Friday, August 1, 2008

Part II - Globalization

How the Blue Jeans Business Works in the Global Economy

From Belgium


In the last section we took an overview of the workings of the global economy. Here we will look at the micro effects of globalisation and talk about the daily routine of a Chinese sweat shop worker. We will then appreciate the true cost in human terms of those cheap imports. Much of this is taken from the documentary film China Blue. Then we will go on to see how household brand names in the blue jeans sector operate their businesses.

An Individual Case – The Life of a Chinese Worker in the Global Economy

At sixteen years of age, Jasmine was a tad older than many when she left her village to become one of China's’ 110 million internal economic migrants. After two days and two nights train journey she arrived in the city of Canton, part of China's industrial south with 100 Yuan given by her father and all of her world contained in a back pack and a green plastic bucket. Pride filled her heart when she found work at a blue jeans factory in a nearby town. Now she had left her childhood behind and could help to support her aging parents. Her duties were as a loose thread cutter and lint remover and right at the beginning it was explained that she would be working seven on seven and there would be overtime. It was shortly afterwards that the reality of her situation began to set in. Mainly because of the level of overtime required it was necessary for her to live on the premises. Her dormitory on the third level, was shared with twelve other girls whose age ranged between 14 (2 years below China's legal limit) and 19. Her bed was a mattress inside a concrete crate structure with a pull back curtain on the open side. All personal washing and washing of clothes was done in this room and all water had to be brought up by hand in buckets. Living expenses and meals provided from a canteen were deducted from her meagre pay. Work began at 0800 sharp and after learning the job it was straight into production and gruelling overtime. It was here that Jasmine learned that she must work a month in hand and if at any future time she left for any reason the boss didn’t like this would probably be forfeited. Still all was not so bad, if the overtime went past midnight, which was common, the boss would provide them with a free meal. The pace was gruelling and the mountain of jeans in front of her never went down. After several weeks the constant workload began to tell on her. Because she could be fined for falling asleep on the job, she slipped out of the factory gate one night to buy a high energy drink to keep her going, got caught on her return and was fined two days pay as an example to the others. Colleagues resorted to clipping their eyelids open with clothes pegs. Sometimes to provide continuity of work, the boss would take orders at close to cost price and then would resort to cutting the workers hourly rate. If the girls ever missed a deadline the boss would become angry and cancel a days pay for the whole factory. On a wall on a bend in the stairs to the dorm stood a notice which read “If you don’t work hard today you will work hard tomorrow looking for another job”. For all of this Jasmine accepted her lot with youthful cheerfulness. Three things kept her going, the good camaraderie with the girls in her dorm; memories of her family and village life and her diary in which she wrote endless pages of half fairy story, half super hero comic strip tales, thereby exposing her youth to view. It gave her pride to send her father his 100 Yuan back. At one US dollar per pair of jeans allocated to the workforce of between 25 – 30 people, her hourly rate amounted to about six US cents. With overtime this left her with about a dollar a day. The only time Jasmine’s cheerful facade cracked was at the New Year holiday when she was the only one who could not afford the train fare back to her village.

The factory owner allowed clandestine filming of China Blue within his factory for two reasons. Firstly he was led to believe that the film was about him as one of the new breed of Chinese entrepreneurs, and secondly he was proud of his factory and considered himself to be very advanced and fair minded towards his employees compared to other factory owners in the area.

The Blue Jeans Business as an Example of the Global Economy in Practice

Are you wearing blue jeans today? Is the brand a household name? If it is then the chances are that they were made in a sweat shop in China, Indonesia, Mexico or another third world country. They could even have been made with sweat shop labour in Los Angeles with a “Made in America” tag sewn in and you wouldn’t even be aware of it. Whether you paid $20 or $200 for them, they all cost around $5 at the factory gates, out of which the total workforce gets a $1.00 share. The rest of the money goes towards advertising, distribution and store costs and the back pockets of the executives. Price alone is not an indication of quality or a garment made with social morality. It is not even the factory bosses who are taking the icing off the cake; multinational purchasing and procurement departments play one factory owner against another with all the subtlety of a Bronx mugger, sometimes beating him down to cost price or less. Have a look through this short list and see if you can find your favourite brand here.

The Limited Inc

Price range $59.50 - $98.00

Buys from sweat shops around the world where young girls live in cramped dorms and work up to 70 hours a week.

TLI washed its hands of the whole business by saying “Limited Brands holds its employees, suppliers and vendors strictly accountable for compliance with all applicable laws and our own business policies, including those relating to labour standards”. In 2003 The Limited Inc settled a lawsuit which accused it and other multinational brands of forcing thousands of garment workers in Saipan to work more than 12 hour days, seven days a week, in a “racketeering conspiracy” that required workers to sign contracts waving their rights. By settling The Limited did not admit any wrongdoing.

The Limited owns the following brands: The Limited; Express; Bath and Body works; Victoria’s Secret, Structure; Lane Bryant and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Tommy Hilfiger

Price range $62.50 – 125.00

Mexican workers reported working in slave labour conditions earning $40 / week for 10 h + days. Workers who tried to unionise were fired. In response, a statement from Tommy Hilfiger said,”I think it is absurd people make clothes in places in the world that are not of US standards”.

