Links for November 28, 2011: Cheap Chinese Labor; Money; Unfortunate Baby Names; others….

  1. This image accompanied the article at Phawker. What emotion toward Chinese workers is this image calculated to instill?

    I first caught this article re-posted at Phawker.com under the title, How Steve Jobs F*cked Over The American Worker. Steve Jobs could have sat at home and played his Atari all day. He chose instead to revolutionize the way we communicate. This is the thanks he gets.

    But in 1996, the moneymen on Wall Street decided Apple was not living up to their expectations. Earnings had sagged. To raise cash and bolster the bottom line, the company was forced to unload assets. The Fountain plant was sold, just four years after it had opened. The plant was profitable and well-run, but Wall Street’s relentless focus on short-term earnings demanded results.

    It’s called efficiency. Those who see jobs as ends in themselves don’t seem to care a lick about it. Chinese sweatshops are described on pages 6 and 7:

    Most young workers live on-site in cramped high-rise dormitories near the factories, where as many as a dozen workers squeeze into small rooms with three tiers of bunk beds. Most of them are peasants in their late teens or early 20s who have been lured to the city in hopes of earning money for themselves and their families back home, only to find themselves yoked to brutal production schedules that can become unbearable.

    The author goes on to describe some of the beatings and subsequent suicides that have occurred at the plants and surrounding dormitories:

    Ma, a 19-year-old native of Henan province, was found dead near a stairway of his dormitory Jan. 23, 2010. An autopsy concluded that he had fallen to his death. His sisters later insisted their brother died from a beating after he had accidentally damaged equipment at work.

    Of course, I am against the beatings. I don’t know if anyone who voluntarily accepts a job agrees to be beaten. As far as the long hours and repetitive tasks go, so long as the workers are free to resume their rural peasant lives when the work becomes unbearable, then the factory can not be harming them in that regard.

  2. New York Times graphs purports to show wages falling away from productivity.

    The graph from this article hits a major libertarian talking point. Wages ought to rise with worker productivity. I need to do a bit of research on what has apparently interrupted this process. One explanation offered by a facebook commenter was that women joining the (paid) work force has caused the supply of labor to increase and therefore the price of labor to decrease. Discussions with another friend of mine have centered around competition with cheap foreign labor. I would not act to stop either of these. I welcome all workers into the labor market. It may not be convenient for everyone, but it’s only fair.

  3. Wow, today’s comic was fun and exhausting. There’s a poster of it in the store!

    The xkcd guy really outdid himself this time. Here is a visual representations of all the dollar figures that are bantered about in current economic talk. I can see this as being a valuable reference point for economic discussion. Calling this a “comic” sells it a little short, wouldn’t you say?

  4. The headline and graphs say it. This is why I can not accept “tax the rich” as a solution to our government’s budget problems. The government will not use that money to close the deficit. They’ll just blow it. They have no discipline.

  5. Critics of the public schools often reference flat or falling test scores in their criticisms. See, e.g., the Reason.tv video entitled To Surly With Love: Are Teachers Overpaid? Kevin Drum shows us some evidence there that the scores are actually rising be rising. That’s good news, but critics also allege that real per-pupil costs have risen five-fold since the 1960’s. See Surly again. It is not enough to show us some improvements in scores. One must justify these steeply increasing costs.

  6. It’s kind of a dumb “solution” to the tight job market for graduating law students. Who would pay this, and why? An example is made of the Zappos company, which will pay employees to quit if they don’t like the job. It’s an interesting strategyfor weeding out workers who don’t really want to be there, or who can’t cut it. But students are not analogous to employees. Students are analagous to customers. Would Zappos ever pay its customers not to shop there? Doubtful.

  7. If this is about the names, then the government should get out of that. There were also apparently allegations of neglect, which the parents have denied, which the parents say a judge denied, and for which I see no immediately apparent evidence (no bruises, emaciation, etc). Shop-Rite, btw, should reserve the right to decline to write “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler” on a birthday cake. Get a blank cake, dude. Icing tubes cost two bucks. Just mosey on over to the baking goods aisle. Write the name yourself. This is America.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Image Credits:
Chinese Worker:  WMxdesign, in context at Phawker.com.
Graph: New York Times.
I claim fair use.

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