Monday, May 31, 2010
Big business needs efficient bean counters. But they can't have well-rounded individuals undermining their authority, or worrying about things like democracy in the workplace. Start arguing with the boss at the interview and you won't have a job.
It's really hard to train someone to be technically capable but at the same time render them a zombie about all other matters in life. This is the quandary bourgeoisie-minded education reformers find themselves in.
1'Is the "Billionaire Boys Club" Good for Education?'-Economist's View
Sunday, May 30, 2010
First: Asian Male Privilege , anyone ? Let's get working on that.
Second: Themes of minority racial unity espoused by hermetically sealed Berkeley-ish profs are b.s.
Third: Immigration patterns and flows are a significant influence on this chart. Sample Bias, in other words.
Fourth: Mexico is far richer than mainland China on a per-capita basis.
Fifth: Immigration 'Reform' in the United States political class is about factions of Capital arguing over a skilled-labor system versus a migrant-labor system.
and Sixth: I'm reminded of a friend , with a PhD in physics, who spent fifteen years raising her kids while her CEO husband slept around the globe. Now she's divorced and substitute teaching for a living, and building up her job experience.
Chart fleeced from wikipedia-Income Inequality in the US. Year: 2005.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Honda's four auto assembly plants in China have ground to a halt after workers at a parts maker went on strike demanding better wages.
The strike come after Honda Motor Co.'s announcement earlier this week of an aggressive plan to boost production in China, raising annual production capacity at its Guangqi Honda Automobile Co. joint venture from 360,000 units to 480,000 vehicles by the latter half of 2011.
The newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported that the workers were pushing to have monthly wages increased from the current 1,500 yuan ($220) to up to 2,500 yuan ($370). A photo showed workers gathered outside the factory in spotless white uniforms and red caps.
The working class in China seems increasingly self-confident, as well they should be.
1'Strike stalls production at Honda's China plants; - AP
Sunday, May 23, 2010
This tendency is probably more a reflection of immigration policy, or in other words, a type of sample bias. Canada, while often feted as a progressive alternative to the United States, is more conservative when it comes to immigration, or at least so-called legal immigration. (Which is the context of this piece.) Summing up the difference: Canada has a skills-first immigration policy while the United States has a family-first policy. If one has ever looked into immigrating Up North, one of the first things you are asked to do is take a skills self-assessment test; i.e., whether or not you have a needed or scarce job skill. If you can't pass this little 'test', or check-up, then it's very unlikely you will get into Canada.
The U.S. has no such skills mandate. If one can find a sponsor - most typically family, than one can immigrate. Of course, U.S. immigration policy also favors certain skilled labor - historically professions such as nurses, engineers etc. But once one family member gets in, they can bring almost unlimited number of family members along with them over the years as long as they are willing to sponsor. If this sounds like a personal story, it's because it is to a large extent.
What exactly is sponsorship ? It means one vouches for the self-sufficiency of the applicant for a period of years, and promise they won't be on the public dole during that time. In theory, one is liable for the cost if they do, but that rarely happens.
Immigration policy is of course more intricate than outlined above, with many nuances. But in general, less educated potential-immigrants favor the U.S. because they know they have a better chance of getting in. The United States is more open than Canada on matters of immigration.
A large part of 'immigration reform' as favored by Bloomberg or Silicon Valley, is to make the US policy more 'skills-first', like Canada. This is strongly opposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. It's one of those unwritten battles that is worth remembering in the overall debate.
'Young, Less Educated Yearn to Migrate to the U.S.' - 1 - Gallup
Saturday, May 22, 2010
From China International Business:
The departures lounge at Dhaka's Zia International Airport is packed with people waiting for the late night flight to Hong Kong. Bangladesh receives few tourists, but travelers of a different sort abound. One, a Japanese bag designer, clutches product samples made of her designs in local workshops. She concedes that the ‘green'-looking bags for an environmentally-sensitive clientele at home are not really ‘green.' But you can do such things easier in Bangladesh than elsewhere, she explains.
Two serious-looking men from Guangdong are here for a similar reason. They've shifted part of the production from a factory in Dongguan to Bangladesh. "You can do stuff you're not allowed to do in Dongguan," they explain, declining to swap name cards. Bangladesh's environmental laws are not as stringent as those back home, explains one. And apart from buying clothes locally the duo have built up a solid business selling dyes to garment processors in the area.1
Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults "arrested for" certain serious crimes. Not one Democrat voted against the database measure, which would hand out about $75 million to states that agree to make such testing mandatory.
