It's been quite the OCD epidemic of self-serving damage control among greedy corporations lately. Apple, which has grown filthy rich off its slave labor in Chinese suicide mills and the minimum wage retail labor of debt-ridden millennials in Exceptional America, issued a strongly-worded statement against gay-bashing in Indiana this week. And Walmart did them one better, issuing a strongly-worded statement against gay-bashing in Arkansas only weeks after it offered a minimal increase in its starvation wages to a few carefully selected employees.
Somebody alert the Pope to start the canonization process.
And then there's McDonald's, which just makes itself look worse every time it tries to redeem itself in the court of public opinion. It was bad enough when they came out with that survival skills manual for employees a couple years ago, helpfully advising the Help to cut back on heat and food and sell last year's Christmas presents in order to afford this year's Christmas. It was hilarious enough when they started a marketing campaign in which lucky customers got randomly chosen to do a random good McDeed for the sole purpose of corporate greedwashing for TV. It was disgusting when they gave a miniscule wage increase to a miniscule number of employees this week. It was doubly disgusting when they actually gleaned glowing headlines for their cynical PR effort from the corporate media.
Of course, Walmart and McDonalds are among the corporations that only very recently and ostentatiously cut their public ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing billionaire bill mill that regularly churns out anti-labor "right to work" legislation designed specifically to destroy unions and thus keep everybody's wages depressed. They're also among the 600 or so multinational corporations which are directly, or through such lobbyists at the US Chamber of Commerce, negotiating the anti-labor Trans-Pacific Partnership and its evil twin, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP.) Apple is in a global free market paradise all its own. The late lamented Steve Jobs made no secret of having no interest in bringing manufacturing jobs back to America.
New York Times op-ed writer Paul Krugman, in his usual Panglossian fashion, praises Walmart and McDonald's with the faintest of damns in his latest column. Sure, their token wage increases are on the crappy side, but they could also be the harbinger of things to come! "We" can give America a raise if we want to, fellow elite folks! Pretty please.
And then he really pulls a fast one. He stealthily inserts a plug for the TPP:
For one thing, global competition is overrated as a factor in labor markets; yes, manufacturing faces a lot more competition than it did in the past, but the great majority of American workers are employed in service industries that aren’t exposed to international trade.I really had to restrain myself responding to that snide little remark, which obliquely trashes both TPP opponents and that lowly, yet "protected," category of servility:
So, since most of us are servants, we shouldn't worry about the Trans-Pacific Partnership because the billionaires haven't yet figured out a way to offshore all those great cashier and hamburger flipping jobs?Meanwhile, the latest employment report shows a slowdown in hiring for even the crappy New Abnormal jobs. Black people are especially hard hit, with their median wages falling by 3.6 percent since the start of the long depression, a rate twice that of whites. Meanwhile, the AARP reports that nearly half of all job seekers over the age of 55 have been out of work for at least half a year.
People who lost their good-paying factory jobs to NAFTA have been forced to become members of the Precariat, working for peanuts at Walmart and McDonalds. And now they're expected to jump for joy because the billionaires decide to throw them a few pennies and bennies and milk the good press for all it's worth.
Disgusting and shameless.
The TPP, which has been described as NAFTA on steroids, will in fact destroy thousands and thousands more American jobs. Factory orders on durable goods in this country are already way down, and the situation will only grow worse with every new trade deal. At least PK isn't falsely claiming, as are other "progressive" astroturf campaigns, that the TPP will protect American jobs and level the playing field.
The living wage movement must join forces with other trade unions to fight back against both globalization and the anti-labor "right to work" cookie cutter ALEC bills now showing up even in blue states like Oregon.
Solidarity is our only hope.
Tell us again that deregulated hypercapitalism and globalization don't have a toxic trickle-down (actually more of an acid rain downpour) effect on the Servant Economy. We are not lovin' this.