So I woke up super early, put 5 miles in and got my shit together to catch the 8am train to Lecce. With so much free time I’m exploring a little. Lecce has some wonderful ruins and also many lovely Baroque buildings, and you know me, I love a good architecture/art pun. Really any pun.
So the other day someone accused me of being an “arrogant asshole” and not positive, because I accept the climate reality and think people who prioritize economy over environment are foolish. I suppose there is a certain amount of negativity built into the idea that we may have already crossed the point-of-no-return, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. But it means we don’t have time to mess around with this stuff anymore. As every models’ prediction on the effects of climate change are off on the orders of years, if not decades, meaning things are moving much faster than we thought they would, really shows we don’t have time for this bullshit.
That’s not negative, that’s saying that we need to move forward now. We can’t ease into this one. I’ve said before, if we can’t fix it now, the same technologies help us move off-road for as long as we have to for our survival. This is the responsibility of all humans.
But we keep most people in the dark, and why, corporate profit. I get why people want to believe in conspiracy, wide-spread conspiracy, the bilderbergs and a that mess, they need to believe there are some misanthropic puppet-masters, but in reality profit is sufficiently evil in itself, and requires no “pentaverate” (reference So I Married an American Murderer).
Let’s look at this morning, where I saw a friend post a story from an non-reputable source (brightfart) about insurance company Aetna, leaving my home-state of Connecticut. Of course the “news” site is blaming the Governor (who has already announced he’s not running for re-election) and claiming he “begged” them to stay. Here’s the problem, corporate tax rates are relatively low everywhere. Non-union states have been undercutting union states for years, companies have been gladly making the move to lower wages. It’s not about taxes. They are all making record profits, CEOs make orders of magnitude more than workers, the stock markets are at record highs, investors get their dividends. Don’t give me horseshit about needing more profit. So, as companies staying in the US have been working to lower wages and increase the burdens on those same people they undercut, and encourage to not stand together in a union, they get these free trade deals.
Free trade allows companies to exploit areas with even lower wage workers and move production to areas with very vulnerable people to maximize profits and lower wages even more. The host country can’t raise taxes to aide the workers who are being exploited, and the import country can’t raise taxes to send foreign aide to help, nor can they raise taxes to help those unemployed by the business moving.
We were sold free trade as a way to raise up the downtrodden in areas on the fringes. They would make more money and demand would be made for high tech widgets, that the better educated, better equipped country could provide in return and everyone wins. Sounds like a great plan in theory, but in practice it does not work. Robert Reich used to buy this line about free trade, and he has since awakened from that dream.
The fact is the businesses just do what they always do, exploit the lowest cost labor pool, maximize profits, and screw everyone else. The Gettys or the Rothschilds aren’t sitting there calling CEOs and sinisterly wringing their hands, this is just profit. This is what the system tells us is the greatest good. But it’s inherently evil. When you then throw in the racism which built the for-profit system, you have the same people who have always been exploited, still getting exploited, and the newer people being exploited believing that those far worse off than they are, are to blame for their plight and do not deserve any better.
How do we break this grip? Why did free trade fail so miserably? It can’t just be racism and profit? Well, it kind of is. But it’s not. The racism did have a major part to play. See, while the borders were opened up for companies to freely cross as they pleased, people still are not (save in Europe, which while there are problems, they’re not nearly as severe as elsewhere). By opening up the borders for production, but not for people, we doomed globalization to failure. Sure, if you’re an amazing doctor, or are doing cutting edge research, getting papers to work in a country where you can live comfortably is easy. But New Balance isn’t going out of its way to bring over the best shoe assemblers from their Chinese factories into the US. Nabisco doesn’t have research grants for their cookie sorters. But if you’re going to pick lettuce or clean hotel rooms, you can “cross” the border, we won’t give you status but we need exploitable workers, and we’ll make sure you never get status, by exploiting racist fears across our nations.
What this achieves is that people cannot leave their areas, people can’t move I search of a better situation, they can’t go to where the best paying jobs are, even though companies can move around to maximize their profits. How is this right, how is this fair? How is this “free trade”? It’s not. It’s corporate colonialism, globalism for companies, another handout to businesses as they are prioritized over actual people.
It’s not some widespread conspiracy, it’s lazy people using the simplest approach. Why, to achieve profits. These magical things that somehow make it all justified. That somehow while their great-grandchildren are gasping for air, they won’t curse our time for doing nothing while the world burned. That somehow money will feed their offspring when plants no longer fruit and water is unpotable. But I doubt these “captains of industry” even think that far ahead. As I’ve said, I don’t think they even see past their own lifetime. Passing the buck down to the next generation, like we’ve always done.
We say that for everything that seems uncomfortable, don’t we? “oh, we can do that later,” or “let the next generation take care of it.” We can’t pass it down any further. We must take responsibility for our past and put an end to the practices which threaten our very survival. It’s a gigantic task, and it will necessarily be uncomfortable and difficult.
It amazes me in a world where so many people pride themselves on their strength and health and all the things which make on “alpha” as soon as you start talking about real substantive changes, which will cause real difficultly for those so comfortable in their lives, they immediately start defending themselves against such discomforts, and look for excuses why someone else should live in pain while they have their venti lattes.
You want to show how tough you are? How strong you are? Stand up now and draw a line, say this is it today is the day I start demanding we fix this world. And keep fighting until we fix it, or we die trying.
Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!
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