Third Party & Independents Archives

Harmonizing The World

Steve Szktak writes in a Washington Post article that the union, representing workers at Ikea’s only US plant, is accusing the company of paying US workers low wages and tolerating unsafe working conditions.

Gist of the article is that the union is saying workers at the Danville, Virginia plant are grossly underpaid compared to their Swedish counterparts. The factory was opened with $12 million in grants and a goal of hiring 780 people. Starting pay is $8/hr, approximately half of what the workers’ Swedish counterparts earn. From the union organizer, “We know in terms of safety, in terms of health care, in terms of pension, their European counterparts are treated vastly superior than the workers in Danville”.

An Ikea spokesperson said the pay and benefits for Danville workers are very competitive in the region, and that it was difficult to compare U.S. workers with workers in Europe. “Conditions of different countries are very complex questions. It is difficult to compare different national systems (such as) taxes, cost of living, systems of social insurances, etc.”

I do believe 2+2=4 in Europe same as here. And, you could throw into the mix the fact that the US military provides protection for a good half the world, that the US is the major source of funds for the UN, WTO, IMF, and a million or so similar entities, NATO. Supposedly, some $10M a day in US aid to Afghanistan is taking legs and walking.
Afghani GDP is $16.3B and the US is pumping in $15.4B. The Paks are using aid dollars to fund lobbying efforts of US reps for their pet projects. Entities around the world are contributing, through their multi-national connections, to the campaign funds of US candidates standing for office.

We seem very globalised and open but apparently that doesn’t count relative to a Danville worker. I can recall, before globalisation had really set in, when wages were like $30-40/hr, and people couldn’t imagine anyone working for the minimum wage. Now, some 45M out there would love to have a job at minimum wage or below. And, those millions of Somalian’s are going to need some air drops too.

In furthering the globalisation process the C of C and others are seeking clarity in law on the proper etiquette for US corporations in bribing overseas entities. Seems American companies don’t really know who to bribe. A Wash Post article relates that Gist of that article is that US corporations feel they can’t be competitive because of current law, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), put in place before globalisation in 1977.

For example, a Calif co. was having a hard time selling products to a Mexican electric utility. So they sweetened the deal with a $297,500 Ferrari Spyder and a $1.8M yacht. Over the next several years to company did millions of dollars worth of business with the Mexican utility.

Some recent fines resulting from enforcement of the FCPA: Tysons Foods $5.2M, IBM $10M, Johnson & Johnson $70M, Siemens $800M. The News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch is the latest company facing bribery allegations. In fact, Rupert gave the C of C a million dollars to lobby for amending the FCPA. Understandable.

The Chamber says that if companies have a strong compliance programs they should be shielded from liability when their employees break the law. Also, they should be insulated from civil liability for the actions of subsidiaries and that they not inherit all the liabilities of the companies they acquire.

Such an amendment should go a long way in harmonizing US law with the rest of the world making the implementation of globalisation just a little bit easier for everyone concerned. Perhaps the C of C should try to get this one before the Supreme Court. If a court will agree that 'money is free speech' they should be able to make the stretch that bribery is free speech as well, IMO.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by Roy Ellis at July 25, 2011 12:28 PM
Comments
Comment #326428

Roy

In Danville, a worker at IKEA can buy a nice house for about 1/4 of what a Swedish worker would pay for a smaller house. A car in the U.S. costs about half of what it does in Sweden and our taxes are less than half.

It doesn’t much matter what you earn. What counts is how much you get to keep and how much it will buy. Presumably, workers taking the jobs in Danville are content, otherwise they wouldn’t apply.

You also understand that the Euro is overvalued. In other words, you can buy a lot more in American dollars in American cities than you can when you convert the same amount into Euros and buy the same thing in Sweden. This artificially inflates the numbers.

Once again, it doesn’t matter how much they say it is worth, it depends on what it can really buy. If a worker could get paid in Sweden and live in the U.S., it would be great. Otherwise, you get what you pay for and you can buy what you are paid for.

Posted by: C&J at July 25, 2011 7:38 PM
Comment #326436

Its the Conservative Philosophy that workers should be paid an amount just enough to keep them living but not enough to prosper. The US minimum wage hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1980’s. Families are now working at least 3 jobs to break even.

In other words… Paradise.

