Links 6/6/10

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  1. Denise

    And that it why I don’t eat meat.

    Yves, I read NC every day, it is superb and so are you. Yes…I am a fan and it you ever come to Australia, I’ll be there.

  2. Ina Deaver

    The unemployment statistics have reached a point where they are so disconnected from human reality as to be useless. Getting reemployed at a high level, and or after age 50, has always been incredibly difficult. NOW, it’s completely impossible. People with a whole lot to add, decades of experience, etc. – permanently out to pasture.

    Sometimes I swear the whole thing is breaking down. Value for human labor as an input has been steadily decreasing, both societally and based on what labor is paid. When the input of humans is no longer valued, what does that mean? I’m beginning to wonder.

  3. dearieme

    “When the input of humans is no longer valued, what does that mean?” It means you’ve misunderstood – it’s simply that Chinese humans are cheaper.

    1. alex

      “it’s simply that Chinese humans are cheaper”

      That’s a vastly oversimplified way of looking at it. The whole idea of floating (or at least properly valued) exchange rates is that they’re supposed to adjust to allow trade to balance. While China would still have much cheaper labor than the US with even the most aggressive revaluation of the yuan, US labor is far more productive (value of goods/services produced per hour of work). Of course China doesn’t let their currency float and they revalue it only as little as they can get away with.

      With currency revaluation all Americans would have reduced purchasing power and not just the shnooks who work in tradeable sectors. That and the fact that “American” MNC’s benefit from manufacturing with Chinese labor prices and selling at US consumer prices may explain the American government’s pathetic efforts at combating Chinese currency manipulation.

      1. DownSouth

        Currency pegs and free capital flows are part and parcel of neoliberalism.

        Laws to prohibit abusive labor practices and to protect the environment are anathema to neoliberalism.

      2. Jojo

        “it’s simply that Chinese humans are cheaper”
        But they are getting much more expensive and this added expense is going to cost buyers more for products they buy. Someone has to pay the cost.

        June 6, 2010
        Foxconn Increases Size of Raise in Chinese Factories

        SHANGHAI — For the second time in a week, Foxconn Technology, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, said that it planned to substantially raise the salaries of its huge Chinese workforce.

        The move comes as Foxconn — which make items for global companies like Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Sony — struggles with severe labor shortages and a rash of suicides at factories in southern China.

        In a statement on Sunday, Foxconn said the “wage increase has been instituted to safeguard the dignity of workers” and help advance the company’s growth initiatives.

        As recently as two weeks ago, the basic salary for many workers at Foxconn’s huge factories in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen was about 900 renminbi per month, or about $132 a month.

        Last week, Foxconn said that salary would immediately rise to $176 a month. And now, the company says that after a three-month trial period, workers will be paid $294 a month.

    2. Ina Deaver

      Actually, what I meant was that human dignity in labor is now an externality. If you think that human dignity is worth less in China, I’m sure you will find people who agree with you. But how many pennies a person gets paid for a day breathing poison in the factory isn’t really what I was driving at.

    3. Francois

      “it’s simply that Chinese humans are cheaper.”

      Make that “were cheaper.”

      My brother works for a licensor of branded consumer products. They had a serie of meetings recently about searching for new countries to manufacture their goods, “because China is now getting very expensive”.

      What the CEO meant is; since it is practically impossible to raise prices to consumers and wage gains in China are going nationwide (who knew? Chinese workers are human; they seek to improve their lot too!) the only remedy they have is to explore other cheaper avenues for production.

      The race to the bottom shall continue until morale improve!

  4. dearieme

    The problem is that many Americans seem to believe that they are entitled to the same standard of living, relative to the rest of the world, that they enjoyed in the fifties. But in the fifties their competitors were bombed flat, bankrupt, or in thrall to various forms of socialism. The USA was in a wonderful position then, but went on to blow it in an orgy of self-indulgence. That’s pretty much what any other people in a comparable position would have done, I dare say, but be that as it may, it’s what the USA did. And now the prospects for virtually every country are dire; the outlook is frightening.

    1. DownSouth

      But the US worker is not suffering because the Chinese worker is doing so well. Far from it. The US worker is suffering because the Chinese worker is exploited and mistreated, that along with the fact that there are few if any environmental protections in China.

      The solution to this is for the US and Europe to refuse to buy from those who don’t have minimal labor standards and minimal standards to protect the environment.

    2. Jojo

      NO, you have it backward!

      The problem is that the rest of the world thinks they should be able to live like Americans, when they haven’t yet spent their 200 years paying their own dues.

  5. Zephyrum

    The problem with Bill Maher’s rant is that it convinces nobody and serves only to polarize existing positions. There may indeed be AGW, and it may indeed be possible to mitigate it through changing human activity, and the carbon market proposals may indeed be a profiteering plot to impose a private tax, but asserting that anyone wishing to discuss the issue is defective does not advance the cause of discovering truth.

    In the long run, debates are not won by personal attacks on the opponent but by luring people into your point of view–based on facts which everyone accepts as true. Until the facts stand up to scrutiny it’s all hot air.

    1. Jojo

      I think the point that Maher wanted to make was that you can’t argue with facts, yet a lot o stupid people try to do so.

      Global warming is a fact, plain and simple. What is open to debate is the degree of contribution to warming that is/has come from mankind.

