Monday, September 12, 2005

America's Dirty Secret

My buddy "Norbert" is a big white guy who loves to party. He loves to party so much that he leaves the country and goes to places like Jamaica and Thailand where you can really let it out.

One day, he was waiting in line to get a motel room when he overheard the guy in front of him speaking in Thai about the room. They gave him one price, and then they gave Norbert, a big white American guy, a higher price. Little did they know, Norbert spoke Thai fluently. "Wait a minute," he said in Thai, "you gave him a cheaper price than you gave me."

"Oh," the motel dude answered in Thai. "That's because we take care of our own."

They take care of their own. You'll never see that in America. Instead, you'll see America take care of everyone else and take care of Americans last.

Case in point. Norbert, me, and a bunch of other people got our jobs outsourced to India simply because they could pay them less. We were white, black, yellow, brown, red, freckled, sunburnt, men, women, all Americans. All laid off in favor of cheaper labor overseas. Back in the old days, your job was guaranteed for life. Not anymore. I've never had job security. Ever.

Back in the 70s, my father was telling me that this outsourcing of manufacturing jobs would really hurt America. Nobody believed him. Now I'm seeing he's right.

The extent of third world poverty in the richest country in the world is America's dirty secret. It's not simply racism. If you travel the deep south, you'll see both blacks and whites flat broke, living in shacks that get destroyed about once every two decades by a flood or a hurricane. I'd talk to people about how bad the poverty was and nobody believed me. "You're exaggerating Zombieslayer. America doesn't have that level of poverty."

Now that you've seen the images of Hurricane Katrina, you know I'm not exaggerating. We do have that level of poverty, and we've never addressed it. LBJ said he was going to address it but got us in 'Nam instead. Bush Sr, Clinton, and Bush Jr all said they'd address it, but they're all in favor of oursourcing and globalism, which we all know where that leads to - making CEOs richer and leaving the common American employee without any job security.

Did you know that both Molokai and Lousiana have active leper colonies? The sad thing is, it's easily treatable and you or I could never get it, because you have to be malnourished to get leprosy. America still to this day has over one hundred lepers. It's because too many Americans live in a state of poverty that is not acceptable.

During Hurricane Katrina, being in Santa Barbara, I've heard a lot of upper class people say "why couldn't they just leave?" They're completely clueless to know for one thing, a lot of people had nowhere to go. Even if they had somewhere to go, they're assuming they have a working automobile. Even if they had a working automobile, a lot of Americans do not have the money for gas and wouldn't last a week in a motel. They know that. They know they don't have the money. So all they could do is wait and pray that it's not as bad as they heard it might be.

We can solve this problem. It's not that hard.

Have you ever talked to a McDonalds manager in an American ghetto? It's amazing how many applications these guys get. One myth about ghettos is that nobody wants to work. Sure, you have lazy folks who don't deserve getting welfare, but you also have a tremendous amount of people who would work if they could. So let's bring back the manufacturing jobs to America, you know, the ones we exported overseas. Let's start taking care of Americans for once.

Everyone talks about tax cuts for corporations as a reward. Screw that. I used to have a Berkshire Hathaway share, Warren Buffet's company (a B one, I'm not rich yet). If you have extra money, I'd highly recommend it. Made me 15% in six months. While having it, I got the annual shareholders booklet. In it, Warren Buffett blabs on and on. It's about the only fascinating economic rant I ever read.

He discussed how Berkshire Hathaway paid 16% of all American corporate income tax. The Berkshire Hathaway corporation didn't come even close to making 16% of all American corporate income. Why so high a tax? Because he's honest, and doesn't do crap like export jobs to save money and ask Congress to give him tax breaks to export American jobs overseas. And, he said that guess who will end up picking up the tab for that lost corporate tax? That's right, us American human taxpayers.

Let's start having tax penalties for corporations that export jobs. Heavy ones. Ones that are heavy enough to bring the jobs back to the states. And if corporations absolutely positively have to have a job outside America, let's give those jobs to Mexico. Mexico is our neighbor and they don't have nukes pointed at us like China does. In fact, during the Hurricane Katrina, they helped out more than any other nation.