Posted by: Aldous at July 25, 2011 8:32 PM
Comment #326442

Aldous

People can choose. Most will not choose to make a career at IKEA. It is a good place to start, a good place for a part time job or a good place for a retiree.

One of my first jobs was at McDonald’s. I didn’t plan to stay there, but it was good experience and paid for my expenses during college. They paid me what I was worth, which was not very much at that time. I was glad to have opportunity and the flexible hours. They also gave me a free lunch if I worked more than 2 hours and a free dinner if I worked 6+.

When I got the chance for a better job, I took it. It was a choice to start at McDonald’s and a choice to end. Freedom doesn’t mean you get what you want; it just means you are free to choose.

Posted by: C&J at July 25, 2011 9:27 PM
Comment #326487


Paying workers what they are worth is the Achilles heel of capitalism.

Posted by: jlw at July 26, 2011 12:25 PM
Comment #326488

C&J, en Brasil! Que Guapo! Well, I did find some beekeepers in the area but I’ve not seen a honeybee in years. Must be some a homebody colony.

Well, from your post I gather you are a highly globalised person, satisfied/content with the globalisation process. Maybe I should ask you that question on Reagonomics; are you better off today than you were 10 years ago?
Wealthiest to the largest debtor pdq. Great Recession lasting longer than the Great Depression. A 70 dollar worth a dime. Dollar has fell in value year over year for 20 years. AAA may become AA within the week. 45 million looking for upward mobility. Middle class equity – gone. Many folks can’t pay the interest on a college loan. GDP down since 07.

Maybe if we look to the future with optimism. Housing recovery pushed out to 2016. Will take some 180 years to pay off the debt at 5% at $40B/mo. The temples of Socials and Medicare become tarnished from 2030. Oooh – let’s not look too far ahead.

Before globalisation the talk was that the US was causing brain drains around the world by bringing in so many immigrants. Today, immigration seems to be the holy grail in restoring our economy. A stat I would like to know is what percent of immigrants become CEO’s and what percent are on gov’t life support. Interesting that Google is laying off a couple of hundred workers while they have some 1500 job openings. Google says they can’t find enough smart people in the world to fill those jobs. Oh, if I could have all the diamonds in the world…

I can understand losing 9M jobs to globalisation and cheap foreign labor since 2000. And, I post frequently about the busting up of the middle class to get US wages down to where we can compete in the global economy. So, if IKEA is setting up in the US with $8/hr wages that suggests to me that the middle class is pretty well busted up. The poverty level for a family of 4 is around $22k. The IKEA worker is knocking down around $16k. That seems rather sad in considering that multi-national CEO’s have enjoyed an increase of 385% since 1970.

With our dollar so weak against many foreign currencies and the EUR currency so strong relative to the dollar you seem to have made the case that we would be far better off to build our own plant and hire people at a decent living wage.

I’m sure most are in favor of international trade relative to a peace dividend and encouraging developing countries. But, in the final analysis most would agree that the fall back position is one of mutually assured destruction. ‘The best offense is good defense’ still holds true in a nuclear age.

In a nutshell, I believe the country should establish trade and relations to the extent that all US citizens prosper. The average person participating in the stockmarket is doing so through pension/annuity plans as there are few options. One percent paying 40% of tax revenue and half the taxfilers unable to pay any tax revenue. Stat heard this morning is that 20% of the adult male population is not working. Not my cup of tea, C&J.

I’m not sure what choice people have when 500 show up to fill the most menial job.

It’s going to take a 3rd party with a diff - - -

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 26, 2011 12:30 PM
Comment #326521


How could anyone complain about $8 per hour? Why that is $0.75 more than the minimum wage. I bet Ikea had a wide selection of applicants to choose from. Those who didn’t get hired will eventually get on because everyone just wants to work there till they are off to much better jobs. When you get right down to it, those workers are actually over paid, by about 6 bucks an hour.

In some countries where people are starving, 57 cents per hour is a highly competitive wage. With a wage like that, a worker can buy a nice cardboard box with a view of the wealthy driving by in their limosines, traveling between their sweatshops and their huge land holdings. The sweatshop job is a stepping stone away from the other sweatshops. A good sweatshop worker has an opportunity to work for another sweatshop, one with a better sewing machine.

Roy that is just it, some people are doing better and they are highly supportive of what is happening. In addition, there are workers that are swayed by the right wing and liberal rhetoric. In America, less than 35% of the population can control the government, that and some good old corporate cash.

