Yaron Brook is the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and was formerly a professor at Santa Clara University in California. He recently accepted a speaking engagement at the prestigious University of Exeter in England.
While there, he was confronted by a self-satisfied socialist student who asked him why he thought it was okay for workers in the third world to earn less than workers in the West, insinuating that Western countries were somehow exploiting them and keeping them in poverty.
Shot back Professor Brook, “You sit here in Europe, in your cushy middle-class chairs — I’m serious about this. And you wanna judge the African, or let’s take the Chinese cause that’s… you know an Apple, or an Indonesian so-called ‘sweatshop’ or whatever, and you wanna tell me that two bucks a day is not a dramatic improvement in their life? It is.” He added, “And there’s no way for them to get to the point to be as rich is you are, unless they go through that phase. And if you deny them the ability to make two bucks a day, by insisting the companies pay four, and therefore they withdraw completely from the market.”
Holding his iPhone up in the air, Brook stated to the student, “Because you know what? I’m not paying 600 bucks for this. I’ll pay 300. And if I stop buying this, who suffers? That Chinese kid, who’s right now making, whatever, three bucks a day or whatever. Right? And his alternative is to go back to the farm and you know what they did on the farms? Forty years ago and the Chinese were all producing agriculture they were dying of starvation. Forty to 60 million Chinese died of starvation under Mao. Suddenly you’ve given them opportunity to actually attain middle-classhood, to learn a skill, to have a profession, to make money to make themselves into something.”
He concluded, “And by the way, the Chinese never complain about how much they’re being paid. You guys complain. We complain in the West. Because yes, to our middle-class comfy lives that seems ridiculous. But that’s cause you’ve never lived in real poverty.” Are you glad he set this student straight?