Stop the Moment: Nationalism v Globalism

We are in a moment which some of us want to suspend in time. Think about it as a photographic moment, a photo snapped in a moment just before change will most likely happen. Some would like to take that photo of this moment in time, superimpose it on the world and make the world conform to this photo in perpetuity. This has set up the battle between the nationalists and the globalists, between the right and the left.

Networking

That stop-action photo would show, some say, a Eurocentric world dominated by the new kid on the block, a shiny America full of certainty and trim, well-built up-standing men, young and old with very straight teeth. The photo moment would show a world that is Christian, white, and speaks English. Those who wish to suspend time argue that everything of value has come from Europeans,white people, and mostly from white people who speak English.

However, it is unrealistic to expect the world to hold still. It never does. Civilizations rise and fall although they may make permanent contributions that continue to live on in our minds and our lives. So perhaps Europeans have fears that their moment is over, that the future will not be “white”, or we will no longer speak English, or be Christians. Perhaps America has these same fears. People believe that by sending everyone back to their country of origin the demise of Eurocentrism can be staved off. We tempt fate by mixing Muslims and Christians, by allowing people to speak foreign languages in English-speaking spaces. We hasten the end of the familiar when we mix cultures and open the door to the undefined, to chance, to an evolution that we can’t pinpoint the end result of.

In Europe it is Arabic immigrants and asylum seekers who threaten to change the face and language of Europe. The romance languages will no longer reign supreme. Latin and Greek roots could be replaced with languages imported from lands that have languished in the backwaters of history either by chance or design, although they were once the centers of thriving human empires. In America the situation is similar, except that the people of South America are Christian and many are white, but most do not speak English and they come from nations that have also lagged behind in terms of economics and what we call progress, although these cultures also had their moments in the sun.

Holding the world still is not easy, nor is it comfortable. In order to make change seem to stop, all kinds of irrational behaviors must become acceptable, all the lessons of centuries must be overturned. Immigration must be prevented. Centuries of mingling cultures and sharing ideas and designs that have enriched life must end. Humanitarian cooperation becomes treason. Fear must be stoked, differences must be emphasized, horrible consequences must be described as imminent realities.

Do I want Sharia law to be the law of the land? Not really. As a woman the thought is quite frightening. But if we are kind to displaced Muslims does that mean our democracy will be forced to adopt Sharia law? Or is that what will happen if we lose the imaginary war against Muslim nations? I know we are at war with terrorists with extreme views, but I did not know that we were at war with all Muslims. If we take them in as a humane gesture will they eventually turn on us and conquer, or will their customs gradually replace ours? We imagine the worst because some bad things have happened. But clearly not all Muslims are terrorists. We know this.

How do we end up in America with Sharia law through our southern border as certain fringe voices contend? Weirdos are certainly having their moment as we attempt to stop the world. On Fox “News” they warn about the imminent dangers of Sharia law as if Americans are being hustled into Islamic courts and stoned and beheaded every day, straight from seemingly normal American neighborhoods.

Why are people like Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro the voices Americans listen to? We never used to listen to these voices. We recognized them as haters. Today I heard Steve Bannon opine that Trump’s election was delivered to us by God. This was not hidden away online in Breitbart News; it was on TV news (and not Fox). Suddenly we love to listen to extreme views. They are being normalized, made more mainstream. The Divine Right of Donald Trump. Really?

The death of our humanitarian viewpoints, the fears, the desire to retreat into our comfortable shells, this all has to do with wanting to stop progress, to hold the world steady. We all know the world does not work this way. It rotates, it revolves, it circles the universe in an arm of the Milky Way. It sits on tectonic plates riding on molten lava which means that the surface of our world is never still. Musical tastes change, clothing styles and hair styles change, theories change, and climate is changing. None of it will stay steady until the earth dies, and maybe not even then.

Will trying to stop trends we see occurring change outcomes? Won’t the very act of trying to stop the world from changing bring change? Maybe. Since we can’t experience alternative paths we will never really know if we were able to prevent a negative future, or even a more positive future by trying to engineer the future we want.

Can humans engineer the future or is the future immutably organic? Is there really a cabal of wealthy white men (and perhaps a token woman) who are keeping the world moving on a track of their own design? Can we engineer a halt to the evolution of human culture, to nations and governments, create something like the damage to a vinyl record that made it repeat and repeat, never move on without a nudge? To most of us it seems as if the earth will turn and human history will change whether we will it or not.

