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View Diary: Walmart & 13 Major Retailers Refuse Factory Safety Pac - Death Toll Estimated 1,300 (49 comments)

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  •  The bloody results of free trade (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, marina, barbwires, llywrch

    We have a huge problem in the Democratic Party - the refusal to see that free trade is not only a race to the bottom, but is actually a murderous policy. Free trade is the elites preferred policy because it allows corporatists to avoid the higher cost of operating under the stricter safety and environmental regulations of the advanced countries like USA, Japan, and in Europe. Free trade only enable the arbitrage of regulatory regimes.

    Even Robert Reich has not backed off his support for free trade, so far as I know. And President Obama is pushing the latest iteration of free trade agreements.

    The disaster in Bangladesh show that the future we are creating is, and will be, soaked in misery, blood, and death.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Sat May 18, 2013 at 09:32:33 AM PDT

    •  While the tragedies in Bangladesh are (0+ / 0-)

      horrific, it is a stretch to say that the tragedies mean that free trade overall has been bad for Bangladeshis. In fact, the standard of living has skyrocketed there over the past 20 years, and tens of millions of people in Southeast Asia have been lifted out of extreme poverty. The government there is already revising zoning and other laws, and working conditions and wages will continue to improve as they always do in these situations (in China, wages have risen so much that now Mexico and the US are competitive once again with Chinese labor).

      •  Sorry, but we should not allow any (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        llywrch

        moral ambiguity about these policies any longer. I was protesting in front of World Bank / IMF meetings 25 years ago, and all the carnage, suffering, and death my fellow protestors and I warned about have come to pass. You have to be absolutely, rigidly clear eyed about what the future effects of policy are going to be, and I am certain, to the depth of my being, that there will be many, many more needless deaths and suffering until we discard our soft-headed acceptance of the status quo.

        Ian Welsh's father worked in Bangladesh for many, many years, and Ian says he himself has visited many times. Here is what he writes:

        I find it interesting that there is so much textile manufacture in Bangladesh. There was none to speak of in the 80s.  Let me put it crudely, Bangladesh is way down the chain, there are very few poorer, more corrupt countries in the world outside of Africa.  The textile industry is running out of cheap places to make clothes if they’re in Bangladesh.

        The second is this: Bangladesh’s government will never enforce safety regulations in the textile industry. It is impossible, it will not happen.  Nothing happens, nothing gets done in Bangladesh without baksheesh—bribes.  Bribes are the actual salary of government employees, they are not paid enough to live decently on without them.  Textile factories will be throwing off so much money, in Bangladeshi terms, that virtually anyone can be bought, and with so much money at stake, anyone who can’t be bought will be otherwise dealt with.

        Jon Larson of Real Economics once wrote about how he remembers, working as a teen in the 1970s, helping to construct a 3-bedorom home that was being bought by a guy who was a factory floor worker in a shoe factory. That was the USA in the 1970s. Factory floor workers were paid well enough to buy a 3-bedroom home AND send their kids to college. How many textile workers in Bangladesh are being paid enough to buy a 3-bedroom home, with floors that aren't dirt, and indoor plumbing? I'm willing to bet the number is exactly zero.

        And don't start about everybody cannot aspire to an American lifestyle. That's racist, plain and simple. Were it not for the horribly skewed wealth and income disparities, and the burden of usury and speculation, the world economy is perfectly capable of providing everyone an American middle-class lifestyle. Resource depletion and climate change and other problems could easily be solved if so much damn money were not going to usury and speculation, but directed to these problems instead.

        And further note that now that the U.S. working class no longer has the standard of living it had in the 1970s, you herald that " Mexico and the US are competitive once again with Chinese labor." Going backwards is not anything to cheer about.

        Millions may heve been lifted out of "extreme poverty." They make two dollars a day now instead of one single measly dollar. Frankly, I think it is next to criminal that someone would accept this palliative compared to what needs to be done and what can be done. And there are still hundreds of millions in "extreme poverty."