When the Tarrant factory in Mexico got itself into a wrangle over unjustly firing workers, Tommy Hilfiger responded by quitting Mexico in a classic cut and run exercise to relocate in other parts of Latin America and Asia where sweat shops abound.

Tommy Hilfiger pays its factory floor workers an hourly rate of between 23 cents and $1.75. CEO Tommy Hilfiger’s hourly wage is $10,769


Price range $79 - $168

“Guess?” ran an estimated 80 sweat shops in Los Angeles employing mostly Latina and Asian women. It paid workers less than the minimum wage for 10 – 12 hour days.

In response to criticisms, the company did not improve conditions but instead ran full page ads in major American newspapers proclaiming “Guaranteed 100% free of sweat shop labour” and it even sewed “Sweatshop Free” labels into its garments.

In 1992 “Guess?” contractors were accused of not paying their employees the minimum wage or overtime. “Guess?” recompensed the workers but was again soon busted for operating illegal sweatshops. In 1996 when workers tried to organise “Guess?” cut and ran to Mexico and Latin America to avoid labour abuse citations. The company still advertises itself as “All American”.

Levi Strauss & Co

Price range $14.98 - $192.00

Saipan is a US commonwealth exempt from American labour laws. Companies who operate are legally entitled to sew “Made in America” tags into their garments. Sweat shop workers there were forced to pay recruitment fees of thousands of dollars. To work off the debt they were kept in indentured servitude. In 2002, 26 of Americas’ largest clothing retailers including Gap, Target and Lane Bryant were found guilty of sweat shop abuses, Levi Strauss was the only company that refused to settle. Linda Butler for Levi Strauss responded “We believe we can operate profitably and with principles at the same time. We’ve done that for many years. A business needs to be profitable. The question is how does one implement tough business decisions with compassion, while avoiding decisions that that have a negative impact on stakeholders?” How indeed!

In 1992 the Washington Post exposed the company of sidestepping the sweatshop issue altogether by having their jeans made by Chinese prison labour. Ten years later the famous all American brand quit America in favour of China and the third world.

In 2001 its workers in Saipan enjoyed an hourly rate of $3.00. Levi Strauss’s CEO Philip Marineau had a yearly income of $25.1 million, amounting to $11,971 / hour.


Price range $8.00 – 19.94

20% of Wal-Mart’s business is conducted in 48 Third World countries outside China. If Wal-Mart was a country it would be China’s fifth biggest export market ahead of Britain and Germany.

A Nicaraguan jeans inspector for Wal-Mart inspected 20,000 jeans each week for an hourly wage of 40 cents. Other workers in the Philippines were forced to work 24 hours straight for the No Boundaries brand. In Bangladesh, children aged between nine and twelve have been found working in Wal-Mart sweatshops. In Honduras children worked up to 13 hours a day for 25 cents an hour sewing jeans which sold for $20.00 in the USA.

Wal-Mart’s official statement on sweatshops states “Wal-Mart strives to do business only with factories run legally and ethically”. Obviously they are not striving hard enough.

Workers who make Wal-Mart products regularly experience health problems and labour violations. Including overtime without pay and wage rates up to 30% below the countries minimum. Wal-Mart will not terminate its contract with any factory even if it is found to have violated Wal-Mart’s own code of conduct. It is only if that particular company fails inspections three times in a row that the contract will not be renewed. With annual revenue of $250 billion Wal-Mart is the world’s largest corporation making up 2% of USA’s GDP.

Are There Any Ethical Companies in the Business?

All of the above has probably left you asking just that question. Two of the following three companies are reported to be American, the other is Canadian; they are fully unionised and genuinely sweat shop free. They are not major brands, in fact you may not have heard of them. As one CEO put it “If we give it to the workers then we cannot spend it on advertising.”

Diamond Gusset Jeans

Union Jean Company

No Sweat


China Blue from PBS Independent Lens:


Levi Strauss & Co:

The Limited Inc:

Tommy Hilfiger:


Sweatshop Alternatives:


freeacre said...

What kills me, Belgium, is that there is really very little outrage over these sweatshops. Nothing on the lamestream news from union spokespersons or historians pointing out the similarities of the sweatshops to the plantations, etc. Zero political will to not use slaves or indentured servants. I used to smoke Biddi cigarettes from India, until I learned that they are hand rolled by 7 and eight year olds who often have been sold into indentured servitude when their parents had to buy medicine for an other child for, like, twenty-five bucks. So what if children are standing up to their knees in mercury run-off from mines, or chained to their workstations like the women were in our factories at the turn of the century, or living in sub-human conditions with no protection against becoming maimed or poisoned, then discarded when they are all used up. At least the slaves on the plantations had a home for life. Even the civil rights people are for the most part silent and complicit.
All I hear from people, if anything, is that "well, it's better than what they had, or they wouldn't be moving in droves to get those jobs." They probably said the same thing before our Civil War - hey, it's better than they had it in Africa. What a crock. If we don't do better than this, then we deserve everything we get.

