This kind of arguement makes me violently angry. I feel a burst of percussive typing comming on...
As I have pointed out before, there are only two possible ways of viewing human behavior:
1) You believe that ALL people are capable of making their own decisions. No other agency (including you) is better placed to run a person's life than they are. You believe in this absolutely with narrowly defined exceptions (children, mental defectives.) Any government regulation of behavior which does not affect others is therefore evil.
2) You believe that you know what is good for people and they don't. The majority of the world's population is fit only to live as "the cattle of better men." Free people can be exploited. The world should return to feudalism. It is the duty of the great and the good to seize control and to prevent wicked corporations from exploiting people who are not fit to be trusted with choices.
If you adopt position No. 2 then you are absolutely evil and should be destroyed. I will not admit any debate on this subject.
Moving on to the specific point about first world corporations creating fashions to manipulate third-world citizens into parting with their money:
1) They do this to first-world citizens too. With notable success. Resistance to marketing builds with exposure as does resistance to disease. This leads to cleverer bacteria or marketing executives as the case may be.
2) The cost of a free society is that people are free to behave in ways which we think are stupid. However, the belief that we are qualified to judge other people's behavior when it has no effect on us leads directly to proposition 2 above.
So, this argument is foolish in general. It is specifically foolish when we bring in the idea of Asians being exploited. Opening a nation's markets and exposing its citizens to the marketing campaigns of overseas corporations is a necessary and obvious corollary to marketing that nation's products abroad.
There are three countries on the planet which have moved from the third world to the first within living memory. They are Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. In every case this was achieved by a relentless focus on the outside world. Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, The Philippines, China etc have reached various points along the same path - also by exporting like mad. The poorest countries in Asia - North Korea and Burma are also the most inward looking.
To suggest that Asia is a net victim of global trade is howling madness. To suggest that ANYONE can be a VICTIM of global trade, when trade implies a bargain freely entered into by both parties, is an attack on free will and therefore a stepping stone to totalitarianism.
The original email that sparked this off:
remember you said that the western world generates fashion trends and product demands while third world country citizens spend their hard-earned money to buy these products? well this is true and is pretty much grounded in capitalism, remember that the americans and the europeans are also buying asian products and innovations. think of the japanese cars and korean electronics and electrical goods. think also of creative technology's sound card. i dont think that asians are necessarily receiving the raw end of the capitalism deal. as long as we do not have the defeatist attitude, we are just as good as anybody else.
from the ST Money section today FULL-YEAR RECORD Samsung may double gain to $11b SEOUL - Technology giant Samsung Electronics' full-year profit is poised to top 7.3 trillion won (S$11.3 billion), a new record and more than double last year's figure.
The South Korean group is expected to announce that fourth-quarter profits quadrupled on buoyant sales of cutting-edge mobile phones, but falling chip prices are expected to slow earnings growth this year.
Samsung, due to release results today, is expected to post a net profit of 1.8 trillion won for the quarter ended Dec 31, according to analysts polled by research firm Multex. That would mark a more than four-fold increase from the 403 billion won profit in the year-ago period.
Sales at the world's top memory chip maker are expected to have jumped 28 per cent to 10.9 trillion won in the quarter.
'Handsets will help Samsung weather weakness in chips and flat-panel prices,' said Kyobo Securities analyst Kim Young June.
Samsung is the only profitable memory chip maker but the outlook for this year, though, is clouded by falling prices for memory chips and flat display panels.
The strong Korean currency also may eat into Samsung's profits, as it hurts the competitiveness of a company that derives more than two-thirds of its sales from overseas.
'It's hard to predict Samsung will outdo 2002 profits this year as the first-half outlook is quite murky with chip prices, including flat panels, falling and the stronger won reducing repatriated revenues,' said Hyundai Securities analyst Simon Woo.
As a result, analysts expect net profits to rise just 6 per cent this year, according to Multex.
Samsung doubled its global handset share to 10 per cent last year, making it the world's third-largest producer, up from sixth in 2000.
Samsung, known for its sleek colour-screen mobile phones at the higher end of the market, now aims to grab a bigger slice of the United States and Asian markets by launching lower-end models. --Reuters