Everyone pays for poverty, not just the ones impoverished. After Katrina, thousands of homeless families moved to other parts of the countries. My parents would have taken in a kid, but they got a foster kid a few weeks before the hurricane started. Their little town however has dozens of hurricane families. The elementary school my little brother went to in Houston had seven new families from the hurricane applying their kids there. Not only that, helping out these folks who lost everything will come out of our tax money (which I actually am glad for). If these people had decent jobs, they would have had enough money to flee the hurricane.

So let's bring these jobs back to America, and we can fix our dirty secret of poverty instead of trying to sweep it under the rug.

45 Comments:

Blogger Raemius said...

Say what you will about Traficant, but he gave a very good adress to congress in 1993 that no one bothered to listen to.

The text is easily available on the net, here's one link.

http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/CRTraficant.htm

Unfortunately companies will continue to do what is profitabe to them. They are entities without empathy. Have you seen the documentary 'Corporation'? It's a very good analysis of a corporations 'psychology'.

On the flip side, if people in India can provide the same service at 1/5 the price, the jobs will go there, there is no way around that. Most corporations have become global, and inflated labor costs in the US are a hinderance to their growth.

If the North American economy is to survive, we need start making stuff again.

9/13/2005 8:48 AM  
Blogger Thomcat said...

zombies shouldn't work , either...

9/13/2005 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

I admit, I thought the people were kind of dumb for not leaving, until I started hearing their stories. Some good is already coming out of Katrina if it educates as to what's going on down there. Great and convicting post.

9/13/2005 9:07 AM  
Blogger clothosfate said...

Hmmm, I was thinking about the documentary 'Corporation' as well when I read this. The psychology of the corporation is demented, psychopathic and incredibly immature... not the kind of 'entity' we want controlling the economy.

It matters little, the improbability of the US corporations stopping outsourcing, it matters much much more that people like The Zombieslayer are willing and intelligent enough to point out the "dirty secrets" and even offer ideas on how to change them.

For every one zombieslayer there are hundreds of people who feel the same and do not have an outlet to share it. People need to know that they are not alone in their dissatisfaction and desire to change things. All empires must fall, it is just the way of it, and it is extremely important that there are people who are awake enough to know that they will be needed in the aftermath of any and ALL disasters that these "dirty secrets" will bring about.

My thoughts anyway.

9/13/2005 9:08 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Welcome to the "Global Elite". Corporations have absolutely no loyalty to any nation. They are "international corporations". With profit as their bottom line.

The ultimate problem the world faces right now, as a global economy, is Corporations exploiting work forces that have little to no human rights, no ability to organize and demand better pay. This keeps the playing field artificially uneven in favor of corporations that are capable of establishing business in those nations.

This type of Amoral behavior not only victimizes Americans by flooding our markets with slave produced goods (slave in the sense of no rights), but it also continues the plight of the exploited people by empowering repressive regimes through new forms of capital, all at the expense of their citizens.

Like Raemius, those who exploit the powerless will always cite "good business" practices of cheap labor. They never address the truth of exploited labor. The common argument is that "China is becoming more democratic". Bullshit. China just recently "declassified" information regarding natural disasters. If that doesnt tell you how far away China is from a democracy, then nothing will.

9/13/2005 9:10 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I pray, that one day there is a revolt in China, and the Chineese people take revenge on the corporations that have exploited them.

9/13/2005 9:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

The real problem is that Americans worship Individualism and profits. Why is it that our society believes in Darwinian concepts when it comes to social welfare but not when it comes to the origin of the species?

If you look at it from the politicians point of view, they are taking care of their own - The key to all this mess is campaign finance reform and abolition of the 2 party system. If we open the door to more diverse representation, free from corporate interests, we will be a lot better off because "the people" will have taken back our government.

I agree with pretty much everything you've said here. Great commentary.

9/13/2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Levi Nunnink said...

I often think about this because helping the poor should be a major goal of Christians. It's all through the Bible. But I'm always torn between the difference of helping the poor and empowering the poor to continue to be poor.

