Obama during a meeting with CEOs asked Steve Job why he did not manufacture iPhones in the US. Steve Job said those jobs are never coming back.
An executive explained proudly later on to a NYT reporter that it's just not that "Asian workers are cheaper" (notice it's not that they are not "paid less" but they are a cheaper "product" rather than a person, this in contrast to corporations which are now persons, except they can't be arrested like the rest of us can), it's that they're more flexible. After Steve Job decided to change the iPhone prototype at the last minute, the proud executive described what happened at the Chinese factory:
"A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the
company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a
biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour
started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96
hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day."
Doesn't that strike you as slavery? And isn't this the factory where they had to put up large nets all around the buildings because so many of their workers committed suicide?
Digression nb 2: I am pretty discouraged today, particularly since the likes of Newt Gingrich have actually become serious contenders for the Republican nomination, not to mention the presidency of the US. I am afraid that there's a chance that Obama signing into law the new Homeland Security Act that this time gives the executive the right to arrest and/or assassinate terrorist suspects without trial even if they are US citizens and even on US territory? (I'm not sure of that, I hope I'm wrong but I'm afraid I might be remembering right) might prove our undoing as a democracy. Can you just imagine what Gingrich would do if he had that power? Bye bye democracy, bye bye constitution :-(
Digression nb. 3: remember that Hitler was first voted into office (he got 44 % of the votes in what was then a parliamentary system) and then he did away with democracy with the support of the German financial elite of his time (with some exceptions of course, one of which is well depicted in "Schindler's List" --which goes to show that in even the most terroristic situations there are always decent folks risking their lives to save others :-)). If you look at old footage, you can see what happened next: Representatives are shown being kicked out of Parliament at gun point by the police...
The image of elected representatives violently chased out of this Parliament is one of the scariest historical image because it was a portend of what would follow, not only the 11 millions individuals murdered in the Holocaust (Jews or people perceived as such because one of their grandparents was though to have been Jewish, Romas/gypsies, people of color, gays, Seventh Day Adventists whose religion had also been "racialized", and lest not forget, the mentally disabled --though in the occupied countries it was all disabled.... ) but also the millions of dead civilians and soldiers in WWII.
Well, things would go a lot faster today if a Gingrich or his ilk got their hands on the red button.... (and we do know that Gingrich, the only Speaker of the House kicked out of office by his fellow party House members because of his fraudulent financial activities, has quite a beef to settle with Congress) The only thing that might keep us safe is that our armed forces would not go along with doing away with our democracy, unlike the German army which initially supported Hitler (with again a few exceptions).
However, don't we now have as many paid fighting contractors as regular armed forces members? In a way we have even outsourced our military which means that we have outsourced half of our fighting force to very flexible people. Perhaps as flexible in their work as the Chinese Apple workers are forced to be in order to keep their families from starving. China is now the prime example of the sort of capitalism that held sway during the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution: no labor protection, no more health care unless you can pay for it, not a trace of any safety net, but oh yes the "dictatorship of the corporations" while the government still call itself "Communist" (well it never was, but that's another digression!) and still uses the violent methods invented during this "Communist" rule... Is this why it's so hospitable to US/global corporations?
Where was I? Oh I know:
Digression nb 4: Of course all digressions are always linked. We (and the generations that will suffer the consequences of our actions and inactions) are victims of compartimentalization: keeping things in separate boxes in our mind even though they sure are connected in our lives...