We Are All Confederates Now

The crowd in Columbia, South Carolina cheered today as the Confederate flag was taken down. But you have to wonder: how many of those cheering people were wearing clothes made by Asian slave-children? Most of them, probably.

Sorry to rain on your Confederate-flag taking-down party, but the hard truth is that the South has already risen again. Dixie’s slave-labor ideology has not been eliminated; in fact, it has been raised to the status of a holy-sacrament for the entire nation with cheap-labor being the beating heart of record corporate profits.

Arkansas’ Bill Clinton was the chief political operative who made David Rockefeller’s “free trade” cheap-labor dream come true. And it was Arkansas’ Walmart that pressured Congress to pass Clinton’s NAFTA. Speaking of which, you have to wonder: was the wealth-disparity between southern “planters” and their chattel slaves greater than that of the Walton Family and their Walmart wage-slaves? Maybe not. Slaves may have not been paid anything, but they were fed and housed, while many Walmart workers aren’t paid enough to afford food and must rely on food stamps

Arkansas was also one of the first states to adopt the union-busting, wage-suppressing “Right to Work” law. And in recent years, right-to-work has actually conquered three northern states: Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

America’s middle class has been mauled by Confederate ideology, and this nation is hurtling backward toward a fascist slave-state with shocking momentum.

But it gets worse.

At The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, CFR member and Fox News contributor Mallory Factor teaches cadets that “labor is a commodity.” And of course, commodities can be bought and sold, and disposed of at will, since they are your property. Sort of like slaves were. However, workers are not lumps of bauxite; they are people raising families, and some of their children will grow up to join the military and fight and die for this nation. So no, I don’t believe that Factor’s explicit fascist ideology should be taught to our future military leaders.

To read more about working conditions in the South, see this piece by Michael Lind. Here’s a quote:

“The Southern strategy of attracting foreign investment from New York, London and other centers of capital depends on having a local Southern workforce that is forced to work at low wages by the absence of bargaining power.”

Monetary Policy has no Effect on Wages in a Slave Society

Imagine that you are Fed chairman in 1830, and at an FOMC meeting you ask the committee: “how can we adjust our policy levers here at the central bank to get a wage boost for the slaves down south?” What would happen? Your fellow fed-heads would probably look at you like you were insane. Then they would offer suggestions, trying not to giggle in the process.

In the future, a big milestone in the march toward a fascist slave-state will go into the history books when Congress formally relieves the Fed of its mandate to strive for full employment. Perhaps this will be done in the aftermath of a global financial catastrophe caused by the Fed pumping absurd amounts of liquidity into the global financial system.

This is inevitable because with the ever-expanding policies of free-trade and mass-immigration, what is left of the USA’s economic boarders are rapidly melting away. And that’s why the wage data is still punk after trillions of stimulus from the Fed: wages in the formerly-sovereign USA cannot rise until after wages rise in the “Mexico” and “China” and “India” regions of the neoliberal global empire.

It’s pretty obvious that the Fed, and the ECB, have succeeded only in creating massive distortions in global financial markets (such as negative rates on German bunds). Perhaps this is why Janet Yellen is so hesitant to make even a teensy quarter-point rate hike: she knows that she will have to engineer the mother of all soft-landings. The path of least resistance for her would be to keep rates at zero until a rise in inflation forces her hand. Once the CYA is in place, she can blow up the world.

If David Rockefeller and his neoliberal oligarchy were competent, they would have removed the Fed’s full-employment mandate long before they reached their goal of commoditizing global labor at a wage-rate of $2 per hour. But they are anything but competent, and the 2008 financial crisis was only a small taste of the havoc they will wreak upon this nation.

Godspeed Janet Yellen, Godspeed.

Slave-Labor Meme Gains Steam

Almost two years ago, I created a “slave labor” category on this blog, and wrote the first post in that category: “Caught Slaving – Again.” Since then, I have been crusading against the return to a slave-labor based economy – pretty much a one-man crusade. So, I was shocked to see slave labor discussed on CNBC, of all places, on Friday’s episode of The Kudlow Report. And it wasn’t a Democratic pundit who brought it up; it was Republican Ann Coulter. And she also brought an argument that you normally only hear from Democrats: that “welfare” programs like food stamps are really a subsidy to companies that employ workers at slave-labor wages. For example, near the end of the video below, she says:

“I’m subsidizing the cheap businessman’s cheap labor.”

