Providing a Service People Want Isn’t “Exploitation”

 

A Harvard survey last month found that a slim majority of millennials reject capitalism, and with the quality of media reporting about business and the economy, it’s not hard to guess why. (Not to mention the pitiful state of economics education in public high schools.) The Washington Post published a story today that perfectly illustrates the extent of the problem in a single sentence.

The story is about single women in China who have passed their early 20s without a husband, which they say brings shame to their families and have turned to “love markets” as a last resort. Turns out that some entrepreneurs have started companies to help these women find husbands. These are more than dating websites. The companies train the women in man-finding techniques and search cities to help them locate eligible men.

In setting the scene, the Post reporter wrote: “Out of this social climate, a multimillion-dollar industry has emerged that exploits the fears and loneliness of a generation.”

Exploits?

This is a media bias twofer. It’s clear-cut editorializing in a news story, portraying the companies as coldly taking advantage of vulnerable women. It’s also an exhibit of leftist economic rhetoric that suggests an open hostility to market capitalism.

Reading the whole story, it’s evident that the working women want this service because they find it highly valuable. One of the business owners started his company after having found himself in a similar position — he couldn’t find a wife.

There’s clearly a market demand being met here. No one in the story complains about the prices or the services. Everyone’s getting something they want in a voluntary exchange in an open market. Yet the reporter editorializes that the companies are exploiters of women.

To better understand the problem of the thinking here, imagine that China had companies that offered these services to men but not to women, so as not to “exploit” their fears and loneliness. What are the odds that a major US media organization would characterize this discrimination as honorable and respectful vs. sexist and discriminatory?

I think the odds are zero. The story would be: Chinese “love markets” serve only men, leaving women fearful and lonely.

In this case, businesses are arguably empowering Chinese women to maintain high-paying careers by letting them outsource their mate search for a fee. Successful career women have found it hard to date. They’re therefore lonely. They want help. Companies enter the scene offering something these career women want — a connection to a potential husband — for something they have lots of — money. Through the market, these women are finding a way to have a career and find a husband in a culture that has not made that easy for them. And the Post calls the businesses that are enabling this Western feminist goal exploiters of women.

If you want to understand why young people have a negative opinion of capitalism, consider the number of times every day this kind of anti-capitalist, anti-market rhetoric likely seeps into the culture, coloring the way people think about businesses and markets.

There are 30 comments.

  1. I Walton Member

    Yes anti capitalism is relentless, it’s everywhere in all Hollywood, all the media, almost every school from kinder to graduate schools and it’s not at all clear that anyone is countering it. PC demands that we can’t even pick bad guys for our fictional dramas from those who are likely to be such, so they’re almost always capitalists of some kind.

    Ignorance of markets and basic economics is universal, including on the right. Few people are interested in the subject, driven away by boredom with the subject and lousy teachers. We don’t teach how and why markets actually work, nor why government cannot. People are familiar with Darwinian evolution and that would be a path to introduce how markets work. Darwin got his model from Adam Smith and the analytical approaches are identical.

    When we say capitalism people think giant corporations not small business, let alone emergent order and freedom under the law. Many if not most, people believe that markets require government regulation to reduce their negative impacts, to correct market failure even though these government political efforts to interfere in markets are the source of most of the giant corporation behavior people love to hate. There is one place where the case can be made for regulations (as opposed to good clear law and the means to enforce it) i.e. negative environmental externalities, even that turns out to be a weak case but the same arguments are used everywhere. Government failure is seldom taught even though that failure is universal and seldom if ever self correcting even though the same analytical approach can be used to teach why governments fail and don’t self correct.

    My objection begins with the word capitalism. The correct word is free markets under the rule of law and emergent order, i.e. liberalism. All economies use capital which is accumulated by saving so all are capitalist, mixed capitalism, state capitalism, or free market capitalism and all reality is the result of emergent order. 

    • #1
    • September 22, 2018, at 5:56 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Kozak Member

    DrewCline:

    In setting the scene, Post reporter wrote: “Out of this social climate, a multimillion-dollar industry has emerged that exploits the fears and loneliness of a generation.”

     

    Kind of odd all the way around. With their ” One Child Policy” China has upset the normal ratio of males to females with an estimated 37 million excess males. It would seem that any woman who wanted a man could find one.