1'House votes to expand national DNA arrest database' - CNET, McCullagh
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Thai protests show that the folks driving the world economy over the last ten or more years are not quite as happy to be sweating in factories just for the sake of a job and a living. They are gaining confidence and letting their aspirations be known. The economic development in emerging Asia will eventually mean greater democracy and human rights, which will actually end up cutting into the rate of exploitation and capitalist-oriented growth in the region, and worldwide. This is something even the late Milton Friedman might agree with: Capitalism and Freedom (outside the workplace, of course). One slight problem for private capital accumulation is that emerging Asia is the last bastion of large pools of cheap labor coming out of pre-capitalist agricultural relations. It is a pool that is shrinking but will probably still provide enough labor for growth for a number of economic cycles.
1'Ariz. regulator weighs retaliation for LA boycott' - AP
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
U.S. leaders want China's clean energy boom to drive technology exports and are sending a sales mission to Beijing this week. But Beijing wants to create its own suppliers of wind, solar and other equipment and is limiting access to its market, setting up a new trade clash with Washington and Europe.China is quite capable of developing its own clean energy technology and its own 'national champions' in these fields. In many areas of which they are already nearly equal to the developed world (so-called here for the sake of standardization). The political and economic leadership of the developed world is woefully mistaken if they think they can just 'move on' after strip mining their own working classes the last generation. What fools these people are. When they fail to crack the China clean energy market- as they failed with finance - no doubt the saber-rattling of trade war will recommence. China will then find out, or perhaps they already realize, how worthless all those promissory notes are. Perhaps they should talk to some Native American tribes about trading partners who speak with 'forked tongue'.
1'US, Europe, look to China for Clean Energy Sales' - AP; McDonald
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Austerity for the entire world won't work. Everyone cannot be an exporter and a saver when the components of a capitalist system push for growth. And we do have a capitalist world-system, because surplus capital is mostly controlled by the private sector. Hence the power of bond 'vigilantes'. Though these vigilantes are as inseparable from the system as a zebra is from its stripes, and railing about them is pure political theater.
At this point, these guys are flailing. They're not evil geniuses or even cunning. They have power through accident and history. But they're about as capable as BP is proving itself to be in the Gulf of Mexico.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
In Das Kapital, Marx described a problem he saw in the way capitalist societies function. As companies became more productive, learning to get more from their workers, they would need fewer and fewer of those workers. This would create an “industrial reserve army” of unemployed people, whose desperation to work would keep the fire at the heels of those who had jobs and keep wages in check. As a result, all the added value created by workers would accrue to the owners of the companies.
Lately, the U.S. recovery has been displaying some Marxian traits. Corporate profits are on a tear, and rising productivity has allowed companies to grow without doing much to reduce the vast ranks of the unemployed.
It's doubtful this type of strategy would work though. Class struggle in the U.S. exists, but not often with marches or strikes. Like America itself, it is socially atomized. People just won't take the work if it's below a certain wage. They will go back to school, try starting a business, be a house husband etc. The assent of neo-liberalism and the assault on working standards is often talked about as a success on its own terms. But neo-liberalism in the U.S has been politically unable to destroy the largest of the social safety nets - Social Security and Medicare. There has been a pushback by the American working class, but we often don't notice it.
'29.4 Million in ‘Industrial Reserve Army’ - Wall Street Journal Blog; Whitehouse
As with most human interest stories on matters to do with East Asians, the author goes on about how hard-working he is and how strict his parents were.
You will almost never see an article about a Black athlete mention how hard working he is. I guess, because Blacks are naturally athletic, and don't have to work hard on these type of things.
Or so the subtext reads.
1'Bills’ Wang ready to help NFL gain ground in China'; Wawrow, AP
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Keynes was a moderate in the 30's, basically a conservative and protector of the private profit system against a vibrant Left. Without a political impetus to reform - first and foremost by redistributing wealth - capitalism could very well consume itself, as a swarm of cannibalistic piranhas might.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand."
1'Greenspan Wanted Housing-Bubble Dissent Kept Secret' Huff Po; Grimm
Monday, May 3, 2010
And eleven men died in the initial explosion.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Yet the IMF has learned nothing, because it's nature as an institution is to attract the most rapacious among us. A world with both European and Asian reserve warchests is impossible; demand will breakdown and we will have depression. This is the route I expect Europe to chose after the IMF forces austerity on the Mediterranean states. If not in a year, then ten - these reactions take time to build. In the end, the IMF will be finished in Europe like it is finished in Asia.
"If every year half the money spent on cars, eating, drinking and traveling overseas were saved and spent on strengthening rural buildings, in a single year the buildings of millions of people could be made more earthquake-proof," a former top engineer for the China Earthquake Administration, Wang Zifa, wrote (recently)1The stark divide between the goals of the Shanghai and coastal cliques, and the interior populations they exploit grows wider. China's Gini is larger than the United States, with a per capta income that is far lower.
I'm not sure where the bizarre and disturbing string of knife attacks fit in, but it is not part of the 'harmonious society' Hu bullshits about all the time. There are clearly some deep fissures forming in mainland Chinese society.