Coulter also thinks that the 14% jump in young black men voting for Romney is because of his tough position on immigration. I have outlined in red the polling data from Pew Research:


As far as I can tell, nobody really knows why so many young black men ditched Obama. However, it is indeed possible that Coulter is correct, and blacks are becoming increasingly aware that their high unemployment rate is due to mass immigration. I’m sure that Romney personally fired many African-Americans as he was shipping jobs to China en-masse during his long destroying-America career, but there was more noise about his immigration position during the debates, what with “self-deportation” and all. So, it is indeed plausible that that is the reason why those black men switched parties. They just want their jobs back, and Obama has not delivered, but rather has made things worse.

Of course, we don’t want to give too much credit to Coulter, because like she said in the video, under the “right” circumstances she would erase the USA’s borders just as eagerly as Kudlow and Norquist would. And the minimum wage; and child-labor laws, etc. However, if subsequent research finds that blacks do indeed want an end to mass immigration, the Republicans might seize the opportunity to steal the black vote from the Democrats.

And then the “Party of Lincoln” would have come full circle. The Republican Party was formed to end slavery, and that’s exactly what their first president, Abraham Lincoln, did. However, in recent decades, the Republicans have pulverized the black community under the globalist, neoliberal “leadership” of David Rockefeller. Their jobs have been sent abroad, and what few remained have been taken over by a massive wave of immigration – all in the name of cheap labor.

It’s hard to believe that the Republicans would once again fight against slavery, but I don’t see the Democrats racing to do it. In fact, I see even the labor unions agreeing to a larger tidal wave of immigration. And it might be the only way for the Republican Party to survive, because as we saw in 2012, Asians and Latinos are running away from them.

Today, all three major political factions are neoliberal: Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. But as the Urban Intifada intensifies, it is very possible that the first party to turn against neoliberalism will be the party that carries the day in the future. Neoliberalism is the cancer just waiting for a political party to come along and win glory by excising it.

Roll the Tanks!

Is it just me, or is Larry Kudlow eager to drive tanks over Chinese workers?

At the 1:05 mark of the video below, Kudlow asks his guest:

“At what point, if these internal company riots continue, does the Chinese government crack down with Tienanmen Two, or 2.0, or 3, or whatever? At what point does the Chinese government crack down?”

What kind of person is a Tienanmen Square Massacre fan?

And Kudlow seems to yearn for a whole series of massacres. Using a software nomenclature, “2.0”, implies that Kudlow is yearning for improved massacre methods. Like a giddy fan boy, he’s drooling over the prospect of sexy new slaughtering methods. Maybe the tanks will have special “gore scoopers” to clear away bodies more efficiently. Maybe the tanks will come in multiple colors. OMG! I can’t wait! I will stand in line all night!

The funny thing is that at the time, we didn’t even know what caused the riot. Today, DigiTimes reported:

“Foxconn said it will also ensure its duties relating to employee welfare are implemented and it will make over-time payments as promised.”

Looks like those workers had a good reason to riot after all.

Note to Kudlow: What do you have to say about that? Or do you condone the practice of “wage theft”?

DigiTimes also reported that Foxconn will “strengthen their patrols” and “work to pacifying their subordinates.”

Has Donald Rumsfeld been appointed CEO of Foxconn?

And no, the multinationals will not pull production out of China. They have the same attitude that Kudlow does: militarized production is a feature, not a bug.

Caught Slaving – Again, Part 2

The New York Times reports that Chinese students are being forced to work as “interns” on Foxconn assembly lines. Said one student:

“The university told us it’s a good way to experience corporate culture,” a 19-year-old student told China Daily newspaper. “Even though many of my classmates are reluctant to go to Foxconn, our teachers still asked us to work there starting in August.”

Ironically, what the kid said is all too true: it is indeed a good way to experience multinational culture.

What ever happened to the America that prided itself on abolishing slavery?

Wage Equilibrium = Code for Slavery

If somebody says to you that we can cure unemployment by repealing the minimum-wage laws so that wages can fall to their equilibrium level, you are either talking to a fool or a slaver. Libertarians like Lew Rockwell fall into the fool camp, and Republican Ann Coulter is an example of a slaver.

First, we already tried this. During the Great Depression (before the minimum wage was adopted in 1938) wages found an equilibrium level below the amount where a worker could purchase enough food to stay alive.

How does the fabulous “invisible hand” solve that problem? Easy, you just let workers starve to death until their numbers are reduced. Eventually, the supply of workers will fall to the point where wages rise to non-starvation levels.

And how long would that take? Well, for all practical intents and purposes, the supply of surplus humans in the world today is infinite. Billions and billions as Carl Sagan used to say. And since the equilibrium crowd is also an open-borders crowd, the USA would very rapidly come to look like Bangladesh – and it would stay that way for a very long time.

