Propaganda and truth telling


Yes, of course we all know the difference between the two. Propaganda is the bit you don't agree with, truth telling the part you do. So an interesting little story of our past truth telling makes an appearance:

My classes started today; I'll be wearing my "I buy goods from poorer countries" wristband that the Adam Smith Institute sent me

This is triggered by this piece from Nicholas Kristof which contains this:

But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don’t exploit enough.Talk to these families in the dump, and a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty, the kind of gauzy if probably unrealistic ambition that parents everywhere often have for their children....(...)...In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn’t the bottom.

Which reminds me of this from our most recent Nobel Laureate* in economics:

These improvements have not taken place because well-meaning people in the West have done anything to help--foreign aid, never large, has lately shrunk to virtually nothing. Nor is it the result of the benign policies of national governments, which are as callous and corrupt as ever. It is the indirect and unintended result of the actions of soulless multinationals and rapacious local entrepreneurs, whose only concern was to take advantage of the profit opportunities offered by cheap labor. It is not an edifying spectacle; but no matter how base the motives of those involved, the result has been to move hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to something still awful but nonetheless significantly better.

That's basically the story of the globalisation of the past few decades. You can call it soulless, you can call it amoral pursuit of profit, you can call it greed if you like. The nett result has been the biggest reduction in poverty in the entire history of the human race. Hundreds of millions now have that something significantly better. You can even, if you really wish, call that buying goods from poor countries propaganda: as long as you'll admit that it actually works in doing what we all want to happen. Aiding hundreds of milions of our fellow humans up out of abject poverty.


* Yes, we know, Swedish Bank, honour of, and we don't care.