Posted by: jlw at July 26, 2011 6:53 PM
Comment #326532

jlw, the 35% ain’t doing so good at present. This debate thing is a good example of corpocracy at its best. Work the partisan ideologs up with the next great crisis - meanwhile Baynor and Reid are tethered to the same lobbyist/donors.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 26, 2011 7:57 PM
Comment #326539

Roy

There are lots of things I dislike about globalization, but when I consider the alternatives I have to come down on the side of more exchange or ideas, people, goods and services.

Americans had a sweet deal after WWII. Most of the world was destroyed or never properly developed. We could think in terms of our own country and market and call the rest of the world an afterthought. This was an anomaly. It could not be maintained and it has not.

I didn’t mention that I was currently living in Brazil. How did you know? Indeed, every drop in U.S. dollar makes my life a little more difficult and I wish it could be different. But as my father used to tell me, hold your wishes in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which weighs more. A lot of what people say they want are merely aspirations.

Everybody thinks they should be paid more than they are getting. But they also think that they should pay less for the stuff and services they buy. Many long for a time when a guy with low or no skills could just get a good job, kind of as an entitlement. But they complain if they have to pay a lot to the plumber or the carpenter (people WITH skills, BTW). We just cannot have these things all at once. Politicians who say we can are lying to us. It is not a corpocracy that creates this truth; it is just the truth.

In the long run you have to pay for everything you get in some way. You are responsible for developing the skills that people are willing to pay for.

I don’t recall who said it, but it is true that you don’t always get everything you pay for, but you usually have to pay for everything you get.

Posted by: C&J at July 26, 2011 8:40 PM
Comment #326540


“jlw, the 35% ain’t doing so good at the present.”

Oh contraire, big cuts affecting workers and the poor, the military budget intact, all corporate perks intact, the corpocracy marches on behind the scenes of the big distracting show going on in Washington. When this show ends another will take it’s place. “Divide and Conquer” the never ending movie.

Posted by: jlw at July 26, 2011 8:49 PM
Comment #326567

C&J, not sure its a fair debate, two against one. But, lemme try.

I’m glad to hear you aren’t 100% with globalisation. I don’t think anyone would disagree with more exchange of ideas, people, goods and services so long as it’s not carried out to the DETRIMENT of the nation (you may wish to review my first response to you in the thread at this point).

IMO, the corpocracy has hunkered down and waiting for globalisation to take its course, busting up the middle class, etc.

Otherwise, we might have seen some action to protect US interests. For example:

We have a serious trade deficit with China. Some 143 countries utilize a VAT for trade. Implementing a VAT would come close to giving us a balanced trade posture with China and a balanced taxation program with the rest of the world.

Another: The Brasil/WTO sued the US for subsidizing cotton farmers and won a near billion dollar settlement. The US taxpayer paid the cotton farmer subsidy and paid the WTO fine. A responsible gov’t would work to remove such subsidies since they are illegal under WTO rules which the US govt/corpocracy fully supports.

Another action might be to implement a flat tax, void of all deductions, requiring a one page tax form.

Thanks to the supreme court we now have foreign gov’t officials and business execs working for US multinationals making donations to the campaign funds of US candidates/incumbents. Been a couple of years and I’m not aware of any action relative to campaign finance reform.

Immigration reform has been stymied since the Regan amnesty in the mid 80’s. With the implementation of the NAU rulings Mexico was given the task of policing their Southern border for weeding out the bad guys coming into the trade zone. That may be fine on paper but Mexico isn’t getting the job done. The result is that the bad guys enter the US and roam free until they have carried out one or more crimes against the people. Then they may be returned. But, returned to what? They walk back in, roam around free until a few more people get the brunt of their criminal actions, etc. Then, there is the drug trade, and more.

I think most would be supportive of such actions. But, there won’t be any relief coming from the Corpocracy. With the deficit the US middle class has been run to ground, placed in a headlock whereby wages can be directed to that required for the US to begin to compete in the globalised world. IKEA is testing the waters at $8/hr.

I support ‘fair trade’ as opposed to ‘free trade’. Realizing that fair trade or any of the actions suggested here will require a 3rd party. But, not just any 3rd - - -

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 27, 2011 1:02 PM
Comment #326586


Illegal immigration was the easiest way for capital to bring large numbers of cheap work units into the country. Capital got an immediate discount on labor, and with the Bush tax cuts they made out like fat rats.

