It is a brittle cold, dazzling morning in Franklinton. Ice and styro take-out trays float in the chipped bathtub we have commandeered for mixing cement. Time moves slowly here. I take my time futzing with a slap-stapler slipped out of the factory packaging not 10 minutes before Jim drove one rack of 1/4-inch staples and the damned thing jammed--leaving me to resurrect enough of my fading interest in the material world so I can hang Sheetrock.
You have a snow-globe version of the New World Order here in this burg: Shuttered mills line U.S. 1 from the Neuse River north. About the only thriving businesses are convenience stores, people like us remodeling swaybacked mill houses, and the Pie Man--who makes a rib sandwich so good your tongue jump outa yo' mouth an slap you on the forehead.
Somehow, today, here, the locus of neo-liberal economics seems intricately wrapped around this crummy stapler.
Lawnmowerman mutters up on his garden tractor. "Y'all don't need any lan'scaping and such today?" he hollers, Dave's reply noncommittal and evasive. Lawnmowerman gets disability but has too much pride not to do something. "Y'know, they won't give me a job," Lawnmowerman gripes, off the tractor and balancing on his taped-up alloy crutches and his one leg. "They say I'muh insurance liability."
The stapler's hard steel striker has snapped in two. It's made in Taiwan; it says Stanley.
"I work as hard as a four-legged man."
I had relatives that raised whole families by working for the Stanley works in New Britain, Conn. --solid, hard workers happy to escape the poverty and ennui of farm life in old Sweden. Frederick Trent Stanley made saws and planes that still do yeoman service after literally a hundred years of work. Not any more. I glance at the trash pile. Better not. The ink is barely dry on the sales slip. Stuff too cheap to fix seems to be the only palpable plus-side to neo-liberal globalized economics. It'll end up in an overburdened landfill and Dave'll get a new one.
Globalization wasn't supposed to work like this. Somewhere, pride and quality and improving one's lot in life got crushed by capital.
A simplified history: The post-World War II model for neo-liberal globalized trade, Bretton Woods/GATT, was built on the thesis that every nation was blessed with something they could make well by virtue of raw materials and a knowledgeable workforce (say, sweaters from Iceland). Nations would expand economically by selling what they did best on a burgeoning world market. Nations less endowed with industrial capability would be given a leg-up with development loans to assist them in developing their own native industries, tariffs would be done away with and everybody would live happily ever after. That was the plan.
The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve (the privately held central bank) under Nixon changed all that. We ditched the U.S. fractional reserve gold standard in exchange for fractional reserve fiat money--and the world's economy became based on something worth merely the paper it is printed on--an idea. Due to the power and prestige of the almighty dollar, the global economy is now based not on any tangible thing, only the "full faith and credit"--the reputation--of the United States (which lately ain't been lookin' so good). Wanna hot tip? Get into Euros or metal.
In a trice, all changed. After the global hot-money boys hijacked the world's economy, the way it works now under the Son of GATT--WTO--is that globally extracted resources are pillaged, either at bargain basement prices or at gunpoint--an updated, muscular version of the old East India and other trading cartels of the 17th and 18th centuries. These resources, along with the know-how--whole factories--are shipped to where the cheapest labor can be found. Siam or Timbucktoo--don' matter. There is no consideration given to native skills or local raw materials, everything except the (wage) slaves is shipped in. So now we can get "Icelandic" sweaters from Formosa and cell phones from Sri Lanka. And once the various nation-states make the jump to a non-traditional work force, guess what happens when Motorola finds a nation-state that'll deliver warm bodies for a half-cent cheaper? You're catching on, Franklinton.
"Free Trade" agreements rob the U.S. of jobs and the world of resources with no end in sight. "Free" ain't always free--unless you are in beeg business.
WTO, NAFTA and other "agreements" were made with you decidedly not in the room. And our pathetic "free press" conveniently failed to supply you with the information so that you could at least write your congressman. Know why? If you'd known what sorts of deals they were brokering in private, at your expense, you'd probably have been in a mob of millions marching upon Washington, torches and pitchforks in hand.
"We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promise of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernatural sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries." -- David Rockefeller.
Don't like it? Bitch to him.
Remember, just like John Gotti, the only thing that matters to corporations are profits, profits, profits. And all this kindly talk about the mythical creature known as the "good corporate citizen," is PR bullshit. See, one big part they didn't tell you about this economic New World Order is that there can be no weight given to social or environmental considerations over private profit. Period. This is all boilerplate Frederick Hayek. Check him out: www.hayekcenter.org/friedrichhayek/hayek.html.
Under these agreements, defended by powerful lawyers, nations trading with the U.S. can have their people kept in near slavery conditions (oh heck, actual slavery) and there is nothing U.S. consumers can do about it short of buying sheep or running around nekkid. "China takes its World Trade Organization commitments vary seriously, but the WTO standards do not extend into these labor issues," said G. Hamilton Loeb, a lawyer representing China in a recent New York Times story. And if there is a lawsuit over, say, environmental conditions, the nearly universal result is that the economic agreement trumps national laws/sovereignty and the glop gets dumped anyway. What, you say? solidarity.igc.org/atc/90Greenfield.html
"National sovereignty is no longer a viable concept."--Zbigniew Brzezinski. Thenk yew, ZB.
Put simply, any challenge to the ridiculous estimated 43 percent advantage of foreign-made products is ruthlessly (and legally) crushed for the corporate bottom line. Sovereign laws, like our Trade Act of 1974, which would result in the reduction of profits to a parent company as working conditions are leveled, are subject to secret, civil arbitration, even if the practices are illegal in the U.S. and in the manufacturing nation. And any calls for "fairness" are met with howls of "protectionism." With an advantage like that, who wouldn't send their manufacturing overseas ? Bye-bye Stanley.
So now you know. And this is just the kiddie car version. The big thing to keep in mind is that as close as the "US-out-of-the-UN" black-chopper bunch had it dead-on about the looming global government, they got it wrong in one key detail. It ain't gonna be a socialist U.N. One World. Nope, the New World Order is galloping in on the broken backs of the laborers of the world--enforced by raw military power. And a major political system where corporations and governments work hand in glove is not socialism. It's fascism.
Global corporate fascism. Nice ring, no?
The big daddy of the anti-UN, anti-one-worlders is a dude name of G. Edward Griffin (www.newswithviews.com/war_on_terror/war_on_terrorism.htm ).
Griffin has made grim projections of the world that awaits us under United Nations control--a dreary, confining world of the bare necessities, measured drudgery and forced labor under the iron grasp of a single authority. I have read his descriptions and they ring true. Only the nightmare isn't in some grim apocalyptic future--it lives in modern off-shore manufacturing camps, reincarnations of the worst of U.S. labor practices where corporations crushed dissenters with the help of the old War Department's tanks, guns and gas.
Paralleling this Gilded Age on a global level, the U.S.'s historic use of armed soldiers to quell labor uprisings has likewise been updated to 170 nations via U.S. Cooperative Security Training--the whiff of grapeshot. For the poor of the world, Sinclair Lewis's Jungle is on the way and short of hitting the streets like the fed-up citizens of financially savaged nations like Venezuela and Argentina, there is nothing you or they can do about it except do without. Globalization is going to happen one way or another, but this version is a cruel trick and a failure. Human rights and justice were not given away so much as stolen in the night by the green eyeshade mob.
I glance at the trash pile. Better not. The ink is barely dry on the sales slip. One way or another, Dave'll get his new stapler, leaving the broken one to a fate similar to that of whole countries, discarded and forgotten.