I think that your ideas are great. Very practical. I also think that building Mexico's economy like you suggested would not only be the right thing to do for our less-rich neighbors but I think that it would solve our immigration problems.

And hey, what businessmen wouldn't like to take a few meetings in Mexico? It's an easier trip than India, that's for sure.

9/13/2005 9:33 AM  
Blogger Raemius said...

Chris, I'm not siding with the corporations, but by their nature, they will exploit any opportunities they can to increase profits. That is the reality.

Look at Halliburton and KBR inflating prices for anything they are supplying to the military in Iraq. Why? Because they can.

You also have to realize that some of these jobs going to India are pretty good jobs, and they do have some skilled people over there. The money they make doing helpdesk for Dell is probably more than they ever expected. But nobody in the US would do the same job for $1000 a month. $1000 a month in India is very substantial. This si something you realize when you go to a country like that for a period of time.

Where it becomes a larger concern is manufacturing, where exploitation, and dare I say, slavery, is a standard practice.

9/13/2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I want to check out the documentary mentioned. I am all for any solution that will focus jobs back into America. I don't mind if we help our neighbors, but not at the expense of our own. Great post and well drawn thoughts.

9/13/2005 10:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Actually, I did a project on call-center outsourcing a few years ago and Indians working in call centers make the equivalent of about $3000 per YEAR. What American would put up with that? What American could survive on that? The problem is not just labor organizing issues, it's that the cost of living here is so much more than elsewhere. Even if Korea or China could have labor unions, they'd still be able to undercut our cost of living. There's no easy solution.

9/13/2005 10:58 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Where's Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?

9/13/2005 11:07 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

No good easy solutions and it will jsut get worse as corporations go more and more international. I always sort of expected Microsoft to pick up and buy an island in Costa Rica and move if the Feds gave them enough trouble.

guamo

9/13/2005 11:34 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Part of the problem is having weak border control here at home as well as outsourcing.
I see it in our own landscaping businesses around our little local community. Most of the laborers are Mexican. I'm sure they are legal--that's not my point: The point is that they have a stronger work ethic because they value the dollar and they work of a competitive price.
How can a man with a highschool diploma compete with that?

9/13/2005 12:10 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Laura: That is true to some extent. Look at Tiwan, a Democracy. They were cheap labor for years, but as their economy grew, work conditions improved, and salaries improved. Now salaries in Tiwan are competitive to Japan.

Unfortunately, countries like China, who allow foreign nations to build factories in their nations, do not allow the goods made in those factories to be sold in their own country. :-\ Talk about really stacking the deck. In other words, they are making sure the money is flowing in 1 direction, and that is into their country, not out.

Sad part about it, you can find that type of information on google very easily, straight out of ChiCom's Dept of Economics.

9/13/2005 12:12 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Amen! Very, very awesome post!!! Thought provoking, inspiring and heartfelt...

9/13/2005 12:14 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

ZS, don't you get sick of being right ALL the time?
Our generation has NEVER had job security. Many of us have been forced to start from scratch over and over.
In our area things like health insurance, paid vacations and retirement are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Laura's right, political reform is our ONLY hope.
We ALL seem to be in agreement here. Let's spread the word!!

9/13/2005 12:23 PM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

I believe I've said it before, but I'll continue to say it....

ZS for PREZ!!! w00t!

9/13/2005 1:07 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

That's capitalism baby!
Money before all else.

Yup... American principles are f-ed up in lots of ways.

In the immortal words of Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: "GREED, for lack of a better word, Is GOOD. Greed Works."

Would America be where it is without slavery? Probably not. Now you can ask the same thing about outsourcing. Will it make America better in the long run? Maybe.
But not without screwing over a shitload of people in the process.

9/13/2005 1:46 PM  
Blogger BrownsvilleGirl said...

Perhaps the problem is that to get a real job in America now, a high school diploma doesn't cut it. You need at least a college degree, but the poor can't afford that. THe government needs to make community colleges (at least) free, so that their own people could be equipped for the job market in America.

9/13/2005 3:01 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

I am not sure I can agree with most of your points.

