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VIDEO: Here Is What Unregulated, Non-Unionized Capitalism Looks Like: Apple’s iFactory In China

by on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm EDT in Economy, Labor, Politics

Suicide nets under every window.

Conservatives have long derided organized labor and business regulations as some sort of insidious ‘socialist’ cancer that stymies innovation, fleeces hardworking business owners, crushes prosperity and investment capital, and dampens economies with high inflation and high unemployment.

They contend that when corporations are left unburdened by oversight and regulations, to pursue their own profit-maximizing interests, that this will always — as if by an invisible magical hand — optimize the interests of the society in which they operate. 

Obscenely naive or deeply disingenuous, this ideology has been disproved over and over again, since the beginning of the industrial age. In a global economy, the moment a nation catches on — usually when its citizens’ quality of life deteriorates to the point of social unrest — and moves to remedy the situation with more regulations, and by easing organized labor restrictions, the corporations begin to look around to other developing countries for exploitative opportunities.

This now familiar business cycle is especially prominent in sectors that require an educated and highly skilled workforce. This is because higher education is generally funded, not by corporations or government, but by labor itself. This limits the supply of skilled labor, and forces corporations to compete with one another for these self-educated workers, thereby pushing wages upwards.

But unlike labor, who are restricted by national borders in search for employment, corporations are free to roam the world for cheap labor. And corporations have no loyalty to the citizens who reside within the countries they operate. Why pay a premium for an employee with a unique level of expertise, when potential employees with similar skill-sets are being grotesquely undervalued overseas? After all, a corporation’s charter commands it to exploit resources and labor as cheaply as is possible in order to maximize profits. 

At the moment, China happens to be one of those developing nations with a massive poverty-stricken population — ripe for corporate exploitation. 

And what better iconic ‘American’ corporation, but Apple — manufacturer of the world’s most beloved technology products and gadgets — to demonstrate this corporate flight towards labor-exploitative opportunities.

China is a country which conservatives would consider an ideal, unregulated, business-friendly environment. Rather than demanding China raise its labor standards, conservatives would rather weaken U.S. labor standards to be more like China. The conservative plan for bringing jobs home is little more than a race to the bottom. By union busting, cutting government jobs, and further deregulation, American workers will find themselves as powerless and exploitable as our counterparts in developing countries. This, they believe, will make America more ‘competitive.’ This is their ‘free market’ ideology, in a nutshell.

In the following video, ABC’s Nightline was granted unprecedented access to Apple’s factories (owned by FoxCon) inside China. When you see the conditions in which these employees operate, you realize why decent paying American jobs are disappearing, and, as Apple’s recently-deceased CEO admitted to President Obama, “they aren’t coming back.” You begin to understand why young Americans are now questioning whether it even makes economic sense to assume huge amounts of debt in pursuit of higher education.

If you take one thing away from this video, I hope it is that this is not merely an American problem. It is a world problem. The only way to raise the living standards of Americans will be to raise it for everyone else in the world, because this is truly a global economy. And that process begins with rewriting all of our trade deals in ways that empower workers in every single nation, across the world. 

Some highlights from Nightline’s reporting:

  • Apple’s Chinese employees work 12-hour shifts, broken up by two-hour meal breaks, and often seven days per week.
  • Employees work so long and so hard on the assembly line, that most eat their 70 cent meals at the company canteen quickly, so they can catch up on lost sleep at their work stations. (the video shows them all sleeping side-by-side during their lunch break)
  • Many employees live in dorm rooms, shared by seven other workers, and will each pay $17.50 per month for this. This allows Apple to have workers on-call 24-7, in case they ever need to quickly scale-up production, at a moment’s notice.
  • Most employees have left their families to work here.
  • Suicide nets‘ have been installed under the windows of all FoxCon employees to prevent them from killing themselves. A year ago, nine employees jumped to their deaths in the span of 3 months.
  • Last year, poorly ventilated aluminum ducts, which the company had been warned about by human rights groups (an accusation the company does not deny), caused two separate explosions in iPad polishing stations, killing four employees and injuring seventy-seven.
  • Literally thousands of people (over three thousand on this particular Monday) line up daily at FoxCon’s recruitment center, waiting hours on end, and many carrying suitcases. They are desperate to work there for $1.78 per hour. Demand for Apple products is so high, that FoxCon will hire 80% of them.
  • To help manage the controversy that erupted after the NY Times’ recent article, In China, Human Costs Are Built Into An iPod, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association. But Apple paid the group $250k to join, and also pays for all its pre-arranged — never by surprise — audits, leading many to believe there is a deep conflict of interest, and is little more than a ploy to whitewash their labor practices.
  • ABC revealed most all of the employees they spoke with complained about their low-pay, expensive lunch prices, and crowded dorms, but there was nothing they could do about it, as unions don’t exist there.

Sounds like a Conservative Utopia!



‘Christian Right’ Is An Oxymoron

by on Monday, April 25, 2011 at 11:28 am EDT in Politics

I cannot think of two ideologies more diametrically opposed to one another than Christianity and right-wing conservatism. Yet, in U.S. politics no two words get conjoined more than “Christian Right”.

How is it that people who claim to live according to the compassionate teachings of Jesus Christ — alleged champion of the poor and the meek — simultaneously, and with straight faces, attempt to impose sociopath Ayn Rand’s world vision of selfishness upon their fellow citizens?

In one hand conservatives cling to The Bible, proclaiming themselves to be morally-superior to the opposition. In the other hand they brandish that book’s antithesis, Atlas Shrugged, like a loaded revolver with which to thin the American ‘herd’.

