Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (11/22/11)

  • Now that the results of the deficit “super committee” have turned out to be an utter joke, I’d like to review one such “analysis” from the AP here before the final outcome was officially decided (more here)…
    It was unclear where the talks would turn next, but the GOP proposal suggested the discussions had effectively moved into a range of savings far below the $1.2 trillion the committee has been seeking.

    It also appeared Republicans were jettisoning a plan for $300 billion in higher tax revenue, an offer that had exposed internal GOP divisions when it was presented two weeks ago. It also has failed to generate momentum for a compromise among Democrats.
    Umm…so, the Repugs basically won’t budge on those stinking and completely ruinous Bush tax cuts, thus proving that the supposedly learned opposition has apparently rejected the basic principles of mathematics – but it’s the Democrats who have “failed to generate momentum for a compromise.” Does anyone know what that even means?

    It’s impossible to compromise with individuals who insist on living in their own utterly manufactured reality in which wars are paid for by the country we invade, the warmest prior decade on record means that we are in a period of supposed global cooling, and refusing to eliminate tax breaks for the richest 2 percent of earners in this country means that we are reducing our debt.

  • Next, I give you the following hilarity from Fix Noise “Democrats” Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen (playing catch-up with some stuff after being “out of the loop” yesterday)…
    When Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson accepted the reality that they could not effectively govern the nation if they sought re-election to the White House, both men took the moral high ground and decided against running for a new term as president. President Obama is facing a similar reality—and he must reach the same conclusion.

    He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president's accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
    And in case you were wondering, this indeed is a recording (here).

    Oh, but Caddell is a “Democrat” all right (here), and isn’t it con-vee-nient that the firm of Penn, Schoen and Berland worked on Hillary’s campaign for president (as noted here)? More is here on this also.

  • Continuing, I give you J.D. Mullane in the Bucks County Courier Times last Sunday (here – he’s been churning out the dookey fast and furiously on “Occupy”; as I’ve said, being a moral scold is apparently in the job description if you secure employment through this newspaper)…
    I admire people who work hard to acquire wealth honestly.

    A content life isn’t derived from money, or from the tawdry spectacle of tearing wealth from others. Happiness, in the classical sense, comes from wells of human wisdom deeper than the shallows of Marxism.

    Will my kids do as well or better than me? If they choose. The global economy isn’t rigged against them — or against any of those unemployed 20-somethings who inhabit Occupy camps across the nation.

    Each of us takes our skills to the marketplace and the market rewards us.
    I thought these comments were particularly hilarious (in an unintentional way) given the fact that the Philadelphia Inquirer published this article (which, curiously enough, I found in the "Opinion" section online) by investigative journalists Donald Bartlett and James Steele, in which we learn the following (about Apple’s offshoring of all their U.S. jobs)…
    The move to China came about quietly and was little noticed at the time because of the way Apple went about creating its offshore presence. Rather than build plants that proudly displayed the Apple name, as it did in California and Colorado, the company turned to outsourcing firms that partnered with the Chinese to establish plants where the products are made. Apple's plants in mainland China bear the name of their Chinese contractor, but inside they are making Apple products. The arrangement is a convenient buffer insulating Apple from oversight of its offshore workplaces.

    Apple production workers in Fountain and Elk Grove bought homes, sent their kids to school, shopped locally, saved for their retirement, and lived the dream, if only for a short time.

    What's life like for Apple's workers in China?

    Shenzhen is a throbbing megalopolis of 10 million an hour north of Hong Kong. Just outside the city is a massive fortress-like compound surrounded by walls and protected by tight security where guards at the entrance stop each vehicle and check the identities of occupants by using fingerprint-recognition scanners.

    Within the walled city are dozens of factories, dormitories, support businesses, and an on-site television network, all humming round the clock. This is the Longhua Science & Technology Park, one of the most dense concentrations of high-tech manufacturing in the world. Owned by Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components in the world, Longhua is home to as many as 300,000 workers.

    They work in enormous factories, row after row of them bent over workstations that seem to stretch endlessly into the distance. They assemble iPods, iPhones, iPads, and products for other electronics-makers. Occasionally, photos surface showing workers, mostly young women, wearing spiffy white coats and caps, going about their work in what appears to be pleasant, well-lit surroundings, just as workers once did at Elk Grove and Fountain.

