Republicans and blue dog Democrats have abandoned traditional U.S. values for those of countries like Mexico, China and India.
France, Germany, Spain and Italy have been receiving a severe tongue-lashing from America’s conservative financial press. It seems that these countries stubbornly refused to realize that socialism doesn’t work.
“Socialism,” in this sense means that they were reluctant to give up their traditional high standards for protecting the incomes and working conditions for their working-class citizens. As a result, their workers had too high a standard of living and corporations didn’t make enough profit.
To reverse this situation, the world’s conservatives convinced their governments to globalize, thus enabling corporations to pit workers of different nations against each other. Result: stagnant or declining worker incomes in the developing nations and huge increases in investor and corporate executive incomes.
In an all-time classic editorial (10/27/04), George Melloan, Deputy Editor of The Wall Street Journal, pontificated what has become the standard right-wing justification for today’s class war against the working citizens of the world:
…entire countries, like France … recognize what we at the Journal have been preaching for years, that there really is only one economy that matters, the economy of planet earth. … national governments are increasingly forced to adopt policies that recognize the need to compete with other governments. …
That’s why globalization is hated by socialists and other worshipers of state ascendancy the world over. They don’t like these constraints but know that the penalty for resisting them is severe.
Germany, for example, is facing further massive job losses because its socialist-led government has been too slow to reform laws that protect unions and enforce high labor costs. The choice for rich nations like Germany is reform or die…
Was Melloan right? Factually, of course he was. But morally, he was wrong. He’s a persuasive defender of the moral standards of our new financial barbarians-at-the-gate.
It’s like the high school teacher who tells his students that those who don’t give him $5 will not receive a passing grade. Sure enough, those who don’t give him the money don’t pass. Does that prove that the teacher is right? Factually, yes. Morally, no.
Melloan’s own paper, the Journal, reported shortly after his op-ed (6/30/05) that Grohe Water Technology AG, a profitable family-owned German producer of premium faucets and showers sold out to a group of British investors who loaded it with debt to finance the buyout. They, in turn, sold it to a group of American investors who “piled on even more debt. … Their plans are to slash jobs in Germany and make bathroom fixtures in cheap-labor countries.”
In effect, countries like the U.S. and England have abandoned their traditional moral standards regarding the fair treatment of workers, and adopted the standards of such sterling countries like Mexico, Indonesia, India, and China – long noted for their vibrant economies and their respect and concern for the poor and powerless.
If the U.S. government now pursues policies that are biased in favor of the already rich and powerful, what can we expect from the leaders these Third World countries in their treatment of their own workers? Instead of creating a worldwide population of middle-class consumers, globalization – as it stands now – is far more likely to repeat what happened after 1929: incredible wealth in the hands of a relatively few, and masses of citizens who can’t afford to buy the products they are making in the world’s factories.
Indeed, today’s version of international trade, globalization, is not based on true economic efficiencies, such as locating a manufacturing plant in the center of a distribution area, or near the source of raw materials, or capitalizing on a nation’s unique characteristics. It is based almost solely on pitting the world’s workers, of all skill levels, against each other in a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.