It’s supposedly bad to exploit poor people by paying them as little as you can get away with in trade.
Onlookers who don’t offer the needy anything condemn those who offer some non altruistic benefit through trade because it isn’t enough. It’s interesting that we see this as a fault with the person trading, rather than with everyone. Very few people think they themselves are morally obliged to pay the poor more. I’ve discussed before how misguided this is if we care about the wellbeing of the poor person. But why do people feel this way? Here are some reasons I’ve occasionally heard, though I doubt they are all independently responsible for this curiosity:
- The issue is domination more than wellbeing. A trader forces a poor person into a low value deal by offering when they can’t afford to refuse. At least the rest of us respect poor people enough to mind our own businesses.
- It is the role of the trader to trade fairly with the poor people. It is the role of the casual observer to have opinions, not to intervene in traders’ doings.
- Benefiting from another’s misfortune is evil, even if it helps them, so interactions with people who need help should be charitable. It’s not great of most people to ignore poor people, but it’s horrific to go out and benefit from their hardships.
- Trade is a form of social relation, and people should be nice in their relationships much more than they should be to those they are unconnected to.