Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh Don't Ask Why

No doubt the last few posts have raised a lot of questions. I'll try to answer some of them here:

Given the current fragility of the Euro zone, isn't there a risk that a European work stoppage could cause the Euro to collapse?

Yes. Of course. That would be the point -- to bring it down, to force it to collapse. Why not? It's going to collapse anyhow, of its own weight. But the longer that takes, the harder it's going to be for workers throughout the zone. And every indication is that the leaders, who are after all part of the 1%, are going to draw out the painful process indefinitely. A Europe-wide united labor action would force the issue, thus freeing workers from the grip of an increasingly intolerable "austerity." 

How can workers organize on a worldwide basis when the cost of labor varies so greatly from one part of the world to the other?

Yes, third world labor costs far less than first world labor, and as a result European and American workers are finding it more and more difficult to compete with Asiatic, Middle Eastern and African workers -- which makes both groups increasingly vulnerable to exploitation by globally based corporations. If we look more closely, however, we will see that the differences are not as great as they may seem. While American workers earn far more in US dollars than Asiatic workers, Asiatic workers can buy a whole lot more with each dollar (or its equivalent) than Americans.

Thus, Chinese workers, for example, have a far greater savings rate, a high level of home ownership, and far less mortgage debt. In fact they have very little debt at all. I'm not saying they have as much spending power as US workers, because most Chinese still earn less than we do, and have far fewer choices as consumers. Nevertheless, the income discrepancy is not as high as it might seem. What makes them so competitive with US or European workers is the largely the discrepancy in the value of the Chinese currency compared with the dollar, euro or pound.

So in principle the competition isn't really that great. It's largely the result of distortions introduced by a monetary system that favors "cheap" Asiatic labor and gives a huge advantage to large corporations capable of moving their operations anywhere in the world. The monetary system and the corporations work in tandem as part of a process through which all workers are exploited. So the goal of a united world workforce is to promote the collapse of that system, not cooperate in (futile) efforts to delay its (in any case inevitable) collapse. Once it collapses, a more logical and equible economic system, based on the production and distribution of resources, will be possible.

(more later)


  1. I really don't think the poor, asian workers are the key here. Standards of living in China for example, continue to rise for all classes. The problem remains poorer asiatic countries and various middle east "countries" whose only means of change seems to be violence, and the third world of course. I think it is a mistake to single out China.

    The USA however has always spread its more nobler lessons and guidelines for a better, greater society, when it leads by example. I still hold out some hope for the democrats and their more progressive wings, and Obama, for helping this idea along. All bets are off though for me if Romney wins. This seems a shame if it happens but if it does, I don't think there will be anyone more to blame for this than Obama himself. But especially on his supporters still, who do not push on him more to do the right things for all of us.

    We can only hope that this fairytale world notion of "socialist" Obama among the far right looneytunes, really does emerge folling an Obama win in a few months.

    This is yet another thing however for true progressives to push him on, whether it's public or in smoke-filled rooms. The so-called "liberal media" print, tv, net, doesn't seem to get this, in my opinion. We don't need the status quo here, we need a strong OWS type effort from the MSNBC Huffington Maher wings. They need to gain some SELF CONSCIOUSNESS. About what they're doing and why. Let us not forget that all of the most popular and dominant media in this regard, are all mostly firmly enclosed in that "one percent."

    If only Obama would just listen more to his own inner sense of common sense and stop trying to court all these republican right wing born again tea baggers. They've hated you since you announced, since you won, they call YOU a fucking "socialist!" How far out of right field do they need to be? I think Obama should just ignore such demographic groups.

    I mean really, according to almost all "poll" results I've seen lately, I get the feeling that if Obama would simply start talking to and appealing to, his formerly "inspired" followers, he'd win easily. After this easy win, as a lame duck, hopefully he could stop this hopeless appeal to the repubthugs and just start...doin' the right thing, for real this time, come next January 20.

  2. China may not have been the best example, because the situation there is complex and my point is basically pretty simple. All I was trying to say was that workers in the "developing world" can get a lot more bang for their buck than those in the first world, so it's not exactly meaningful to compare incomes on the basis of what they earn in dollar equivalents. If you compare on the basis of access to resources, the income discrepancy is far less (though still real). What I'd like to see is a "currency" based on resources, rather than money, something like a rationing system.

    As far as Obama is concerned, I basically agree. However, the real problem for him, as I see it, is that being President of the USA has become almost a kind of trap, with far less real power than in the past. He does have great powers of persuasion, but no real power to control the plutogarchs, who are actually running things, very much their own way. Again as I said before, only the workers, if they could somehow get organized and unified, as in the past, have that power.

  3. I think the "worker" and the "unions" (an almost extinct breed), are as hopeless as the entrenched PTB. There are a lot of workers OUT of work, either now, or for a long time. I believe the days of "organized labor" in the usa are long gone. Jeez, half of them will vote for Romney simply because at this point, a lot of them are grasping at straws.

