Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wal-Mart, Disney and other major U.S. companies tied to Bangladesh factory fire that killed 100+

Profit. Profit above all. That's America's new MO. Cut safety nets, kill unions, reduce incomes, engage in harmful speculation and financial engineering. Then, when the ordinary incomes of workers can't afford the products these companies sell, they must find cheaper and cheaper ways to produce the stuff, often employing slave labor toiling away in horrible conditions.

We saw this here in America back at the turn of the 20th century. Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? Eerily similar. In that disaster 146 people, many of them children, perished in the flames or jumped to their deaths trying to escape the inferno. The company had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. Same seems to be true in the Bangladesh fire.

The Triangle tragedy ushered in a new era of improved safety standards and unionization. I'm not hopeful we are going to see this happen in Bangladesh.

You can't sustain a business/economic model based upon reducing wages and income to support profit. Eventually something's got to give. It's just too bad that along the way to change you need so much tragedy and hardship to wake people up to how screwed up this is.

13 comments:

frlbane said...

"You can't sustain a business/economic model based upon reducing wages and income to support profit." Mike Norman

Without the government enforced/backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, it is probable that employers would have had to: 1) Pay honest interest rates to rent rather than steal the purchasing power of their workers and/or 2) Finance their business by paying their workers with common stock. In either case, the workers would have been greatly empowered vis a vis the employers.

It nearly all goes back to the unethical way we create money as many famous men in history have pointed out again and again.

Jonf said...

Yeah, the model doesn't work but think you can get real regulation over it?

frlbane said...

Regulation isn't needed just:

1) Abolition of the ability of the banks to create money ("credit") via government privilege.

2) A universal bailout, including non-debtors, with new fiat till all debt to the banks is paid off or at least until all deposits are 100% backed by reserves.

3) The allowance of genuine private money alternatives for private debts only that "share" wealth and power rather than concentrate them such as usury-based monies do.

Adam2 said...

They are also blaming the consumer.

"Moreover, “you have relentless pressure that consumers put on retailers and that retailers put on their suppliers to deliver lower and lower prices,” Green said. “And that pressure is a key reason why you see factories cutting corners.”"

CONSUMERS?!? Not the Owners extracting profits?

Tom Hickey said...

The neoliberal model is getting pushed in developed countries like the US to the point that it is beginning to be noticed. Previously, this only happened in underdeveloped or emerging countries. Now the reality is coming home to roost and I don't think that the people of the developed world are going to like what is in store for them.

Matt Franko said...

Adam,

" Not the Owners extracting profits?"

OK let'look at this...

From the Walmart example with the moron Grayson breaking Wal Marts balls on Cenk's thing...

"The company said Thursday it earned $3.63 billion, or $1.08 per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 31. That compares with $3.33 billion, or 96 cents per share, in the year-ago period."

So they make like $14B/yr...

Looked it up they have 1.2M US employees.

Healthcare benefits cost say $6k/yr in US.

So if they wanted to provide HC benefits to all employees that would total $7.2B or... HALF OF THEIR ENTIRE EARNINGS...

Are they greedy by not paying HC benefits for employees? If they would have to give up HALF of their earnings?

When the govt sector could easily provide balances to every US citizen to go out and purchase HC services in the non-govt sector?

rsp,





Tom Hickey said...

When the govt sector could easily provide balances to every US citizen to go out and purchase HC services in the non-govt sector?

This highlights the real problem. When a benchmark company like Walmart runs a business model that allows it to provide low price due to a govt subsidy, which is what public assistance is for Walmart's bottom line, then the govt is subsidizing a particular firm, and if is does this for other retailers, a particular industry.

OTOH, if the govt provides assistance like Medicaid for all to everyone, then no firm in particular is subsidized.

This is also true of companies that don't pay a living wage so that workers qualify for supplemental income.

The solution is either to require companies to pay a living wage (minimum wage indexed to inflation) and benefits, which does raise price or eat into profits, or else institute a negative income tax equal to the poverty line in that community.

That's the difference between the two approaches, and it should be made clear. Grayson is correctly pointing out an issue, but that issue is more complex than he makes it out to be. This is something that the US needs to confront as a country, or a neoliberal "solution" will be imposed that most people are not going to like.

Matt Franko said...

"or else institute a negative income tax equal to the poverty line in that community."

But how could we get back to a balanced budget and ideally surpluses if we did that Tom?

Grayson's a f-ing MORON...

"to require companies to pay a living wage (minimum wage indexed to inflation) and benefits"

What happens then when the morons like Grayson then let the Chinese firms (like that building the bridge in SF area) bring laborers into the US on temporary visas who are as usual willing to work for their customary "living wage" of 3 rations of watered down dog brain soup per day?

How can WalMart compete with that non-western zombie wage structure if they are required to pay a western style "living wage" here domestically to US citizen employess?

rsp?

Tom Hickey said...

Free trade cannot work without completely open borders and that is not going to happen. The world needs to rethink free trade. There has to be a period of adjustment while the global economy develops and this will take decades if not a century without forward thinking and concerted action. It's doable relatively easily but that would mean revising major cultural rituals and social institutions, which is unlikely. It will be a gradual process, but it may happen a lot more quickly than we can foresee now due to the digital age.

frlbane said...

Free trade cannot work without completely open borders and that is not going to happen. Tom Hickey

Free trade seems to benefit the rich so why not all? Is it because the benefits of free trade are not justly shared? Why don't the workers in the US own a large share of the corporations that outsourced their jobs?

Jonf said...

Not sure if your HC cost numbers are pretax or after tax so they may not be half the net income. OTOH for those who do not pay their fair share someone else does, like for emergency room visits and bankruptcy. Bottom line someone pays. Either the government does it or Wal mart does it. It is part of a living wage one way or another.

Jonf said...

@fribane. When do you expect you will get congress to vote on that? Oh got it, like never. Meanwhile be nice to control what the banks do.

But nonetheless, I was commenting on the unfettered pursuit of profits that allows a hundred plus people to die - - anywhere.

Jonf said...

@Matt. I take it you object to the minimum wage. Most people agree with it as a way to avoid poverty. Why would we allow anyone to pay less than a minimum wage here in the US. Is that what Grayson said?