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June 3, 2005

Develop Markets

-- by Dave Johnson

The trouble with crap like this is that the "moneyed interests" make sure that you hear it everywhere, without hearing the other side.

French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Good luck.

Voters in "old Europe" - France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy - seem to be saying to their leaders: stop the world, we want to get off; while voters in India have been telling their leaders: stop the world and build us a stepstool, we want to get on. I feel sorry for Western European blue collar workers. A world of benefits they have known for 50 years is coming apart, and their governments don't seem to have a strategy for coping.

OK, here is a strategy for coping: America has a very large market and the world wants to sell things to us. I say that's a good thing. And it gives us power. Suppose we (government, we, you and me) said to importers that the people who MAKE what they import HAVE TO BE PAID ENOUGH TO BUY THE THINGS WE MAKE HERE!!!!! And if they don't agree, we slap a big fat tax on those imports so they cost the same as goods made by workers here, which removes the incentive to export jobs.

Choice to corporations: either you make it here and pay American workers, or you pay enough THERE to DEVELOP MARKETS for the things our workers make.

It's the same argument as the minimum wage. Henry Ford famously said he wanted to pay his workers enough to be able to buy cars from his company. That develops a market. Requiring importers to pay the workers there enough to buy American-made goods is just plain common sense. Especially compared to the alternative -- laying people off here so they can't buy things made here, and not paying people there enough to buy them either.

Posted by Dave Johnson at June 3, 2005 11:26 AM

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Comments

Excellent post, Dave! Thanks for sticking up for those pesky Europeans. Friedman at his worst ..

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at June 3, 2005 12:34 PM

Ok, perhaps we can pass this off to blowhardism and how it helps the simple minded make a point, but let me ask you this: Who the FUCK wants to work “35 hours a day”? I mean, think about this for a fuckin’ moment. Indians don’t need to sleep? Indians don’t need to be with their families? Indians don’t need to kick back and relax? Indians don’t need to take their clothes to the cleaners, go to the Docs, read a book, none of it. These people are ready to work themselves right into an early grave and Tomboy is there to push them. And to, by implication, exhort EVERYONE to work “35 hours” a day. Yeah, that’s what did the miners in the Mesabi Range in. And the steel workers in Pittsburg…..the textile workers in NC, the shoemakers in Maine….just a bunch of slack off ner-do-wells who did not understand the world around them? Or did they understand it all too fucking well. Fuck this guy!

Posted by: jon st at June 3, 2005 2:06 PM

Tom Friedman is a dick. How can anyone take that buffoon seriously. Viva La France.

Posted by: Fred at June 3, 2005 2:34 PM

As Dave always reminds us to ask: who is the economy for? For Tom Friedman, of course! He's got his great fucking gig, so fuck off.

Posted by: richard at June 3, 2005 5:05 PM

Here's a better idea. Don't buy the cheaper items that are imported from companies that pay crumbs for the labor. Spend your money in a way to make your point.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 3, 2005 5:08 PM

In one of my novels, I explored the concept of an International Minimum Wage and a Comparable Wage for Work. Don't know how, or if, it would in the real world, but I never would have believed America could turn into Nazi Germany either.

Posted by: The Fixer at June 3, 2005 5:29 PM

Guess what? "Indian" workers aren't interested in killing themselves any more than Americans - but if you allow their employers to metaphorically stick a gun to their head, deny them any rights or ways to resist pressure to work day and night, guess what? You get workers pulling 16 hour days 7 days a week. Until they collapse from exhaustion...

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at June 3, 2005 6:50 PM

Friedman loves Slave labor as long as it isn't him. He's a whore who gets paid to write unrealistic visions of the world.

The reality is that when you work 40, 60, 70 or more hours a week it sucks that you don't have energy for a family life or to take care of the things that need taking care of.

I have a friend that worked 94 hours last week, like she does every week. Her husband has health problems (they can't get and couldn't afford insurance) and the most he can do is drive her back and forth to work and occasionally run a couple of errands.

If the choice is between a 35 hour work week with healthcare and a safety net and a 40+ hour work week that doesn't meet your basic needs, which one would Friedman choose?

Don't tell me he works more than two or three hours a week to puke that drivel out.

Posted by: grannyinsanity at June 3, 2005 7:10 PM

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