Markets in everything

by on March 2, 2018 at 1:18 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Law | Permalink

“They do what they want,” she says. “After the earthquake you would see [foreign workers] asking to have sex in exchange for supplies. I never did it, but I saw some people who did.”

A UN report, published in May 2015, found that members of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti traded sex for aid with more than 225 women between 2008 and 2014.

That is from Joe Parkin Daniels at The Guardian.

1 sine causa March 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Voluntary exchange. Both parties benefit. What’s the problem ?


2 y81 March 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

The supplies are not the property of the aid workers to dispose of for their own benefit. It’s as if I sold my employer’s copier paper. (Or even my own legal services, which belong to my employer as long as I am employed full-time by the firm.)


3 sine causa March 2, 2018 at 1:37 pm

So the problem is theft not sexual exploitation ?


4 Blaise March 2, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Theft AND sexual exploitation. The aid workers have been trusted to deliver supplies to very vulnerable people. By withholding supplies, they make them more vulnerable and force them to have sex.


5 sine causa March 2, 2018 at 5:45 pm

@ Blaise I think you create a difference because sexual services are provided and not say a haircut. Given that the theft has occurred , then there if no free stuff. That’s the situation a lot of people are in in the world today ( 700 M according to the World Bank – less than $ 1.90 a day – ). They can’t just lie down and food and shelter are provided to them. They sell their labor or their services as well as they can. Are they all exploited or simply making the best of their economic situation ?

6 sort_of_knowledgable March 2, 2018 at 9:51 pm

@sine causa

The assumption is that the aid worker was suppose to give the aid to the recipient without any condition. If that was the case, the recipient sexually exploited because it was not voluntary exchange but the aid worker imposed the sex requirement.

7 sine causa March 2, 2018 at 11:40 pm

@ sort_of_knowlegeable et al

I would concede that the underage ones were sexually exploited because the law of most countries do not consider such persons free agents in these transactions. This “ sexual exploitation” by the way also applies in my mind to any underage woman married by parents to an adult man (which happens very often without the bride giving expressed consent ), a practice that is still fairly common in a lot of the world today.

The Aid workers broke their contract by stealing and exchanging sex for money, that’s it. It’s expressly forbidden so they should not do it.

That does not mean any adult woman was sexually exploited. The women could simply walk away and would probably suffer temporarily the loss of aid. As the article says many of them actively seeked out the aid workers because they knew they were very profitable Johns. You could even argue some men were exploited; due to their lack of familiarity with the country they paid much higher than the market price.

8 Ray Lopez March 3, 2018 at 1:34 am

According to the Coase theorem, it does not matter if there’s sexual exploitation or even theft, since, assuming low transaction costs, the goods will eventually end up in the right hands and society as a whole will benefit. I would not be surprised if some of these poor Haiti recipients of UN goods sell the goods on the black market after receiving them, for cash.


9 Richard March 3, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Wow is that claim wrong! The Coase Theorem assumes voluntary exchange. It most certainly does *not* posit that resources will end up allocated efficiently if theft is possible. Theft undermines the whole Coase structure.

10 Rolo Tomasi March 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Richard is correct. Coase said if transaction cost are low and property rights well defined, then voluntary contracting can efficiently reallocate rights. Theft implies property rights are not well defined.

Also, Coase’s point was that often transaction costs are significant and/or property rights are not well defined, therefore the initial allocation of rights does matter in many cases because voluntary contracting will not lead to an efficient reallocation. That is, an initial allocation of rights to aid given to predatory aid workers can lead to inefficient (and immoral) exploitation versus an initial allocation of aid to hurricane victims.

11 Charbes A. March 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Have you tried to exchange your employer’s copier paper for sex?


12 Milo Minderbinder March 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Dear Penthouse Forum,

I never thought this would happen to me. My employer had an oversupply of copier paper…


13 Charbes A. March 2, 2018 at 3:53 pm

And lax accounting.

14 Thor March 3, 2018 at 12:07 am


I’m old enough to remember those letters, too.

15 curmudgeon March 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm

A long-ago girlfriend parlayed her brand-new ivy-league English degree into a job writing (they called it editing) those letters.

16 Mike W March 3, 2018 at 10:13 am

Politicians providing benefits to special interests in return for votes…nothing new.


17 Baphomet March 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Presumably the aid workers are violating the conditions of their employment by asking for something in exchange for supplies. But it is the sex aspect that makes this news, of course.


18 IVV March 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Are the women in a situation that allows them full power to refuse? Do they know that their kids will still get the supplies they need, even if they say no?

No? Then it’s exploitation.


19 Jicoub March 2, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Well it might be exploitation but not because of that. That test would make it impossible to hire any poor person.


20 Anonymous March 2, 2018 at 11:40 pm

It’s a form of price-gouging.


21 Connie Lingus March 2, 2018 at 5:05 pm

At least they werent gay!!!


22 byomtov March 4, 2018 at 12:04 am

Libertarianism run wild.

You need to think a little about what constitutes “voluntary” participation in a transaction.

Here’s some help: A man with a gun threatens to kill you unless you hand over your wallet. Voluntary exchange? If not, why not?


23 OneGuy March 2, 2018 at 1:52 pm

This is the UN. This is what they do. The UN peace keeping forces in other countries make this Haiti story look like true love.


24 Transnational Pants Machine March 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm

No kidding. The UN has been inflicting this kind of horrific evil on Africans, and others, for decades.

Makes you wonder why Tyler suddenly posts this (without any comment, naturally).

Soon enough, he’ll post something else saying that the UN has some kind of moral authority on something so we better listen, or that Trump is a monster to think about reducing their funding…. whatever. It’s a sickening organization.


