Tag Archives: exploitation

Save Darfur was an Oil Play

I remember when you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting someone who didn’t want to SAVE DARFUR. And boy did they need hitting with a stick. All those high school and college students activated by OBAMA 08 lined up to add Darfur to their extracurriculars. Why? The usual manipulative pictures and imperialist propaganda. Sudanese refugees needed saving. Bleeding Hearts’ Burden. George Clooney was showered with activist laurels for playing Hollywood’s ambassador to Darfur. Soon enough pacifists were calling for military intervention, a “no-fly zone” but enforced with force. Denied, the US provided the military intervention covertly, and ultimately the southern fossil fuel rich portion of Sudan was lopped off for the multinational profiteers.

Why I Occupy Walmart

MY ENDGAME in occupying Walmart is to rally union members to the Occupy Movement. Union members, not unions. Taking the fight straight to Walmart, one of the most despicable, exploitative despoilers of the world’s people and economy is something the big unions should have been doing thirty years ago. Maybe their members will finally see that they’ve been sold up the river by their supposed representatives. That neither local nor national unions are expressing solidarity with us on the sidewalks of these super centers is proof that the only wages and working conditions they’ve been protecting are their own.

How come Pottery Barn rules don’t apply to Haiti?

When Tony posted nearly three years ago (!) about how shocking conditions in Haiti had become, it was a magnet for people saying the starving kids pictures (from Medicins sans frontiers, internationally respected medical aid agency, just not so much here in America) were recycled pictures from Ethiopia 3, 2 and one decade ago.
Then when that was refuted, and before they raised that Stupid Response again, the people of Haiti were blamed for their own misfortunes. As though their LEADERS had actually been empowered by popular vote instead of installed, against the expressed will of the People, by and for the profit of American Corporate Hegemony. Alternating with French Hegemony until the AmeriCorp bought out the French.
We broke it, we supposedly bought it, right? That’s the one of the irRationale for staying in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(rationale is both plural and single, I checked, you didn’t, kiss off) Of course, it’s not the American Corporations who are Paying the bills “we” ran up by breaking all the pottery, although they seem to be getting quite a lot of public funding to manipulate the Public Army and the Public intelligence community and the public “rebuilding” campaign, which mostly consists of taking very expensive videos and photographs of Other People moving the shards around.
Much the same way they’re paid to watch and take pictures while other people bury the Dead “shards” in Haiti. Through public funding for their private “efforts”.

Some have seen fit to criticize my frequent use of Capitalization and italics and bold type and ComBinatiOns Of tHem but some people need a little help finding juicy nuggets amidst the kibble. Both are Nourishing Mind Food but the juicy bits are more fun. Sometimes.

Some of the people have difficulty seeing, which is a condition with which I can easily relate. Others are just kind of inured to reading and hearing Bullshit from the likes of Glenn Beck and need a little help finding emphasis in NORMAL thoughts. It’s not that Glenn Beck is mentally defective, it’s what he’s paid to say, in the Corporate anticipation of the Audience being mentally defective.

In a way, though, the situation in Ethiopia and Haiti is the same case, revisited. “Conservative” (their own code word for Racist Right Wing Extremists) Pundits insist that black people are incapable of governing themselves so it’s up to the Great White Father in Washington to guide and assist and let’s face it, outright Rule Over the poor little darkie savages.

But Ethiopia has for several occasions been the richest nation on earth and in cumulative time they managed to do it for longer than the Americas have actually experienced European Rule. Intermittently because the times Ethiopia has been devastatingly poor have been periods of colonial rule. Like the Romans exacting tribute from them, and in the past couple of centuries European and European-American Corporate Rule turning Their nation into Our plantation. Same with Haiti. When the U.S. went to war with Hawaii and deposed their “tyrannical” native government for the crime of taxing American Corporations who “just wanted to bring the glory of Civilization to the Native Darkies” in 1893, and the quickly ensuing War of Conquest based on a fake Terrorist Incident errr… “anti-Imperial war with Spain” at least the Natives of Puerto Rico and Hawaii were eventually given citizenship. Now the government is reneging on the Puerto Rican citizens, all P.R. Citizens now have to exchange their Puerto Rican birth certificates for “valid” ones. What do you want to bet the Tea-Bags and their other Klan Related groups like the Minutemen will be demanding the same of Hawaiian birth certificates? It’s not that they’re “RACIST” in any way, it’s just that Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs and Sarah Palin and the other Right Wing Extremist FREAKS have “proven” that darker skinned people are naturally terrorists.

With Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, las islas filipinas, Ethiopia and other Corporate Plantations with Puppet Regimes masqueraded as “Sovereign” nations, there was no such pretense of offering them full citizenship or even limited citizenship rights.

