The greater the number and the higher the proficiency of the community’s businessmen, other things equal, the worse must the rest of the community come off in that game of skilled bargaining and shrewd management by which the businessmen get their gains.
Veblen, The Higher Learning in America(1916)
SUCK IT, B-SCHOOL.
“More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the population—live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations—Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible.”
From the New Yorker regarding the recent factory fire in Bangladesh:
Deaths in modern garment factories tend to be different from plane crashes or many other catastrophic traumas in the slow-motion extravagance of their pain. For minutes, or even hours, workers’ lungs fill up with smoke. For days, even a week, workers struggle to survive under rubble until someone digs them out. Akter told me about a mother in a rural village who came to her for help after Tazreen. During that fire, the woman had gotten a call from her twenty-four-year-old son, a garment worker. “Mom,” he’d said, “there is a fire in the factory. I’m trying my best to escape, but smoke is filling my lungs.”
“Run to the stairs!” his mother told him, according to Akter. “Run to the window, and I’ll hop on a bus to come and get you.”
Ten minutes later, he called again. The stairs were jammed by a stampede. “Mom, I’m trying my best. There is no way I can get out.”
“Go to the toilet,” his mother told him, “and run the water so that it clears the smoke and you can breathe.” The son said, “O.K., I’m doing that.” He tried this, without luck, then returned to the factory floor, where his colleagues’ bodies were piling up in the dark.
Finally, he called home once more. This time, he rang with an apology. “Mom,” he cried, “it will be my last call—I’m dying for sure. I am sorry. I tried my best. I cannot breathe.” He wanted to convey a message. “I’m removing my shirt from my body, and I will tie it to my waist, so you can find me.” So he ripped off his shirt, made a knot around his torso, and collapsed so as to be found the next day by his mother.
WTF world, how can we still allow this to happen?
“What the 1% are is, effectively, a ruling class, they represent the point where concentrated wealth can be turned into political power. National politics in the US has been reduced to battles between different factions of that 1%. This is not just a traditional Marxist bourgeoisie though—and this is where I think it dovetails with the argument in debt—it represents the effects of financialization whereby more and more, economic value is not extracted indirectly, through the wage, but directly, through rents and more generally by what they used to call “political-jural extraction,” which I think was Perry Anderson’s term for feudalism. I’m not saying we’re reverting to feudalism quite, but something else in some ways analogous. Whenever a surplus is extracted directly rather than indirectly, ideology also changes, since it’s much harder to disguise what’s really going on. Hence the neoliberal obsession, noted in the book, in preemptive attacks on anything that even looks like it’s an alternative. They’re barely even trying to convince anyone capitalism is a good system any more; just arguing that no other system is conceivable.”
“Americans have been trained to resent taxes even though we are trying to run an advanced economy Walmart-style. My impression is that the citizens of many other countries are far less exercised about higher tax levels because they perceive they are getting value for money (medical services, good public transportation, etc). By contrast, we’ve had a 30 year campaign to make government incompetent by running it on the cheap and demonizing people who work in government jobs, and the result is less service and more corruption. This experiment is working just fine for those wealthy enough to be effectively stateless or to otherwise isolate themselves. And it will probably take at least a generation for the costs (such as public health problems) to afflict even them. Nicely played.”
Criminal defamation charges against Andy Hall, a prominent labor activist, violate his right to free speech and will have a chilling effect on investigations of alleged rights abuses by companies in Thailand.
The charges stem from a defamation complaint filed on February 14 by the Natural Fruit Company Limited for an investigative report about serious labor rights violations at the company’s factory. If convicted, Hall faces up to two years in prison and civil damages of 300 million baht (US$10 million).
Hall’s report, “Cheap has a high price: Responsibility problems relating to international private label products and food production in Thailand,” alleged that Natural Fruit Company Limited had committed serious labor rights abuses, including poor working conditions, unlawfully low wages, confiscation of workers’ official documents, use of child labor, and excessive overtime.
This is what globalization looks like…