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Bill Moyers Essay: Labor Day

In observation of Labor Day, BIll Moyers shared these thoughts on the JOURNAL this week:
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Re: Our current financial meltdown.

We wouldn’t be in this mess if Americans bought American-made goods, kept our factories going, and made money the old-fashioned way.

Money comes from agricultural and, especially, manufacturing productivity. It does not come from Wall Street gambling and debt.

Just ask the Chinese.

"Dollar to the Giant" on YouTube

has been uncannily accurate.

George: Yea, Mama Ellen drunk some Chinese hooch (melamine and kerosene)when I wassa nursin'. Then she put me in show bidness so she could sleep 'til noon, and have a free income. I'm bitter though because i'm a "little person" and people stared and teased me all my life. It didn't have to be: I suffered a 'medical mistake" during a tonsilectomy when I was barely 8, never grew ant taller. My medical problems are mostly from organ crowding. As Paul Harvey used to bark:"Now you know, the rest of the story.... Goodday!"

But I swear, Grady, you must have been nursed on a dill pickle.

George: See, we do seek the same revolution.

And the Chinese automaker Chinese automaker Geely has announced plans to build a $500 million assembly plant in Mexico.

No more worries about rising shipping costs. They’ll be able to push their Chinese-Mexican stuff across the Rio Grande under NAFTA protection. Meanwhile, China imposes a 25% tariff on American-made cars.

I can promise you that Geely won’t be getting any of my money.

I discussed the Geely plant with some prominent union officials. They didn’t care. Our multinational corporations don’t care. Our manufacturing associations and advocates, largely supported by multinationals with heavy investment in China, don’t care. Our own government, deeply indebted to China, doesn’t care.

I care, so I seek out American-made products and avoid those made in China. I sleep better this way and encourage you to join the fun.

George: It is not China essentially that is commanding the manufacturing. It is our corporations and their management that have chosen to move manufacturing to China from here to maximize profits. The elite in China and the elite here see eye to eye and share the pie.

You claim a deep understanding of the Chinese government workings and structure. Despite the lower rate of manufacturing here the governments operate very similarly and neither have much regard for the rights or well-being of their own citizens. I think government reaction to the financial meltdown with a bailout at public expense illustrates my point. As an American looking hard at the Chinese government with dread and considering the direction of my own I sometimes feel I'm looking into a mirror.

Everyone asks me this, so I'll ask you George. What can we do about it? (Don't mention more household spending: Bush already tried that one.)

As for autoworkers, few bought foreign cars because of insider pricing and the social pressure to buy what they made on the part of both company and union. It was the fact that foreigners could make a better car cheaper, partly because of lower overhead and partially because of domestic company complacency, that led to the predicament of Ford, GM and Chrysler. If Toyota had to pay Americans in their US factories (non-union) at the same rate as Ford or GM things wouldn't be as bad for domestic car builders. Also, if they had listened to President Carter we would have had electric cars by 1990 and not be in this peak oil mess. Capitalists try to artificially maintain old ways when they are making money on them. A later start and the ability to try alternative energy (They have more solar than we do now.) has been another advantage for China. (How many solar panels does your house have, George? It would take a real nut to suggest that union autoworkers caused the flight of living waged jobs. They were never in charge. Most American car builders are employing Chinese labor right now. Many of the parts of new Ahmeerikan cars come straight from China.

How much sympathy are we supposed to have for the union autoworker who made a good living in Detroit, then spent his money on a foreign car?

Stupid and greedy, we abandon our own manufacturing, our own true source of income.

We line up at traps like Wal-Mart to surrender our factories, jobs, money, and children to an adversary: The People’s Republic of China--communist, totalitarian, but strangely committed to manufacturing.

Now, just to stay alive--perhaps--we borrow $ trillions from China, surrendering our decision making and what little independence we had left.

Sleep well, my fellow Americans.

George: Sam Walton is dead and Walmart is exploitative of its employees.
Today our financial leaders have proven themselves as bad or worse than any generation of Chinese leaders with there financial terrorist attack and robbery of the American people. Our worst and most immediate enemy is in New York and Washington, not Beijing. 10-19-08 supercedes 9-11-01 in its infamy and deceit. It indicates the same elites probably had a hand in 9-11. You may go on like an obsessive harping about China as we prepare to default on our debt to their government, but whoever is elected will raise your taxes and cut your entitlements as the value of the dollar falls. You don't pay taxes to China, at least not yet. By the way, have you seen any lasts for sale in antique stores. You and I might be cobbling our own shoes (made from dog hide) before too long.
( Actually, I don't dread doing skilled labor.) Forget China, we can do without the I-pods and dishpans.
Me fears you too much optimistic in conquering the Center Place. Good night and good morning.

What I fear most, Grady, is ignorance and, if it follows, deception. This has nothing to do with racism, though I suspect you usually get away with your antics. If I’m criticizing any group of people, I’m criticizing Americans, starting with myself, for greedily and ignorantly destroying our own society and our children’s futures.

Our country is $10 trillion in debt.

Last year, our trade deficit with China was $256 billion.

We are the largest debtor in the world. China is the largest creditor in the world.

I admire China for understanding the importance of manufacturing. However, we’re not trading with democratic business people as we do in India; we’re dealing with a totalitarian communist government, with 1.3 billion people at its disposal, that considers us a military adversary.