RAS said...

FA, I think there is very little outrage because we've been conditioned to think that a) the sweatshops are better than what they had before, b) the sweatshops aren't really that bad, c) "a rising tide lifts all boats", and d) we're better than them and deserve it.

Our culture has trained us to believe there are only two categories of people in life: the winners and the losers. The winners are the corporate and political masters and the upper middle class, those who have "made it". The losers are everyone else.

Our only value comes from two actions: producing things to consume and consuming things. If we don't do one or the other -preferably both -we're just trash and should be disposed of approriately. According to this worldview, because I couldn't hack it in the corporare world I'm a loser and a worthless human being.

Okay, I'll stop there. If I feel like ranting more I'll do it on my own blog.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you for providing all this information--I knew it was bad, it's important to be reminded how bad. And especially thank you for providing info on alternatives.

I agree with RAS that it's important to get out of the consumer loop as much as we can.
But sometimes we can't--we need to get some things. So, it's important to let people know there are things that they can do.

Let's support some of the little companies and stop supporting all these corporations that support the sweatshops.
(I've bought stuff from No Sweat before--sadly, it looks like they're discontinuing their jeans. There are other good things you can get from them though.)

murph said...

welcome to the campfire Moonraven,

It is very difficult to live in this country without supporting the corporate structure and of course this is deliberate. And sadly, the lower a person is on the financial pole, the more difficult it is and the higher up on the pole you are, the less incentive to consider it.

If there were a mass movement to do so, they would change their tactics to suck us back in. I view the TV advertising, particularly the drug adds. Look at the method to suck you in to using their products. Incredible.

freeacre said...

This is a little off-topic, but related. I just read an op-ed piece from the NY Times about the "Co-Dependent Camps" that the rich send their children to. Camps where the staff unpacks their luggage for them, the Camp Directors are at the parents beck and call 24 hrs. a day to check on whether Little Buffy is wearing her sunscreen, and parents send their kids to camp with 2 cell phones in case one gets confiscated because it's against the rules to have one. Camps that cost $10,000 per week. These over-privileged little brats are the over-lords in our system. They will rule the brokerage houses, the banks, they will be the lawyers, the bankers, the politicians... they rule.
No wonder that they don't give a fuck about us, or the planet, or the ideals of the nation. I know, there are exceptions to the rule. I have dear friends whom I admire and trust who are rich. And, I know that the founding fathers were ruling class.
But, there is something qualitatively different now that marketing and electronics demands instant gratification and rules so ruthlessly at every level against the working class.
I sense the bias even in the blogosphere. It seems everything is about Them and is written from from an intellectualized elite perspective, even if it is liberal. So little is heard from working class voices.
That is one reason I value our little blogsite. Our campfire, which for the most part is occupied and contributed to by working people who are articulate, creative, sincere and thoughtful, is one of the few places that I can turn for community. Survival Acres, Joe Bageant's site, and a few others are a refuge as well. But, for the most part, we are marginalized and silenced. So, when the trucks stop running and the ships stop bringing in the do-dads from the East, and the banks fail, it will be interesting to see what happens when the playing field is leveled. Who will be the "losers" then?

Anonymous said...
People died to put a stop to the slave/child labor market in the USofA. What is stopping the rest of the world?
Would you have Wal-Mart demand that they pay the same wages and benefits that GM pays a janitor? Talk about screwing up the system.
What you got in that pipe you are smoking?
That employers are cheap and greedy is nothing new. So where is the beef? You don't have to go to China to find that mentality.
Produce for us a recommended wage/benefits/work conditions package for Chinese labor and start your own Asian labor movement.
Talk is cheap but action is better.
The masses await your solutions.
This reminds me of an in-law of mine. Her husband, a Contractor, made a bundle using illegal workers. Kept her in the finest for decades. Now times are hard. The illegals he hired are getting Contractor licenses and he isn't getting the jobs. She is outraged and thinks they should be sent back.
I know this don't make it right and fair. So when has life supposed to have been right and fair.
Check out the picture on attached link and count the number of Chinese with their noses in front of the bayonets.

RAS said...

anon, chill out; beligum, you're doing a good job.

FA -I don't the case with our ruling elites is all that unique. Oh sure, there are good rich people out there, but I think throughout history most of the ruling classes have been much like the ones we have now. Hell, look at Henry VIII and most of the Roman Emperors. They were the rule, not the exception. I think the problem is just magnified today because of the internet, instant gratification, and so forth.

One thing I've noticed is that it's actually possible to hurt some of these corporations by giving them your business. Don't laugh. Places like Wal-mart have certain loss leaders -things they always take a hit on. In Wal-marts case its groceries (particularly staple groceries) and many pharmacetuicals. So if you shop there and only buy those things you're actually costing them money.