    But that's the only similarity with Apple's former plants in the United States.

    Workers at Longhua and other Foxconn plants in China work under grueling conditions - usually 10 to 12 hours a day, sometimes for seven days straight without overtime pay. They're not allowed to speak to one another on the job or to leave their workstations - not even to go to the bathroom - without permission from guards. Some of them perform repetitive tasks for up to 10 hours at a time without a break. Supervisors berate workers with foul language and warn that if they fall behind on production they will be replaced. Some have reportedly been beaten for mistakes they allegedly made on the assembly line. For all this they earn a little more than a dollar an hour at most.

    These practices have been documented in numerous reports by a Hong Kong-based human-rights group, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). Of working conditions at one Foxconn plant making iPhones, SACOM concluded: "Workers frequently endure excessive and forced overtime in order to gain a higher wage. If they cannot reach the production target, they have to skip dinner or work on unpaid overtime shifts." SACOM calls Foxconn's Apple workers "iSlaves."

    Most young workers live on-site in cramped high-rise dormitories near the factories, where as many as a dozen workers squeeze into small rooms with three tiers of bunk beds. Most of them are peasants in their late teens or early 20s who have been lured to the city in hopes of earning money for themselves and their families back home, only to find themselves yoked to brutal production schedules that can become unbearable.
    We also learn from the Bartlett and Steele article (and I know this has been documented elsewhere also) that Chinese workers have taken to committing suicide to get out of their factory jobs. So what was the response of the company? To put up nets around the buildings and to encourage workers “to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and to ‘treasure their lives’."

    And that is what American workers have to compete against (oh, but “the global economy isn’t rigged against (U.S. workers),” is it, J.D.?

    Wonder how much a know-it-all pundit earns in Hunan province these days?

    And one more thing – I believe the Bartlett and Steele piece is important to counteract the Steve Jobs idolatry that immediately leapt into media hyper drive after his death. I don't completely blame Jobs for the work being offshored, but I do blame him for not speaking out about the myriad human rights violations committed in the name of manufacturing his products.

  • Finally, this tells us (as noted last night) that the Delaware River Basin Commission delayed a vote on natural gas “fracking” rules due to citizen outcry against this godawful process which poses a deadly threat to not just our groundwater, but also to our food supply.

    But first, this message from one-time Bucks commissioner and natural gas industry-sycophant (and Tom Corbett’s lieutenant governor) Jim Cawley (here)…
    “Energy equals jobs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Cawley told a crowd of business owners and students at Bucks County Technical High School in Bristol Township on Friday.

    “Pennsylvania has a challenge to continue to be good stewards of Penn’s Woods, but we also have an obligation to the truth, and that we put terms like ‘Rust Belt’ and ‘Brain Drain’ onto the ash heap of history,” said Cawley.

    Natural-gas drilling supports 300,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, with an average annual wage of $74,000, he said.

    “There’s a potential for hundreds of thousands more of those new hires,” said Cawley. “One of the best ways we can protect public welfare is by allowing the private sector to create family-sustaining jobs.”
    It’s kind of a funny thing (“funny” strange I mean); when you read this, you find out that the actual number of industry jobs created in 2009 were about half of those originally estimated, with 37 percent of those going to out-of-state residents.

    Meanwhile, Dem PA Rep Steve Santarsiero tells us the following (from the Courier Times story)…
    On Friday, (Santarsiero, D-31), blasted the (Pa Chamber of Commerce) for not presenting a balanced range of views on Marcellus Shale gas extraction (the meeting was the fifth of nine forums scheduled on Marcellus Shale drilling).

    Because environmental groups were not part of the forum, Santarsiero said he declined an invitation to participate.

    “This is an important issue for the entire state,” he said. “Even though there is no Marcellus Shale in Bucks County, the fact of the matter is the proposed drilling in the Delaware River watershed has an impact, considering we get a significant amount of our (drinking) water from the Delaware River.”
    Indeed. And by the way, Jim, I have a question.

    Got a match (here)?

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