Bill Moyer’s interview with Chris Hedges

Bill Moyers, one of the best newsmen today, has a very deep and provocative interview (link here) with former NY Times reporter, Chris Hedges on the very dark and impending dangers of the “Inverted Totalitarianism” that is currently America and how this can impact our future and that of the world.

This is one of the finest interviews I’ve ever listened to, thus I encourage everyone to take the time and listen.  Here is one excerpt from the interview:

. . . Long-term unemployment or underemployment (USA) — you know, probably being 17 to 20 percent. This is an estimate by “The L.A. Times” rather than the official nine percent. I mean, the average worker at Wal-Mart works 28 hours a week, but their wages put them below the poverty line. Which is why when you work at Wal-Mart, they’ll give you applications for food stamps, so we can help as a government subsidize the family fortune of the Walton family.
It’s, you know these corporations know only one word, and that’s more, and because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.
BILL MOYERS . . . and you say, though, we are accomplices in our own demise. Explain that paradox; that corporations are causing this, but we are cooperating with them.
CHRIS HEDGES This sort of notion that the corporate value of greed is good. I mean, these deformed values have sort of seeped down within the society at large and they’re corporate values, they’re not American values.
I mean, American values were effectively destroyed by Madison Avenue when, after world war one, it began to instill consumption as a kind of inner compulsion, but old values of thrift, of self-effacement, or hard work were replaced with this cult of the “self”, this hedonism, and in that sense, you know, we have become complicit, because we’ve accepted this as a kind of natural law and the acceptance of this kind of behavior, and even the celebration of it. is going to ultimately trigger our demise. Not only as a culture, not only as a country, but finally as a species that exists, you know, on planet Earth.

and this quote:

BILL MOYERS: As we came here, I pulled an article published in “Nature” magazine by a group of rather accomplished and credible scientists who have done all the technical studies they need to do, who come to the conclusion that our planet’s ecosystems are careening towards an imminent, irreversible collapse. Once these things happen, planet’s ecosystems as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye. Connect that to what you’ve been reporting.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, because the exploitation of human beings is always accompanied by the exploitation of natural resources, without any thought given to sustainability. I mean, the amount of chemicals and pesticides that are used on the produce in Florida is just terrifying.
And that, you know, migrates from those fields directly to the shelves of our supermarkets and we’re consuming it. And corporations have the kind of political clout that they can prevent any kind of investigation or control or regulation of this. And it’s, again, it’s all for short-term profit at long-term expense.
So the, you know, the very forces that we document in this book are the same forces that are responsible for destroying the ecosystem itself. We are watching these corporate forces, which are supranational. They have no loyalty to the nation state at all, reconfigure the global economy into a form of neo-feudalism. We are rapidly becoming an oligarchic state with an incredibly wealthy class of overlords.
Sheldon Wolin writes about this in “Democracy Incorporated” into what I would call, what he calls inverted totalitarianism, whereby it’s not classical totalitarianism, it doesn’t find its expression through a demagogue or a charismatic leader, but through the anonymity of the corporate state that purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the iconography and language of American patriotism, and yet internally have seized all of the levers of power. This is what it means when lobbyists write all of our legislation, or when they stack the Supreme Court with people who serve the interests of corporations -and it’s to render the citizen impotent.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Since when did what are essentially part time jobs that high school or college students used to take, jobs like working at a 7/11 or Walmart, become jobs that people expect to raise families on? I still have a very difficult time accepting this notion that one is underpaid for work at Walmart because it doesn’t allow one to raise a family and buy a house. I would argue that one is fairly compensated and that if one wished to earn more, perhaps a different sort of employment would make sense. I see no reason why the Waltons should be paying more. Why should they? Would you expect Walmart to intentionally OVER pay out of some misguided sense of civic duty? Besides, does the government have to subsidize these families? Is that essential? Is that one of the functions of government? I have no idea what Walmart pays in taxes (out of which the government runs social welfare programs like food stamps) but I would expect it to be substantial, and yet here they seem to be expected to willingly fork over even more. Why should they? If any American values were destroyed, don’t look to Madison Ave., one should look to Roosevelt, his New Deal and the subsequent erosion of the work ethic America was once famous for as millions were essentially hooked and infantilized on government hand outs as welfarism ballooned. There is now quite literally an army of bureaucrats with a budget bigger than the GDP of entire nations whose job it is to erode any sense of personal initiative as they PUSH, and I mean aggressively push, people to get onto these programs: It used to be that there was actual shame in being on government welfare, now it is seen as nothing problematic.

  • Wedge

    How are corporations paying people at a wage properly priced by the market doing the wrong thing?

    Since I really, really don’t want to wade into this, can you tell us what their solution is, Mr. Elgin? How do we reach utopia?

  • R. Elgin

    I agree with you “salarymaninseoul”. South Korea has also suffered due to exposure to American-style consumerism so that, instead of the spendthrift habits of the past, Koreans are hooked on credit to the point where household debt is threatening to bury the whole system – in spite of the supposed wisdom of those that claim this debt can be manipulated, much like the reality and false sense of security that has been around for so long.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Utopia would, apparently, be reached when we had a strict equality of wages so that people doing part time work that requires no qualifications would be making the same as surgeons and CEOs. Or, alternatively, a strictly enforced minimum wage of 20 dollars per hour, with the resulting massive unemployment requiring billions in additional tax revenue for the food stamps and government dole, funded, of course, by the corporations, because as we all now know, we must all “pay our fair share.”

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Korea is in big trouble, and if it isn’t the household debt it will be the housing bubble that gets it.

  • R. Elgin

    Listen to the interview “Wedge” and draw your own conclusions. If you listened to it, you would find an answer therein.

    “SalarymaninSeoul” both the household debt and “housing bubble” as you put it are closely related. Read the links in #3 for some summary and talk to anyone trying to sell their property right now so as to pay off their debt.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    there are lots of possible solutions to this. one is to kick some of these corporations out of the US.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Sure they are related, its sort of a chicken or egg thing, a toxic one at that. As far as #7 goes, for what would you be kicking these corporations out of the US for? Are they breaking laws? Don’t worry though, adjust the laws and you may see many of these corporations leave on their own. Good luck with that genius idea.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    instead of the minimum wage, it’d be better to install a guaranteed minimum income. nixon (our last good president) pushed for a guaranteed minimum income and almost successfully passed it. that’s one of the real reasons he was pushed out of office.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    How exactly would you install that? Who would fund it? Would you get Bernanke to magically create trillions of dollars or would you force the corporations to foot the bill, along with a ban on firing people, as the inevitable effect of forcing them to pay higher wages would be for them to lay off more workers.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    there are various ways to do it bro. one recent proposal that isn’t the best but is similar is to replace all transfer programs with annual cash grants to all citizens 21 and older for life

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Ok, thats at least a large improvement on the status quo, and I could go along with it, though I am skeptical about whether the vested interests, namely the government itself and its bureaucracy, would allow it. Such massive cuts to the bureaucracy would not go down easily in Washington. What do you do with the other points in the Nixon plan, such as the minimum wage?

  • Wedge

    #6: Not going to happen: I can’t handle more than 30 seconds of Bill Moyers.

  • paulhewson

    Wow. Thank you, Mr. Elgin. I watched the entire interview. I have been a long time Bill Moyers fan ever since my dad made me watch an interview so many years ago on PBS that he did with Joseph Campbell at, I think, George Lucas’ ranch out there in California.

    In fact, today the ghost of my father, who passed away a little more than a year ago, is very much with me. My mother finally got around to shipping me my portion of his ashes. They now sit in a small, lidded vase in front of his favorite buddha on top of my antique, traditional Chinese medicine apothecary.

    On the bookshelf above are some of his favorite books such as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero of a Thousand Faces, Bill Moyer’s The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell as well as Bill Moyer’s A World of Ideas.

    Thanks again for the link.

  • Jashin Densetsu


    you don’t need a minimum wage once you have something like that plan in place bro. i agree about the vested interests, but at this point that’s the case with any reform. the republicans could split and destroy the democratic party once and for all if they pushed something like the plan I linked to but they’re too stupid and corrupt to do so. so it looks like we’ll see something like the french revolution or a dystopic police state in the future.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Well, the police state is already on hand. I just read a great article on the militirization of American police departments (employing not just military weaponry but also military TACTICS against civillians), you have on top of that legislation that grants the State enormous powers, and you have a scared populace ready to go along with more and more abuse and humiliation at the hands of the agents of the state all for some “security,” as the country spends trillions of dollars on wars against a concept – terrorism – that is destined to be perpetual. The plan you linked is fine by me, my intial impression of it was that you were proposing superimposing this on top of the bureaucratic machinery already in place. Anything that cuts the size and reach of government is a good step in the right direction, as far as I am concerned.

  • Creo69

    Americans have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility for the current situation…corporations are greedy…but if you as an individual spend, spend, spend while saving nothing you are digging your own grave. And, most folks are spending more than they make by using credit.

  • silver surfer

    In a democracy, it is supposed to be one of the primary functions of government to serve the public interest. Thus if a corporation (or any other entity) is having a destructive effect on the nation at large, then its activities must be curtailed regardless of how profitable they may be to the corporation itself. Unfortunately, we have an ideology that states that government is not competent to judge the public interest and that such matters are best left to the invisible hand of the free market. There are no signs, however, that the destructive effects described by Bill Moyers are going to be mitigated by private action; and, as long as the owners of the country are allowed to ensure special treatment for the corporations they control in the form of legal privileges and bailouts, we don’t have a free market in any case. The public must bring pressure to bear on the government to look after the public interest or things will get worse. Action at the level of individual spending choices isn’t enough.