The Archdruid has a complementary post to this one up this week:

Anonymous said...

i could say when i look at you time stands still or i could say yer face could stop a clock. two ways of pretty much saying the same thing. but likely to elicite totally opposite responses. to some, b's excellent report and fa's recent comment would be interpreted as the latter. like certain ones who live in bentonville, ark and climb on a corp jet regularly. around this campfire we are open to and welcome debate. when you come in from the cold like a bull in a china closet you may find yourself being treated accordingly. even here.

attacking the messenger is a twisted way to make what is a good point. it could have been made in a way that might spark intelligent debate. in the land of rocket based economy, shoot the consumer and yer pretty much fucked sooner or later. why the rocket scientists can't figure that out is beyond me. they would argue that wage, benefits, work conditions packages are to blame for the rocket being held back from its fated upward journey. but if you don't put fuel in the rocket it ain't goin no where is it? can you eat those call options?

the rest of the world, including china's millions of workers, is in an uproar. the story is out there but we don't see much of it on our controlled media streams. some call it a beef. i'd call it the first signs of revolution. likely global in proportion as soon as it reaches hundreth monkey status. how long will it take americans to catch up?

talk is cheap and so are hit 'n run trolls. you've done no more than what you acuse the messenger of... bitch and blame. what action do you recommend be taken?

you can address me directly. i'm known here as palooka.

murph said...

Anon 1:34 am

I am very confused at just what your point is. Are you saying that because wealthy elite are concerned neither with justice or fairness and that this is a world wide problem that it should be ignored and sit down and shut up about it?

Your ending quip about life being neither just or fair doesn't have much of reality to it. Life is always just and fair on its own terms, it is the human control that is not either just or fair and that is judgment on the very ideals that we like to espouse. The written fact that organized human society has been this way for 5000 or more years does not negate its injustice.

Your statement: "Would you have Wal-Mart demand that they pay the same wages and benefits that GM pays a janitor? Talk about screwing up the system. What you got in that pipe you are smoking?"

Could I assume then that you do not any sort of egalitarian concepts in your thinking? Could it just be possible that is the omission in human thinking that is one of the basic problems? What universal law says that either a hierarchical structure in a society or an egalitarian society is more desirable or even more natural? If you examine carefully documents like the U.S. constitution, I think you will notice that the concept of egalitarianism heavily influenced it, and that came from the indigenous Indian tribes, (as per Jefferson noted).

You are correct that action speaks louder than words. But, if you will note in history that action is proceeded by words, and the words proceeded by thinking. Out of curiosity, are you enjoining with others in political or social action?

So please enlighten us, what is your stance on these concepts and your rational for that stance.

Oh yes, in the picture in the link. The article didn't mention Chinese, at least specifically, but did mention a several other nationalities. What Chinese are you seeing in the picture? Oh, yeh, I see now, it's the head gear from about 100 yards away that is the dead giveaway. hmmmm.

freeacre said...

"This reminds me of an in-law of mine. Her husband, a Contractor, made a bundle using illegal workers. Kept her in the finest for decades. Now times are hard. The illegals he hired are getting Contractor licenses and he isn't getting the jobs. She is outraged and thinks they should be sent back...."
Great observation! I have seen this over and over living in a "destination resort" area. The original illegal workers were exploited all to hell, and now their offspring are the heads of Human Resources departments, get all the jobs that work with the public because they must be bi-lingual. What goes around, comes around.
Funny, too, I just read a headline that said that they are unionizing a Walmart in China! Happening there before here!
Options? Resist, resist, resist!
Stop paying for commercial TV programming, don't buy food from a box or a bag, get out of debt, put your money where your mouth is. It is the only thing They care about.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium;

Thanks for the support guys, I appreciate it but it is not necessary, we have had these invasions before and no doubt we will have them again. Don’t be too hard with our new friend, he is learning his craft. At the moment he is feeling pretty smug with his confrontational style of argument but when he realises that it isn’t working in the way he intended he will come to realise that the difference between argument for its own sake and critique is that the latter must be both reasoned and substantiated.

Palooka, social unrest in China is not confined only to Tibet. Manchuria where all the heavy industry was located that drove Mao’s Cultural Revolution is now forlornly still. The mines no longer extract coal and the steel mills lie at rest and the whole province is referred to as China’s rust belt. More to the point the former workers are angry at the way they have been discarded and are preparing to square up for a fight.

And Anon, I never said that the problem was confined to China; I used that as a particular example of how the global system works in practice. Did you miss the part where I said that ‘Guess?’ had sweat shops in Los Angeles?

But I will tell you this, I am prepared to buy you a one way ticket to China if you agree to send us regular updated reports of your progress in solving the problem whilst we sit here and give you marks out of ten for content and quality. Manchuria would probably be a good place for you to start.

Anonymous said...

b... oh my, tibet! i wasn't even thinking of that when i was thinking of the villages out the provinces. lotta veeerry unhappy campers out there... p

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for having an opinion and being brazen enough to express it while you are giving a lecture. I stumbled on this blog while searching for a good place to go trout fishing while visiting in Oregon, not looking for a lesson on Globalization.
I really should have kept my stupid mouth closed and simply moved on.
SSSSSSSOOOOOOOooooooooo SolllllllllllllllllllllllllllYYYY
Thanks for the ticket offer but I have one already. Have been to China many times and have marveled at its culture. Now that I know that I am an invader I will leave.
Good Luck with your lecture.
Do not forget though that the people in China and elsewhere may not be as stupid and inhumane as you think they are.
They sure got a lot of our money.
Freeacre and Murph, Good Luck with your efforts. Much admired.
Now I mean to go find a good fishing hole. Just getting too damn old to save the world from itself.


freeacre said...