Job security - Nobody guarnteed this to you. Certainly not the government or your citizenship. How is this a warranted complaint? If you are just casually saying you haven't had job security, maybe you chose the wrong field and/or companies?

Taking Care - American do take care of their own. Their OWNself. That's the one thing you have to understand through all of this. Every one of your arguments can be traced back to corporate profitability. What you are asking for is for people to be noble. Those people are special. That's why when you come across a company that sells products made in the US, by American Workers, using American produced ingredients/parts, you pause and smile and commend them. They are SPECIAL. That's why there are so few of them. After a while they realize people would rather pay $10 for a t-shirt instead of $20.

Working - So the people in the ghetto that are unmployed are that way because all their jobs moved? Why don't they learn a new skillset and move. Let me ask you something. Say all the programming/computer jobs in Santa Barbara dissappeared. Would stay here? And hope that people protested and cried for you at night? Or would you quickly learn to do something else? What you are basically saying is these people were hard workers, lost their jobs, then just became unproductive bums. And that's ok?

Berkshire - Good story. I liked that.

Tax Penalties - The companies are not doing anything wrong. Tax penalties would be punishment. If anything, you should offer tax incentives. Imagine you went on a freeway (NOT a tollroad) and all of a sudden you were charged a fee to use it. You were charged for doing something you had every right to do. And what is the fee for? To reduce pollution by deterring driving. And what would your tax penalties be for? To reduce the loss of jobs by deterring outsourcing. You want Corporate America to be moral and righteous. Ethics and money usually mix. In fact, they rarely do.

9/13/2005 3:08 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I never thought it was a secret. Any city you travel to, you can find poverty. It would take a blind person not to see it. I've never agreed with the amount of aid we give other countries when two things remain constant - we go in debt because of it and our own people are suffering. :-/

9/13/2005 4:18 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

It is silly to believe we go into debt giving money to other countries. The US gives from it's excess, not from it's core. There are other things that put us in debt, though. Hint: War.

9/13/2005 4:33 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Excellent post, Zomb. Totally agree.
Remember when poor noble (I'm gonna get it for saying that) John Kennedy spoke of the 'gnomes of zurich'? he was killed after that.

I believe he was talking about the worldwide oligarchy of generationally rich men, men with no souls, no countries, no allegiences and frankly damn little ethics.

Those are the world economy guys.

9/13/2005 6:16 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Bravo, my brother! By the way, I picked up my copy of the Survival Guide. I was surprised they'd give out such valuable information at Barnes and Noble.

9/13/2005 8:14 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

There are no easy solutions but the easy thing is almost never right and the right thing is almost never easy. We, as individuals in America, bare responsibility for vocalizing these problems and finding solutions if the government won't. We are one nation under God (if you choose to believe in God), not one nation under the government.

9/13/2005 8:19 PM  
Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

I'm with you. I haven't known what job security is since joining the IT field.

9/13/2005 8:45 PM  
Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Great post Zombie, and good food for thought, and so many profound comments.

You are right, poverty doesn't discriminate. I hate the term 'new poor' verses 'old poor'. Hell, poor is poor.

Poverty will not go away unless we address the "outsourcing" issue. But where do we begin --- how can we turn "individualism" back into "one for all and all for one."

I vote, but there's got to be something more we can do as a whole, because some of our votes don't seem to be counting.

Between the two of us, my husband and I, we worked 3 1/2 jobs to support our family, for several decades. Now, he works for the state and is forced to do overtime without pay. Job security, that's a joke! I retired and had to go back to work. I had worked for over thirty-five years with nothing to show for it, because it’s about survival.

I am ready to roll up my sleeves, old as I am, and kick some butt --- but where do I begin, and who do I begin with?

Our country is dying from lack of leadership … I am willing to follow, but I will not be led by the extremes on either side --- there got to be a middle ground. Neither the democrats nor the republicans are stamping out poverty. Whatever happens to the idea of a third party?

9/13/2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger SME said...

I thought your last post on poverty in the South was an excellent eye-opener, but holy $%&@*, this one was a mind-blower. I had NO IDEA there was leprosy in the U.S.

