Monday, July 24, 2006

The big news, of course, and as per usual, ad nauseum is the war in the Middle East.

Don’t know why. That’s what they do over there.

the scribe’s neighborhood is pocked with the giant Jewish Federation Building and on Sunday it was overrun by pro-Israel people, and pro-Palestinian people, and pro-Lebanese people, who, when you boiled down their slogans and speeches all had one thing in common – they are all pro-war people.

The whole “solidarity” rally was naught but a big, blood-curdling war party and both sides couldn’t have appeared happier. Their signs and chants revealed their blindness to any cause but their own and the extremes they were willing to entertain on behalf of those causes.

They really are a big pain in the ass to the rest of the world and if you read Marguerite Yourcenar's “Memoirs of Hadrian,” which dates back some 2,000 years, you get the idea they always have been.

Bush, of course, doesn’t read and makes much of the fact, tapping into the long-standing American penchant for anti-intellectualism and to which highwayscribery’s over-to-top snob scotch approach to news is an answer.

So screw ‘em all; they don’t know how to enjoy life.

the scribe, a fresh pan of baked ziti in his lap, drove Mrs. Scribe and Scribe Jr. out of the neighborhood so as to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of bile and hatred, and came upon a working man sitting on the curb, sweating in the triple-digit heat, waiting for the bus.

Always the working stiff.

Yeah you.

Today, that’s our topic of conversation, the long preamble notwithstanding.

The AFL-CIO did something that needed doing for a long time now. It asked the Bush administration to look into labor practices in China (for lack of a better word).

Here's an Associated Press account of the labor fed's nice try.

Lots of people, the scribe included, think doing business with China is a lot like shooting yourself in the face (as a country, that is).

How are people paying a decent wage here supposed to compete with those running slave labor camps over there?

The short answer is that they can’t.

The administration, of course, said, “While there is much room for improvement, there is evidence of real progress.”

That is, how do you say it, um...bullshit.

But don’t take our word for it. Read this fascinating
article written by radical scribe Len Bracken (“Book Report - Snitch Jacket," April 29)

Bracken’s been to the Middle Kingdom and brought his formidable brain power and camera in tow. If you don’t know much about today’s China or would like to know more than you get from the usual cast of characters, read it.

For openers, Bracken puts the lie to the administration’s soft-sell on Chinese progress in the area of labor rights.

“The current leaders, President Hu Jintao — also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party — and Premiere Wen Jiabao, advocate the development of a “harmonious society,” but the contradiction between their plans and everyday life is painfully sharp in a society where 5 percent have 50 percent of bank holdings. The masses believe their eyes not their ears — they are the ones who have created the new China, often paying for it with their lives: over 6,000 miners died on the job in 2004, for example, and China has the highest total work-related fatalities of any region in the world."

Naturally, this kind of thing is progress to the those in the soon-to-be-deposed governing (r)epublican majority.

Here’s some more progress:

"Researchers find that in the current market conditions of labor oversupply, employers make working conditions worse to pursue higher profits, and “workers may work excessively when they are in competition for jobs and tend to underbid one another to get a job.

"In addition to evidence of a great deal of forced overtime, a Renmin University survey finds that the most prevalent reason for the extension of work hours is intensified market competition. In the three cities they surveyed, 43.2 percent would prefer not to work overtime, compared with those who wanted it and those who were indifferent. Workers with lower education had longer hours, with construction being one of the hardest jobs in terms of hours and hazardous conditions.

"In 2001 the Chinese public learned with alarm that a man worked 226 consecutive days and 17 hours every day, becoming the first reported “death caused by tiredness” from work. Moreover, China surpasses all other regions in work-related accidents, fatal and nonfatal work-related diseases, and deaths by dangerous substances from work.Work-related fatalities in China are over 450 thousand per year. Like workers everywhere, the Chinese die of violence at the workplace, and of work-related conditions such as cancer and suicide, not to mention a host of respiratory, circulatory and communicable diseases that come unwanted with the employee benefits package.

"But the problem is worse in China. In 2001, for example, 102,606 workers died from contact with dangerous substances on the job. Although market reforms have lifted many millions of Chinese out of absolute poverty, i.e. living on less that a dollar a day, the work safety figures show this meager salary is stained with blood and often so tainted with toxins that it’s better left untouched.

"Those who would organize or protest in favor of labor rights and many others, including 'hooligans and lazy people,' are abducted and without trial sent away for 're-education through labor.' Prisoners — the world doesn’t really know how many — rise at five in the morning and work in brainwashing camps until midnight. “We carried stones to a river wharf all day then made artificial flowers at night, seven days a week,” said one former inmate. It is difficult to imagine more a hopeless scenario than being forced to chant pro-work slogans while toiling deep underground in a dirty prison mine.”

So that's what they mean by workers' paradise.

But seriously folks, no fair and just democracy should do trade within the context of such a tyranny, but this is the United States of America, an entity that has forfeited the first two adjectives although, thankfully, the “democracy” part hangs on by a thread, proof of which highwayscribery is proud to stand.

But don’t get comfortable, because they are working on it.

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