All Commentary
Sunday, April 1, 2001

What Am I Missing?

Anti-Capitalists Fail to Make Connections between Multinational Corporations in the Third World and the First World

Ralph Hood is a writer in Huntsville, Alabama.

My “liberal” friends bemoan the exploitation of third-world peoples by first-world capitalists. We must, they say, stop this horrible mistreatment of the downtrodden by greedy capitalist pigs.

I did some research myself and found exactly the situation they deplore. Furthermore, the sob-sister “liberals” have not yet discovered this blatant example of a multinational corporation profiting from the ill-use of the masses.

Consider this true and current example. A huge multinational corporation—a household name throughout the world—has moved into a low-income area with promises of jobs that pay better than the local average. Actually, those jobs pay below the average for that industry, but the locals do not seem to care.

The multinational says it will hire about 1,500 people. (Although this announcement was made with much fanfare many months ago, so far the corporation has hired fewer than 20 people. The rest, it says, will be hired in the future.) To date, more than 30,000 people have applied for those 1,500 promised jobs. These are non-union jobs in a union-dominated industry, but the locals seem eager to leave their traditional way of life to grab these opportunities.

The local government joined forces with the multinational in every way. It offered the multinational monetary incentives—dare we say bribes?—to come in and take advantage of local workers. Local merchants, eager for U.S. dollars from any source, joined the plot to lure the corporation. Signs of welcome are prominently displayed in businesses throughout the area. Once the multinational agreed to come, local leaders and politicians rushed to take credit. The populace praises them for bringing new jobs. None seem to realize that they have joined into a nefarious scheme that will change forever the life they have enjoyed for generations.

What is the corporation? Honda. Where is the location? Lincoln, Alabama, USA.

Honda, courted and lured by the town, the county, and the state, is building a plant in the vicinity of Lincoln. All involved, including members of both political parties, “liberals” and conservatives alike, see this as a great boon for the area. In fact, the area has probably never seen an event so universally declared to be good for one and all.

They are right. It is a good thing. It is good for Alabama, Honda, the customer, and the country. It will lower the price of the product while raising the average pay in Lincoln. That is plain to see.

But one thing I do not understand—if it is so good for Alabama, how come it is so awful when the same thing takes place in a third-world country? What am I missing here?

  • Ralph Hood is a pilot, a member of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, and a writer in Erwin, Tennessee.