The playing field is not level and our manufacturing sector--the source of our money--is getting destroyed. China, the government:

heavily subsidizes Chinese entrepreneurs and industry,

forces slave and child labor under dangerous and inhumane working conditions,

defaults on wages due Chinese workers,

forbids unionization,

ignores labor and environmental laws,

disregards US patents and copyrights,

illegally manipulates its currency for unfair advantage in global markets,

dumps in global markets,

imposes heavy tariffs on imported goods.

You mentioned Wal-Mart. You might find this interesting:

In February 1985, Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, wrote 3,000 American manufacturers and wholesalers to announce that the chain wanted to buy more American goods.

Walton said: "We cannot continue to be a solvent nation as long as we pursue this current accelerating direction. Our company is firmly committed to the philosophy by buying everything possible from suppliers who manufacture their products in the United States."

Unfortunately, Sam died a few years later. We’ve all seen what has since happened with Wal-Mart. Maybe his kids weren’t happy with $20 billion each.

Amy Wyatt of Wal-Mart's International Corporate Affairs Division has said that in all Wal-Mart stores outside the US, including stores in China, 90% - 95% of goods are from local sources.

In the US, it’s the other way around.

Now a few more gems from “Unrestricted Warfare,” the Chinese Army’s manual for the defeat of the United States, which recommends:

Trade war: a destructive effect equal to that of a military operation

Financial war: hyperstrategic, easily manipulated, concealed, highly destructive

“China [in 1999] already has the power to jolt the world economy just by changing its own economic policies.”

“The world's number one debtor nation, a country which relies on the inflow of foreign capital to support its economic prosperity, the United States, would definitely have. . . heavy economic losses. Such an outcome would certainly be better than a military strike.”

“We believe that before long, ‘financial warfare’ will undoubtedly be an entry in the various types of dictionaries of official military jargon.”

Rumor or scandal that results in a fluctuation in the enemy country's exchange rates

Ecological war:

“Ecological war refers to a new type of non-military warfare in which modern technology is employed to influence the natural state of rivers, oceans, the crust of the earth, the polar ice sheets, the air circulating in the atmosphere, and the ozone layer. By methods such as causing earthquakes and altering precipitation patterns, the atmospheric temperature, the composition of the atmosphere, sea level height, and sunshine patterns, the earth's physical environment is damaged or an alternate local ecology is created.”

Drug warfare: obtaining sudden and huge illicit profits by spreading disaster in other countries

Psychological warfare: spreading rumors to intimidate the enemy and break down his will

“Even the last refuge of the human race--the inner world of the heart—cannot avoid the attacks of psychological warfare. . . nets. . . snares. . . so that a person has no place to flee.”

Terrorism: Osama bin Laden is frequently cited as a model

Smuggling warfare: throwing markets into confusion and attacking economic order

Man-made stock-market crash

Media warfare: manipulating what people see and hear in order to lead public opinion along

Network warfare: venturing out in secret and concealing one's identity in a type of warfare that is virtually impossible to guard against

Computer virus invasion:

“One hacker + one modem causes an enemy damage and losses almost equal to those of a war”

Technological warfare: creating monopolies by setting standards independently

Fabrication warfare: presenting a counterfeit appearance of real strength before the eyes of the enemy

Resources warfare: grabbing riches by plundering stores of resources

Economic aid warfare: bestowing favor in the open and contriving to control matters in secret

Cultural warfare: leading cultural trends along in order to assimilate those with different views

International law warfare: seizing the earliest opportunity to set up regulations

Additional quotes:

“Warfare. . . re-invaded human society in a more complex, more extensive, more concealed, and more subtle manner. . . . In other words, while we are seeing a relative reduction in military violence, at the same time we definitely are seeing an increase in political, economic, and technological violence.”

“It is likely that a pasty-faced scholar wearing thick eyeglasses is better suited to be a modern soldier than is a strong young lowbrow with bulging biceps.”

The full text of “Unrestricted Warfare” can be downloaded here:

To paraphrase the Chinese Sun Tzu: “Know the enemy.”

I’ll add: “Read his books.”

Now, do you still think "Dollar to the Giant" is "simple-minded and racist"? The song could save our butts.

I'm sorry if you're offended that I care more about the United States than I do China. I, too, wish life was different and we could all just get along. But we must be realistic if our children are to survive.

Your ideology matches that of present day Russia very well, George. Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated, and since you talk like his Ivan Denisovitch I think you'd be content there. There are many contract jobs for westerners, and with the guile of Tony Soprano, you could soon achieve dondom.

You fear the yellow man, slant eye, flat nose? I'm in touch with Chinese dissenters right now and they are what our citizens should aspire to be, campaigners for all working humanity. (They have Walmart in China too, and lots of melamine laced milk products.) Isolationism sounds better than ever, huh George. Are you afraid of Mr. Obama's face too. I think he looks honest and intelligent. If I had a daughter I wish she could find a man like him to be happy with, or if not, a Chinese dissenter boy.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song in 1949 in which he wished that over the next thousand years all of us would become through interbreeding: "Same size, same color, all working together, and maybe we'll have all the fascists out of the way by then." Woodie was being silly but he had a good point: Racial fear is a drag.