American workers, middle class tax payers and communities got the bill. I think capital calls it externalizing expenses.

Roy, you have made some fine points, all involve government action. Capital knows that the best way to get the government to represent them and do their bidding rather than the multitude of constituents that each politician has, is to do what the taxpayers won’t do, pay for representation. At 2 billion per election, taxpayer funded elections would be a bargain to get the corporate dollars out of elections. Of course that is supposing that we will elect a more representative government rather than a bunch of millionaires and billionaires.

Posted by: jlw at July 27, 2011 3:34 PM
Comment #326595

Roy

Fair trade usually means trade with exactly the corporate interests (in the broad sense including both firms and their unions) you are against.

I grow trees in Virginia. In Brazil the weather conditions permit them to grow the same trees in about three quarters of the time and cost. What would “fair trade” do about that? The gift of their climate makes the price of my product fall. But it is not unfair in anyway that can seriously be addressed. I could demand that the American consumer pay more for my product by excluding theirs. Would that be right?

I grew up in Wisconsin, where trees grow only about 2/3 as fast as they do in Virginia. So we all have our advantages and disadvantages.

People and places have particular advantages. It is best to take advantage of them.

The absurd case of cotton you mention is truly absurd. But it is put in place to “protect American jobs”. You have to get government out of that business. It cannot be made “fair”. Government should just exit. The irony is that the price of cotton has been high last year. There was plenty of room for all. Yet government paid us and them.

The reason I advocate less and more efficient government is NOT because I love business or rich guys. On the contrary. I understand that established interests always and everywhere come to control the levers of government or government becomes very tyrannical and inefficient or usually both. More government is the wrong solution.

We do have the corpocracy we deserve, but it grows by good intentions of people who want to do good, but end up doing wrong, or maybe put in a more glib way, people who want to do right, but end up doing left.

Posted by: C&J at July 27, 2011 6:02 PM
Comment #326597

A fair description of oligarchy/Corpocracy, jlw. Put in place through a highly organized and concerted effort over a couple of hundred years. Corps had been banging on the Supreme Court for years before they found the right group of judges willing to give equal rights to corporations. People grow old and die, memories fade, but corps live forever. Took them near another 100 years to put real power with equal rights, ‘money is free speech’.
Yes, taxpayers/voters realize they can’t compete with corporate dollars in funding campaigns. Only through REAL campaign finance reform can we recover power (representation) for the people.
But, that will take a new 3rd party with …
Doesn’t take a lot of money, IMO. Just takes individuals signing on to lend their support/vote to a third party. But, it can’t be just any 3rd party. Has to be a party established in rules that prevent the special interests from co-opting the party and, as you described, ensure that we elect and set the agenda for representatives who will represent the people. Spelled out in the Republic Sentry Party agenda.
Otherwise …

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 27, 2011 6:17 PM
Comment #326619

I get your drift, john. But, would like some clarification on this: “On the contrary. I understand that established interests always and everywhere come to control the levers of government or government becomes very tyrannical and inefficient or usually both.”

Seems we agree that corporations will be corporations. It needs to be said that some corporations are ‘good neighbors’, having the community at heart, working for the good of society, etc. But, most corporations aren’t required, by law or otherwise, to look beyond their bottom line. Most are ‘held at bay’ by various and changing gov’t regulations. They are constantly working to bend the laws in their favor through lobbying and campaign donations.

Indeed, the first task of a potential candidate seeking high office is to secure the blessing of sufficient corporations to fund a campaign season. In so doing the corporations get to select those who will stand for office.

We understand the significance of CEO’s holding fundraisers in the WH and Clinton renting out the WH bedrooms. We have watched and understood this for years. But, like myself, we believed the ‘problem was beyond control, too big’, and ‘I just want to do my own thing, live and let live’, take my opportunities where I find them, and ‘maybe somebody will fix it’. I felt/acted like that until I retired and realized that the Internet offered the opportunity to dialogue with thousands of others. I’m hoping the baby boomers will feel the same and rush to save us before it’s too late.

I agree we can’t/shouldn’t try to regulate trade to the nth degree. Regarding you timber example, it’s not about regulation but choice. Your choice to quit, change type of timber or product, or R&D a type of timber with no knots, etc. Govt’s responsibility here would be to make sure import/export on timber was fair/balanced, legal timber, no children using chain saws, etc.

