By Jim Hoover
Have you ever considered the toll imposed by the so-called “job creators”? And don’t forget our role in this agenda-inspired phrase, “job creator”. This plaint is part of rote learning conservatives want to impose on the rest of us. The meaning is clear. Corporate executives are creative and productive. The rest of us are slugs, dependent upon their productive cunning.
Meanwhile, in exchange for spreading around a few million dollars in campaign contributions by corporate fat cats, their political chattels urge giveaways to the rich, packaging them as cures to societal needs, the current snake oil (or oil from snakes) being for “jobs’ programs.”
Look at Rick Perry, who received more than $11 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil, unveiled as his jobs plan, a thinly disguised gift to Big Oil and a plague on humankind’s future:
- End all efforts at federal regulation of fracking by Big Oil.
- End all regulation of Big Oil’s CO2 emissions.
- Allow Big Oil to drill on sensitive lands owned by taxpayers.
- End federal efforts to require development of renewable energy, if it competes with Big Oil.
- Cripple the EPA by slashing budget by 60%.
- Establish a moratorium on all new regulations on Big Oil.
- Eliminate tax incentives for renewable energy and provide new subsidies for Big Oil.
- Stop groups from filing suits over environmental violations.
- Fast-track drilling permits for Big Oil in the Gulf Coast.
- Immediate approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Yes, I know. Rick Perry, with the muddled mind, is probably toast, but he represents the disease that is Republican Party thinking – everything for corporate interests and nothing for the people.
But that is only one side of the consideration. How about the miserable lives of the workers in other countries laboring in the factories like slaves, making the products that familiar American companies like Apple, GE, IBM, Dell, and HP bring to us cheaply — relative to times past – by exploiting cheap labor in countries like China, where workers have no rights?
Mike Daisey, an American monologist, author, and actor has piqued the conscience of Americans recently with “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which Daisey examines globilization and the exploitation of Chinese workers through the lens of Apple, Jobs’s role in Apple’s ascent, and the human price we are willing to pay to enjoy a relatively inexpensive “fingertip” technology. His monologue has changed, however, with Job’s untimely death.
Like us, Daisey was an “Apple fanboy” until he flew to China to investigate, posing as a businessman, how the “beautifully designed hand-held gizmos were made.” Though Daisey focused on Foxconn which does Apple products, the labor practices apply to other American companies, including HP, Dell, and IBM, for example.
He found long hours – many factories forced workers to work 81 hours per week without overtime for the equivalent of less than $175 a month, grossly-substandard dorm conditions, and impaired workers. He met very young factory workers whose joints in their hands were damaged due to performing the same actions thousands of times a shift.
In his monologue, Daisey indicates his assumption that robots put together iPads and iPhones.”I was woefully ignorant most of my life. Even though I love the devices deeply, I never had any idea how they were made and never thought about it in the least,” says Daisey.
Daisey’s eyes were opened when, posing as a businessman, he traveled to the Chinese industrial zone of Shenzhen and interviewed hundreds of workers outside the gates of the secretive Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer. A string of suicides at the heavily regimented factories also have drawn attention to conditions faced by workers inside.
Many states now under Republican control, like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, have made moves toward de-unionization, shorter vacations, curtailment of worker rights and even child labor in states like Maine. So this issue of diminished worker rights is being revisited in the US, but nowhere near the horrific conditions in China and Taiwan, for example.
We should thank – and support — the people who are occupying American streets throughout the country, doing all of us a favor, calling out the tyranny that is spreading within corporate America and in the dark hearts of would-be government representatives.
The “Jobs Policy” of a Rick Perry is a cynical sham that has echoed throughout our country through the voices of other such deceitful demagogues, with names like Cantor, Boehner, McConnell and lesser minions.
We certainly have enjoyed the benefits of a growing global economy but are just beginning to see the toll it has taken in a whole host of ways: unemployment, diminished control of our government, a growing gap between the rich and poor, and corporate control of our lives.
But for the more distant future (a view not taken by business and government), we can only see a murky world: polluted by unbridled production, people suffering continents away from abusive working conditions, less habitable land and overpopulation, flooding from rising oceans, forced migration, homelessness, war due to competition for dwindling resources, and hunger.
The latter vision of the future will come to be if the forces of greed continue to ravage our planet. It could be the ultimate toll our children and grandchildren may pay.