Your ideology matches that of present day Russia very well, George. Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated, and since you talk like his Ivan Denisovitch I think you'd be content there. There are many contract jobs for westerners, and with the guile of Tony Soprano, you could soon achieve dondom.

You fear the yellow man, slant eye, flat nose? I'm in touch with Chinese dissenters right now and they are what our citizens should aspire to be, campaigners for all working humanity. (They have Walmart in China too, and lots of melamine laced milk products.) Isolationism sounds better than ever, huh George. Are you afraid of Mr. Obama's face too. I think he looks honest and intelligent. If I had a daughter I wish she could find a man like him to be happy with, or if not, a Chinese dissenter boy.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song in 1949 in which he wished that over the next thousand years all of us would become through interbreeding: "Same size, same color, all working together, and maybe we'll have all the fascists out of the way by then." Woodie was being silly but he had a good point: Racial fear is a drag.

Apparently, Grady and I don't have the same "revolution" in mind. I believe Americans should err on the side of caution when dealing with an ideological, political, and military adversary like communist China which, as "Dollar to the Giant" warns, has "put on a friendly disguise."

For most of the last 5,000 years, China has been the most sophisticated, powerful (and corrupt and racist) nation on Earth--without any help from the United States. The Chinese have probably forgotten more about capitalism than we'll ever know. Good grief, China had a unified currency, banking, and credit under the 9th-century T'ang. (I shudder to think of what my ancestors were doing in the year 850.) In a realistic context, nobody is in a position to, in Grady’s words, "demand justice for a billion Chinese citizens."

Anyone who underestimates China, or fears being called "racist," does so at his own peril. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned us about China in 1978:

". . . a doomed alliance with Evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days."

The Chinese blueprint for the defeat of the United States, "Unrestricted Warfare," was written by Senior Colonels in the Chinese People's Liberation Army Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. Some excerpts:

"The world's number one debtor nation, a country which relies on the inflow of foreign capital to support its economic prosperity, the United States, would definitely have. . . heavy economic losses. Such an outcome would certainly be better than a military strike.”

"Today, when nuclear weapons have already become frightening mantelpiece decorations that are losing their real operational value with each passing day, financial war has become a "hyperstrategic" weapon that is attracting the attention of the world. This is because financial war is easily manipulated and allows for concealed actions, and is also highly destructive."

Well, some of China’s actions have not been so concealed, such as using their enormous foreign currency reserves (largely contributed by mindless American consumers) to buy geo-political leverage. Even Costa Rica has now given Taiwan the boot in exchange for People's Republic of China money. What is the US going to do when China makes its move on Taiwan?

China is probably laughing at us, folks, and I can’t say that I blame them. We can’t afford to be naïve about this.

It’s time to start supporting our own economy. Well, hopefully there’s time.

Jack: I think your idea is a good one and hope you can convince your customers that the smallest price tag does not always mean the lowest true cost.

No offense to you George, but I found "Dollar to the Giant" simple-minded and racist. The Neil Young imitation was mediocre, but apropos, in that Young often presents fragmented impressions in his lyrics as opposed to reason. (It may be his drug history.) My discussion with you contradicts most of the biased thinking presented in the video. In order to have a decent lifestyle and democracy we must demand justice for a billion Chinese citizens as well. China's workers (many ethnicities) are our potential allies in a struggle for decent conditions. Our enemies are those still greedy for unreasonable riches and sadistic power. I find it tragic when Ahmeerikans can't enjoy what they have without contrasting their good fortune with the suffering of poorer fellow citizens. Sadism, learned from media in a hyper-hierarchical environment, is our greatest handicap. Saying this, I continue to avoid Walmart and read labels as part of a humane strategy.

Jack: I'm tired of helping you make hats and puppets we can't sell. Understand, Jack, that freedom is a scary thing (Laurie Anderson).

I have reviewed the discussion between Krainovich and Howard. I know the general views and the cynicism of Howard well, having tutored him for a decade, and lately been a student of his. Let me take this opportunity to ask Krainovich and our audience what they think of community level locally organized industries owned collectively by the community and the workers. I have studied these alternate schemes for 40 years and take great pleasure in seeing them pop up.

Right now in Argentina there is a movement where industries closed by engineered financial failure have been resurrected and successfully operated by the former employees. With so much closed down across our nation the physical plants and some of the tools and machinery remain. Wouldn't it be good if we had a government (or other entity) loan bank to initiate co-operatives and worker owned and managed industries? I think organic foodstuffs, durable shoes and clothing, electric vehicles and other indispensable items from such sources would be in great demand. If price point were a problem we could resort to protective tariffs to keep out the landfill bait. With a universal living wage all would have similar rights and responsibilities. I wish fervently, more than anything, that I could see the maids owning the motels and nutritious quick food dispensed by proud local communes before I die (within a decade). Now, while the economy is in flux, is the opportunity to make such humane changes. We must move quickly before the skills and expertise of the older idle population are lost to ageing and death. No one will work more conscientiously than a part owner living in equal solidarity with her/his partners. Don't wake up and smell the coffee; wake up and brew it!

Indeed and agreed, Grady Lee. I think most Americans are really on the same side of our revolution, with the same goal of empowering the people, with the same enemies in Washington, Wall Street, and The Media.