    • #2
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. RufusRJones Member

    How can you get the whole GOP thinking and acting more fundamentally in this sense? 

    • #3
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:11 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    DrewCline:

    …If you want to understand why young people have a negative opinion of capitalism, consider the number of times every day this kind of anti-capitalist, anti-market rhetoric likely seeps into the culture, coloring the way people think about businesses and markets.

    “Economics” isn’t just a human concept: “Supply and demand” and “market behavior” apply to every ecosystem in the universe. “Markets” are the most natural thing in the world! What is not natural are the attempts to try and control it.

    • #4
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Full Size Tabby Member

    I Walton (View Comment):

    . . . 

    My objection begins with the word capitalism. The correct word is free markets under the rule of law and emergent order, i.e. liberalism. All economies use capital which is accumulated by saving so all are capitalist, mixed capitalism, state capitalism, or free market capitalism and all reality is the result of emergent order.

    I am starting to try to use “free markets” more often than I used to instead of “capitalism.” Changing my terminology is harder than I expected it to be.

    • #5
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:44 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. I Walton Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    How can you get the whole GOP thinking and acting more fundamentally in this sense?

    That’s a tough one isn’t it? It’s really hard to get people to understand things that’s in their interest not to understand, so we can’t get politicians or government officials to think fundamentally so it’s up to our schools and they’re, directly or indirectly in the hands of government as well. Still I suppose education is where we have to try to start. The market I’d like to see promoted is school choice, some version of New Zealand’s reform, but then we still have to find ways to present the basics that make sense and stir interest among kids. We’re not even there and if we tried, we’d teach macro which mis informs them, or some abstract mathematical or graphical version of micro that turns so many people off. Maybe we have to begin with clever Austrian school economists, like Russ Roberts and Tyler Cohen to come up with video packages and games on how the world works that make sense to kids.

    • #6
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Randy Webster Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    DrewCline:

    …If you want to understand why young people have a negative opinion of capitalism, consider the number of times every day this kind of anti-capitalist, anti-market rhetoric likely seeps into the culture, coloring the way people think about businesses and markets.

    “Economics” isn’t just a human concept: “Supply and demand” and “market behavior” apply to every ecosystem in the universe. “Markets” are the most natural thing in the world! What is not natural are the attempts to try and control it.

    “Supply and demand” is just as much a law as the law of gravity.

    • #7
    • September 22, 2018, at 7:41 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Chris Campion Coolidge

    Anti-capitalism is an excuse for being lazy.

    The same crew of millennials who are referenced in the article are the same chowderheads who show up to work in jeans, sneakers, don’t work extra hours or on the weekends, and wonder why other people get promoted.

    The same crew of millennials, who frequent places like local brewpubs, but apps for their phones, and take light rail/trains to work are completely and utterly ignorant of the fact that someone, somewhere, risked capital for a profit. That they benefit from that risk, in the form of the pub, the app, and a train built by a private contractor (not the gov’t), is completely lost on them. Ask them “Why did Mitch build the brewpub?” and you’ll get a long list of “didn’t want to work for The Man”, “tired of punching a clock”, “has a passion for hops”, etc.

    Why Mitch really built the brewpub was likely to control his own destiny, and to make money. I’ve noticed that the apps on our phones frequently have a price attached to them. The train was bid out to multiple contractors, because the gov’t can’t do anything without someone else’s a) help, and b) money. Those contractors’ bids all have a profit margin on top of the cost.

    Why? Because idle capital is a wasted asset, and risk demands reward. Those same companies that millennials love to tout, Apple, Google, etc.

    Apple’s margin is 21%. Is that too high, or too low, or like porridge in a cottage in the woods, just right? I don’t know, and frankly, it shouldn’t matter – because the product’s value is worth it to those who pay for the phone, and the apps.

    https://www.gurufocus.com/term/netmargin/AAPL/Net-Margin/Apple-Inc

    I saw Millennials this week, in the elevator, after I had completed about 90 hours of Florence storm duty in 6 days (I work for an energy company). I came into work yesterday, my first day back home and back to the office after a week supporting line crews, restoring power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

    Millennials. Wearing old jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, and pissy looks on their faces. They weren’t out in the storm. They were busy wondering why people don’t give them respect, over their gourmet coffees and chats of snap.