25 Anon March 2, 2018 at 6:00 pm

After Al Franken got nailed by the #Metoo people and now this, what are liberal cis men to do?


26 curmudgeon March 3, 2018 at 7:05 pm

They’ve clearly mastered UN-speak:

“Staff with long mission experience states that was a ‘general view that people should have romantic rights’ and raised the issue of sexuality as a human right,” the report said.


27 Yancey Ward March 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm

This is my shocked face.


28 Richard March 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm

It’s theft by the aid workers and prostitution by the women, though the latter might get the benefit of a necessity defense here.


29 Jeff R March 2, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Maybe natural disaster are an aphrodisiac.


30 BC March 2, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I wonder whether there is similar exploitation of people working in legal occupations. For example, do any aid workers try to trade aid for groceries with shopkeepers or trade aid for taxi rides with cab drivers? The article mentions that sex workers fear reporting incidents to police, worrying that they will be arrested themselves. For example, one prostitute had her phone stolen by a client and was left stranded in an unknown part of the city. I wonder whether aid workers have stolen cab drivers’ cars. How much of the exploitation is due to prostitution being illegal?


31 ConfirmationBiasIsAFemaleDog March 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm



32 Anon March 2, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Not terribly surprising from the internationalist, globalist crowd. They are pretty much modern day neocolonialists.


33 Jan March 2, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Haha, that’s not who the individual UN peacekeeping forces are. They’re grunts.


34 So Much For Subtlety March 2, 2018 at 6:15 pm

It is not surprising that everyone is picking on on what is pretty much second hand hearsay. After all, everyone hates International Do Gooding Jet Setters. But I am not sure that is really the crux of the story here. Another quote is perhaps more important:

“When a car pulls up, everyone is hoping it’s a foreigner because they pay so much more,” she says. “Sometimes we fight over who gets to the car window first.”

There is remarkable little wrong-doing in this article. At least by UN staff or Aid workers.


35 Crikey March 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

The United Nations stabilization mission in Haiti consisted of (according to Wikipedia):

“The force is composed of 2,366 military personnel and 2,533 police, supported by international civilian personnel, a local civilian staff and United Nations Volunteers.

Countries contributing military personnel (7,210 in all):
Argentina (558 including a field hospital), Bolivia (208), Brazil (2,200), Canada (10), Chile (499), Croatia (3), Dominican Republic (4), Ecuador (67), France (2), Guatemala (118), Indonesia (167), Jordan (728), Nepal (1,075), Paraguay (31), Peru (209), the Philippines (157), Sri Lanka (959), United States (4), and Uruguay (1,135).

Countries contributing police/civilian personnel (2,038 in all):
Algeria (1), Benin (32), Brazil (4), Burkina Faso (26), Cameroon (8), Canada (94), Central African Republic (7), Chad (3), Chile (15), China (143), Colombia (37).[69][71] Côte D’Ivoire (60), DR Congo (2), Egypt (22), El Salvador (7), France (64), Grenada (3), Guinea (55), India (139), Israel (14), Italy (4), Jamaica (5), Jordan (312), Madagascar (2), Mali (55), Mexico (2), Nepal (168), Niger (62), Nigeria (128), Oman (2), Pakistan (248), Philippines (18), Romania (23), Russian Federation (10), Rwanda (14), Senegal (131), Serbia (5), South Africa (2), Spain (41), Sri Lanka (7), Togo (5), Turkey (46), United States (48), Uruguay (7), and Yemen (1).”


36 Anon7 March 2, 2018 at 9:28 pm

Note that the largest military contingents came from Brazil and Uruguay (the latter had troops accused of outright rape).

One can only assume that this is a nefarious plot orchestrated by China to smear Brazil.


37 rayward March 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

My understanding is that Trump said Haiti is a shit-hole country, but it’s also my understanding he never goes there. I’m not saying if I’ve been there. Have you been there?


38 rayward March 2, 2018 at 7:19 pm

My view is that Mueller needs to ask some questions. How often does Trump go there. How long does he stay there. Has anybody objected to him being there. Does he intend to go back there. Does his wife approve of him being there. We need to know.


39 Anon2 March 2, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Thank you for continuing the proud tradition of blaming Trump for for Clinton scandals.


40 Jan March 2, 2018 at 9:12 pm

Clinton Foundation provides humanitarian assistance to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Yes, the Clintons, a couple with a effing former president, got rich too, who gives a damn.

Trump enters into shady deals across the world to build fake glitzy hotels to serve the nouveau riche and foreigners. Helps pretty much nobody but himself regularly screws contractors, partners, associates, etc.

And Haiti is Hillary’s fault?


41 Moo cow March 2, 2018 at 10:09 pm

The Clinton Foundation asked to change somebodies seat at a banquet one time, so, both sides.

42 OMG March 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

“Hundreds of millions”? Really? Did you read the article linked above? Given your fondness for Trump’s hotels I think you’ll like this extract: “the Clinton Foundation “facilitated” the construction of a “luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince, a Marriott owned by Denis O’Brien, who has given $10 million to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.“

43 Tom Murin March 3, 2018 at 9:16 am

Have you ever seen a WWII movie where the GI exchanges nylon stockings, chocolate or butter for sex? I don’t think women did it for love. Nothing new here. That doesn’t make it right, of course.


44 Careless March 4, 2018 at 12:03 am

Why were the aid workers so strapped that they had to barter sex for aid from dirt-poor Hatians?


45 Careless March 4, 2018 at 12:04 am

and how did these foreign prostitutes manage to find so many women there willing to pay them for sex?


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