But we need to focus and use our most practical tools. I suggest we first concentrate on our most pressing problem: we have no money.

Can you picture our nation’s leading economic experts sitting around the kitchen table, fretting over the family finances? Sooner or later, the youngest, least-educated child would ask why someone doesn’t get a job. This is the situation we’re in: oblivious to the obvious. If we have a credit crisis, it’s because we have a cash crisis. If we have a cash crisis, it’s because we’re not making enough money.

So the first thing we have to do is make more money--real money. This is done through manufacturing. American consumers, by learning to look at the true, long-term cost of consumer goods, can modify their buying habits and start creating more demand for American-made products and, therefore, American factories and jobs.

After we start making money again, we can argue about how to spend it.

Grady, I hope you’ve had a chance to see the “Dollar to the Giant” video I’ve been recommending. Granted, the art is not to everyone’s tastes and the singer doesn’t have a conventionally good voice, but the lyrics are just amazing--brilliant and powerful. I’ve never seen so much history, perspective, truth, or simple practicality in such a small space. Here again is the link:

I’m recommending this video every chance I get because I think it’s the most important message of our time. If everyone saw “Dollar to the Giant,” our lives would be much, much better.

I think you’ll agree this video can do some good. If so, please pass it along--citizens helping citizens “grass roots style.”

George: I couldn't agree more with your (Sept. 17-2;14pm) last post about manufacturing being the basis of our economy. It's just difficult now to separate our economy out from the others in global exchange. There was a time before about 1970 when the economy had a rough equivalence with the nation state, but there is decreasing correspondence over time. This is due to trade agreements and new business models. It has little to do with the choices workers, trade associations or unions have made. Those with control of the money made the rules to help them accumulate more.

George, you may run into some business serving economists who flatter us by saying Americans are upper middle class in the world scheme, that our working class is now in Haiti, South Africa, the Marianas, India, Mexico, also China and so on. They say Ahmeerikans should invest in stocks, mutual funds and other instruments to ride the economic wave of privilege. Even if investment had not become so scary recently, the majority of Ahmeerikan households have no net worth to speak of, and inadequate income to do any meaningful investing, It is a lucky minority who had even 30K in a company controlled retirement account or IRA. Many of these woke up to 22K this morning after a 25% loss due to the well founded panic. The truth is we live in a world, and a country, where 90% must push so that 10% can ride. You are so right about vital manufacturing under the current capitalist system. It don't just pay the freight: It ultimately is the freight train of the entire economy. Traded paper, however confused and corrupt, would lack even the paper it's printed on without labor provision of the staples of daily life. (And you can't eat gold.)

I look forward to discussion with you again, George Krainovich. People should observe how George and I came to a rational consensus.

Most people talk about money and agree we need more of it to solve our problems.

Few people know where money actually comes from. Try asking. You’ll get blank stares or ignorant nonsense.

Money comes from productivity. A country has to make something and sell it in order to prosper. This can be agriculture, mining, oil--but mostly it’s manufacturing. America’s factories built America’s historical wealth and established the credit we’re living on today.

Services support productivity. Services rarely create actual wealth.

When the United States was a manufacturing nation, we had money. Fifty years ago, roughly 60% of our population was employed in manufacturing. Currently it's less than 10%--and still shrinking. China is the manufacturer now, so they're making the money.

But a manufacturer is of no consequence if consumers won’t purchase its goods. Ultimately, the consumer makes the decisions. Every advertiser and politician clamoring for attention is after the same thing: your dollars and mine. They add up.

We are not as insignificant and voiceless as we’re so often led to believe.

On personal responsibility: (A reply to George)
Most changes happening in the economy are way above the individual's head. Ahmeerikan consumers are a narrow slice of the global pie, as we have learned from India and China getting cars and kitchen tables, beginning to tug at our food and energy blanket.

The problem arose when capital (corporate mobility) was globalized without a concomitant globalization of a living wage and benefits, or even of worker safety and rights along with environmental regulation. GATT-like agreements accept no input from Ahmeerikan individuals. Now these same forces undermine our social contract at home. Wages and benefits are drying up, as are living waged jobs. And we now have no control of structural choices made in our name. Since the beginning of 2008 at least a trillion dollars has been guaranteed (mostly through the FED but also FDIC and other agencies) by our future tax payments to shore up or bail out domestic financial institutions mired in a global derivatives and risk default meltdown. (They've tried to blame low waged homebuyers but that is a big lie.) Without living waged jobs we can never pay the markers of bankers and speculators with a gambling problem. (Their irresponsibility has not been reformed.) One talking head says the problem is contained in particular firms, then another insists failing to bail means universal financial meltdown, or at least a credit freeze. No one is telling Ahmeerikans the truth for fear of a generalized panic.

Panic is based upon fearing our future, expecting to be forced to labor for recompense below subsistence. That is a well-founded fear today.

By wanting you to share his joy at watching a video on You Tube George Crainovich has raised many issues, issues that a 9/11 type cover-up will never answer. All money value comes from labor, George. I'm not really decided whether what I do for Goldman Sachs is labor, but they deposit a check biweekly. I do know that people who grow food and make the tools of our daily life are laboring whether they be here or off-shore. The "bail-out gamblers" are playing with what individual laborers produce without the producer having any input. I don't believe individuals gain input by patterning their feeble shopping. Having been part of an organization that hauls retirees to the store I have seen a consensus for Walmart many times. Their rational choices and incomes are limited.

