A few years ago, while watching CNBC, I almost fell out of my chair when one of the anchors said something like:
“Yes, Hugo Chavez is a dictator, but there is a serious income-inequality problem in Venezuela.”
A CNBC anchor criticizing plutocracy! Bizarre, right? Well, that was Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
However, in 2011, “MCC” was sent to Europe to report on the financial panic. From Rome, she reported on the scourge of overpaid Roman cab drivers. In another report, she carried on about how the only solution for countries like Italy was to smash unions and beat down wages.
Quite a change of philosophy, right? I then went to Amazon and did “search inside” on her book for “Venezuela”. Not a word about income inequality.
So, what happened to MCC? I like to think that she got a memo from her boss, the “Jobs Czar” saying something like this:
“One more criticism of plutocracy and you will be reporting from Mongolia! Even if it is in an enemy country like Venezuela, plutocracy is plutocracy, damn it! And your job is to pimp plutocracy! Now hop to it!”
Of course, you can’t blame MCC for joining Team Plutocracy. After all, according to Wikipedia, income-inequality is even worse in the USA than it is in Venezuela. And one simply cannot expect to have a career in corporate America while being an advocate for the small people.
And what about those Roman cab drivers? Did they really bankrupt Italy? I don’t know, but last time I checked, labor unions have been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and Italy has done just fine for most of its history. If the unions were choking Italy, how come Italy has a $2 trillion economy? The 8th largest in the world?
But yes, unions can be a problem. Imagine a Midwestern town in the USA that had all of its factories sent to Mexico and China, and its service centers to India. It has double-digit unemployment, tax revenues are down, and the city can no longer afford to pay “exorbitant” wages to its union workers.
That is indeed a problem. But maybe it’s more a problem of globalism, no?
And why may I ask is the solution to any economic problem to beat down wages? Why isn’t the solution to raise the wages of German and Chinese workers instead?
Speaking of which, in CNBC’s coverage of Italy’s problems, I didn’t hear one word about how cheap imports from China have ravaged Italy’s industrial economy. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall hearing that mentioned at all in our corporate-owned media. We have to go to the British media to learn the term “wage dumping”. Here is the great AEP on the subject:
“Oskar Lafontaine, a leader of Germany’s Linke (Left) party, said the euro was hurtling towards destruction on current policies. He blamed Germany’s system of screwing down wages to undercut other EMU countries – or “wage dumping” – for causing the imbalances behind the eurozone crisis. “A shared currency cannot work without coordination of wage policy. Once wages have diverged as far as they have in recent years, devaluation and revaluation is the only way out.”
And Italy’s problems are not so much different than our own. After all, the difference between Germany’s and Italy’s wages are miniscule compared to those of the USA ($23 per hour) and Mexico, India, and China ($2 per hour). And thanks to the Beijing-imposed yuan-dollar currency peg, we also have a “shared currency” with China, just as Italy does with Germany.
Of course, such “labor arbitrage” is the very Engine of Plutocracy. So, don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be discussed on CNBC. And if the USA is ever graced with a populist dictator like Hugo Chavez, the Plutocracy will have only itself to blame.
Note to Plutocracy: Seriously; ease up a bit. You are riding for a fall. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Note: Here is a post I wrote about MCC’s assertion that “factory jobs are dumb.”