The explotation of human need; right or wrong? (read before replying)

I think that an argument can be made to show that there is nothing wrong with trade in and of itself. If I build something useful, a man might want to sell his labour or help in-order to attain what I have built and the knowledge of how to build it. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. But I do believe there is a point where trade becomes immoral.

If you have ever watched the science fiction film “Total Recall” you should be aware of one case in point. The following scenario is loosely based on it.

Scenario 1: On the Planet Mars a corporate boss has control of the air supply. The populous has to do what ever the boss tells them to and accept any treatment or the air will be shut off. On top of this, the air is dirty and it is illegal for the general populous to build any kind of construction that can produce air or clean it. If you want air you have to work extremely hard in dangerous conditions for many hours that interfere with the needs of family life and makes it very difficult to maintain a healthy functioning family. They are paid a very low wage that makes for a very difficult lifestyle. But they have no choice because the corporation has control of the air and the means of production.

Scenario 2: There is a huge hiv/aids outbreak. The corporation knows of a cure, and wants huge amounts of money for it. The rich are okay because they have money. The middle class are okay because they have savings. But the poor are doomed to death and ill health because they cannot afford the drugs.

These are two cases in point that I believe show us that trade can become evil because they exploit human need (needs that have to do with staying alive and having a healthy life) and those who have the power to exploit them can charge any price they wish and thus can exclude great numbers of people entirely from the market place or can make their lives very difficult, undignified, and hardly worth living. This also brings up the questions of whether or not some kinds of trade are immoral. For example, Human beings exploit the fact that we need heat to survive, and thus are in a position to charge high prices. People, especially the old people, are known to die in their homes because they cannot afford constant heating through out the winter.

So are some trades immoral? And should some or all necessities be free or at least very cheap?

I don’t know what the sin is called, or what the best remedy is, but I am sure that the cases you describe are sinful, possibly gravely so, and it would be a sin of omission to not attempt to redress them in some way (according to one’s responsibilities in the situation).

An even simpler example would be a person who could help a drowning man, but demands an exorbitant price before he will help.

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