Michael Moore Labor Union Speech in Madison, Wisconsin

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

Those are the words of Michael Moore and they are very true. If you want to become a bad national joke, you do what Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has done and push through a bill that destroys the right of working Americans to organize and form labor unions.

The revolt against this criminal stupidity in Wisconsin is incredible to watch. It has national importance for the future of labor and the rights of working people everywhere.

They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day — this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart — because you — yes, you, too! — might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep you head down, your nose to the grindstone, don’t rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.

Haiti May Be Providing Slave Labor to U.S. Corporations

Haitians Hang French Troops For Their Acts of Cruelty

During the earthquake crisis in Haiti I have continued to ask the same question of my friends: How, in the 21st Century, can a country so close to the richest nation on earth be so poor?  No one seems to have an answer except for Pat Robertson (who is not a friend, by the way) who suggests that the Haitians made a pact with the devil when they made the French leave.  Seems an odd way to refer to a successful uprising against slavery, doesn’t it?

Since the earthquake, I have learned that Haiti was apparently the location of the world’s first successful uprising against slavery.  They fought the French and won.  It is also the world’s oldest black republic.  It is this achievement that a person like televangelist Pat Robertson suggests is a pact with the devil.

But now it seems that U.S. corporations are using Haitian workers in sweatshop factories to manufacture goods at wages of approximately 30 cents per hour.  That must be why the tiny nation is too poor to build things that can withstand earthquakes.  It will be useful to learn how many of these factories or sweatshops/slave camps have collapsed in the earthquake.  I would imagine that there will be some investigation of such places in the near future.  Perhaps the slave trade never really ended at all, but simply changed its name to ‘cheap labor’ or ‘sweatshop’ or ‘globalism.’

Here’s a history of Haiti from Wikipedia.

Here’s an article about the U.S. role in keeping Haiti poor.

Disney has used cheap labor in Haiti.  They say so themselves right here.

I particularly like their response to a question about child labor:

Q. What is your policy on child labor?
Our Code of Conduct for Manufacturers prohibits child labor. Companies that make Disney-branded products must sign a contract stating that they do not and will not use child labor. Child is defined as “a person younger than 15 (or 14 where local law allows) or, if higher, the local legal minimum age for employment or the age for completing compulsory education.” If child labor is discovered in a factory, we generally seek to work with the factory, as well as the licensee that uses the factory, to identify the most feasible solution to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. This may include collaboration with government, multilateral institutions, NGOs or other companies that use the factory.

So Disney will ‘seek to work with the factory’ if it finds child labor going on. Am I the only one who’s shocked that a U.S. corporation would print such a statement of its own accord?  Because if it were me finding out about child labor, I would ‘seek to work’ a hammer into someone’s head.  For my part, I can only define very cheap labor in a very poor country where workers are threatened with reprisals if they try to improve their lot as slavery.  In fact, the more I learn about Haiti the less it looks like a country and more like a camp.