Friday, July 28, 2017

A second opinion on the opinion page

Sarah Kendzior gets the top slot on the Globe and Mail's opinion page today, with a timely rant about Trump throwing transgender folks under the bus if they happened to be planning a career in the US military.

Kendzior first appeared on my radar back in her Al Jazeera days. She was a freshly minted Doctor Phil whose favorite topic was the lack of tenure-track opportunities for aspiring academics. You got the sense she had a personal passion for the issue, which gave her writing an aura of authenticity.

To her credit, she didn't just sit around wallowing in self-pity. No, life may have gifted her a lemon, but she has turned that lemon into one impressive lemonade stand! That's the American can-do spirit, Sarah!

Alas, the writing seems a little contrived now. She's writing what Opinion Page editors in mainstream media want to read, and for now they seem to have an insatiable appetite for Trump bashing. Accordingly, she's become a DNC certified expert on all things Trump.

The Tweeter-in-Chief woke up the other morning and, apparently on a whim, decided that transgender candidates for the armed services would not be welcome after all. This came as news to the entire Pentagon hierarchy and created yet another unnecessary PR nightmare for the president, but I think it's a little early to invoke Martin Niemoeller.

As an aside, there's a story in the business section today about the NYT's digital subscriptions going up 63% over the past year. They call it the "Trump bump." The man is single-handedly saving mainstream media! That's why editors want more Trump stories!

Second up on the Op-ed page is Bjorn Lomborg, a think-tank entrepreneur who, like Kendzior, also knows which side his bread is buttered on. Lomborg specializes in finding capitalism-friendly solutions to problems created by capitalism. It's telling that he refers to the Copenhagen Consensus Center as "my think tank," and that's essentially what it is, a one man show.

This year the focus is on how rich white people from the global north might be able to help those poor dark people in Haiti. Lomborg never tires of telling you on his web-site how many Nobel Laureates he has lured to his various conferences, and sure enough, there was one in evidence at the Haiti conference, along with a throng of economists from Haiti and around the world.

The best idea they could come up with to improve the quality of life for the people of Haiti was to privatize the national power grid. The "experts" behind this proposal, a couple of keeners from Queen's who are struggling to figure out what to do with their economics Ph Ds, suggest "changing the institutional and regulatory framework, corporatizing and reforming the provider, and establishing cost-reflective tariffs."

Translation - let's privatize the publicly owned electricity provider and force the poorest people in the Western hemisphere to pay more for electricity!

Here's my countervailing opinion on how "we" can help Haiti:

1) Stop the interference in Haiti's political process by other states, including Canada.

2) Kick out the tens of thousands of NGOs who see Haiti primarily as a fund-raising tool.

3) Close the airports to prevent the return of the Haitian elites who live in Miami and Montreal and Switzerland.

4) Let the Haitians who actually live in Haiti decide the future of their country. Let them decide what outside help they want and what outside nations they want to align with.

Things would no doubt be nasty for a few months, but I have every confidence that the Haitian people are fully capable of running their own affairs.

Finally, a couple of academics at SFU pose the rhetorical question, "four years later, are Bangladeshi workers any safer?"

They're talking about the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, and anybody who gives a moment's thought to that rhetorical question already knows the answer; of course not! The entire rationale for the Bangledeshi garment export industry in the first place is to hide the exploitative nature of global supply chains who are there for one reason and one reason only; Bangladesh is offering its labour to that global supply chain at a rate that undercuts every other country in the world! If they didn't, that supply chain would move on to someplace cheaper. Haiti maybe?

The problem isn't lax labour laws in Bangladesh. The problem is the global supply chain. We had a viable garment industry in North America right up until the dying decades of the 20th century. We have no reason to buy anything whatsoever from Bangladesh and the only reason we do is because we've been brainwashed to believe that this toxic network of global supply chains is the only way the global economy can be organized.

What's the common theme in these three opinion pieces? The immiseration of the people of Haiti, Bangladesh, and America's working class has a common cause; the triumph of rapacious winner-take-all capitalism that is held in place by America's hegemony over the global economy.

That would not have changed one iota had the other candidate won the election last December.

Sorry, Sarah.

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