I do believe fair trade should take into account sweat shops, child labor and legality of products. For example, bill caps are made in China for about nine cents each and sold in the US for around $25. I think it is the gov’ts responsibility to ensure those hats are being produced by adults at a fair wage for that country. We know corporations won’t police themselves nor should we allow them to do so.

And, you are correct, when we talk of corrupt corporations we sure need to include unions as well. Just watched a MSNBC documentary on the Chicago mobs and unions back in the 60’s/70’s. Couldn’t be any worse characters.

None will argue that we have the best gov’t money can buy. Corpocracy has usurped democracy and representative gov’t. One man, one vote means nothing when campaigns are conducted in the flood of corporate cash we see today. The President received $800M in donations in 08 and is expected to receive near $1B in 12.

We know the problem, corpocracy. We know the solution, abolish corporate personhood through a 3rd party (but not just any 3rd party) effort. We have the communications needed to get started.

Thinking about your trees again. You know, if you just wait long enough its likely lax regulations will allow bugs to infest the Brazilian forest and wipe out your competition. Then again, if you are really concerned about your corporation you might want to find a surly bug and deliver him, through a cutout, to Brazil. Some little lol there somewhere.

Does Crissy grant visas for Rio?

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 28, 2011 12:16 AM
Comment #326628


The strong protect the weak and the weak give their devotion and loyalty to the strong in return. That is the essence of the covenant. A covenant that man can not abide by because the strong are often the weak, falling prey to selfishness, greed, and a belief that what is best for them is best for all. Although they are not inclined to do so, sometimes the weak have to be the strong ones.

Posted by: jlw at July 28, 2011 2:29 PM
Comment #326642

Let me halp to put a little life in this post:

It has been said many times by conservatives that Global Warming is a hyped up lie by the left. It is the latest religion of the left; and yet the left has defended the lie with their last breath. They have defended the research and have failed to recongnize any opposing scientific view as a witch hunt of GW; but I have always found that if you wait long enough, meaning you get past the liberal spastic cries of the sky is falling, the truth will always see the light of day:

Al Gore even produced a GW movie declaring the Polar bears demise because of drowning.

“JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal wildlife biologist whose observation that polar bears likely drowned in the Arctic helped galvanize the global warming movement during the last decade was placed on administrative leave while officials investigate scientific misconduct allegations.

While it wasn’t clear what the exact allegations are, a government watchdog group representing Anchorage-based scientist Charles Monnett said investigators have focused on his 2006 journal article about the bears that garnered worldwide attention…BOEMRE told Monnett on July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending an investigation into “integrity issues.” The investigator has not yet told him of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, the watchdog group’s executive director.”

http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-arctic-scientist-under-investigation-082217993.html

Or perhaps we could look at the latest NASA data:

“NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.”

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-data-blow-gaping-hold-global-warming-alarmism-192334971.html

When cooler heads prevail and we don’t give into panic driven bullshit; we will eventually find the truth.

Posted by: Conservativethinker at July 28, 2011 6:03 PM
Comment #326648

CT,

Your author for the second link used the word “alarmist” 14 times in a page and a half opinion.

Where is a thesaurus when you really need it?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 28, 2011 7:10 PM
Comment #326664

“When cooler heads prevail..”

CT,

Made me chuckle.

Posted by: Rich at July 29, 2011 9:10 AM
Comment #326697


CT, science has also recorded an increase in global temperatures, almost on a yearly basis. Science has recorded an increased rate of melting of glaciers and permafrost. Science has recorded a rise in ocean temperatures.

What is considered alarmist, a 2 meter rise in sea level or a 10 meter rise in sea level?

What if global warming only increases enough to significantly reduce the amounts of snow and ice on mountains? That might upset skiers, but it wouldn’t have a significant impact on the rest of us would it?

Posted by: jlw at July 29, 2011 6:51 PM
Comment #326988

CT,
Here’s a thorough rebuttal of Dr. Roy Spencer’s paper, which contains many flaws. Also, the right-wing media machine has misinformed its readers by implying that the research was conducted at NASA. Dr. Spencer is a former employee of NASA, but he no longer works there; the ideas in the paper are his and not NASA’s.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 4, 2011 10:26 AM
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