      Personally, I think the contribution is high, not only from our industrial operations but through the sheer increase in worldwide population. Just by the process of living, humans radiate a LOT of heat into the environment. But I don’t see much discussion on this point, probably because birth control is such a 3rd rail.

    2. Francois

      The best scientists can’t change the climate deniers minds, neither cab the comedians. Even God would not be able to do so.

      Climate change deniers will never change their minds. It is a cult, driven by a religious zeal that would have make Isabel of Castille jealous. It take roots in some dark corners of the id. Somehow, it is symbiotically connected to their self-image, the way they perceive reality and the world.

      I’m still wondering what is the fundamental emotional force driving them. Fear? Guilt?

      Who knows?

      1. i on the ball patriot

        “I’m still wondering what is the fundamental emotional force driving them. Fear? Guilt?”

        Deception. It keeps everyone focused on global temperature and not global pollution which causes about 40% of deaths worldwide …

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    3. gordon

      The whole thing is a philosopher’s paradise, implying as it does a long disquisition on Knowledge, Belief and Faith. It’s where Empiricism meets Idealism and Scepticism, and should be the meat of generations of PhD canditates in theory of knowledge and in metaphysics.

  6. propertius

    Anyone who thinks that unemployment benefits constitute an incentive for continued unemployment has probably never been on unemployment.

  7. sgt_doom

    Dean Baker’s point is so completely moronic and ludicrous, and poitns to why I’ve considered him again and again to be nothing more than a shill for Wall Street and just another minion.

    Wages in 2007, for workers aged 20 to 29 years in the US dropped by 28%, while wages for workers aged 20 to 29 in China rose by 28% — no coincidence there (and no, I’m not suggesting the Chinese workers have it good or better — just pointing out the obvious here).

    Since July 1999, according to that BLS study released last summer — and actually reported on in the NY Times (at least their econ blog section) — demonstrated that the Private Sector in America has effectively created no new jobs in this country — by plenty overseas, and offshored plenty more overseas (it’s called FDI, BTW).

    Baker’s suggestion is so patently pathetic, and on par with all those phony numbers comeing out of the completely corrupt US government (and congress and supreme court, etc.).

    Somebody’s spending too much time watching porn at work — on federal terminals.

  8. kevinearick

    Before beginning, I gave everyone notice that we were swapping out the kernel, and suggested that they prepare accordingly.

    (it’s like Cobol, which you may still find in some of the bank basements.)

    I have given everyone an outline of the new kernel to work off. Any individuals choosing to remain in that chamber with the old organizations are going to get repeatedly slammed by the piston, which employs their own energy, GDP, in the stroke. Pension promises pull it up, and pension reality slams it down.

    Kernels are open source. Anyone can run anything they want off the kernel as it branches. The better branches will attract better talent. The smaller branches will deliver fruit first, but in low volume.

    The old market-makers are fighting a losing battle, trying to preserve their equity stakes by bailing out the old kernel, which they had nothing to do with developing. They simply built gates in the fruit distribution system within the university, where open source formerly resided. They have only succeeded in deceiving themselves and their followers, hiring economists to explain symptoms of a root system of which they had no knowledge, just like all the priests that preceded them in the monetary chain. You’ll have that.

    By all means, I encourage everyone to prove me wrong, as they watch the false-work collapse from under the old economy. That’s the scientific process, which no longer exists in the university.

    Have a nice day.

  9. gordon

    The Guardian piece on how some (many?) Americans are campaigning for a US Govt. takeover of BP seems to stop short of discussing a real US Govt. takeover. It refers to The Answer Coalition and to Robert Reich (who has supported a Govt. takeover) but then veers abruptly off into a discussion of whether BP is a private takeover target (ie. via M&A) or may go bankrupt, both of which seem unlikely.

    More realistically, Business Week had a recent piece on how BP may need to sell some assets in order to pay for the Gulf:

    Assets that BP sells in order to pay its bills are assets that the US Govt. won’t get as part of a takeover unless (assuming selloffs are likely) the US Govt. moves quickly. The more I think about it the more I think that either BP will get other majors to “warehouse” assets like Prudhoe Bay until the heat is off, or just wait it out.

    I frankly doubt whether the US Govt. is strong enough to seize control of an oil major. I suspect the author of the Guardian piece thinks so too.

  10. gordon

    Browsing around I found at item at Grist about how an anonymous cleanup worker is talking to Mother Jones about what’s happening down there. Anonymous because she’ll be fired if she speaks out. From the article:

    “…BP, working with local law enforcement, barred her from entering oil-drenched Elmer’s Island and seeing for herself what was going on, and the company forced hundreds of cleanup workers to sign agreements barring them from speaking to the press — and told her source he’d be fired if he did”.

    Obviously it’s not the first time I have read of informants being anonymous because they fear retribution. But this item made me think (again) about a legal system that would enforce such an agreement. I would call it unconscionable and refuse to enforce it. Or in the US I might call it unconstitutional and unconscionable and refuse to enforce it.

  11. Colombo

    I have a little problem with this pig. The big one has the same eye as a nasty neighbour of mine – a human, kind of.
    Now, for the piglet…
    Does anybody know who mastered this picture? I would’nt take it for an antidote, anyway.

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