The Corporate Regime Broke It, so they “bought” it, but they have figured out ways not to actually have to PAY for what they “bought”.

Saipan abuses impervious to outrage?

A 2006 article in MS Magazine exposed labor abuse in the US territories of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Have conditions changed since protectors Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff were dislodged? Consider that US Senator Daniel Kahikina delivered this condemnation of human exploitation in the Saipan in 1998.

The Commonwealth shares our American flag, but it does not share the American system of immigration.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues permits to recruiters, who in turn promise well-paying American jobs to foreigners in exchange for a $6,000 recruitment fee. When the workers arrive in Saipan, they find their recruiter has vanished and there are no jobs in sight. Hundreds of these destitute workers roam the streets of Saipan with little or no chance of employment and no hope of returning to their homeland.

The State Department has confirmed that the government of China is an active participant in the CNMI immigration system. There is something fundamentally wrong with an immigration system that allows the government of China to prohibit Chinese workers from exercising political or religious freedom while employed in United States.

Something is fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues entry permits for 12- and 13-year-old girls from the Philippines and other Asian nations, and allows their employers to use them for live sex shows and prostitution.

Finally, something is fundamentally wrong when a Chinese construction worker asks if he can sell one of his kidneys for enough money to return to China and escape the deplorable working conditions in the Commonwealth and the immigration system that brought him there.

There are voices in the CNMI telling us that the cases of worker abuse we keep hearing about are isolated examples, that the system is improving, and that worker abuse is a thing of the past. These are the same voices that reap the economic benefits of a system of indentured labor that enslaves thousands of foreign workers — a system described in a bi-partisan study as “an unsustainable economic, social and political system that is antithetical to most American values.”

There is overwhelming evidence that abuse in the CNMI occurs on a grand scale and the problems are far from isolated.

Horton Hears Your Fetus

Horton Hears a Who
Do you remember the lesson of Horton Hears a Who? No matter how small, everyone matters. Fox has brought the theme to the animated screen and not-unlikely bedfellows are seizing on the message. Under the revival tents, the anti-abortion preachers want you to glean something further from Horton: that the very life of a tiny embryo could depend on you, if only your inner elephant can be persuaded you hear its call.

Although, they’re are not talking about the embryos deliberately created en vitro by fertility clinics, terminated when too many have taken to the uterine wall. Nor babies miscarried, nor still-born. Do the pro-life Hortons not hear them?

Let’s agree that abortion is tragic, and shouldn’t be bandied about as a lifestyle choice like a Brazilian wax or a boob job. Personally I’d prefer our culture wasn’t so enthralled with promiscuity. Don’t encourage drinking if you can’t live with the car wrecks. Don’t paint sex as the ultimate of fulfillments if your society has set as acceptable norm a procreative age over a dozen years later than we are biological capable.

Fighting Fifth Avenue and mankind’s propensity to hedonism is doubtless harder than bringing the hammer down on a pregnant teen. Shouldn’t the church come down on immorality instead of its victims? Abortion is a hard choice, like any harsh dilemma. We euthanize cats and dogs when there become too many. A “domestic” animal designates those in man’s care, which live to serve us, and die according to our dinner plan. We ride our horses but leave them to the French to eat. To our credit we show a reluctance to face nature’s difficult choices.

Religious beliefs have been the ultimate causes of war, justifying killings in fanatical number, to this present day. Religion is always behind genocide. What is it about pre-infanticide that’s got zealots so indignant?

Is this about an egg and sperm’s right to wed? Or about the church’s prerogative to mandate pregnancy? I think to a large extent, it’s about enforcing puritanism, the better to reserve the sex drive for manipulating people. You can’t have your masses contentedly debauched, they must be repressed and thwarted, being lured by sex to get married and pregnant to breed the next batch of easily motivated worker/consumer drones.

I admire the Right to Life credo that all life is sacred. But is it? Right to Lifers remind me of pedigree animal rescue outfits, only THEIR breed is sacred enough worth saving. What about other forms of life? Owls? Whales, small fish? Are these pious folks practicing vegans, concerned not to exploit any living being? Do they feed themselves like the Buddhists monks who consume liquids through a strainer, careful not to swallow even a flea?

The pro-lifer’s concern is not for the human being small person, it’s only for the unborn baby. And it’s only for the unborn of their likeness, and more than likely from their neighborhood. Other cultures’ offspring are mere driving factors of overpopulation, unless they are our colonial suppliers of cheap labor.

And what about already born babies? Or babies -or tiny children- belonging to foreigners, right now being shot at by our troops? Where is the Right to Life alarm about people we are depriving of life? Horton’s lesson was that others matter, regardless of size. Would that mean not just little people? What of adult people being exploited, tortured or condemned to death, who is concerned for their right to life?