And yet we argue that humans have changed climate on our planet. But it also seems clear that we didn’t have to change it very much to have fairly profound effects on our comfort levels. So we can possibly stop human history for a while but the effects of such an attempt are unknowable. Is it possible to send everybody back to the Middle East and put it back together as it once was? Is it possible to make South American countries function better than they are? We’ve tried regime change and it was a disaster. We tried aid and sometimes that helps but not if bad people steal the aid and profit from it. If climate change is indeed changing the ability to farm in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) what can be done about that?

The world will always change whether we like it or not. Engineering the change to keep it peaceful and slow and profitable for all might be possible if we could work together, but stopping change seems like a futile project and just trying to keep the present in place makes it more likely that when change eventually overwhelms our puny attempts to stall it, change may come in a dramatic uncontrollable leap. This argues that nationalism is a futile movement and globalism will most likely prevail despite the fears some express about it.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – Art and Design Gallery, Odyssey, new.harvard.edu, Cagle.com, You Tube, fineartamerica.com, Quote Master

American Economy/Bring Back Our Jobs

jobs back 2 big

Don’t Ask For What You Want, Because You Might Get It

For the past eight years and longer Republicans have pined for “smaller” government and have promised that if we use a “trickle-down” approach to the American economy, cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and endure a few years of austerity the economy will come roaring back. Republicans have held the economy in place for both Obama terms and I don’t think anyone is experiencing a roaring economic upturn. Job growth has been slow and steady, economic growth has been somewhat stagnant. Along comes Donald Trump who promises that he will bring back our jobs that America lost by bringing back the corporations that offered us those jobs.

But what I see whenever I hear this nonsense for the umpteenth time is Republican double-speak covering over the America we will actually have to become in order to bring back those jobs that everyone seems to mourn the loss of. What I see is the possibility of much lower salaries, non-existent or powerless labor unions, a lower standard of living, and employees who work whatever hours the corporations require with few, if any benefits. The corporations will demand much more control over their “own affairs” which will entail drastic deregulation, which Republicans also favor.

The GOP believes (or pretends to believe) that unfettering capitalism will bring an astounding renewal of our economy like the first great flowering of industry at the turn of the 20th century. The Tea Party folks who demand, out of some kind of misplaced nostalgia, that those jobs must be returned to America are not really facing the facts that the old reality can never be reproduced and the new reality may not match their expectations.

What we might get is some kind of “bizarro” America that I (and others) call the Corporate States of America and it answers the demands of an alliance of some pretty strange bedfellows. The Tea Party (which includes truckers, displaced workers, farmers, and rural-garage talk-show lovers), and Big Business have a lot in common these days (sort of in the same way that buffalo and wolves have a lot in common). The Republican Party is the body pillow between the corporations (Big Business) on one side of this big bed and the conspiracy theory lovers (The Tea Party) on the other side. Donald Trump is snuggled up in there somewhere (you decide where). These three groups have one main thing that puts them together in that very small sector at the center of a Venn diagram of that bed. They all want a federal government that is smaller in three ways:

  1. Lower taxes or no taxes
  2. Fewer services or no services
  3. Fewer rules or no rules

This unholy marriage has been arranged by right wing media and the Tea Party and it could be sanctified through a sweep by the Republican Party in the 2014 midterms (done) and the 2016 Presidential election (on its way). Then we could find ourselves living in the Corporate States of America. Perhaps we will pledge allegiance to and sing that new anthem of unfettered Capitalism “from sea to fracking sea”. I’m guessing that most of us will hold a permanent role in the poorly paid worker class that will finally allow America to once again be the number one manufacturer in the world. The only problem is that we will no longer be America. That’s one of my most nightmarish visions for a “bizarro” America that we could belong to in the near future.

jobs back big

Don’t Wish for What You Don’t Want, Because You Might Get It

Actually, keeping that creepy bed in mind you really need to think about whether or not we want our corporations to come back at all. They cannot realistically make the move unless we drastically reduce the standard of living in America. And while you may think bucks are a bit thin on the ground right now, our economy would have to go much lower before these companies will come “home”. Here are some of the wages employees make in China, Southeast Asia, and Mexico:

China

Since 2001, the United States has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs to China — that despite U.S. factory workers being far more productive.