As we are seeing in the warehouse industry, we have already entered Grapes-of-Wrath territory while importing a mere 1 million legal immigrants per year.

In the 1930s, Florida deployed law-enforcement officers along its borders to keep immigrants out – its northern borders with Georgia and Alabama to keep Americans out. The state was trying to prevent an explosion of homelessness as migrant workers poured into the state. (California did so also).

Why were the migrants coming if there were no jobs? Because the growers were advertising for them. Since there was no minimum wage, the more workers that showed up, the lower the wages the growers could pay. By increasing the local supply of workers, the growers lowered the equilibrium wage.

Of course, they also created horrible, squalid working conditions where workers beat each other to death to land jobs in order to feed their starving children. The libertarian dystopia didn’t end until the federal government vacuumed up surplus workers and set them to building war matériel.

You and I might be appalled at the state of the nation when thousands line-up to apply for minimum-wage jobs at McDonald’s and Walmart. But do you think our CEOs feel the same way? Or are they drinking champagne and toasting to rock-bottom equilibrium, while scheming to get it even lower?

The historical fact is that the USA grew to the height of its power with the minimum wage, worker-friendly labor laws, strict immigration control, tariffs, Glass-Steagall, etc.

And it wasn’t a coincidence.

None of those things are the poison that the equilibrium-istas would have you believe.

Note: Read more about Florida’s libertarian dystopia during the Great Depression here.

Read it Here First: Slavery Returns

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson just wrote: “Get ready to be a slave in China’s world order.”

But you read it here first six months ago in: “There’s a Sweatshop in Your Future.”

How can I run six months ahead of the Harvard egghead types? Easy question.

Because I can see The Matrix.

And it’s about faith. If you don’t believe in pure evil, you will always be underestimating what the The Matrix has in store for you.

In any case, Ferguson is too worried about the Chinese:

“If China can impose low wages and harsh working conditions in emerging markets, how long before they start doing the same to us?”

So, I have a homework assignment for the professor: Go on a field trip to American warehouses and have a look at the wages and conditions imposed by American managers on American workers. Don’t go to the Costco facilities; they still treat workers like human beings there. And don’t go to the Walmart company facilities; go to their contract facilities instead. You know, the ones where they have plausible deniability.

Ferguson writes about a Chinese-owned mine in Africa:

“A typical monthly wage packet is about £54 — barely enough to feed a family. The Chinese pay Chinese wages for Chinese working hours. That has unnerving implications for everyone who wants to win Chinese investment. If you want the Chinese to put money into your economy, you had better get ready to work as hard as they do — and for as little.”

Foxconn may have its suicide nets, but in US warehouses pregnant women are made to work like dogs in 100 degree heat, with ambulances standing by outside. And many of them are so badly paid that they still quailify for food stamps!

The most thorough reporting that I have seen on the story is from Dave Jamieson at HuffPo: “The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty And The American Warehouse.

All Quiet on the North Korean Front

When Kim Jong-il died in December, the media was filled with stories of the mayhem that might ensue. But I knew it wouldn’t happen because the US/South Korea trade treaty had become law a month before.

What does our treaty with South Korea have to do with North Korea, a completely different country?

I’ll give you one guess.

Here’s a hint: What is the heart-and-soul of globalization?

If you answered “sweatshops”, you get a gold star. Tell your mom that I said it was OK.

The Kaesong Industrial Region in North Korea

But now you’re thinking: “South Korea is a modern country free of sweatshops. So, how could this be?” Here’s how:

The purple area on the map is North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Region, which is right on the border with South Korea. Kaesong was built by Hyundai, and is the Korean version of Foxconn.

While Foxconn has huge operations in China, it is a Taiwanese company. See the parallel? Capitalist Chinese from Taiwan operate the sweatshops in communist China. And now capitalist Koreans from the South are operating the sweatshops in the communist North. It’s the same setup except that the Korean version is more brutal. Workers are paid much less, and are marched in to work every morning by government goon squads shouting slogans at them.

We have had trade restrictions on North Korea for a long time; just as we do with Iran. And Kaesong was one of the primary reasons why the South Korea–USA Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) was held up for so many years.

But guess what? The word “Kaesong” doesn’t even appear in the final text of the treaty. You might expect it to be discussed in the “Rules of Origin” section, but it is not.

One would think that trade with an “Axis of Evil” country would get more play in the treaty. Shouldn’t there be very strict rules about what North Korean products can come into the USA via Kaesong and South Korea?

The treaty glosses over the issue by discussing “outward processing zones” under which Kaesong would be covered. However, the treaty does not forbid products from Kaesong. Annex 22-B provides for a committee to review such issues, but get this: the committee won’t even meet until March 15, 2013!