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Sat May 18, 2013 at 12:00:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Once transportation and communications (0+ / 0-)

          barriers came down, US labor had to compete with labor that was much cheaper. Nothing short of building a wall around nations could have stopped that. The result is an increase in jobs and wages in places like China and India and Bangladesh and a lowering of the standard of living in the US. This may be unfortunate for the Americans, but on our planet there was just no way that we were going to stay rich and the rest were going to stay poor forever. Yes it is true that not everyone in the Third World has been helped by globalization, but hundreds of millions have. And an extra dollar a day is worth a great deal to the poorest people in the world (though given that you are First World it is understandable that you'd be dismissive of it). By the way, manufacturing labor costs in China are now equal to the US. These things in the end balance out.

          •  Why is it so difficult to learn from history? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Egalitare

            Here is Henry C. Carey, foremost proponent of what used to be called the American System (of political economy) and one of the great economists of the mid-1800s, who has been written out of history by the free-trade, free market theorists who served then, and serve now, as apologists for grasping oligarchs.

            The Hindoo fiies from the valleys and plains to the hills, that he may escape from the system [of British free trade]. Arrived at the hills, he finds no demand for his labour but in
            the cultivation of his little piece of land. He works with poor machinery,  and his miserable product of fifty pounds of cotton to the acre is transported to Manchester, thence to be returned to him in the form of cloth, getting one pound for ten; and thus giving nine-tenths of his labour for the use of ships and wagons, perishable machinery, when one-fifth would have done the work at home, could he have had permanent machinery. He flies again, or he dies of famine and pestilence, or he sells himself as a slave, to go to Demerara ; and thus is the number of the exchanges of India, and from India, diminished.

            Men are everywhere flying from British commerce, which everywhere pursues them. Having exhausted the people of the lower lands of India, it follows them as they retreat towards ibe fastnesses of the Himalaya. Afighanistan
            is attempted, while Scinde and the Punjaub are subjugated. Siamese provinces are added to the empire of free trade, and war and desolation are carried into China, in order that the Chinese may be compelled to pay for the use of ships, instead of making looms. The Irishman flies to Canada ;
            but there the system follows him, and he feels himself insecure until within this Union. The Englishman and the Scotchman try Southern Africa, and thence they fly to the more distant New Holland, Van Diemen's Land, or New Zealand. The farther they fly, the more they must use ships and other perishable machinery, the less steadily can their efforts be applied, the less must be the power of production, and the fewer must be the equivalents
            to be exchanged, and yet in the growth of ships, caused by such circumstances, we are told to look for evidence of prosperous commerce.

            The British system is built upon cheap labour, by which is meant low priced and worthless labour. Its effect is to cause it to become from day to day more low priced and worthless, and thus to destroy production upon which commerce must be based. The object of protection is to produce dear labour, that is, high-priced and valuable labour, and ila effect is to cause it to increase in value from day to day, and to increase the equivalents to be exchanged, to the great increase of commerce.

            - Henry C. Carey, The Harmony of Interests, Agricultural, Manufacturing and Commercial, 1856.

            You are mistaking an exploitative policy of international trade based on cheap labor used to produce goods for consumption, not where they are produced, but in some far off land, and in which only a few privileged people become wealthy, with a policy of actual national economic development in which there is general and widespread affluence.

            If the warnings of a century and a half ago do not appeal to you, perhaps those more contemporaneous will? Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, by Ha-Joon Chang, 2008.

            A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

            by NBBooks on Sat May 18, 2013 at 02:50:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  To the desperately poor, a job is a chance (0+ / 0-)

              for survival, or for taking that first step up the development ladder. Hard for a rich person to understand.

              •  Elites seek to make us believe globalization (0+ / 0-)
                The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. - Chris Hedges, Why the Elites Are in Trouble, Oct. 9, 2011.

                A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                by NBBooks on Sun May 19, 2013 at 02:08:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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