Monday, June 06, 2005

Friedman: Pest

I'm more than a little tired of all the columnists who have been lining up lately to sneer about how awful things are in Europe and how proud we should be for working ourselves to death so people like Paris Hilton can have a teacup Chihuahua. One of the most egregious is Thomas Friedman, who should know better, but doesn't. Avedon Carol gives him a right good whacking:

Someday I'm sure Thomas Friedman will explain why "progress" means working "a 35-hour day". Because according to Friedman, it's just plain backward-looking to want to work a 35-hour week. So, you see, the French just don't know what they're doing because they want to have a real life instead of giving it all up to compete with people who live in mud huts.*

Exactly. How in the hell should anyone who lives in the Western world be expected to compete with someone who can live on a few bucks a day? Instead of sending our jobs and wealth over there, maybe we should keep them here and challenge those countries to get off their dead butts and develop themselves. But nooooo.

We keep being told we have to give up our comfortable little welfare-state provisions in order to join the cut-throat new world the corporate globalizers want to give us, but they never tell us what we're going to win for it other than an endless life of struggle for what we used to have.
See, people aren't stupid. They know there's no grass-roots push for this, so they've waited patiently for leaders to explain what we need it for. Leaders have used words like "modernize" and tried to exploit the fact that right-wing racists oppose it, but this increasingly sounds like a lot of smoke to obscure the fact that they know telling us what they want it for will tell us exactly why we don't want it.

It's happening here again with the push for CAFTA. It seems simple enough for anyone to understand, but the truth is that we cannot compete with people who are always willing to undercut us. Free trade means lost jobs and a destroyed economy, nothing more, nothing less. The pundits and professors can support free trade and outsourcing all they like and they will - until the day the Brad DeLongs of the world are replaced by Indian professors willing to work for a sixth of what he makes. They'll learn, then. The hard way, like the rest of us.


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