ANNALS OF THE ECONOMY : THERE’S A BANGLADESH IN YOUR FUTURE

 

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^ what “job creation” really means : The Bangladesh-ization of America

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Not since the Plessy v. Ferguson, “separate but equal,’ 1896 decision has a Supreme Court decision done as much damage to the moral structure of our America as Citizens United. By opening the arena to flooding by billions of secret, mostly selfish, anarchic dollars, this decision has put democracy itself under attack. I am hardly the first editorial writer to say this; worse is that I’m surely not going to be the last. Almost every event since that decision was made shows huge disconect between what our people need and what governments are doing about it, because the vast billions given the green light have moved ruthlessly to capture as many governments as they can and to stymie the rest as much as possible.

Those billions could not have done their destruct without the votes of millions to get destruction elected. How did this happen ? How did the Koch Brothers become the effective demlons of our time ? Dedicated to deconstructing the Anerican economy as we know it, impoverishing the already poor, making vulnerable many millions more, and curbing the civil rights of all ? Can that many voters really be induced to vote against their own fundamental interests ?

Yes they can.

Similar happened in 1933-38 in Germany. The method used was to scapegoat “the other” — first the Jews and the Communosts, then the labor unions, then press and speech freedoms, churches, liberty itself. Always the word was “we are freeing Germany of influences alien to our Fatherland.”

No like madness yet portends here in America. Diversity is us, it is part of our national epic. We are all immigrants, and we celebrate “e pluribus unum” — one out of many. Democracy, too, seems as fundamental to our politics as food to our stomachs. All of us at least profess voting to be the single most basic civil right. And yet….

Consider that, in many states, all that stands between basic rights and the denial of them is Federal Courts. In those states — all of them under the power of “Republican” governments — a torrent of laws has been enacted that (1) impose religion agendas on education, women’s health, and personal lives (2) make it more difficult for low-income people to vote (3) burden lower income workers with sales taxes, lighten the taxes of high income earners (4) deny health insurance coverage to people Medicaid eligible (5) harrass undocumented immigrants (6) refuse to do basic infrastructure repair and (7) cut social services to families in need. Federal Courts have done heroic work overturning many such laws as unconstitutional, yet even so, the damage lasted for the long time it took to win a Court decision.

The only way such a government could be elected is by persuading a majority that those whom it views as a problem are a minority, a small minority, and that lie for the majorioty will be better once that minority is cast out.

I do mean “cast out.” The goal of such governments is, first, to get as much as possible of “the minority” to leave the state, just as Black Americans left the Jim Crow, lynch law South in huge millions of numbers 60 years ago and more. The second purpose, as uring Jim Crow, is to intimidate those who stay so they will work for pittance wages.

One thing only has changed : the methods. 100 years ago the means was terror — and lynching was as terrible as it gets. Today the means is to scapegoat a minority and then use the atx and safety net powers of statre government to impoverish that minority into political impotence. In a political system completely ruled by money, those who have none have no political power. Very simple.

The masters of the Southern — and Plains — states now ruled by secret “opportunity” billions will tell you that they want to make their states as tax friendly and wage-low as possible so as to draw in businesses seeking low-cost everything. They will tell you that such businesses are “job creators.” Myself, I see them as job destroyers. The good-paying jobs, they eliminate. as for the low-pay work, who wants work that pays almost nothing, in a state that won’t provide you any kind of public assistance to supplement your less than survival wages ?

Yet the economy policy under way in states like Louisiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Alabama has a point : to make these states a kind of Bangladesh or Malaysia, where workers get paid next to nothing and live on nothing in slave-labor factories making goods for sale in high-income economies. This is what the “job creators” mean when they talk aboiut bringing back manufacturing jobs to America. Why NOT create a Bangladesh right here if you can do so ?

As our society splits between low earners and the very high income — as middle earning jobs disappear and, with them, the businesses that serve middle incomes — it kind of makes sense for a state hundreds of miles from America’s high-income coasts to become a Malaysia of coolies crowding into factories making high-end goods for export to New York, Massachusetts, California, Baltimore-Washington, and Seattle. And believe me, that is how it is going to be. The tycoons who run basic goods-making firms don’t really want to depend on factories thousands of miles away in countries whose govenments are corrupt and beyond the tycoons’ power. Why do that, when you can tycoon right here in states run by you and whose voters — those allowed to be such — are grateful to have even the nothing jobs you offer, because the state they live in won’t fund or make affordable the education you need to seek a better paying job ? After all, were they do do that, they might just do it : get that taxpayer-funded education and then leave the state for where the good jobs are.

There is a kind of perverse strength in being at the bottom. The bottom has economic advantages — which is why there Is a bottom at all. It perpetuates itself, almost impervious to raising up, because raising up would destroy it.

As for the technology jobs which pay so well, yes : you will find technology centers in some Bangladesh states. North carolina has a large technology corridor, as does Texas. In both states, however, technology districts gather around higher education institutions — the core of whatever effective political opposition exists therein. It can’t be helped. Even a Bangladesh state needs communication infrastructure competitive world-wide. An American Bangladesh state can tolerate this level of political opposition. It hasn’t anywhere near a majority of the votes, and its entrepreneurs are too attuned to the huge financial demands of maintaining their technological edge.

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^ technology jobs ; for the intellectual mandarins needed even by Bangladesh States

Robert Reich, in his ongoing Facebook status editorials, sees the economic consequences of political stymie and the political consequences of economic inequality. So far, however, he does not seem to have recognized how the two forces are likely to evolve into an America divided between coolies and mandarins — Bangladesh versus Hong Kong, Malaysia against South Korea. (Or Shanghai, China, versus China’s hinterlands. Or Sao Paulo, Brazil versus the favelas of Rio.) Perhaps Reich just lacks an answer; if so, I share his lack. These are huge economic changes, historic, maybe the most important events going on in the world right now, changes which no nation or coalition of countries is likely to evade for much longer.

The middle class that made democracy possible and equality more than a pipe dream is losing all its gains these past 150 years — retreating to its origins, 1000 years back, in the professions : teaching, lawyering, medicine, government advisors. That was a powerful middle class, but a small one, vital to governance but politically at the mercy of kings, podestas, and Popes. That sort of middle class, devoid of well-paid manufacture and service, is what the future holds. Your grandkids’ America is very unlikley to be anything like yours.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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