A Counterpunch writer is reminded of Henry Ford

In what categories does America lead the world? Two areas immediately come to mind: childhood obesity and prison incarceration. Addressing our burgeoning jail population, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) made this observation, “Either we are home to the most evil people on earth, or we are doing something very counterproductive.”

We also lead the world in drug use, lawsuits, graffiti, TV evangelists, junk food, gun ownership, cosmetic surgery, teenage pregnancies, energy consumption, and credit card debt.

Now let us consider China. The Chinese government’s response to the recent strikes in the auto manufacturing industry came as a surprise to veteran observers, particularly those with images of Tiananmen Square still fresh in their heads. Uncharacteristically, the government did not crack down when workers at Foshan Fengfu Autoparts, a Honda parts supplier in Guangdong province, went on strike in June, demanding higher wages.

Instead, the Chinese government stood back and watched. The government stood back and watched even as the dominoes fell, as Foshan Fengfu strike-fever spread throughout the factories of southern China’s manufacturing heartland, with tens of thousands of workers rising up and insisting on higher wages.

Liu Shanying, an analyst at Beijing’s Institute of Political Science, sees the government’s tolerance as significant. According to Shanying, China is looking to promote higher wages not only to close the gap between the rich and poor (which Beijing sees as a potential threat to the Communist Party), but to provide citizens with more cash to spend on domestic products.

Beijing wants Chinese workers to be able to afford more Chinese goods, reminiscent of Henry Ford’s innovative notion of providing workers with wages high enough to afford the Model Ts they were building.

“If incomes won’t go up, how can domestic demand be boosted?” Shanying asks. “Strikes for better pay are very much in line with the big trend of Chinese economic development.” Apparently, staggering, runaway credit card debt doesn’t strike them as a suitable “cure.”

Compare the Chinese view to the knee-jerk, anti-union sentiment found in the U.S. Instead of acknowledging the obvious advantages of a thriving middle-class—and recognizing organized labor’s role in sustaining that middle-class—there’s a scabrous, mean-spirited movement in this country, led by the Republican Party and corporate America, to attack unions.


http://www.counterpunch.org/macaray07202010.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: