Posted to Poetry and Politics
by mot-juste on 2004-07-07 02:04:00
The American activists who protested at World Trade Organization and World Bank meetings to demand better living standards for Third World workers aren't simply do-gooders. When workers in China or Mexico get paid a living wage, American companies have less incentive to move jobs from U.S. soil, and those workers have more money to buy U.S.-made products.Less, yes, but still plenty. The difference in wages is not due only (or mostly) to a lack of "living wages" (what's that, btw? Obviously they live, or how would they work... I don't like this kind of loaded terminology -- "living wages" instead of "high wages", "undocumented workers" instead of "illegal immigrants", etc., coz it's nothing but a manipulative wordplay, cheap fraud, iow.), but simply to cost-of-living differences. Iow, when expressed in the US dollars (or euros, or what have you) everything is simply cheaper there. A worker can be paid a lesser amount (in dollars) but this lesser amount will still buy him a better lifestyle than a similar worker's much higher wage in the U.S. So long as such differences in the cost of living exist, exporting jobs makes perfect sense, and has got nothing to do with "sweatshops", "living wages" controversies, and other suggested abuses (though they may take place too, of course.)
There is, for sure, a problem of the US unemloyment resulting from such job exports, but why not just say so? Why always attach touchy-feely sanctimonious bs about workers on the other side? Most of them benefit from the US exporting jobs -- they get these jobs; otherwise they'd have no jobs, or had worse jobs. Ah, but you can't say what it is, coz it'll be wage protection, which is unamerican; you gotta cook up a "humanitarian", "progressive" cause -- phoney, yes, but moralistically unimpeachable.
This is simple and should be clear to anyone, but the two good professors do not even address it; they simply proceed, swimmingly, with their ideological platform, as if it were somehow an obvious fact that if they paid someone in China a "living wage" then there'd be no stimulus to ship jobs there, or, at least, this stimulus would be so tiny that the process of jobs outflow would significantly subside. No! There spread is huge! There will be stimuli aplenty, it's 8 to 10 times difference, even w/o abuses.
A carton of juice is a carton of juice, but it doesn't cost $4 in China; neither does an Asian, say, engineer have to pay $1,500/mo for a one-bedroom apt, and so he can, at $15K/year live better than someone here at $80K/year. It's simply cheaper there; it costs less to have a similar life; there objectively are sizeable margins that Western companies can play on. And what's wrong with it if they do, in principle? We get some stuff for less (at least that's a possibility: the one that the professors pretend not to be aware of -- why, I wonder? Surely professors are smart people.)
Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance (...) He hoped the pledge would promote a moral vision to counter the climate of the Gilded Age, with its robber barons and exploitation of workers. Bellamy intended the line "One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all" to express a more collective and egalitarian vision of America.Heh... First, "robber barons" were not unequivocally negative, evil individuals -- besides exploiting workers they also built up the U.S. into an industrial nation (which it was not before); they not only exploited workers, but also employed them; and to be employed, ppl need someone to create a business that needs employees, to begin with.
Then, "Bellamy intended" -- well, that's like talking with mnaz (he says so, so it must be so) -- we don't really know what Bellamy intended; what we deal with here is the good professors' surreptitious insinuation -- a superficially plausible one, but far from self-evident. Yet they make no attempt to show why they think this is what Bellamy intended, they simply postulate (why? Are they The Interpreters of Bellamy's Thought by Grace of God, whose pronouncements are not to be questioned?) -- thus attempting to justify their own ideology by underhanded and specious means.
But let's move on:
'Bellamy intended the line "One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all" to express a more collective and egalitarian vision of America".Going beyond the oh-so-innocent exegetical spuriousness, let's look at the idea itself: how reasonable is it that liberty and justice are equalled with collectivism and egalitarianism? Jeeminy yow! It's at least as easy to argue that liberty and justice exclude collectivism and egalitarianism, as it is that they imply them.
Let's see, if I'm a brain surgeon and make $100,000 a year while our friend whizzard is a hardworking honest street sweeper making $11,000 a year: that's not equal, but is it necessarily unfair? Or, suppose I'm hiring a surgeon and a cleaning boy, now, I gotta pay them fair -- does it mean I gotta pay them the same? Hmmm.... (I'm not even starting on how collectivism jibes with liberty; I think it is very obvious that the two concepts are a bit contradictory -- both logically, and based on today's world-wide social experience.)
So, once we've considered the issue on our own (rather then imbibing unthinkigly the professorly "wisdom" here), we've come to a distressing conclusion! Come to think of it, not only may liberty/justice not imply collectivism/egalitarianism -- it's even worse than that: collectivism and egalitarianism appear to be downright obstructive of liberty and justice (and vice versa.)
Robeson, at the time one of the best-known performers on the world stage, became, through this work, a voice of America. (...) In the summer of 1940, it was performed at the national conventions of both the Republican and Communist parties.
So what? He was a good singer and he was wrong politically. Is performing talent a guarantee of political wisdom? He was a huge fan of Stalin, and I'll be damned -- he was wrong in that, no matter how well he sang, and how popular he was.
I'll stop here.
Now, we've performed the above analysis and came to our conclusions entirely on our own, in just a short period of time: how come two professors of social science did not? and moreover -- without even a slightest attempt of a justifying argument they came to insist on the opposite? Not only w/o an argument, but not even acknowledging that an argument is simply possible here.
Well, say what you want, but I interpret this as a brazen, obnoxious case of bad faith -- they're pushing their agenda (collectivism, egalitarianims) by a very spurious argument, which -- if you rationally think this text through instead of simply gobbling up professorly agitprop as if it were some kind of Revelation -- is no argument at all.
Why do they do it? You tell me.
PS. Perhaps most interesting: everything I've plucked from this article is lateral to the article's ostensible purpose. The piece is not about Bellamy etc.; it's about the Conservatives' attempts to appropriate patriotism entirely for themselves -- which is a valid point, in my view.
But look how under the cover of this one valid idea the text is saturated with agitprop. It's quite possible to read this thing simply following the main line, to eat up the whole meal w/o paying much attention to the stuffing, as it were. And yet, as we've discovered, the stuffing is far from innocent. That's how brainwash is achieved -- underhandedly, unobtrusively, by an undetectable sleight of hand they shove their propaganda down your throat while you're distracted by something else (of the same provenance, btw., but much more innocuous.)
And so, once again: why do they do it?