9/14/2005 3:19 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

sygyzy: "Job security - Nobody guarnteed this to you. Certainly not the government or your citizenship."

That's not true anymore. In our era of globalization, International Law has become ever more important. International Law guarantees economic as well as political rights. The US is a signatory of these conventions, and therefore, by definition, is supporting the guarantee of these rights to its citizens.

The only thing lacking is enforcement - something the US supports or opposes as its convenient to our own national interests.

9/14/2005 4:58 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

liquidplastic: You hit that nail on the head. This is an ideological war between those who value individualism over all else, and those who believe we have a responsibility to our larger communities to act in their best interests as well as our own. How do we turn that around? I don't know. But I think we should start by requiring personal sacrifice of our citizens during times of war and crisis, rather than telling them to "go shop". It's that type of entitlement attitude, the belief that as Americans we're exempt from the rules, that has us where we are. Personal responsibility is important, but so is social responsibility.

9/14/2005 5:01 AM  
Blogger jenbeauty said...

This is a start...we need to definitly take care of our own.

9/14/2005 8:18 AM  
Blogger Miranda said...

I was discussing this over dinner yesterday. Corporations and employers aren't the only ones to blame. We are also to blame for buying cheap foreign goods instead of praying premiums for American made products. If we would have
started doing so years ago, I'm convinced we'd have more American jobs today.

It's easier to solve problems when
everyone quits passing the buck and starts taking responsibility
for the part of the problem that is theres.

So, yeah. I say, bring the jobs back, but don't do it by howling
about corporations while you buy
their products. Do your part. Buy American and if you can start
a small company to sell American goods, do it. Employ people. Don't just blame it all on corporations and the government and pretend you
can't do anything, because you can.

9/14/2005 12:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Absolutely Miranda - but that's a lot easier said than done, especially for clothing. Durable goods it's much easier to buy American. I went shopping for baby clothes for my cousin's shower a few weeks ago and absolutely NOTHING was made in USA. So yes, we need to buy American. But those products need to be made available for us to buy as well. Lacking a car with which to search out American made women's clothing, I have little choice but to buy what is available to me.

9/14/2005 1:31 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

Buy American? That would make sense if American's produced quality goods at good prices. They are being undercut but foreign countries. Posing a hypothetical question, I asked a group of people if they were paid $500,000 and not ever be able to buy any foreign goods, would they take it? They all immediately shook their heads. So until America and Americans can make high quality products at affordable prices, I'll stick to buying what's best for me. That may be some things American and some not.

9/14/2005 3:40 PM  
Blogger greatwhitebear said...

remember that funny little guy with the big ears who kept talking about that giant sucking sound, and how we were all gonna be making $7 an hour in a few years?

Funny little feller turned out to be a helluva prophet, didn't he?

9/14/2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger savage said...

"Norbert" could have been me (aka Robert), except not only do I not travel, I'm so poor that I don't even think travel would be a good idea:  Too expensive.  Pluswhich, I don't speak Thai.
-r
PS:
One of the things that REALLY irks me is something ZS told me (in person, even) and that's our BIZARRE and LAX employment visa standard.  It is SUPPOSED to be that a company hires a foreigner because NO Americans can do the job; instead, it seems that a certain class of Visa in the tech industry (help me out ZS?) actually allows corporations to IMPORT foreign workers (in other words, workers that are doing jobs that REAL Americans can do, would do, and can't do, because they're being undercut by people who are — except for some food, rent and probably minimal entertainment (gambling, if my suspicions are correct) — going to send their paychecks back to their native country for their own families)!
:(
ZS:  My JSePresents 'blog was spammed!  How did you get blogger to activate that 'zuoswd' (this time) word verification thingy?
-=-

9/15/2005 12:52 AM  
Blogger savage said...