Trout Scout,
I wish you well on your quest to find good fishing spots. I like to fish from the bank, and I am having a difficult time myself catching fish around here. Seems a lot of people are having great luck fishing from boats in most of the lakes.
I am glad that you stopped by. It is a reminder that when we don't stick to the protocol of just saying what is true for us and not evaluating another's comments, we can end up in a place that we don't want to be. Personally, I am not offended by any comment made, and I hope that we can get back on track and be civil and open to each other's point of view.
I wish you tight lines.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,


I certainly don’t have a problem that you express an opinion, that’s what we do around here. You on the other hand seem to like to talk in put downs which makes you come over as an arrogant snot nose. I have no idea whether you are or not but when you choose to attack people (me) personally rather than what I have written then don’t be surprised when you get a reaction. It would not do for everybody in the world to like each other and if you don’t like me or what I have written then I don’t have a problem with that. Pity that the site isn’t what you thought it was about but if you want to join in the conversation then just make your points or say what you think in a normal way and you will have everybody’s respect.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

This is an aside, I just wanted to tell you we had some fun at the weekend. Chris’s eldest daughter and her husband have a seven year old girl on holiday with them for a month from the greater Chernobyl region of Russia. The scheme has been running a couple of years now and was started in the nearby town of Aartselaar (art-sell-are). Yan (sometimes called Homer Simpson) is a technician at the local nuclear power station and felt it was something he wanted to do and his wife was agreed with it. So the little girl Hannah is with them for a month. We are not exactly sure of her village but it is about 150 – 300km from the reactor, there is a large no go zone around the reactor site. Some kids from the areas outside this are brought over for a holiday each year. It is a 48 hour coach ride so understandably she was a bit zonked and a bit quiet at her strange surroundings for the first day but after this, her and Yolanda, the 5 year old daughter became firm friends. So far language doesn’t seem to be a problem. She came with a translation of the few hundred most common words with imitated pronunciation and there is a ‘tolk’ (translator) available. I also know a Russian speaker from my language course if we need it but so far everything is fine. They all went to a Russian shop in Antwerp the other day and bought some Disney cartoons in Russian, it is amazing what you can get. I saw her on Sunday along with Jan’s parents. As an ice breaker I started a cushion fight and finished up letting both girls beat me up with giggles all around. Next week they are taking her to the Ardens, Belgium’s French speaking scenic bit and in a few weeks they will go to the coast for a few days beach holiday. It is an interesting exercise and so far all seems to be going well.

murph said...

As a temporary change in subject, there is a great article and comments at Smirking Chimp web site. See

Not as an attempt to divert the current subject, but is a great article.

Anonymous said...

personally i don't see it as a diversion at all murph. i see globalism and the neocon agenda as co-plots in an ongoing movie called Control where the actors play characters of narcisistic and psychopathic arrognance.

JQA's commentary on his observation of a pattern and historical review to demonstrate it reminded me.... col jessup gave us a chilling look inside the twisted mind of a self-proclaimed "good man". thouroughly convinced he spoke for and acted for "a few good men" who's job in life it is to keep safe the lives of a nation of unsuspecting ignorants with expectations for their own secruity and safety and who go about those lives never, ever quite capable of realizing or appreciating what is being done to assure those expectations all the while demonstrating their own arrogance that doesn't give a fuck how thats delivered to them as long as it is.

highly likely not far from what runs through the minds of darth c, et al.

in the end, the good guys won and col jessup got his. that is hollywood's job ain't it.... keep reminding us the good guys will win in the end? in my mind, jessup's mind was the mind of the neocon and that movie, with exception to the ending, was yesterday's telling of tomorrow's reality.

is tomorrow here today? watch the ending again....

but, this time, imagine there is no lighting except for the light your mind projects into that closed door courtroom. think of jessup's mind as a composite. the collective mind of the neocon. only this time put the office of pres in the chair of judge and jury. what outcome do you see? look anything like where we find ourselves today?

or imagine jessup's mind as that of the CEO. is that narcisistic and psychopathic arrognance mutually exclusive to the neocon? here's jessup as one of a few good salesmen. ...

parody yes. or is it?

and oh yeah... that good-guy-will-win-in-the-end fantasy imprinted in the minds of the masses... so deeply entrenched and twisted by its own differentiated interpretation of what's "good" and continuously re-enforced by hollywood and a controlled media that, in the end good will, at all cost, win.... that is exactly what mccain is speaking to. and obama... xumbatz

Anonymous said...

the natives are restless!

