No Harm: Ethical Principles for a Free Market

By T. Patrick Burke | Go to book overview
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2
The Principle of Mutual Benefit

A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants. Can any other origin of a State be imagined?

There can be no other.

Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed to supply them, one takes a helper for one purpose and another for another; and when these partners and helpers are gathered together in one habitation the body of inhabitants is termed a State.

True, he said.

And they exchange with one another, and one gives, and another receives, under the idea that the exchange will be for their good.

True, he said.

Plato, The Republic, Book II Trans. Jowett

Until 1989 about 80 women did sewing at home for the firm of Overly- Raker, of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania. Then the state government forced them out of their jobs, applying a 1937 law which forbids home work. Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of Labor, Patricia Halpin-Murphy, who was responsible for the decision to enforce the law, defended her action by claiming that the workers were being exploited, for that conception obviously provided the grounds for the law. The company transferred the work to China and Mexico.1

In 1990 a further dozen workers who knitted sweaters at home on machines belonging to the French Creek Sheep and Wool Company ofElverson

-39-

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