I've never been one to fall for the idea that capitalistic competition is paramount to the point that it should override common sense. When I told George about my can of peas I was serious. Round sweet peas grown in Canada were harvested by imported farm labor and shipped to China for canning. Then they returned on a container ship to us hungry Ahmeerikans. I ask everyone this: When people get too sorry to produce their own nutritious food where they can see it and make decisions about it, what hope is there for these sorry people? But after they consider I add this query: "Do these people retain the freedom to produce their own foodstuffs domestically?"
If they don't, then global capitalism is highly irrational, dangerous to itself and others, and must be remanded to asylum.
Our failure to take control of our own labor is the greatest moral hazard. (I have regulatory and reform proposals too complex to discuss here.)

Grady, do you think it's better for America, our workers and our children, if we purchase more products made in the United States--or more products made in China?

One more question: Do you know where money comes from?

Keep blaming everyone else, keep sending your money to China, and you will deserve your "bare feet and nekked butt."

One of the things I like best about "Dollar to the Giant" on YouTube

is the emphasis on personal responsibility--which is generally more effective than scapegoating.

George Krainovich rebutted me on the 13th by discussing the international machinations of the Chunese mainland state. Being no friend of China and a boycotter of this year's Olympics I agree that China offers incentives to smaller nations to legitimize its status and schemes. The same can be said of the U.S. and in fact Andrew Bacevich discussed overuse of the military for business purposes at length in his Moyers interview. What China does is typical of economic empires. Its currency manipulation and its slave wages seem of greater concern.

Geoprge asserts we can all buy everything American, maybe on the Internet he says. My next door neighbor has a sign on his vehicle "Buy American For More Jobs Here." He's a veteran, almost 90. His vehicle is an import made by Mazda in South Korea, so much for contradictions. George and the neighbor are self-deceived like those who chant "Drill here; Drill now." All commodities go to the highest bidder, even domestic petroleum, and the dribble Ahmeerika could produce from deep precarious offshore wells would barely affect the worldwide market volume or price when it would become available about 2017. OPEC could cut production slightly just to maintain price as they have recently done in this recession. The same is true of other commodities traded by cartels, So we are to sacrifice clean beaches and sea life, as well as investment capital for the benefit of giant corporations, their wealthy management and wealthy investors.

Considering China again, it is not the Chinese people or workers who are at fault. We must blame an authoritarian elite who are in league with the same giant corporations, many Ahmeerikan, who exploit and deceive us at home.

If George ever goes shopping I dare him to find affordable clothing or shoes not made by wage slaves, and if he does to realize the tiny quantities available. In time many Walmart shoppers might be condemned, by George, to bare feet and a nekked butt. I'm sure George don't want that. I'm on the side of an informed George.

To say that "nothing is made here" is silly and untrue. Either you support the United States and our ethical, reciprocal trading partners or you support the People's Republic of China. If you've honestly tried and still can't find American-made or non-Chinese goods, there are plenty of books and websites to help.

This is not just about "financial" security. I refer the reader to yesterday's New York Times article entitled "Cash Helped China Win Costa Rica's Recognition":

Some excerpts:

". . . to persuade Costa Rica to shift its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China last year, China used the muscle of its. . .$1.8 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest such cache of foreign currency, to further its political goals, despite promises that it would not do so."

". . . in return for Costa Rica's shutting its embassy in Taiwan and expelling Taiwanese diplomats, China agreed to buy $300 million in bonds. It also agreed to give $130 million in aid to Costa Rica, as well as other incentives, including 20 scholarships each year for Costa Ricans to study in China."

"China for years has devoted considerable diplomatic energy and financial resources to persuading other countries to sever ties with Taiwan. After Costa Rica's switch to China last year, Taiwan was left with only a small circle of 23 international supporters, most of them tiny, poor nations, while Beijing commands the support of 171 nations."

Seriously, folks: what are we going to do when China decides to make its move on Taiwan?

Like "Dollar to the Giant" says: "we're led to every trap the giant made." Not surprisingly, neither political party has addressed our true vulnerability. American citizens simply have to stop sending all their money, jobs, power, and security to the People’s Republic of China. Neither our multinationals nor our own government (another multinational) will do it for us.

"Dollar to the Giant" on YouTube:

Maybe, just maybe, the People's Republic of China does not put our workers' interests ahead of its own.

When I heard Mr. Moyers say, "It just might be that that same spirit of anger roused by injustice...that old and enduring hunger of working men and women for a better just might be the spark that catches fire...", the following came to mind:

- ...Their enmity toward a...hostile government went hand in hand...with a natural respect for justice, a spontaneous understanding of what Government and the State should be, namely, the will of the people expressed in terms of law. [from "Christ Stopped at Eboli" (1945, Levi)]

George Krainovich: How does one buy Ahmeerikan (Empress Sarah's pronunciation) when nothing is made here? Most of our jobs are predatory schemes. What have you made lately? How do you support yourself?
There are no Ahmeerikan cars, no Ahmeerikan TVs (If you retain one it's dookie in February.). My last can of peas from the grocery was (canned) made in China. We are not entitled to ask where our produce is grown. Bush suggests Mexican drivers tow in our modular shacks.
It's easy to get buried in the past. Maybe a better suggestion is to boycott the offending enterprises selectively until they see our point. Would that be a. syndicalism b. anarchism
c.communism d. common sense

Greedy self-destruction. Neither political party can protect us.