For anyone interested but lazy:

The Corporation website:
http://www.thecorporation.com/
the DVD (at Amazon.com):
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007DBJM8/pebbleintheskyon
-r
PS:
Interesting thing:  I've been researching Noam Chomsky lately (he is mentioned in that blurby thing on all movie posters for this movie).
PPS:
verification word:
cgljtdk
-=-

9/15/2005 1:01 AM  
Blogger savage said...

tshsmom:
The starting from scratch comment:

The thing that really pisses me off is that I'm working class and that because of that, it doesn't matter if I'm a supergenius and if everyone else knows it.  :(  I was lucky once and/but didn't realize it at the time and messed up my business (I moved because of a relationship, but I naively thought that I'd just pick it up in my new town).  People like Lush and his brothers can screw up again and again and still come out ahead.  EVEN IF THEY TAKE OTHERS WITH THEM!  EVEN IF THEY TAKE DOWN A FEW S&Ls—normal people, and especially working class people SIMPLY aren't allowed to make mistakes.  And that's assuming we were lucky enough to be doing something 'profitable' in the first place.
-r
PS:
JUST TODAY:  Just today I told my girlfriend that, 'a job is the WORST thing that can happen to you.  The only reason to get a job is if you're in highschool or in your early college years.  What you want is either to start your own business, or get a career; a career, unlike a job, will hopefully offer benefits and the longer you have it, the more credibility you have in it.
Companies don't have loyalty and so there's no job security.  I'm wondering, though, like chicken and egg, though I have my suspicions, which came first:  disloyal employees (always jockying for a 'better' job at a rival company, or disloyal companies who downsize or whatever to get rid workers.

(oh yeah: emttocjb)
-=-

9/15/2005 1:14 AM  
Blogger savage said...

sygyzy:
You are an idiot.
-r
PS:
For, among other reasons, Nike, with foreign factory workers (who COLLECTIVELY MAKE LESS THAN MICHEAL JORDAN DOES FOR PROMOTING Nike) still sells their shoes for OVER a hundred buckazoids.  If they were made in America, they'd still cost the comsumer the same; Nike just wouldn't make all that SURPLUS profit.  People who make products in the USA with US parts, etc. have to compete in the market and they don't do it by saying: "we know it costs more, but it supports your poor neighbors!"  I've never seen that.  I've seen (veiled) calls for patriotism: "buy American, support Americans," etc.  You asslicking corporate whore.

wvkoszre
or is it
vwkoszre ?
-=-

9/15/2005 1:23 AM  
Blogger savage said...

I know I'm the only one who reads books anymore, but one of my favorite authors is John Barnes.  Sometimes I think he's a straight SciFi author, other times I think his books are influenced by political and economic insight and/or some cultural anthropology.
-r
PS:
…anyway, I just finished reading "The Man Who Pulled Down the Sky," http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0373303033/pebbleintheskyon
and it has (goodness) all this stuff which is COMPLETELY relavent to this ZS article.  I SERIOUSLY recommend it.  I'm a slow reader, but this book was so good that I read it in only 3 days (this is reading whenever I got a chance, by the way).
A book that will remind readers of our situation vis-a-vis Katrina and Global Warming?  Yep, John Barnes wuz here:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812533453/pebbleintheskyon
Mother of Storms

aieiesnp
-=-

9/15/2005 1:40 AM  
Blogger Vest said...

Hi Zom. I have been busy recently, lots of vets activities, and misc social events, my hand healed ok, nice scar.the router on my pc cocked up but every thing is back to normal now.
It is so sad to see all the damage to peoples lives that hurricane has caused, we feel deeply sorry for your fellow Americans, but I am certain that eventually the place will rise again and be better prepared for such an eventuality. back again soon. vest daily gaggle.

9/15/2005 6:22 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

damn...all I can say is AMEN!!!

9/15/2005 7:23 AM  
Blogger clothosfate said...

hmmmm... Mr. Zombieslayer appears to be missing in action... where or where has the zombieslayer gone? where ever it is, I hope it does not hurt too much and he returns to us loyal readers promptly!

9/15/2005 8:54 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Sorry all, I was away for a few days, no computer in sight, which sometimes is a good thing. But then, I missed you all.

I'll be online tonight and be able to reply to everyone and to visit your blogs too.

9/15/2005 9:12 AM  

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