    It’s easier to be a loser today than in any other time in history.

     

    • #8
    • September 22, 2018, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Here’s a video from 5 years ago about wealthy women in China looking to find marriage:

    • #9
    • September 22, 2018, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. GFHandle Member

    Another problem is illuminated by Titus Techera and Pete Spiliakos on their ACF podcast episode about The GOP as Budding Oligarchy. “Business” in America doesn’t conjure up the locally owned diner of grocery store so much as it does the chains, etc. We think of Capitalists in terms beyond what they provide. We also think of how they operate. Who hasn’t heard of the swamp? Consultants? Influence-peddlers? Lobbyists? Who hasn’t had to deal with a phone help service chain that leads nowhere.

    I was taught (eons ago) that capitalism is better than any alternative, that competition is GOOD, and that the individual (regardless of accidents like skin color) has a better chance in our free enterprise system than in a collectivist one. But that was in a Catholic school during the cold war. I think you are right about what kids learn these days. (Even Richard Dreyfus, no right winger, bemoans the lack of civics teaching in our public schools, though if they ever did it they would probably use books by the likes of Howard Zinn as texts.) And the media keeps taking its shots. The propaganda is, indeed, all around us. We swim in it.

    But there is also the fact that our markets are not exactly open and that neither party has done much for problems faced by the young who live in the system, whether they are in the elite, debt-ridden group or the “deplorable” written off group. And if you are a poor minority living in a crime zone? What does our capitalist system offer you? Nike commercials?

    I think the GOP has to get beyond abstractions (When we cut taxes on the rich you will benefit eventually because)–though I am all for attempts to explain basic economics–and find more visceral and direct policies to champion. What are these? Wish I knew. But one that we are working on is giving inner-city families more power about where their kids go to school and how they are schooled. (I know education is theoretically a local issue. But going after the Department of Education in this century is not going to hack it. Shrinking government should not be our mantra. Making it work for the workers and consumers should be. We can’t cede that to E. Warren and her coven.)

    • #10
    • September 22, 2018, at 9:44 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    GFHandle (View Comment):
    Another problem is illuminated by Titus Techera and Pete Spiliakos on their ACF podcast episode about The GOP as Budding Oligarchy. “Business” in America doesn’t conjure up the locally owned diner of grocery store so much as it does the chains, etc. We think of Capitalists in terms beyond what they provide.

    calling <span class="atwho-inserted" contenteditable="false" data-atwho-at-query="@titustechera“>@titustechera

    • #11
    • September 22, 2018, at 9:55 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    DrewCline:

    In setting the scene, Post reporter wrote: “Out of this social climate, a multimillion-dollar industry has emerged that exploits the fears and loneliness of a generation.”

     

    Kind of odd all the way around. With their ” One Child Policy” China has upset the normal ratio of males to females with an estimated 37 million excess males. It would seem that any woman who wanted a man could find one.

    You’re right. I suspect that the actual service these entrepreneurs are providing is helping women, who find themselves in an advantageous situation, find the best match, not just any match. And it is the women who are exploiting the opportunity provided by tradition and government policy. 

    • #12
    • September 22, 2018, at 10:02 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. RufusRJones Member

    GFHandle (View Comment):
    But there is also the fact that our markets are not exactly open and that neither party has done much for problems faced by the young who live in the system, whether they are in the elite, debt-ridden group or the “deplorable” written off group. And if you are a poor minority living in a crime zone? What does our capitalist system offer you? Nike commercials?

    DING DING DING 

    The problem is all of that stuff I babble about all the time. The system is distorted. 

    • #13
    • September 22, 2018, at 10:10 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. RufusRJones Member

    Chris Campion (View Comment):

    The same crew of millennials, who frequent places like local brewpubs, but apps for their phones, and take light rail/trains to work are completely and utterly ignorant of the fact that someone, somewhere, risked capital for a profit. That they benefit from that risk, in the form of the pub, the app, and a train built by a private contractor (not the gov’t), is completely lost on them. Ask them “Why did Mitch build the brewpub?” and you’ll get a long list of “didn’t want to work for The Man”, “tired of punching a clock”, “has a passion for hops”, etc.