One of the charms of Dr. Seuss is that his myriad creatures represent an incalculable gamut of fantasy beings. Horton does not hear a baby elephant for example, he hears a WHO. The Whos of Whoville are not of his world at all, and might well inhabit a forth dimensional anthill as far as Horton can figure. Would this not be quite the humanitarian message for religious nuts preoccupied only for their own? Miserably too, they are not obsessed with precisely their own, but about YOUR own, whom they claim as theirs to save. Their daughters are having abortions, to the last, I can assure you that.

The your-baby demagogues are motivated by penance, for deed past or to come, but instead of flagellating themselves, they’re beating on your daughter. They are concerned for the right to life of her baby, to be conceived unprepared for and un-afforded. They stand for that baby’s right to the unending cycle of ill-parenting, vocational training, indebtedness, and life of servitude.

Dr. Seuss lived long enough to see the Religious Right’s interest in exploiting the Horton Hears a Sinner theme. Both Theodor Geisel and his widow publicly repudiated the holier-than-thou interpretation being used to agitate against abortion. But now his earthly voice is extinguished, and we can see Pro-Lifers don’t respect the dead either.

Living better at the expense of others

SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST by Jens GalschiotPerhaps you thought it couldn’t get worse. Colorado College hosts speakers who deny global warming, or dismiss the “one or two degrees.” They have speakers who champion imperialism by debt. Coming up, on February 26th at Packard Hall, CC has asked Wal-mart VP of public relations Ray Bracy to address economic development. I kid you not, his address is: “Saving People Money So They Can Live Better: A Global Perspective.”
 
Do you almost want to hear this pitch? Materialism to live better. Exploitation the means to an end. A global picture of happiness? Now that’s going to take balls.
 
In the meantime, consider the bronze statue Survival of the Fattest, and this WTO lament, for Art In Defense Of Humanism:
I’m sitting on the back of a man
He is sinking under the burden
I would do anything to help him
Except stepping down from his back.

Ugly Dolls more than skin deep

Handcrafted to look sloppyDo you remember several years ago, when Ugly Dolls crawled out of the Cabbage Patch like that season’s Troll Doll? We have an obsession with fugly. Except they were trendy, hand sewn in someone’s attic and sold at exclusive boutiques, but had the aesthetic sophistication of sock monkeys, sharing 98% of their DNA.

Uglydolls were the must-have gift for those whose taste was thread-bare chic. These eclectic one-of-a-kind one-offs were, it appeared, sewn by a single hand, or at most by several one-handed cottage industrialists. The design called for single flat panels stitched together without too much care, with scraps fastened cockeye to form the features. Of course the price you paid for such deliberate off-the-wall on-the-mark anti-production-value plush toys reflected where you could get them. Melrose Avenue haute-suture or Ebay.

I found an Uglydoll display at a local boutique and saw the burgeoning cast of character-actors and side-kicks the collection has become. Plus now, to spare the mythical not-so-nimble seamstresses behind the first batch, these new generation Uglies herald from China. There is no good reason I suppose to deny the mass market access to the fruit of playful creative ninnies. But lo, the price tags are still show-off high! Is there no consumer benefit to derive from 55¢/hr wages?

Running shoes which are priced $150 at retail cost less than $2 to make. But we know Nike has to recoup an incredible amount for R&D. They’ve got us running on air for goodness sake, that technological leap had to be expensive. Plus someone’s got to pony up for the clever ads. Nike CEO Phil Knight doesn’t advertise just for the sake of his vanity.

The only engineering required with ugly plush toys is how to inject into the factory process the “slight variations which enhances [sic] their appearance of uniqueness.” Can you picture Chinese overseers enforcing deliberately sloppy -but fastidious- handiwork?

So why would the prices be kept so high? Even if sold only through specialty stores which require a 100% Keystone markup, there would still be leeway.

Can you do the math? Probably the labor expended to make one plush toy would remain constant over the varying production scenarios. Let’s compare the options: Manufacturing wages in the US have declined sharply, but at $12/hour, for how much did they have to sell the original Ugly? If we were considering a sweatshop in Los Angeles, the wage would be $4-$6/hour. So now we’ve half-ed it. Contracting a factory in Saipan or Guam, among the US possessions, would mean half again as much, $2-$3/hour and we’d still get to say MADE IN AMERICA. Moving the production to Mainland China means a prison wage of $0.55/hour. That’s less than 1/20th of the original cost.

Unless we hear news reports of Chinese laborers landing dream jobs sewing Ugly Dolls from straw to gold, somebody is making quite a grotesque, not even fugly, mark-up.