Sunday, November 8, 2015

Animal Rights? What about... Human Rights? #doublestandards

Just to say this upfront, this has nothing to do with investing, but this is something more about a frame of mind and a thought process. People are probably not going to agree with my opinion, but then again, this is the Internet, and this is where I can babble (pretty much) whatever I want.

One of my biggest pet peeves are HUGE hypocrites. That is why the #menimist movement is freaking hilarious to me - it pokes fun at "feminists" who have missed the point. Feminists who get pissed off by the #menimist movement need to realize that they should be more appalled by the various people who falsely brand themselves as feminists and spew out crazy stuff, rather than a bunch of (admittedly, mostly) men pointing out double standards.

The number of guys who are "male feminists" - men who put down certain behaviour of men (which they often practice) in the prescence of female company only to gain their approval (regardless of their personal view) - is also startling.

I'm not saying that the world is fair and perfect, because it isn't. I'm also not saying that men and women equally benefit from society that we live. I'm just saying that I can't argue with people with double standards, because they agree with you on your entire argument except on the part about why they are wrong.

Recently, it has been highlighted the practice in Thailand of using working monkeys for coconut farming. Apparently, using monkeys as work animals is totally taboo in the western world because they are cute. Horses? Oxen? Camels? Donkeys? Fuck them! They aren't cute and they can't do tricks! /sarc

This is really a non-news event, but it still irritates me the SCALE of double standards.

Oh wait, has anyone mentioned how dogs are leased up all day too? And how many go to training schools too? Oh, they are domesticated animals so its okay? Hmm... how about pretty ponies and horsies locked up in stables instead of being allowed to live and run free in the wild? Oh, wait, what? It's inconvenient for your argument? Woops! Okay, hush hush!

As Mises writes, this relationship between coconut farmer and monkey worker is entirely culturally accepted in Thailand. The debate whether monkeys should be used in such a manner "is a Western dilemma, not a Thai one".

Monkeys gather coconuts up to 20 times faster than a skilled male. Not all coconut farmers are fit and able to do such sort of work. Coconut harvesting can also be dangerous because of snake, stinging ants and of course the 2 major ones - falling coconuts and falling off the tree.

So while the monkey sacrifices a lot since he does not live a life like his wild others (as with 99% of all other working animals), not only fit and able men can be coconut gatherers (more jobs), the men manages to massively increase their income (more money), along with eliminating much of the largest risks of the job (more safety). People also get more and cheaper coconuts.

Of course, this is an extremely moot comparison, because I've never once heard in my life anyone asking an Egyptian camel owner to strap that shit on his back and go walk around with it instead of making the camel do it.

Mises wraps up this monkey issue in the best conclusion possible, so here is David Adams' conclusion:

In a perfect world, Thai farmers would have machines and monkeys would have unspoiled wilderness. But, for the world we have — one in which habitat destruction wipes out entire populations — coconuts and farmers in need may be all that keeps the macaques in the trees and off the dinner tables.

This notion of what is "right" or "wrong" once again is due to the fact that some people in the Western world like to impose their values on the rest of the world. Like how it is a horror to eat dog meat. And why it is a crime to have technology that makes it cheaper for people to move around. The Western world has clearly lost it's authority on what is considered right or wrong. The other people to blame are ourselves as Asian societies for some reason still worshiping "Western superiority".

But hell, what do I know? I'm just a kid from some backwater Asian country that indulges into various barbaric activities such as eating cutesy little frogs and other delicious moving things.


  1. ... and what about all those hard-working Bangladeshis shipped to far away places like Singapore, kept in dormitories and made to build our high rise luxury accommodation for a bit of money and food in return?

    1. Hey Tacomob!

      I do agree, especially after several reading pieces regarding the middle eastern countries, many of those workers are being abused. On top of luring them overseas on false contract pretenses, they are also denied their freedom of movement by having their passports and other personal documents seized from them. However, comparing the situation between such countries and Singapore as being similar would not be fair in my opinion.

      There is a difference between being "enslaved" with no choice, and just having a job which isn't too great. If wages were paid based on sweat and sun, lots of people wouldn't be paid a dime. Most overseas workers want to live cheaply and send the balance of their pay back home. They wouldn't want to be living in condos while they are working overseas anyway, right? Having a balance of only a bit of money isn't an issue if they knowingly agreed to it in a contract.

      The problem is when the agreed contract is not honoured. Since everybody here knows that foreigner workers in some industries are being paid a certain amount and they then reimburse their employers some of that money back later, then something is definitely wrong with the current policing system to protect them. I would feel a lot better about our foreign worker situation if the government really made aggressive pushes to ensure that they do receive the terms stipulated in their contracts and also publicly shame and punish companies who do not honour such contracts.

      In my opinion, enforcing a mutually agreed-upon contract is more important than bargaining for a beautiful contract, that doesn't get practiced in reality.

  2. You know GMGH, it's quite a relief to find another person who shares similar sentiments. I usually keep such thoughts to myself though, for fear of backlash from the hypocritical majority.

    But since I'm anonymous: @Tacamob, obviously you still don't see the point. Perhaps you don't realise that you are the cause of such exploitation because you live the way you do? When you buy a chocolate bar you may have indirectly contributed to the exploitation of some underpaid worker somewhere else in the world. It's time you stepped off your high horse and accept the facts.

    1. Hi Anon,

      Thanks for the comment, it is scary turning over rocks society tells you not to turn over.

      Your example on chocolate is a pretty good one. A lot of cacao are bought cheaply from people who have never even tasted chocolate before!

      Without any knowledge, given 2 similar goods, I would usually pick the cheaper one. However, if I know that one company engages in fair trade agreements, while another company does not, I would swing my choice and support fair trade unless the difference is startling. In which case, I might be a complete asshole and support exploitation (naw just kidding... maybe?). The problem is the lack of transparency when people are making these decisions. As a result, many people unknowingly support companies that engage in bad practices merely as a result of ignorance rather than willful participation.

      Now, the question is where does the burden on the consumer gets released? If we bought paper products from APP, are we indirectly to blame for encouraging companies to continue with the Indonesian haze? If we live in buildings, are we indirectly the supporters of current constructions workers wage practices? If we buy chocolate, do we support the current trade practices for sourcing for cacao? It's a question that even I find tough to answer.

    2. Hi Anonymous,

      There are many points in GMGH's post. The one I am getting at is that some people appear to want to be 100% fair to animals but then 'close an eye' when it comes to our fellow humans.

      I like the point you brought up as well. As GMGH mentioned it is very tough for a consumer to find the right balance. The other side of the coin is that if nobody would eat chocolate bars, would the worker have a job at all? Would he be better off then? The same applies for those construction workers.
      It remains a challenge to find the right balance.

      By the way I am not too fond of chocolate, don't like horses (not even the high ones) and do stay in a low-rise.


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