with the opening ceremonies of the olympics just days away, we've been seeing china in the spotlight already. i saw a documentary a few days ago telling a story that the film reported is being repeated over and over out in the villages of the provinces of china. provinces from which migrated, in a fashion remminiscent of a similar migration here in the states, thousands of grunts to populate the sweat shops of china to supply cheap goods to a nation half a world away and populated as well with their own thousands of cheap labor grunts in the food fields and fast foods, and kept lawns in front of mcmansions built by that same force of cheap labor immigrants.

villages where the families of those sweat shop grunts still live and to whom they send a share of the pittance earned in the appalling conditions of those far away sweat shops.


natives in an uproar at the injustice of their own local living conditions. a scene where we can easily apply "a few good men" as metaphor to demonstrate the dynamic in play. where the minds of the local party authorities operate on their own version of narcissistic, psychopathic, heartless arrogance enforced by an ever present military police. where the local party authorities and the state's police are all corrupt and on the take. sounds rather familar eh?

party central does, according to the film, allow for the official filing of grievance. so here we had the set-up for the next scene where the villagers fight amongst themselves. one side fed up with the system and ready to go to the mattresses. revolution. another side, just as fed up with the injustice but sporting "cooler minds" knowing full well they are far outnumbered and out gunned and lobbying their neighbors to use the system set up by central to appeal for justice due.

and the cooler minds prevail.

the appeal is filed and it even gets reviewed in the far away halls of central. and the proclamation comes that their grievance is just and in a strange twist of democracy midst a land of communism, the local junta is recalled by majority vote of the people. the bums are thrown out and newly elected are installed.

the perfect hollywood ending.

except this is not hollywood. this is real reporting on the plight of real people and the story doesn't end there.

the military moves in, runs the new council out at the end of a gun. the old council moves back in and its bid'ness as usual. except now there's a whole lot more hell to pay... blkerao

murph said...

I think we all have the realization that war is a necessary component to our societies economics, and for almost all complex societies on earth for all of recorded history. I am almost finished with Zecharia Sitchin's book "The end of Days". This man is considered one of the foremost authorities on the really ancient civilizations, Summaria and the like back to 5000-8000 years ago for which we have written records.

According to his writings, there have been very few times in ancient history when groups were not waring with each other and when put in time scale, non waring was not of long duration. All the usual reasons we see today; whose god or gods to worship, land control, occasionally for raw materials, greed for others property, just plain old control of people. And, a never ending supply of cannon fodder from the population to make these wars. It appears from what Sitchin writes, the most common reason for war is religion, who to worship, who to hate from an ideological position. And as always, it is the elite of the society which fires up the population to go to war. While there are exceptions, few of them were on the front lines either.

Today, the prominent pushers for war are from the economic elite who rather skillfully have utilized the religious factions of the society in support.

I don't know how many of you paid attention to the concept of globalization when it was introduced again (not a new idea at all) about 40 years ago. The world under one government, one leadership, for the common good, end of wars, prosperity for all. Sounds good doesn't it? It unfortunately is a fallacy sold to the masses and we can see what is happening this time around. As far as I can find out, the same rational, the same outcome throughout history.

It sure has the appearance that there is no way out of this cycle. The appearance is that humans have some kind of flaw in them that allows this to be perpetuated over and over again.

Globalization cannot and will not achieve what is being sold to populations. What it will achieve is more power and wealth in the hands of the few. History has shown that benevolence in a leader occasionally does happen, but historically is for only a short time, swinging around into brutish force and oppression after a generation or two, if that long. And always, the ambition of those with power and wealth to have more of it, particularly power and control.

New very sad movie out "The Mist" is a Hollywood version of how an absolute nut case can gain this influence and the only way they are stopped is by killing them.

The film industry has sure been putting out a bunch of ideas concerning this power and dealing with it for quite a while now. How we are in reality going to deal with this current power grab under the banner of globalization is open to question, but you can bet we are going to be demanded to bend over and lube up.

freeacre said...

Well, Murph, that provides a rather indelicate visual...
What I notice about the coverage of the Olympics (which I know I don't see much of)is that it seems really hypocritical to me. This is a real propaganda fest. We've got protesters against the occupation of Tibet, tisk tisking against the Chinese pollution (I remember what Gary, Indiana used to look like), their restrictions of human rights and internet access, and on and on. But, in light of our own Patriot Act assault on our Bill of Rights, the torturing of prisoners, the executive signing statements, the merging of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico by administrative law, etc, etc. The criticism seems almost ludicrous. Besides, it is the global corporate and banking interests underlying and empowering the different countries and their governments that is the problem, as I see it. Seems to not matter much if the government is communist or socialist or "democratic" or whatever.
One of the things that I am learning just by seeing the background scenes of the country, is that things can change really fast. I mean, it was not so long ago that the people were all wearing Mao jackets, and now you see disco-looking bars and people gyrating to rock-and-roll and driving BMW's, not rick-shaws.
So, I am trying to hold the thought that things are not set in stone. Transformations are going to take place, and maybe we have a chance of making some good ones, despite appearances to the contrary. You kinda gotta hand it to the Chinese. They are, if nothing else, a dynamic bunch. They seem to be trying out one system after another. It will be interesting to see what they do next.
Our challenge is going to be what we are going to do next.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Its funny how some things stick with you. When I was about 11 or 12 I remember a history teacher telling that historians had searched through all of recorded history to find any 12 month period when a war did not occur somewhere in the world and up to now they had found about 30 of them. The real number may be a little different but 30 sticks in my head. So the question then turns to whether war is a natural phenomenon. If we accept Malthus’ theory that war is one method of limiting population to the food supply, whatever the spurious reason for starting it, then it follows that war is a phenomenon of nature. If we also accept General Smedley Butler’s assertion that war is a racket for the benefit of the elite than it follows that nature nurtures and protects a racketeering elite. Well that’s enough of the silly sophistry for today.

