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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Plutocrats USA

Barry My Liege :

A new book, 'Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else', by Chrystia Freeland is attracting some attention since the author has personally interviewed some of the new very rich.

While I have not read the book yet, I listened to an interview with Ms. Freeland during which she described the attitudes of some of the newly rich toward those less fortunate.

Apparently, some of the new rich who have created fortunes with their enterprise and genius have little or no interest in sharing any of their wealth with anyone.

Still resonating is a quote from one of the new rich as mentioned by Ms. Freeland to the effect that if American workers want to make more wages than Chinese peasants, then American workers will have to be more productive than Chinese peasants.

My Liege, we both know that worker productivity, or the value of work produced per hour worked, is primarily a function of the capital and technology invested into the workplace.

In fact American workers ARE more productive than Chinese workers largely because we have more capital invested in our workplaces than do Chinese.

There is a deeper problem here, though : the deeper problem is the attitudes of some of the new rich. It is the 'Let them eat cake' attitude of Marie Antoinette which tipped into the French Revolution beginning in 1789.

This attitude is well represented throughout history wherever there is a large gulf between the super rich or royalty and the mass of population.

Whether in American plantations operated with slave labor before the Civil War, European Feudal villages, slave labor camps in Nazi Germany or the Gulags of Soviet Russia, powerful people routinely abuse and profit from the less fortunate.

Our 1776 Revolution sprang from a desire to treat people differently. But, the new rich would drive us back to feudalism and slavery.

In order to more fully understand where the drive toward world markets is taking us today, here's what life looks like for those Chinese peasants who have become the standard bearer of workers' rights and privileges as taken from an article by Gethin Chamberlain in The Observer, Saturday 3 December 2011 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/04/chinese-toy-factories-christmas-disney]

'....investigators spent three weeks in the industrial cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan. In some cases, they found that employees:

■ worked up to 140 hours overtime a month;

■ were paid up to a month late;

■ claimed they were expected to work with dangerous tools and machines without training or safety measures;

■ had to work in silence and were fined up to £5 for going to the toilet without permission.

Perhaps the most insidious effect of the long hours and poor wages was how it tore families apart, separating mothers and fathers from their children for all but a few days a year. Many workers were too afraid to speak to the investigators from human rights group Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom), but two women did agree to talk on condition that their names were changed.

Wang Fengping, 27, has two daughters, seven and five. They live a 10-hour train journey away from the On Tai Toys factory. She and her husband earn £200 a month making toys for Disney and others, but cannot afford to bring the children to the city. Instead, the girls are cared for by their grandparents. Wang calls them two or three times a week. The younger one always asks her when she is coming home. "Very soon," Wang always replies.

The reality is that they will meet only once a year, at Chinese New Year. She keeps her spirits up by telling her workmates stories of how well the girls are doing at school. Sometimes she sings them songs the girls have learned at school and then sung to her down the phone. "Our family will not die from hunger, but cannot be fed with this wage level," she said....'

My Liege, that is a future we do not want for our children and grandchildren. We pray you can find a way to prevent our drift toward that future.

Your faithful servant,

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