Friday, May 30, 2014

Our American Priorities?

I remember when I was a kid, driving with my mother on our way home from the farmer's market, in our yellow Oldsmobile, which seemed old the day they bought it. We were heading past the library on Ryders Lane, when she said to me, "We have to remember to keep America green."

Not even sure how it came up, or what prompted this publicly apolitical woman to say this, but she did. And she wasn't talking about the environmental movement that hardly existed, but rather the idea of making sure we Americans spent our hard-earned dollars on American-made products. This would ensure the survival of the American worker, or at least that's what people like Lee Iacocca were saying at the time.

Over the years, and for a variety of reasons, this idea has flown out the door of un-affordable American homes, and foreign car windows. It began to wane when the Japanese started manufacturing products here, and Americans worked in their factories, but also when they supposedly provided us a better product. With it came free trade agreements, etc. And now here we are.

Along the way, mostly liberal groups fought against businesses who did not care about the use of child labor, poor working conditions, and anything else you may want to tack on (Ehh, Nike). Individuals within these companies may have personally cared, but the corporation itself obviously didn't/doesn't normally give a shit.

There's an argument to be made that free trade changes countries, improves the lives of workers, helps them leave poverty, etc, but that's more of an extraneous affect businesses aren't necessarily concerned with. It becomes part of the rationale and excuse for using low-wage workers, rather than a reason anyone actually partakes in doing business in a far away place. After all, that's not a primary purpose for a business (or secondary, tertiary, quaternary...).

All of this leads me to the story I read today about India, where two girls were raped and hung, and the police were involved.

Officials revealed on Thursday that at least two of the men they arrested over the rape and murder of two girls in the state of Uttar Pradesh were serving police officers.

Police arrested four men late on Wednesday, following a silent protest by villagers from Katra, some 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow. Authorities said they were still searching for a further three suspects.

Villagers - who accused the police of inaction - found the two girls' bodies hanging from a tree early on Wednesday, after they had disappeared near their home. The girls - aged 14 and 15 - had been in a nearby field because they had no toilet at home.

This is the country fixing your computer.

This is not the first awful story we've heard from India in recent years. No different from the stories we have heard in Pakistan, parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, China. Name a country where we buy manufactured goods, and there are awful stories to tell.

Yet as I finished the article, what occured is to me is 'where in the world won't we do business? Where does America draw the line?' The first answer that comes to mind? CUBA.

I thought to myself, "Really? Cuba?" Yep. Cuba. Why, you may wonder? Well, because they believe in COMMUNES! They don't BELIEVE in capitalism as an ethos, so we are barred from importing any of their wares, or traveling there. They're not killing people, raping women, hanging people from trees, invading countries, or enacting a one-child policy. Nope. They don't believe in a concept.

You can go to Russia and buy their wares even if they invade other countries. You can buy products from China even if they have a system wherein families kill children until they get a male. You can get your computer fixed over the phone by a guy in India where factories collapse on people, and women are harassed, raped, and hung. You can buy things from all those places, and travel their as well.

But not CUBA! Why? Because they believe in COMMUNES! They don't believe in a CONCEPT. The concept of capitalism.

That's the reason they are isolated by the US of A? Well, yeah. That, and they have very little to offer us other than pristine beaches and cigars (if you exclude Guantanamo Bay, of course). For if you have something to give, like oil from Venezuela, we'll talk to you all day. If you can manufacture jeans more cheaply, welcome to America!

The United States of America decides foreign policy not on human rights, how you treat employees or your citizens, if you protect women, religions, civil society, or anything else you can think of. What only matters is whether you BELIEVE in the CONCEPT of Capitalism, and whether you can sell us cheap goods. Actually, you don't even need to believe in it as a national policy. Just sell us cheap goods. That's what this country is. Even if its jobs are exported, or wages suffer here. Sell us cheap goods, and we'll look the other way on EVERYTHING.

So keep on raping women in India. Keep on aborting babies in China with your one-child policy. Keep on letting people burn in un-safe Pakistani garment factories. None of it matters, especially to the WALMART crowd. As long as the t-shirt with the monster truck on it is cheap, we're cool with it. We're here to buy first, and be concerned later.

Just make sure you don't support communes off the coast of Florida. Don't be against A CONCEPT. Because doing that would be a pill too big for us to swallow, especially a pill from Canada.

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