The inter relationship between The Pentagon and Hollywood is another big subject. Do you remember when we thought films like ‘V’ would make a difference and if not that, at least they would raise public awareness? In reality though, we know that the cavalry does not come over the hill at the 11th hour and over a number of such offerings we are left with the overall feeling that bad things happen to good people. Keep repeating that message often enough and it becomes a tenet of life, then it becomes expected.

If the black guy gets in next time, do you think he will repeal the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions act and everything in between? One can but hope – forlornly. Once these things become an established fact they never become a disestablished fact. But this is what is on view and there is not an outrage on the streets about it so what hope is there for outing what is not on view? Society is being co-opted into executing its own demise. New organisations are sprouting up offering management training courses. After having the honour of being one of those selected, few in this competitive world will turn down this form of flattery. This type of training is hardly anything new but this new brand of instruction is infiltrating all organisations and levels of society from school teachers to local authorities and government. Training is not limited to skills and technique but delegates are marshalled into correct thinking regimes. Somebody is turning the handle and churning out little MK Ultras acting throughout all levels of society. Soldier ants are being groomed for ultimate position and selected in junior school. Those who reach the upper levels of governance will not be chosen by you or me.

Anonymous said...

So good to see you again SATS. the summer is so busy with new projects of sustainability and research of all things in that direction it leaves little room for trying to understand the notions of a world gone insane plus having all the killing devices to really fuck up good ole momma earth in a righteous fashion.
i think you are right about the butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon and it will be felt in Bangkok/ the problems humanity face are at face look awful but on the other hand i think that we stand on the threshold of a devastation/creation manifestation untold in human history. course its only a guess, bug says i'm full of it and have not much to reply, and she's smarter then this one by a long shot.
doesn't it always boil down to the interplay between the two-leggeds and the way they appreciate the wonder that seems to stand between them and that which constructed that wonder for their amusement? and seriously was this garden not produced by the hand, (claw)?. for the creatures that frequent the garden.? what else is there. and ok i got to admit the brains that came into being really squashed the living shit out of the heart that failed to realize its front row seat at the dais of life as anymore then a crybabies need for a diaper change?
i guess that what's being got at is that its hard for this one to get pass the scope of whole earth problems as being any different then the ones in ones own back yard, i mean i look and perceive that those around me and myself as one thing because thats the way it actually is , its not a hair brained idea hatched out of a failing cognitive apparatus even though bug shrugs at that one also. in the evolution of the sadly but true affair of the human heart regaining its spot as that which will ultimately bring a world of peace its plain as hell that this is the path of sweetness, and the dumping of that which was and the unfolding of that which is accompanied by the exquisite tasting infinity of possibilities is just breath taking sometimes thats for sure.
Standing in the world with one leg in the world of the spirit and one in the world of two-legged attachments to things of the mind and the death to you if you touch my shit it leaves one to just watch, ....the story is unfolding without recourse because it is a chosen one and the trick in the trueness of the unfolding as a clean uncluttered perception is absolutely a wonderment as it happens and then unhappens and then happens again and the happens getting longer and longer in duration as... planned? nope bug says, there is no plan, and that is the beauty of it, and also she says there is no free will either, there is only creation having fun with itself with the two-leggeds as the main course on the plate of the blue marble.
We are grateful great spirit for the opportunity to witness the imbalance to restore itself in this lifetime on mother earth,we are the privileged few that even care about this awesome event and are humbled in its overwhelming energy burst that is slowly growing in proportion and quality, the senses reel at that sunset which is the sunrise, both at the same time, the muddled mind scrapes away the drudge of the past and opens onto.......?

O, this just in, i suppose the folks here are experiencing more of the so called unusualness of happenings more then usually taking place, ( is that a fucked up sentence or what?)
synchronicity becomes the usual, hah! thats funny,

moonraven, welcome to the council, its good to have new folks drop in and add substance to the fire shine, the one brother that accidently learned maybe the term catch and release seemed a little way out of his territory, had to laugh at the following roast but what fuck, if the kitchen is to hot stay the fuck out of it, thats all i got to say about that.
poor fucker really fell into something he wasn't ready for/

its such a pleasure to frequent this beautiful campfire of musings,dissertations,dreams, ideas,projections, opinions,outright nonsense, ok i'm in that category ,and just listen to all the energy coming from the brothers and sisters that call it home away from home, at least thats the way i see it.
peace to all this day
i am honored to be in your presence

Anonymous said...

hummm/ first time i ever saw a comment saved, must be some strange shit coming into the teepee council fire,
ps made my usual goofy comment but it got saved for hardtimes i guess.

murph said...


