It’s Capitalism The Raises Up The Workers

There was a recent little reportette telling us how awful are the working lifestyles of sanitation workers in poor countries. Yep, they’re bad. But why?

Do not be distracted down the byway of culture or think that this is something to do with anything other than economic riches. Our own societies used to be just like this. Samuel Pepys’s diary makes several references to the clearing and overflowing of basement cesspits by dunnikin divers and gong diggers. The reason why? England then was about as poor as Bangladesh or India are now. We can explore Angus Maddison’s numbers to prove that too.

People wade through crap to afford a scanty meal these days because they are as absolutely poor as our own forefathers were when they did the same. The solution is economic development leading to wealth and riches for the average worker. In modern money, the past paid maybe $3 a day, what those foreign sanitation workers are getting now. Just minimum wage alone, flipping burgers, is 15 to 20 times that in our own society.

There’s only one form of socioeconomic organization that’s achieved this: capitalist free markets. That’s why we really all need to be capitalist free marketeers. Not for us, or our greed, but so that people no longer empty cesspits by hand.

Not because they’re sanitation workers but because they’re poor people in a poor place. The solution is to make the place rich.

After all, a useful definition of not having to dig crap with your hands is that you’re richer than someone who does have to.

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Mr Yan
Mr Yan

I cleaned out the residual sludge from my septic tank by hand and I’m a white collar worker in telecommunications. Needs must and all that.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole

In the 60s my aunt and uncle lived in a 2-up 2-dn cottage in rural Lancs (between Blackburn and Preston, so not in any way remote). Their sanitary arrangement was an outhouse with a couple of planks with a hole over a large metal drum, which was emptied once a week by council workers. I’m sure they weren’t the only call on the round. They got a septic tank ~1970.

John B
John B

There is a Little Englander mentality which assumes every developed Country has a population mostly concentrated and urbanised, small land mass with full access to piped gas, electricity, mains water and mains sewage. In France, and USA, both being much bigger than Little England, with lots of people dispersed and living in rural areas, septic tanks and cess pits are widespread. Many places get water from wells, have no piped gas and limited electricity supply. Disposal of sewage is not only a matter of economics but geography, and the problems that happen in wealthier people’s cess pits and septic tanks… Read more »