American workers can choose to support themselves by purchasing American-made goods—or we can choose to perpetuate our Devil’s Bargain with the People’s Republic of China.

Again, I’d like to recommend “Dollar to the Giant” on YouTube--an insightful, artistic presentation of our predicament:

It’s well within our power to right our own course:

1. Whenever possible, buy goods made in the USA.

2. Don't buy anything made in China.

We could rebuild our country and create enough prosperity for either party’s promises.

We've done it before. We can do it again if we simply exercise a little responsibility and stop thinking the government’s going to do it for us.

Where has Big Labor gone to?To jail, with the Mobsters , Who controlled them, and the corrupt politicans who take millions from them. Its not about jobs, its about money and power!
Unions were once a proud group of workers, who wanted fair treatment and a better wage, so when a Union worker went home and looked at his or her family in the eye, he or she felt pride and the American spirit!
Now, its a power grab, corruption, NAFTA, lies and jobs going over seas! What happened? You can blame both sides but who is really to blame? POWER!

David, Thank you for your well stated response. It all depends upon what each person considers appropriate.
Maybe if you choose a career right for you, and each woman considers one right for her things will work out. There is a structural fairness problem though that dogs our freedom. Women have often been categorized into jobs they find OK, but then the women's categories are routinely lower paid despite relative importance.
Also, when I stayed at home with kids I often worked part time and/or went to college classes, so I understand that hardship. We are in a time where most of our families are experiencing hardship. In many cases, if Mom stays home, the family goes under economcally. So how can you blame people who have no choice? They're on a highwire with no safety net and you're throwing tomatoes.

Real wages have fallen since 1980 so that few people live comfortably with family responsibilities. We see even the privileged examples with both parents employed. (Congresspersons' spouse and children work for lobbying firms.) People own less and less of what endures and pay on more and more of what is temporary, so that the fabric of life is entirely changed and we can't force our way back to the one parent at home model. The bridge has collapsed and it is just another option denied. Don't blame women only , David. Separate people into classes and see who is responsible. To whom much is given much should be expected. Ambitous young women from the woking class aren't making economoc policy. I should think you'd prefer to see our daughters educated and self-sufficient, not at the mercy of the scoundrels who run things,

Jack Martin,
I refer to women libbers who do not want equality, they want preferential treatment and superiority over men. I agree that single women need jobs just like men. But they need jobs appropriate for women just like men need jobs appropriate for men.
Women with children should have the opportunity to stay home with there children. Children are our future. They need the mother at home to run the household. My wife is always complaining about having to work so that we can afford health care and pay the bills. She is a home maker at heart. The women libbers are creating a cost of living that forces women to work. Most working women not only work at a job; they also have to work at home. We need an economic system that provides women the opportunity to stay at home and care for their children. You might have had no problem with your mother working but I am sure it was a great burden for your mother. Personally, I think men are abdicating their responsibility when they support hard core women's lib.

David Eddy: You must have never imagined yourself a woman, and certainly not a single mother. My dad died on the job when I was nine and my brothers were five and four, and those were the good old days. David, imagine the women in Afganistan who lost husbands in the fighting, whom the Taliban don't want to work, or even go out alone. Would you starve widows and orphans?

I liked you and your messages of caring but I wonder where you've been. My workplaces have been the best when equally paid women were there to make their contribution. Men vary and so do women. There are men who don't want to exert themselves to stock shelves, and women who enjoy installing powerlines.

There were many times my wife worked while I was a househusband. She was a petroleum pipeline operator when we were young. In a work life of thirty or forty years I recommend people mix their experiences and get to know a variety of co-workers. We have, and it has made the greater part of our education.

A society with strict gender roles tends to also support ethnicity sorting and limit opportunity for the differently-abled or anyone seeming a little odd. Maybe your family life has been traditional and smooth, but if so, most people don't share your experiences.

You are a solid contributor to this blog, and frankly I'm somewhat shocked that you label all women who assert their real needs as extreme liberationists or obstacles in the job market. Do only roosters deserve the feed?

Conditions matter. You and I are victims of a structural problem. Age discrimination plays a part. Now that our bootstraps are pulled off we are beginning to know how the women and minorities of the past felt. We still have the ability to join together to demand fairness and security for ourselves and others from this callus corporate state we call the USA. The sooner the better.

Life is full of irony.
After World War II, women refused to give up their jobs to veterans coming home from war. Women stayed in the work force and undermined pay scales. A woman told me she would gladly work for half of the going pay rate to have a better job. With both parents working, children were left to fend for themselves. My mother worked and I had to raise my younger brother. Not only were both of my parents working, they were spending a lot of time at social events and church.
Prices went up to cancel out the advantage of my mothers wages and I had to get a paper route to provide additional income. I paid room and
board at ten years old.

