There are eight ways the ruling class of a country can pimp out their human resources. And said human resources even count themselves lucky.
Keep wages down
It happens when primitive central planners (politicians) meddle in the economy and attempt to make “their” country attractive for businesses. So they sell their workers short – instead of cutting back on the red tape or bureaucracy.
Stealing better paying work opportunities from their citizens allows politicians not just to cash in on income taxes, but also to stay in power by posing as creators of magnificent employment opportunities. You can see them cutting ribbons at factory openings – where politicians should have no business otherwise. But they are there because they spent taxpayers’ money – often more than it would have cost to just pay salaries for a few random workers for a few decades. But “creating jobs” looks good before elections and even said workers buy into the lie that they have to thank politicians for their low-skilled, dead-end work opportunities.
It also kicks the country into a downward spiral of low-skilled, low-payed employment – in an age when only educated workforce creating high added value can provide a non-violent way out of massive public debt.
The North Korea way
Then there is the North Korea way, when a dictator dispatches workers to make cash for him while he keeps their families hostage at home. Cuba did that with doctors, and I’m sure many other dictators cheerfully applied this method throughout history. The lord of the land is, after all, owner of the labor force. What human rights? Did you believe the illusion that the system is there to enable the citizens? Rubbish. Peasants are there to make the rulers rich.
The same is happening with free economic zones – people stay and the economic freedom comes to them – in limited parts of the country. Free economic zones make cash for the king and peasants happily jump at the opportunity because even that is better than no freedom at all. Choice architecture, anyone?
The Thailand way
Politicians can pimp out their captive people the Thailand way, attracting tourists to exploit them. In order to make self-prostitution into a thriving industry and a tourist magnet, you have to make sure that people don’t have many other appetizing options to make a living. Sadly, the propensity to have sex for a living is very low among those who can afford to make similar money in any other way. Cheap Eastern European prostitutes in Western Europe are also a case in point.
There is also the guest worker method, when the working age population of a country leaves for opportunities and sends money back. The most agile members of families work abroad and keep their economically dysfunctional families – and countries – afloat by remittances.
Again, it is a very damaging process, because it calcifies dysfunctional economic structures and the habit of waiting for handouts – on both national and family level.
I know. It is hard to see how you are being pimped out because you went on your own accord. Your motivation was your family. But the reason you couldn’t help your family by working at home was the system of rules and rent-seeking your precious politicians created.
And your political elite benefits from guest workers in the short run – despite their incompetence to create a workable economy at home. But it never occurs to you because you are caught up in your own, personal struggle, working in jobs that you are overqualified for. You thinking is blurred by the pain of being away from your loved ones, your concerns are their immediate needs pressing down on you. You say you go on your on volition – but so do most prostitutes.
There is a blurred line between circumstances that force you – and the decision you make based on them.
I must also mention employment here. When the state takes a 50% cut of your salary, it puts even the greediest pimp to shame. You wouldn’t work for a student work agency for 50%. Yet, you do exactly that – with your state renting you out.
I must mention slavery here. When the tax rate approaches 100%, you are officially a slave. You only get (enough money for) food and shelter to recreate your workforce.
Today, we are taxed like never before but taxation received an ideological support and now we believe that we get something back for our money. And sometimes we do and that weakens people’s self-defense mechanisms. Hard to argue against (hypothetical) public services.
There was the old-fashioned kind of slavery, when you were made to build pyramids without pay, but that is outlawed now. In Hungary today, they call it public work and make you build stadiums. And they pay you 150 euros a month. And you can totally say no, it’s just that you will even lose your unemployment benefit.
One must wonder what’s the difference being given only food and shelter (like in Ancient Egypt), being given only enough money for food and shelter (like the contemporary Hungarian public work program) – or letting people work for each other, but taxing their income until they can only afford food and shelter (like contemporary wages). The latter one just sounds like a more sophisticated version of the same rip-off.
Mail order brides
Then there is the mail order bride industry, when women voluntarily prostitute themselves, pimp themselves out to marry men who are lucky to have been born in a country that is less screwed up economically. It is body for a living, just as prostitutes do, but when you do it with marriage it is considered holy. Mail order brides make no disposable income like non-marriage prostitutes do, they only do it for food and shelter – a meager pay if you consider they have to provide 24/7 sexual availability, lend their bodies to incubate children, do housework and give up their identities.
Again, this is a “voluntary” way of being sold out – just because you were unlucky to be born in a country that is rendered economically dysfunctional. Becoming a mail order bride is about as voluntary as other forms of prostitution are. Or becoming a guest worker abroad.
Finally, there is the marrying-abroad squad. These men and women are almost like mail order brides but with a relationship preceding their marriage. But the ensuing dependence is much the same.
They marry, even if they would have preferred not to, only to gain the legal right of residence in their chosen country. And they rub their hands together thinking that they gamed the system and they can get a better life, despite their government’s best effort.
One cannot help wondering who played whom though. Somehow these people remind me of the sugar babies, who think they totally gamed the system that would otherwise sentence them to student debt and cockroach-infested living for decades during and after their higher education. By selling themselves to men of a luckier generation with more earning potential, they feel they have got ahead – whereas they just avoided being left behind in debt.
The marry-abroad squad may not bring any benefit to the rulers of the country they left behind. But look at the rulers of the receiving country. Foreign spouses are the best-controlled form of immigrants, culturally educated by their spouses, eager to produce new taxpayers in the hope of more humane treatment by immigration authorities, and they are even happy for themselves if they finally get accepted as equal humans in their chosen homes.
Please note that all the above pimping-out methods require borders to be in place.
And when the borders disappear, the arbitrage opportunities disappear and logic (and dignity) is reinstated. It is bad for mail order brides, but good for anyone without a taste for self-prostituting.
Borders can disrupt the flow of logic by states restricting the movement of certain things – while allowing others. Among capital, labor, people and services, people are the least allowed to move – therefore the least logically allocated.
Even when the allocation of things is voluntary, some things are stopped by the magic of borders – but people are told to blame globalization, the erosion of borders for their misery.
And when the inevitable misery happens, people look at states to fix it. After all, people have learned to see their passports as enablers of movement, rather than the requirement of travel permits as an obstacle to it. They can easily perform the same mental trick and see their states as a solution to the state-induced problem – i.e. the restriction on the logical flow of things.
And the states readily add more restrictions to the old ones. They create even more regulation to defy logic and economic gravity by sheer willpower, creating even more irrationality and less prosperity. And more and more feel relieved when they get to “trick the system” by selling themselves out.