    Why Mitch really built the brewpub was likely to control his own destiny, and to make money. I’ve noticed that the apps on our phones frequently have a price attached to them. The train was bid out to multiple contractors, because the gov’t can’t do anything without someone else’s a) help, and b) money. Those contractors’ bids all have a profit margin on top of the cost.

    Why? Because idle capital is a wasted asset, and risk demands reward. Those same companies that millennials love to tout, Apple, Google, etc.

    This is a big deal, but no one articulates it. 

    • #14
    • September 22, 2018, at 10:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. GFHandle Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    calling <span class=”atwho-inserted” contenteditable=”false” data-atwho-at-query=”@titustechera“>@titustechera

    Sorry, I can’t decipher this. Does it mean my link is not working? (I wish Ricochet had an easy way to look up how to do stuff like insert a link to a person. I have seen the instructions a zillion times, but when I need them…..)

    • #15
    • September 22, 2018, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. RufusRJones Member

    GFHandle (View Comment):
    (I wish Ricochet had an easy way to look up how to do stuff like insert a link to a person.

    I would chip in for a video. 

    • #16
    • September 22, 2018, at 12:23 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Randy Webster Member

    You’re only supposed to have to type @person’sname. But it only seems to work about half the time.

    • #17
    • September 22, 2018, at 12:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    GFHandle (View Comment):
    Sorry, I can’t decipher this. Does it mean my link is not working?

    Your link to Titus’ website is working fine, but to call out a Member, and if the R notification system is working, to notify the Member that you called out him or her, you type the “@” symbol directly in front of his or her name.

    For Titus, that’s @titustechera (sometimes the R website adds that odd formatting and stuff around the name).

    I’m pretty sure you linked to his personal website, which is awesome too!

    • #18
    • September 22, 2018, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. I Walton Member

    GFHandle (View Comment):

     

    But there is also the fact that our markets are not exactly open and that neither party has done much for problems faced by the young who live in the system, whether they are in the elite, debt-ridden group or the “deplorable” written off group. And if you are a poor minority living in a crime zone? What does our capitalist system offer you? Nike commercials?

    I think the GOP has to get beyond abstractions (When we cut taxes on the rich you will benefit eventually because)–though I am all for attempts to explain basic economics–and find more visceral and direct policies to champion. What are these? Wish I knew. But one that we are working on is giving inner-city families more power about where their kids go to school and how they are schooled. (I know education is theoretically a local issue. But going after the Department of Education in this century is not going to hack it. Shrinking government should not be our mantra. Making it work for the workers and consumers should be. We can’t cede that to E. Warren and her coven.)

    Too many, and most of our politicians, assume that problems caused by government interventions can be fixed by government interventions. They can’t. And while we have to use the language of making government work for the poor etc. what we must do is dismantle the administrative state in Washington and “move the programs to the states where they can be closer to the people and more accountable” which means dismantle the administrative state and let 50 states figure it out. Even you ask what can our capitalist system do about student debt or crime ridden neighborhoods? Well everything, but the government has to stop causing these problems in the first place. We can’t stop Democrat false talking points but we can get our rhetoric right so that we build a constituency for the things that can work. All tax cuts are tax cuts for those rich enough to pay taxes. Government is trickle down economics they tax the rich and then spend in ways they think will help their organized constituents. . Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs. Simple, true, transparent and fair. Fair doesn’t mean progressive or favoring some constituency. It means equal, across the board, and simple enough to be transparently understood. You say we can’t just talk about abolishing the Department of Education, but we can talk about ending the educational monopoly and letting parents have greater choice- same policy differing rhetoric.

    • #19
    • September 22, 2018, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. GFHandle Member

    I Walton (View Comment):
    you say we can’t just talk about abolishing the Department of Education, but we can talk about ending the educational monopoly and letting parents have greater choice- same policy differing rhetoric.

    Rhetoric matters. The dems don’t seem to have anything else and half of Ricochet is predicting a Blue Wave! Congress just did what it could to overturn the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision using federal programs. They said no federal money can be spent on projects where land was taken solely to improve the tax situation–or something like that. The states can still steal property if they want, though many have passed laws against it. I guess my point is something like that is an example of using the government to protect people from having their homes declared “blighted” and taken for the benefit of large corporations and then maybe maybe the taxpayers. This passed overwhelmingly, but the Republicans ought still to tout it loudly and maybe throw in their joy at working in a bipartisan manner. Will we hear much about this? I doubt it.