There is no end to the women's lib advocates demands. The cost of affluence has taken its toll on the quality of everyone's life. We live in a rat race society loaded with sand traps and no mercy. Now women libbers insist that a woman be president. Next they will want God's job.
We have created a fool's paradise that is about to crumble. We need to get back to supporting the best solutions for our people. We need our home makers at home, our wages above the cost of living and the funds to support our social structure. Economics is a state of mind that creates the state of the union.

We really have to have a concerted effort to change what has and is happening in our country today. It is clear that more of the same, in terms of the war and the economic direction of this counrty, will do little to rescue the vast middle class drowning in debt, nor will it do much for us on a global economic scale, either. As in the past, if the uber rich continue to ignore the humanity and needs of the vast majority people they care so little about, then forced, often violent change will be the result. You would think that if we were truly a nation of educated, sincerely compassionate citizens, that the vast disparities that exist in and are lauded in our society surely would have been leveled by 2008? Alas, we continue to fight the same fights with the same results;

Excellent message. Keep it up!

Labor Day. With so much blame to throw around this Labor Day, how about throwing some our way--your way, my way--for a change?

We could hardly be more self-destructive. Americans need to realize how powerfully we ordinary citizens influence the economy, how loudly we speak, every time we go to the cash register and cast yet another vote against ourselves, against “Made in USA.”

How much sympathy are we supposed to have for the union autoworker who made a good living in Detroit, then spent his money on a Datsun?

America’s wealth came from productivity: manufacturing. Manufacturing ultimately pays the bills. By choosing not to support American manufacturers, we’re choosing not to support our own country, our own communities, our own children. The trade deficit with China alone last year was $256 billion, and nobody held a gun to our heads--not yet, anyway, though the prospect of borrowing money from China to Cold War with Russia is more than unsettling.

Nowhere have I seen or heard our subject addressed more effectively than in “Dollar to the Giant,” a video currently on YouTube:

So today, Labor Day, I resolve to wake up and be aware that all these China-manufactured “bargains” are really the most expensive consumer goods the world has ever seen.

It’s our choice. It’s been our choice all along. Please let's admit at least this much.

It was dismaying to hear one of the Blacks refer to "the Russian invasion of Georgia." This ignores the fact that GEORGIA made the first military move, against South Ossetia, a move that Russia could not or would not tolerate.
Our corporate media have chosen not to report that part of the story, playing into the hands of the warmongers. When Russia agreed to withdraw its troops, rather than a diplomatic "We're glad to hear that and look forward to the Russian withdrawal," both Bush and McCain chose bellicosity, to which the Russians, not surprisingly, responded with delay. The result was to exacerbate a touchy situation.

As Earl and Merle Black pointed out in their discussion with Bill Moyers this week, most people in most states feel it doesn't matter how they vote because their state is all but certain to go either red or blue. This includes the biggest states like California, Texas and New York, as well as 12 of the 13 smallest states.
The candidates ignore these states and concentrate their resources on a small number of battleground states.
That's unfair, and it's undemocratic.
The most practical way to ensure that all citizens have an equal say in electing the president is to enact the National Popular Vote bill.
It would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia.)
The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

It's too late to make this change this year, but it could happen by 2012 if enough states pass this legislation.

For more information, go to

Mr. Moyers,
Thank you for reminding labor that it was a Dem, Clinton, who started the ball rolling downhill with NAFTA. He accelerated it with giving China MFN status and acceptance into WTO.

A few weeks ago you did an interview with former Sen. "Fritz" Hollings, - - in which he talked about the legitimacy, and the need for, the "P" word, protectionism. I encourage everyone to watch/read that interview.

As long as organized labor plights its troth with "Free Trade" candidates, whether Dem, Rep, or any other party, they will continue to lose more and more of everything. Their promise to "revisit" these agreements or to "enforce" their provisions is laughable when they are the ones who drew up the provisions in the first place - designed to be either unenforceable or worthless even if enforced. They were drawn up for the benefit of the multinat'ls whose purpose has been to break the back of organized labor for decades. This free trade agenda has been their most successful gambit to date - you cannot bargain for better wages/benefits/conditons when your employer doesn't need you anymore to make his product. In splitting producer from consumer, you can produce for slave wages elsewhere and export your product without restriction to richer countries who, at least for awhile, till their credit runs out, can actually buy your product. American workers were conned into trading their jobs and all that goes with them for cheap goods at Wal-Mart. Those flags they'll be flying on Labor Day will probably be Made in China.

There seems to be an enormous reluctance on the part of progressives to look at protectionism as a solution and I am not sure why. All I can think of is that the neo-liberal economic philosophy has so thoroughly infiltrated and permeated the "left" with its twinning of protectionism with isolationism, that progressives, once again, run away "for fear of..."

This is especially ironic when you consider that the very "little people" in "3rd world" countries that progressives claim to be sensitive to and in solidarity with, have pressured their own gov.ts to scotch further lowering of trade barrfiers in their own countries (WTO/Doha). They understand the importance of protectionism for their own survival. We are working at cross purposes, not only with our own workers but with theirs as well. We can't simply replace "free trade" with this somewhat nebulous concept of "fair trade" and expect everything will be just fine. It won't, unless we openly acknowledge that "fair trade" often involves protection.