Partly, it can be explained by China’s cheaper workers: The average hourly wage for Chinese manufacturing workers is less than a tenth that of their average U.S. counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It being about twice as cheap to live in China, those lower Chinese wages go further. But Chinese factory workers also tend to work longer hours, making them more appealing to some employers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/average-cost-factory-worker_n_1327413.html

Southeast Asia

Comparative Wages in Selected Countries
July 29, 2016

 

Country/City Daily Minimum Wages Monthly Wage Exchange Rate
Per US$1*
In Country Currency In US$ In Country Currency In US$
Bangladesh (Taka) 176.67 b/ 2.21 5,300.00 1/ 66.42 79.7982
Myanmar (Kyat) 3,600.00 a/ 2.99 108,000.00 2/ 89.63 1,204.9700
Mongolia (Tugrik) 6,400.00 a/ 3.11 192,000.00 3/ 93.20 2,060.0000
Lao PDR (Kip) 30,000.00 a/ 3.65 900,000.00
4/
109.38 8,228.3900
Pakistan
(Rupee)
333.33-400.00
a/
3.16-3.79 10,000.00-12,000.00
5/
94.86-113.83 105.4230
Cambodia
(Cambodian Riel)
18,666.67
a/
4.67 560,000.00
6/
140.00 4,000.0000
Vietnam
(Dong)
80,000.00 – 116,666.67
a/
3.55- 5.18 2,400,000.00 -3,500,000.00
7/
106.54-155.37 22,527.5000
Indonesia
(Rupiah)
36,666.67 – 103,333.33
a/
2.80- 7.88 1,100,000.00 -3,100,000.00
8/
83.93-236.53 13,106.2000
Philippines/XI-A(Peso)  317..00
9/
6.72 9,510.00
b/
201.56 47.1823
Philippines/VII
(Peso)
295.00- 353.00
10/
6.25-7.48 8,850.00 -10,590.00
b/
187.57- 224.45 47.1823
Philippines/III
(Peso)
313.00- 357.00
11/
6.63-7.71 9,390.00 -10,920.00
b/
200.42- 233.07 47.1823
Malaysia
(Ringgit)
26.67 -30.00
12/
6.57- 7.39 800.00 -900.00 199.02-231.44 4.0614
Philippines/IV-A(Peso)  267.00-362.50
13/
6.04-8.02 8,010.00 -10,875.00
b/
181.21-240.66 47.1823
Thailand/Bangkok
(Baht)
300.00
14/
8.59 9,000.00
b/
257.61 34.9369
China
(Yuan Renminbi)
27.67 – 60.27
a/
4.15 -9.11 830.00 -1,820.00
15/
124.61-273.24 6.6607
Philippines/NCR (Peso) 444.00-481.00
16/
9.62-10.41 13,320.00-14,430.00
b/
288.67-312.19 47.1823
Taiwan
(Taiwan Dollar)
920.00
17/
28.77 27,600.00
b/
863.19 31.9745
Hongkong
($HK)
260.00
a/
33.52 7,800.00
18/
1,005.61 7.7565
South Korea
(Won)
44,640.00
19/
39.57 1,339,200.00
b/
1,187.20 1,128.0300
Japan
(Japan Yen)
5,424.00 – 7,280.00
20/
51.69-69.37 162,720.00 – 218,400.00
b/
1,550.56-2,081.13 104.9430
New Zealand
(New Zealand Dollar)
94.40 – 118.00
21/
66.91-83.64 2,832.00 – 3,540.00
b/
2,007.37-2,509.21 1.4108
Australia
(Australian Dollar)
138.32
a/
103.96 4,149.60
22/
3,118.83 1.3305

 

http://www.nwpc.dole.gov.ph/pages/statistics/stat_comparative.html

Mexico

Manufacturing average income – in pesos $551 per month, $353 in dollars

http://www.worldsalaries.org/mexico.shtml

http://www.businessinsider.com/mexicans-get-paid-less-for-their-work-than-any-other-developed-country-2015-7

Overall list

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country

Clearly if the cost of living in America stayed where it is now these wages would never support individuals or families. If the cost of things fell dramatically in order to match up with the wages what would America look like then? Would it look like the 1950’s when my father was able to barely support 10 people with $10,000/year? The wages we are talking about don’t even get us the 50’s back. Would we look like a more medieval culture with the very poor essentially in serfdom to the very rich? Are you sure you want your jobs back?