For sure the Hollywood ending is not the normal in real life. A movie is a story and may have little to do with real living conditions. Doesn't however negate the occasional inspiration that might accompany the story. After all, everything about a society is precluded by the story we tell ourselves concerning it. That is how we derive meaning for something so complex that we can't understand all of it. It also establishes our standards of behavior, our goals and aspirations. Movies give us another potential story to tell. One story line in movies that was very influential in American life was the cowboy movies. Our society adopted much of those story lines concerning what general stories we tell about ourselves.

Got to agree that we have diversions aplenty to keep us distracted.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get some Union Jeans?

Yesterday, I was a "Googling" and came across Michael Moore's "Sicko." Geez, was I depressed after wathing it. Makes ya wanna get the hell outta this country -to anywhere.

I think one of the reasons that this country's dictators pretty much forbid vacations is that the PTB are afraid that if 'Murikans see and experience other countries and cultures, they'll come home asking questions and possibly demand that we do things similar to other countries.

Man, I wish I had the mega-funds to get outta Dodge. Where would I go? New Zealand, maybe. The Caribbean would be TOTALLY cool.
The rum punches are outta this world donchaknow.

Hey maybe the next topic could be......


I donno. Hey, was clicking around and clicked on "whatreallyhappened" and ... nothing happend. The last bunch of news articles were from Aug 4. Anybody able to into it with updated news?



Anonymous said...

i guess my little notes got lost in the shuffle or the cyber police got to them first.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Congrats Murph, you got it back, I tried to undelete the C drive but couldn’t recover the last one – well done.

To express an opinion on Freeacre’s mused question, China is probably communist to its own leadership; capitalist to the outside world and a dictatorship to its citizenry and the Wall Street business class. Whatever it is they are still working for the banks like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Congrats Murph, you got it back, I tried to undelete the C drive but couldn’t recover the last one – well done.

To express an opinion on Freeacre’s mused question, China is probably communist to its own leadership; capitalist to the outside world and a dictatorship to its citizenry and the Wall Street business class. Whatever it is they are still working for the banks like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Are we being moderated?

RAS said...

This relates to a previous post, but has anyone else heard about what happened to that Maryland mayor last week? I think the cops finally picked the wrong person to mess with.

Anonymous said...

... djarxmz! another noteworthy diversion...

(in memory of skip carey)... HOLY COW!! 2.5 and greater world shaker count yesterday? 205! i've been watching 10 years and never seen it that high. 185 of em on the aleutian chain. 15 @ 4.0 or better. thats an anomaly. even for the aleutians. another area anomalous is the carribean. has not missed a day of 2.5+ activity since as far back as april. uncommon. i check regular. but don't track it except periodicaly. back in april i started recording data on a calandar again. daily total gets written down plus counts at historically active areas. if some place goes off like it did in china then i record that as well. carribean isn't historically active. but i noticed daily activity and began to include it starting may 1. hasn't missed a day since. current list....

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Mine too, I guess they got lost on the cutting room floor of the 'Little Room'.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

This is strange, either my comments are coming out 12 hours late or when I post one an old one pops out. Either way it looks like the moderation is intensifying.

murph said...


Whatreallyhappened web site is one we visit regularly. Just went there and it latest post on Aug 7. Did you try to do a refresh at the sit?

murph said...


We had a bad electrical storm here. Knocked out the modem, replaced it today and sometimes I get on and sometimes not. If you don't hear from us for a bit, I am fighting with our high tech doo dad. Crap

Anonymous said...

Are we being moderated?

dunno! but we sure got stuff comin and going. and some comin back again. some not. i posted one earlier this eve i think went up but gone now. on the 185 2.5 and up shakers in the aleutians yesterday. 15 over 4.0. 205 events reported for the day. been watching for 10 years and i'd say thats a record. check it out...

i'd call that an anomaly even for the aleutians.

another playing out is the carribean region. activity going back at least to april when i first noticed the regularity. started tracking it on my calandar may 1. hasn't missed a day yet.

m... many a movie inspired many a man. and the-good-guy-wins becoming no longer the norm. sure is some strange highness comin otta there since those cowboys rode into the sunset. they trying to tell us somethin? ... zgsyeott

Anonymous said...

okay... that one i just posted? posted it earlier. came and went.

so i worte another only worded completly dif. previewed it. published it. the old one came up. whats up?


Anonymous said...


test said...


Palooka's Revenge said...

well its one way to get the comments count up!

freeacre said...

My Vegetarian Magazine has an ad in it for underclothing made in the USA that I have personally bought products from. Their website is: A great source for all kinds of planet-friendly stuff is the National Green Pages of Co-Op America. It is a large catalog of all things green, including jeans and other clothing made in the US. Might try
I am concerned that our site may be being monitored, so I am going to attempt to post this comment.