    • #20
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. GFHandle Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Your link to Titus’ website is working fine, but to call out a Member, and if the R notification system is working, to notify the Member that you called out him or her, you type the “@” symbol directly in front of his or her name.

    For Titus, that’s @titustechera (sometimes the R website adds that odd formatting and stuff around the name).

    I’m pretty sure you linked to his personal website, which is awesome too!

    Thanks, that is very helpful.

    • #21
    • September 22, 2018, at 6:07 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Western Chauvinist Member

    File lesftists’ anti-exploitation anti-capitalism rhetoric under “P” for projection. What do you call taking the fruit of someone’s labor involuntarily other than “slavery?” Exploitation. 

    Redistrubutionists couldn’t operate without it.

    We’re gonna need a bigger “P” file…

    • #22
    • September 23, 2018, at 2:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Ralphie Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    DrewCline:

    In setting the scene, Post reporter wrote: “Out of this social climate, a multimillion-dollar industry has emerged that exploits the fears and loneliness of a generation.”

     

    Kind of odd all the way around. With their ” One Child Policy” China has upset the normal ratio of males to females with an estimated 37 million excess males. It would seem that any woman who wanted a man could find one.

    My first thoughts. I think it hasn’t been good for males overall to be a majority, may effect the dynamics of the group making them less attractive? It is funny that most couples still want a boy, but when left alone, I think girls are more likely than boys. Could it be that the female, who reproduces, can only carry one baby at a time, but a male can impregnate many women in the same time period?

    • #23
    • September 23, 2018, at 6:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. The Reticulator Member

    Wouldn’t you say that when the government provides the services of ObamaCare, that it is exploiting the people? I would.

    • #24
    • September 23, 2018, at 12:18 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. RufusRJones Member

    Beyond actual public goods as economists define them , 99% of government is negative value.

    Minus. 

    IMO, discretionary central bank policy makes it look like non-public goods are a good thing. 

    • #25
    • September 23, 2018, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs.

    When the True President was trying to get Hillarycare passed, she justified her opposition to health savings accounts like this: Private citizens shouldn’t have control of money for health care because the government will spend the money more wisely than citizens will.

     

    • #26
    • September 23, 2018, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Full Size Tabby Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs.

    When the True President was trying to get Hillarycare passed, she justified her opposition to health savings accounts like this: Private citizens shouldn’t have control of money for health care because the government will spend the money more wisely than citizens will.

     

    I remember that, and thought there should be torches and pitchforks at the White House, but of course the media buried it as quickly as possible.

    • #27
    • September 23, 2018, at 2:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. RufusRJones Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs.

    When the True President was trying to get Hillarycare passed, she justified her opposition to health savings accounts like this: Private citizens shouldn’t have control of money for health care because the government will spend the money more wisely than citizens will.

     

    I remember that, and thought there should be torches and pitchforks at the White House, but of course the media buried it as quickly as possible.

    The media are all statists. Why is it bad to call them “the enemy”?

    • #28
    • September 23, 2018, at 3:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. The Reticulator Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs.

    When the True President was trying to get Hillarycare passed, she justified her opposition to health savings accounts like this: Private citizens shouldn’t have control of money for health care because the government will spend the money more wisely than citizens will.

    I didn’t know she was careless enough to say that out loud. It would be nice to have a URL.

    • #29
    • September 23, 2018, at 3:43 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. RufusRJones Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Markets are trickle up and always have been. Our tax system is corrupt and distorting but our leaders don’t understand enough to make that case but do understand the little pieces that are important to their constituencies. We can’t overcome such corruption with more clever programs.

    When the True President was trying to get Hillarycare passed, she justified her opposition to health savings accounts like this: Private citizens shouldn’t have control of money for health care because the government will spend the money more wisely than citizens will.

    I didn’t know she was careless enough to say that out loud. It would be nice to have a URL.

    They think that Democrat politicians can force down costs or force up revenue, for the greater good. She thinks that, and all of the zombies that follow her think that. She has honed her shtick so much; plus all of the zombies want to hear what they want to hear–that’s the way it works. Central planning? NO PROBLEM COMRADE! #GOSPLAN #SOVIET 

    • #30
    • September 23, 2018, at 4:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like