And equally ironic, many of those "new economy" "hi-tech" jobs those laid off workers, such as the fellow who spoke at the convention, are supposed to be retrained for are themselves easily outsourced over the internet. In fact, the only jobs we COULD get back are manufacturing jobs because they involve tangible products whose entry could be controlled, as it was for much of our history.

This talk of "green" jobs as the new replacement makes me laugh. They, too, will be low paid service jobs installing all the wonderful new green products, that are made - in China.

Make no mistake, as manufacturing goes, so goes the country. That's why it amazes me that, after marching in Seattle in '99, labor still supported free trader Gore, and again in '04, free trader Kerry. The Dems are in lock step with the Reps on this. The only candidate labor should support is one that sounds like Hollings. If they support either major party candidate in this election they will continue to be their own worst enemies. I do not understand why they cannot see this.

Many thanks for your memorable reminiscences of LBJ's concerns about the south, and for recognizing the importance of unions and the labor movement in this country.

Heartfelt, and special, thanks for the Kennedy footage. Oh, how we need someone like Jack Kennedy now to remind us of how important the working man and woman of this country is, and to remark that we need those in office who acknowledge, as JFK does, that "Labor Day isn't something we celebrate once a year."

Those of us in our early teens who remember the smiling, charming, witty, and quicksilver president are hugely grateful to be reminded that, first and foremost, Jack Kennedy was a fighter, a man who did more than speak of hope and dreams, but who envisoned them, and was willing to put everything on the line, including his life, to make America a better place. If even one-tenth of Kennedy's spirit lives on in Barack Obama, this country and this world will be a far better place.

Corrections: I meant to say public tranportation would never be "crowded". Also"Most would "see" the health benefits of moving about on greenway trails. And, I meant to wish you a Happy labor day after the army stuff, but this laptop cursor is tricky.
Addendum: Also, I would not be working a job I hate because I owe a giant medical bill. Good Night, Gotta get some "sleep,"

What if instead of drinking beer, overeating, giving our kids tranquilizers and trying to seduce other's spouses we hatched a conspiracy on Labor Day. The next morning we'd wake up to a world where waged labor is taxed at a much lower rate than usury (interest income) and gambling (capital gains). Those taxes could be designated by you the taxpayer as to how they were used. (Congress would retain discretion over business and corporate taxes, fee and fine income.) There would be a Labor party without the elite connections of the now withering Democrats and Republicans, and our candidates would come from and return to a proud working class lifestyle. Government owned public transportation would not be because people would live near work and not be deluded by the fetish of professional sports spectacles. They would attend a great variety of events including political discussions. Most would se the health benefit of moving about on greenway trails that connect every necessity and every community across the continent. Volunteering to repair or improve these trails would be considered a great patriotic honor, because they represent our sacred freedom of movement. The only activity more revered would be the cooperative production of organic food in community gardens. Everyone would own a stake in the enterprise where they were employed.

Television would be available on a limited schedule allowing for the normal in-person interaction human beings require. Personal electronic devices would be a negative status symbol and be viewed as encumbrances to personal freedom and a quiet mind.

Everyone would share ownership in a sustainable, low emmission and nuclear free power network. Cattail farms would clean our water so well no one would think anymore about filters or petrleum based plastic bottles.

No one would be rich or poor enough to distort justice or a predictable economy because there would be a cap on wealth and income. No more lotteries and other high crimes.
Education would be both free and optional, mostly happening in the course of normal daily events. A clean and honest Internet would insure it. Corporate charters have been abolished and owners are liable for company misdeeds.

Happy Labor Day from a fellow wage slave.

For the peculiar personality that craves the challenge of combat there would be peacekeeping service with the UN. But be gentlemen and ladies out there, because the World Court prosecutes without US interference. The main complaint about the US is that it remains the most isolationist and protectionist principalities on Earth, and that the people there are as happy and carefree as Hell.

Very good point on the CEO's. Right now business reminds me of the Robber Barons of the past.

Right on!

Think how sad that the convention did not--could not--celebrate Lyndon Johnson during the week of his hundredth birthday. You know, that man was a great man, flawed as he was lime most of us. I loved and hated him in the same moment. He was like me a Southerner and he wanted so much to change his world as I wanted and want to change mine.

We could not celebrate him and recall the 1965 voting rights act even as we enjoyed the fruit of President Johnson's work.

Just imagine what our world would be like if The American Public were Well informed about what was going on in this country... Just imagine the kind of uproar we would see if the mainstream (collusive) media did not suppress our outrage.. I couldn't believe the ridiculous effort I saw by the cable news pundits to try and 'explain' what Obama's speech was all about.. Bill, you rock! Thanks for all that you do for us.

I'll take a Tim Collins straight up.

Since unions provide the election workers for the Democratic Party, the Party elites are fools not to empower unions when Democratics are in control. I expect them to continue to be fools, because Corporate America is their real master.

Exactly, well said.

How is that no one ever seems to be able to do the simple math? Suppose a company CEO takes home $40 million a year. Cut that by 50% and re-distribute it to the company workers. That means 20,000 each get a $1000 raise. And the net cost increase to the company? Not one red cent. Oh, and the increase in employee goodwill and good media advertising coverage? Well, that's a free bonus. So why wouldn't company shareholders buy into that?

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