Friday, June 29, 2018

Pigs, Hogs, and Suicide Nets

Donald Trump visited the site of the new Foxconn factory on Thursday, outlandishly praising the Taiwan-based electronics giant as "the eighth wonder of the world" and mouthing vague threats against Harley-Davidson, which has announced it will outsource more jobs to Europe as a result of the president's chaotic trade war tariffs.

"Don't get cute with us," sneered Trump in his best Tony Soprano imitation. He was, after all, speaking in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. A Harley factory which manufactures the iconic Hog motorcycles is located right nearby, so perhaps he fancied that his electronically-enhanced (by an addicted cable TV news conglomerate) voice traveled there by magic. Or maybe it was just by the usual osmotic method with which Trump seems to infiltrate our brains whether we like it or not.

I suspect Trump might be dumping all over Harley-Davidson simply because he knows he wouldn't look good posing on one. The Hog would be in danger of collapsing under the weight of the pig. This guy looked like he could barely even hoist a shovel for his Foxconn publicity stunt.

But perhaps that's mean of me. He could be dumping all over Harley because he is still obsessing over Hillary Clinton and free-associates the Hog with all that money she made on hog and cattle futures when she was first lady.

I also suspect that Trump is gushing all over the new Foxconn plant because, just like himself, it is foreign-owned and will be rewarded handsomely via billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives, a/k/a corporate welfare.

I even suspect that, given that Foxconn became infamous for its installation of suicide nets for its Chinese wage slaves,Trump and his cronies might actually be betting on American suicide futures instead of Hog and hog futures.

As reported by The Guardian on a visit to one of Foxconn's notorious Chinese factories:
“It’s not a good place for human beings,” says one of the young men, who goes by the name Xu. He’d worked in Longhua for about a year, until a couple of months ago, and he says the conditions inside are as bad as ever. “There is no improvement since the media coverage,” Xu says. The work is very high pressure and he and his colleagues regularly logged 12-hour shifts. Management is both aggressive and duplicitous, publicly scolding workers for being too slow and making them promises they don’t keep, he says. His friend, who worked at the factory for two years and chooses to stay anonymous, says he was promised double pay for overtime hours but got only regular pay. They paint a bleak picture of a high-pressure working environment where exploitation is routine and where depression and suicide have become normalised.
“It wouldn’t be Foxconn without people dying,” Xu says. “Every year people kill themselves. They take it as a normal thing.”
Consider the fact that Wisconsin taxpayers will not see a dime of their forced investment in this plant for at least 25 years. Consider the fact that Foxconn promises to create 13,000 new jobs with bait-and-switch salaries of $50.000  being bandied about in the press releases. Consider the fact that suicide-by-gun in Wisconsin is far more common than in most states.

 Consider the fact that the vast majority of these deaths are of white rural males in the prime of their lives - men who have seen their jobs disappear, their lives and livelihoods ruined. Deaths from despair among struggling working class people are increasing all over Exceptional America at a shocking rate.

In 2016, 142,000 Americans died from drug and alcohol-induced fatalities and suicide, an average of one person every four minutes. The Centers for Disease Control notes that this represents an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

Trump is so depraved I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he cited this increase as more proof that America is winning under his reign. He really is that much of a stupid and cruel man. 

There is so much more oligarchic profit to be made by investing in cheap, flimsy made-in-America suicide nets than in strong social safety nets like Medicaid and food stamps. There's so much more fun and profit in private prison futures and the construction of "tender age" facilities for migrant child prisoners than in public education futures and standard subsidized child care.

Trump is a cruel and stupid and vicious man. He is also the very model of a major neoliberal, entirely emblematic of the democracy-destroying and soul-destroying hypercapitalism which rules the world. 

America is turning into our very own Foxconn factory. Depression, suicide, drug overdoses and gun massacres are becoming normalized. It's just not a very good place for human beings.


Full disclosure: I hoisted a hunk of this post from my published New York Times comment on Paul Krugman's Harley-Davidson column. I am not one of those sticklers who avoids self-plagiarism like the plague. I am simply lazy sometimes, and as far as I know, there is no such thing as unremunerated theft of one's own profitless intellectual property, even though my comment apparently became the legal property of the Times Company the minute I submitted it. If the Times were Trump, they'd probably already be in court. But since they are certainly striving mightily to distance themselves from Trump even as they breathlessly gift him with every last pixel of the constant publicity he craves, I don't think I have much to worry about in the frivolous lawsuit department.  

I bring plagiarism up only because I noticed that one of the most highly recommended comments on the Krugman column got briefly called out as an unattributed copy/paste of a news article about Trump-supporting Harley employees. Both the "reader reply" politely calling the commenter out and the apologetic response from the original called-out commenter have since disappeared from the thread. The original plagiarized comment has, however, been allowed to stand by the moderators. Maybe the Times's avowed standards and practices as pertain to originality do not apply to the unpaid back-benchers. Or maybe the paper thinks that what it can hide from readers won't hurt them, and concurrently, that even plagiarized comments are fine as long as they are solidly both anti-Trump and anti-Trump supporter.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a mole-hill, or more accurately, out of the teeming ant-hill that is the typical major newspaper online comments section, but plagiarism has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. 

I'm not naming this commenter because I think he got the message, plus he did graciously own up to his faux pas. 

As far as the Times goes, meanwhile, do they ever own up to anything?

1 comment:

Erik Roth said...

I just drove across the entire state of Wisconsin, from south to north, then east to west.
Now Wisconsin is even more politically schizophrenic than Minnesota, from socialist mayors of Milwaukee in the early 20th century, progressive congressmen Gaylord Nelson and Russ Feingold, then to demented Joe McCarthy and now Paul Ryan and Scott Walker.

During those trips I listened to the audio book version of "No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need," by Naomi Klein, 2017.

In that, Chapter 11 (who says irony is dead?) covers the stunning betrayal (my characterization, Naomi describes it rather diplomatically) by Barack Obama, immediately following his election in 2008, of his substantial personal mandate, and with a Democratic Party then in control of Congress.
That was when Americans began to realize that "the fix" was in, with the ruling oligarchy exposed, and yet gave him two terms in hopes he’d make good on what he had promised.
It was that failure by Obama to deliver, or even at least articulate an alternate vision to the status quo, which set the stage for the vile, venal, vituperative, and vindictive Trump to strut in and take over.
Hillary presented just another Clinton, a right-wing elite Democrat continuing more of the same when Americans desperately craved any change.
But of course the change Trump actually provides monstrously exacerbates the toxic divide between the amoral super-rich 1% and the demoralized, impoverished lumpen proletariat.

Klein’s Chapter 12 looks to Standing Rock as example and inspiration for resistance.
That continuing battle, exposing who stands on which side, and who tries not to take a side so as to have it both ways, reveals the political and cultural schism of our time.
Protect the water, the Earth, and communities interconnected and mutually dependent, or protect the corporate capitalists bent on further divide and conquer, then pillage and extract to exhaustion.

So, our choice is clear, although ruefully our candidates are few.
Those we can and should support need all the help we can give them.
While Schumer, Pelosi, Clinton, and all the rest of the Democratic Party elite promptly need to be ushered off the stage, for they will not go without a push.

In Minnesota, where I vote, my House representative Keith Ellison tried in vain to work within and reform the Party, and so is not running for re-election, opting instead to run for state attorney general.
That offers a striking clue to what is happening within “the system.”
Watch the race for his seat in Minnesota’s 5th District, as well as that for Paul Ryan’s in Wisconsin, and for the governorships of both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Resisting is not enough. We must win and make real change. Organize and get out the vote!