It has gone largely unnoticed and unacknowledged, but for the past couple of decades an incredibly efficient, cheap and, much to the joy of the right-wing crowd, private anti-pollution device has relieved our atmosphere of many hundreds of millions of pounds of pollutants. That device is the Chinese peasant. Yes, these poor, severely underpaid, miserable wretches have flooded the urban factory floors of the highest-polluting American émigré manufacturing plants in China.
They have taken on the burden of producing products through processes that poison the Chinese atmosphere at an ever-increasing annual rate. Granted the U.S. still leads the world in per capita release of carbon dioxide for example, but in terms of sheer volume Chinese industry farts out (remember corporations are humans) the combined total of America and Canada. So, even half-polluted America can’t compete with the Chinese. In fact, in the most recent two-year reporting period, our output of the stuff actually went down.
If you question the massive intrusion of filthy air in China, fly on over to one of the major manufacturing hubs and be sure to bring an asthmatic friend to see how long it takes to trigger an attack. I’m guessing hours. I suggest Shanghai or Tianjin or a real doozey, Chongqing. Then cover your face with a hanky before hailing a Di Shi for the nearest airport (or hospital for your friend).
Few people realize the magnitude of the influence China exerts over our lives. There are estimates of upwards of 80% of products found in our homes are manufactured in China. Virtually every major U.S. Corporation has its own plant in China, or contracts to have its products manufactured there or has entered into some kind of partnership. There are two reasons for this: cheap wages and permission to kill Chinese with impunity, whether it’s by way of pollution or the suicides of desperate workers at their wits end from long hours, little money and working conditions you wouldn’t wish on a serial killer. Most of you are familiar with the 31 in-factory suicides by workers in an Apple-contracted Chinese manufacturing facility.
Apple, is, of course, but one of the computer and computer accessory, soft-ware and hard-ware companies that build their stuff in China. Damn near everything is made over there as well. Here’s a very limited list of companies you’ll recognize that have abandoned the American worker for the exploitation of workers in China. Any duplication with the American Legislative Exchange Council corporate membership list is strictly intentional: AT & T, Abbott Labs, Acer Electronics, Autozone, Caterpiller, Coca Cola, Walmart, J.C. Penny’s, Johnson & Johnson, K-Mart, IBM, Kraft Foods, Target, Radio Shack, National Semiconductor, Payless shoes, Motorola, Pampers, Petco, Mattel, Logitech, Kohler, Kimberly Clark, Pioneer Electronics, Staples (hey, isn’t that Romney’s all-American company – and they do most of the manufacturing in China? How many jobs did that cost? There’s also True Value Hardware, Zales, Toys R Us, Stanley Tools…
That’s enough for now. As I said, it’s a tiny fraction of the thousands of companies who sang that old Johnny Paycheck song into American worker’s ears… “Take This Job and Shove It.” Only it wasn’t the workers shoving the job, it was the companies shoving it for them.
I’m serious when I talk about less pollution from these selfish moves. But we’re now facing what may be a bit of a quandary. It seems that increasing Chinese wages (still God awful) have more than a few American companies looked homeward once more. Now that their political, right-wing sycophants have managed to kill unions, destroy wages and block most regulations involving corporations and the environment, a third-world America is starting to look mighty appealing; better golf courses, more women to underpay, a health care plan to destroy, pensions a thing of the past, overseas tax havens still there, a desperate non-union work force willing to labor as long and as hard as it takes, no matter the working conditions. What more could a patriotic, God-fearing American manufacturer ask for? And it could get even better for the company and worse for the prospective worker now that the bought-and-paid-for extremist majority of Supremes will bow to whatever Fortune-500 bidding comes their way.
Add that to an equally extremist majority in the house where sleazy redistricting, vote suppression and citizen’s united has eliminated the voices of reasonable people and the corporate oligarchy has molded the perfect country for greedy moneygrubbers.
I do want to make one thing clear before I proceed. The excuse of moving to China because ‘that’s where the customers are’ is pure, unadulterated bullshit. China is nothing more than an export platform. Make it there, send it everywhere else in the world. Yes, some American products made in China will end up in that country, but the vast majority will end up here, there and everywhere. It essentially makes not one sliver of difference where you make most products. In globalization, you send them everywhere, no matter their point of origin.
Analyst are throwing around numbers in the millions and billions that would result from the rebirth of manufacturing in the U.S. Millions of jobs will be created. Tens of billions in output will be added to the U.S. economy and who knows how many tons of revived pollution. What’s not mentioned is the tens of billions of dollars that will be added to the bottom lines of that now infamous 1% who will by and large be the sole benefactors of the modern-day equivalent of Dicken’s Oliver Twist with its holier than though privileged class and its slum-dwelling mass of exploited poor.
Keep voting republican. That’s your future.