Let’s break down the two ideologies to show the implausibility — if not the impossibility — of their co-existence within the same rational, logical mind:


Their political ideology is largely built upon their beloved Ayn Rand’s “anti-altruism” philosophy. She sums it up here in her 1959 Mike Wallace interview:

Rand: … [man’s] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness, and that he must not force other people, nor accept their right to force him, that each man must live as an end in himself, and follow his own rational self-interest.

Wallace: [In a Newsweek review, a critic writes] you are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life, our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated Capitalism, our rule by the majority will. Other reviews have said that you scorn Churches and the concept of God. Are these accurate criticisms?

Rand: Yes … If I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I am challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that it is man’s moral duty to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others, which is the present day morality.

Wallace: What is self-sacrifice? You say you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness. […] We’re taught to feel concerned for our fellow man, to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are — as religious people might put it: “children under God and responsible, one for the other”. Now why do you rebel? What’s wrong with this philosophy?

Rand: But that is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others, or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object.

In the spirit of Ayn Rand, conservatives prioritize tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens and corporations, while imposing deep draconian spending cuts — and thereby pulling the rug out — from the poor, the elderly, and the most vulnerable amongst us.


Now contrast their conservative political ideals with what they claim to be their heart-felt religious ideals: Christianity (as quoted from the Bible):

Prov. 29:7. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.

1 John 3:17. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Acts 4:32-35. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

Mt. 6:24. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money.”

Prov. 19:17. He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.

Prov. 14:31. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.

Obviously, the conservative right’s political and religious belief systems are steeped in GROTESQUE and INSURMOUNTABLE contradictions. One could logically conclude that you cannot be both ‘disciples’ of Jesus Christ AND Ayn Rand (who detested both religion and moral responsibility to others).

Considering the significant role the Evangelical community played in getting George W. Bush re-elected in 2004, the Left would be wise to drive a wedge between these ideological contradictions, and effectively split the conservative base, once and for all.

Because never before has Ayn Rand’s cruel “anti-altruistic” ideology been so close to becoming an American reality. And never before, in my lifetime, have conservatives been so eager to proclaim themselves to be Ayn Rand ‘disciples’.

UPDATE (June 6, 2011):

Many Christian voters are now taking these gross contradictions outlined above, and posing them directly to Republican politicians (including Paul Ryan). Judging from the Republican responses (or lack thereof), you can see this is a topic that terrifies them: (SEE THE VIDEOS).

New Study: The American Public Prefers LIBERAL Policies Which Would Cut Budget By $437 Billion

by on Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm EDT in Politics, Tax Policies

A recent study entitled “Competing Budget Priorities: The Public, The House, The White House” by the University of Maryland’s Program For Public Consultation reveals that on nearly every single budgetary issue a majority of Americans were polled as preferring policies which would be classified as ‘liberal’.

The study compares the different budgetary priorities of: 1. the American public, 2. the Obama administration and 3. the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Here’s a few of their key findings, outlining their budgetary preferences:

Defense Spending:

American public would cut by 18% (or $109.4 billion)
President Obama would increase by 4% (or $23 billion)
Republican-led House would increase by 2% (or $9 billion)

Energy Conservation & Renewable Energy Spending:

American public would increase by 110%
President Obama would increase by 44%
Republican-led House would cut by 36%

Pollution Control Spending:

American public would increase by 17%
President Obama would cut by 13%
Republican-led House would cut by 39%

Job Training Spending:

American public would increase by 130%
President Obama would cut by 3%
Republican-led House would cut by 47%

Higher Education Spending:

American public would increase by 92%
President Obama would increase by 9%
Republican-led House would cut by 26%

Science Research Spending:

American public would increase by 5%
President Obama would increase by 11%
Republican-led House would cut by 12%

Economic Support Fund Spending (Foreign military aid to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt & Israel for ‘strategic purposes’):

American public would cut by 23%
President Obama would cut by 9%
Republican-led House would cut by 6%

Humanitarian Assistance (to Foreign Countries):

American public would increase by 18%
President Obama would cut by 8%
Republican-led House would cut by 17%

Revenues (Taxes):

– American public would increase taxes to provide an additional $292 billion in revenues annually (w/ $155 billion of that amount coming from raising income taxes on those making above $100k per year).
– President Obama’s proposal to increase taxes in 2012 would generate an additional $62.5 billion in revenues annually.
– President Obama’s proposal to increase taxes in 2015 would generate an additional $97.2 billion in revenues annually. (NOTE: the increase in revenues between 2015 and 2012 is due to the fact he again promises to end Bush tax cuts on those making above $250k/year in 2015).
– Republican-led House proposes NO tax increases on anyone (including wealthiest 2%) thereby generating $0 in additional revenues.

So how would each of the three groups fare (in terms of the annual budget) if their preferred policies were implemented?

The overwhelmingly LIBERAL policy preferences of the American public cuts the budget by a whopping $437 billion for 2015.

If Obama hadn’t broken his campaign promise, and allowed Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% to elapse, he would have cut the budget by $28 billion. Since he pressured his party to extend Bush’s tax cuts, he for now at least will actually increase spending by $37 billion.

The Republican-led House called for an additional $61 billion in spending cuts, with no increases in revenue (tax increases) which would cut the budget by $61 billion.

What this study shows is that if our democracy actually worked, and our public representatives actually legislated the will of the AMERICAN PEOPLE rather than those of the moneyed special interest groups who line their pockets, our country wouldn’t be in the dire financial straits it now finds itself. It also shows that progressive policies are far more fiscally sound than those proposed by conservatives.

Here’s a fabulous debate between MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur and conservative UMD Economist Peter Morici on the study’s results (broken down above). Watch Morici get flustered as he continues to try to push the tired old MSM ‘mythical middle’ narrative, despite the proof staring him right in the face.

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