    Personally, I don't really care that much about the "plight" of Americans. Even the poor live like kings and queens to the rest of the majority of the world. I also don't care about China or England or any of the other still going strong old world imperialists (all hail our beloved fatherland, Der Reich).

    I care about the half or more of the world's population who live in utter poverty, kids dying in the 1000's every day cause they're HUNGRY! How dare them!

    I don't know though, everything's just so fucked up these days, I'm guessing that nothing much is going to change much in the near future. I have good days though and bad, positive ones and ones of despair. Even your use of the term "workers" is kind of depressing. It's all age-old class warfare crap, although the mainstream media would have you believe in a bunch of false equivalencies as pertaining to rich/poor comparisons.

    I think we need to look beyond labels of groups. Everyone needs to think as an individual before any real change is possible. I'm just not sure if that's even possible anymore though, in these ironic times, where people have facebook accounts with 1000's or even millions of "friends," when none of them can even comprehend how actual friends come together in a meaningful way, start movements, and find strength in numbers, real ones.

  4. I'm very sympathetic to your views, Anonymous, and share your sense of frustration. But from bitter experience I insist that one must choose one's battles carefully and not try to fix every problem at once.

    Also I'm not at all sure that poor Americans are better off than most of the third world poor. They are just more effectively hidden out of sight. One white kid shoots a few classmates and it makes headlines all over the world. But in the city where I live, black kids are being slaughtered day in day out with nary a mention in the press, it's no longer news. The tensions behind such mayhem are very clearly due to extreme poverty and hopelessness.

    Third world poverty is often accompanied by long established social forces that foster mutual support and in such communities people, especially children, are often much happier and leading richer more fulfilling lives than in the typical US ghetto.

    In any case, as I see it, the most effective way to alleviate poverty, either in the 1st or 3rd world, is through the global organization of working people, as a means of countering the disastrous effects of globally organized capitalism. While this might have seemed like a Utopian dream maybe 10 or 15 years ago, the Internet and related tech. advances make large scale organization along such lines far more feasible than at any time in the past.

    A demonstration is only a demonstration, it comes and it goes. But a worldwide labor walkout could not so easily be ignored. It won't solve all our problems and could easily fail. But I do think it worth a try.

  5. I disagree that there can be logical arguments based upon reality, that those in the "third" world don't have it as bad as the "poor" in America. I've seen the poorest of the poor in many areas in the USA, and they still have so much more than the billion or two or three who DEFINE actual poverty (and hopelessness).

    I was recently listening to NPR and they said 40 percent of the world's population, does not own any "modern toilet." Maybe half that amount had no real clean water source. Let alone any real health care. Half of those have a childhood death rate of almost 100 percent by the age of 12.

    I do not buy your workers of the world unite ideas. Shit, in the USA, half of those trickle down worker bees vote against their own interests half the time. And they will again. Most workers of the USA worry and whine about rising gas prices and/or the price of milk. The drought's big news in the USA but this is the norm for a lot of Africa. 100's of millions in Asiatic countries (including China) work for slave labor wages doing slave labor (putting together that next IPhone).

    My solution for now unfortunately lays with whether or not Obama (if he wins), will give the Repub thugs hell and warn them that if they thought for all this time whether he was some wild-eyed socialist or Marxist, they were right.

    A lame-duck Obama can do this. Let's all pray... :-)

  6. The third world is a huge place and contains a great many different flavors of "poverty." It's fine to express concern for the plight of these people, but another thing entirely to even begin to think of how to alleviate it. After all, a large part of colonialism was associated with the "White Man's Burden" of helping such people modernize and improve their lives. Such efforts did help to some degree but at the same time created even worse problems, as we know all too well.

    As far as toilets are concerned, up until maybe 200 years ago, maybe only .1% of the world's people had toilets. Same with running water. Did they get by perfectly well despite that? No. Families typically had large numbers of children because most were expected to die an early death. And if they had all survived, that would have been even worse, I am forced to point out, since the resulting population explosion would have overwhelmed the resources available.

    There are certain problems that are endemic. I'm not saying developed countries shouldn't make every effort to help, but as I see it, it would make more sense if all workers everywhere attempted to organize themselves for their common betterment, rather than depend on pipe dreams among US and European liberals that we can save the world through fine tuning democracy.

  7. I think we have to divide this into USA/Europe and the rest of the world (where I'm pretty sure Mexico and South America, plus most of Africa plus the entire downtrodden mid-east exist). It's all a matter of perspective and everything's relative. Your ideas for the most part are great but they only seem applicable to the 1st world not THE world. I think the plight of the the 3rd world (and 4th?) is just as important however, and a good bit of those are just slaves 2012.

    The very idea of such groups, who have the numbers but not the technology or means to organize let alone protest, is kind of silly. I think most Westerners have no real conception of this or who've convinced themselves they are living on the same planet as the slaves.

    I've done humanitarian work in the real 3rd world, and for all the hoo-rah of the mainstream USA media (pain at the pump, gimme a break), the reality of this planet and its very existence is hanging by a thread these days.


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