothing (at least artists and intellectuals produce something tangible) - they are either service jobs or non-jobs such as brokers, consultants etc. there was a time when people had real skills, crafts or knowledge because we produced stuff. The city is chock-a-block with professional economists or 'brains' (not that much different from academics really) - I should know I was once one of them. I've heard your arguments before and I used to kid myself that they were true to make me feel better about what I was doing as well.
Tuesday 29 July 2003 4.53pm
..... and then you realised that you were rich enough not to have to continue to do that job and went off to do a degree instead. Lucky old you.
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