So, it looks like the fix is in.

And Kaesong is staffing up. This article from the Daily NK says Kaesong has absorbed all the workers in the region and more are going to be bused in.

The US industry hit hardest by globalization has been the textile industry, which has lost 62.5% of its jobs between 2001 and 2009. See the chart on page 16 of this report from the Brookings Institution. And it looks like textiles will get hit again. South Korean textiles will enter the USA duty-free immediately while our exports to them will suffer a 10% VAT.

And I can’t help but wonder if products made elsewhere in North Korea might be funneled to the South via Kaesong, and then exported to the USA. Is your next pair of sneakers being made right now at Camp 22? Nobody knows what goes on there, but it can’t be anything good. What if they work prisoners to death, and then bury them in mass graves?

OK, that’s speculation, but there is good evidence that products made by cheap labor have been smuggled out of the North to the USA. Maybe even your children’s favorite Disney movies. See this article about North Korea’s animation industry.

Newsweek has reported that Kaesong sweatshop workers were paid $57 per month. And considering the long hours in Asian sweatshops, that might come to 25¢ per hour.

Yesterday, North Korea announced that it is suspending nuclear development. Coincidence? Maybe not. What is North Korea’s end-game? Will they be conquered by the South and the USA like Libya? Will they suffer an economic collapse and be annexed by China?

Perhaps there is a third scenario: they will sell their people down the river, forcing them to work for peanuts in hellish sweatshops that have duty-free access to the USA’s vast consumer market.

Such an outcome would be disastrous for American workers, but it might be considered a geo-political back-up plan. If relations with China turn sour, American companies could transfer production to Korean sweatshops.

President Obama, who campaigned against NAFTA in 2008, has rubber-stamped another Republican cheap-labor deal. And the fall-out could effect the elections in November. The festivities begin on March 15th when the treaty goes into effect.

Note: See Public Citizen’s fact sheet here.
Note: See the Heritage Foundation’s pro-treaty argument here.

Here is a video from one of the authors of the Brookings paper that I linked to above:

Indonesia Doesn’t Have Enough People?

A while back, when Chinese workers were striking for higher wages, CNBC had an expert on to discuss the event. Where could the multinationals move their sweatshops to maintain maximum profitability? During the course of the conversation, Indonesia came up, and the expert said that the nation didn’t have enough people.

I thought: “That’s weird. As I recall, Indonesia has a rather large number of people, nowhere near as many as China, of course, but still up there.”

So, I concluded that the supply of workers must be very, very huge to meet the demand of China’s massive industrial base while keeping wages down.

But now I think that it is more than just simple supply and demand. It also has to do with working conditions. A Foxconn executive said that their monthly turnover rate is 5%. So, with one million workers, they are burning through 50,000 workers a month.

With the punitive working conditions required to make profits under the harsh demands from Silicon Valley to keep costs down, a vast pool of downtrodden peasants is required.

How many cities in the world could accommodate Foxconn? How many cities have 600,000 people to churn-and-burn through each year? Not many, I suspect.

So maybe Indonesia really doesn’t have enough people to keep the sweatshops churning out obscene profits – even if it is the fourth most-populous nation in the world. (China, India, and the USA, are the top three.)

And I think this also can explain why immigration into the USA was run at a record rate straight through the Great Recession, unlike during the Great Depression when immigration was shut down.

They are building up our population in preparation for bringing the Foxconn sweatshop model here.

See also:
Immigration Armageddon.
There’s a Sweatshop in Your Future.
Here Come the Shanty Towns.
List of nations by population.

The Podcast that Made Apple Sweat

Apple was forced to release its list of suppliers today, and I think a genius named Mike Daisey is responsible. On January 6th, a PBS station aired his podcast about his trip to China to interview sweatshop workers. This spellbinding podcast is an hour long, so make sure you are ready to listen to it all, because once you start, you won’t be able to turn it off. Go to this page and click the red “Play” button.

CNBC tried to spin the news by saying it was a great resource for finding Apple supplier’s to invest in! Not exactly what I would call hard-hitting journalism. They didn’t even use the word “sweatshop” in any of their stories. In CNBC-land, sweatshops are just “facilities”.

While this story is about Apple, it is unfair to single them out. All multinationals are guilty of this. Nevertheless, Apple could be vulnerable. How hard could it be to make an Android tablet in the USA, and market it under a “No Sweat” brand? Could “sweatshop consciousness” be the next “environmental consciousness”? Could the “No Sweat” pad be the next Prius?

Now that would be something.