We haven’t even talked about the pollution our beloved factories left behind, both the stuff they told us about and the hidden wastes they never remembered to mention. We could have the smog that hung over our cities although I doubt that is something any of us have missed. There are valid things that we really do miss without our factories and the corporations they made things for, but I am starting to picture a viable future economy, however slowly it is emerging, without them. When Donald Trump promises to bring back our jobs, obviously that does not sound quite as positive to me as it does to some of you.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

(This article appears on my website https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/ in a more rudimentary form. Look in the archives dated 4/17/2014.)

The 53% vs the 47%

When Mitt Romney tells his country club friends that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes and that they are victims because of their dependence on government is he really talking campaign strategy? Yes and no. Or that new word, nyes, nyes, nyes. It makes a certain nasty sense. Why try to sell yourself as a candidate to people if they will not vote for you? Romney says that those who pay no taxes and collect all the “entitlements” are on the gravy train and they know Republicans intend to derail the gravy train and send all their “taker” asses out on the mean streets of America to make their own way. He actually is saying that all these people have been taking a free ride from the other 53% of tax payers and that the 53% can no longer afford to pay for these “entitlements” and that they will no longer pay for them.

In a sense he is correct, although Republicans insist on counting people on Medicare and Social Security as “takers” even though we were told that these were benefits we paid for, because there is not enough money to make the programs work for much longer. Republicans are selling a much grimmer America. The people Congress once tried to subsidize and protect were the poor, the disabled, the children (especially the children). Seniors were not being cared for, they were taking care of themselves with the help of their government. Now, when money is scarce the GOP says that in order for America to remain a financially viable superpower all the “deadbeats” must be turned loose and the few people who are genuinely needy will be taken care of by not-for-profits or churches. Now we will be inundated with children who don’t have enough and America will enter some Dickensian future.
It is probably true that there are Americans who take advantage of the programs our government offers and who have no intention of going to work unless they actually have to. Do we have any idea how many people are gaming the system? The number is probably higher than the number of examples of voter fraud in this country for which we are being subjected to an elaborate system of voter ID laws. Do we have any idea of how many people have languished so long in the system that they don’t know any other way to live and who will turn into productive citizens only if the system turns them loose? I don’t think we do.
However, I also don’t think any of these things matters. I think the GOP believes that the top earners in this country are done paying for the poor, the disabled, their grandparents and any other people who want to take assistance from the government even though they pay no taxes. The billionaires feel we are hanging onto their coattails and bringing them down. They want to fix the laws in America so that the 53% do not pay for the 47%. And they do not care that seniors thought they were paying their own way because it didn’t work, the program is going broke. Gramma and Grampa better go get a job so they can pay for their health care all over again.
Most of us have some pride and do not want the 53% to take care of us. Some Americans cannot afford to let pride stand in the way of their survival. The reason this is an issue right now is our depressed economy. We need jobs and we need them soon or our government could go broke. When we had jobs that paid better than a living wage we could afford to take care of less fortunate Americans. Without jobs we can’t. But doesn’t the GOP reasoning essentially disenfranchise 47% of Americans because they say they are not paying their way. Apparently we buy the right to be a citizen by paying taxes. America never placed salary requirements on citizenship, at least not since 1776. If you can only be a citizen if you pay into the American government then what will happen to all the people who no longer qualify to be US citizens? What if jobs don’t miraculously appear when you tip everyone off the gravy train?
No matter how true the financial arguments are that are coming out of the Republican camp I cannot embrace their view of an America that is just a profitable corporation. I cannot embrace their view of an America that has no social functions. Instead of settling for an America we won’t recognize let’s have a serious discussion about a combination of cuts and tax increases that will improve the tax balance in America. But it is a sad thing when wealthy people used our government to create laws that favored wealthy Americans and then, when they cornered most of the wealth in the nation, they started to scream like little girls that people were touching their money. It is not just the people at the bottom who will bring America down, the greed at the top plays a big role also.