  • pineforest


    I take issue with your criticism of the New Deal. My Grandpa worked on a new deal project when they lost the farm in the 30s, and it helped keep our family’s body and soul together for about 3 years. They worked very, very hard and lived a life of privation during those years, surviving on the bare minimum. The whole family was forced to move from their tiny farm house to a canvas tent near the dam they worked on. My Dad was BORN in that tent. The work camp/ town he was born in is now under water. I have heard the stories of the other who worked on this dam, and they all have the same thing to say: hard work, minimal housing and food, and it gave them enough to survive during the worst years of the depression. To state that this project and others like it somehow engendered laziness is just ignorant.

    The difference between then and now is that with the 2008 crash, is exemplified by a story I heard in the news about March 2009. A single mother of 3 with a min wage job is told she can afford a 300K house in Cally; she is stupid enough or greedy enough or both to believe it; later we are told that she was not responsible for her choice to sign the mortgage papers, and it is the U.S. taxpayers’ SOLEMN DUTY to make sure she STAYS in that house under any circumstances. You can complain about this bullshit all you like, and I’m on your side. But this is NOTHING like the New Deal was.

  • pawikirogii

    although I live on American welfare – isn’t this site supposed to be about Korea??

    why are you posting articles about my beloved country – the USA?

  • John from Daejeon
  • Moosh

    “Nixon (our last good president)”

    Now THAT’S funny!

  • DLBarch

    R. Elgin,

    Great link, and thanks for posting it here. I just spent the last hour watching it and will now have to stay late at work this evening to make up the lost time, but it was worth every minute.

    I would never have thought anyone here at the libertarian-dominant MH would have had the cajones to post an interview like this, but am pleased to be proven wrong.

    Chris Hedges’s politics are not my politics, but he is a humanist in the best American tradition, and a genuine patriot.

    Thanks again for that link. Now, back to work!


  • Setnaffa

    Elgin, are you for or against communism?

  • The Sanity Inspector

    “Company towns”, while certainly detrimental to the economic health of an area, are hardly new. And Hedges dates his idea of America’s ruin from just after World War One. Excuse me? It was from those years that the foundation was laid for the expansion and entrenchment of the prosperous middle class, which would include most of us. Transport me back to 1912, and I’d be picking tobacco with an eighth grade education, not some brownstone bourgeois.

  • Creo69

    ” Elgin, are you for or against communism?”

    There ain’t nothing communist about “helpin a brutha out” when he is down, it is the human thing to do.

  • Wedge

    Around 1912 is when government started to expand into a host of areas it had no business being in. If the solution to this isn’t less government, and therefore less cronysim and corporatism (i.e. businesses using anti-trust laws, dumping laws, product safety laws, pollution laws and other legislation as barriers to entry), then these guys are way off base. If the answer is less government, and therefore less opportunity for big business to receive government favors, then I’ll watch it. Otherwise they are just contributors to the problem.

  • Richard Hankin

    Fascists believe that the “state” owns everything.
    Commies believe that the “state” controls everything.
    BOTH believe that THEY know whats best for the rest of us.
    Chris Hedges, by the way, believes the Tea Party are Fascists.
    The 1920’s was a fascinating time, from China to Spain, socialism, radicalism, anarchists, fascists etc were, seemingly everywhere.
    Labor unionists were gunned down in the streets of Detroit, drought(like now) affected millions, teachers went unpaid, poverty among children was rampant, again much like today.
    William Manchester’s “The Glory and the Dream” America 1932-1972 is a chilling reminder had close we can come to a complete breakdown of civil society.

  • eslwriter

    I understand why people don’t like Moyers.

    He speaks in sentences. He can links concepts. He uses big words.
    He doesn’t shout and actually gives his guests time to

    Thanks for the video link.

  • jkitchstk

    “South Korea has also suffered due to exposure to American-style…”
    At least there was never any Korean exposure to investigate reporting which Hedges says is on the decline in the U.S. No gain, no loss, lucky Korea.

    “I can’t handle more than 30 seconds of Bill Moyers.”
    To feel that way you must’ve listened to him a lot in the past or you’re against giving a voice to investigative reporters.

  • R. Elgin

    IMHO, the American system of government has been subverted and is becoming more and more something like the “Inverted Totalitarianism” described in Wolin’s book. As such, it will be up to average people to correct this by any means possible since I am not convinced that the judiciary would be capable of doing this from within our system though many may try. Also, the majority of Americans do not seem to have a taste for bitter truth especially if it clashes with their fervently superstitious love of American iconography. They tend to reject such as being “un-American” and are about as thoughtful as Chinese internet trolls!

    I could not begin to formulate a solution but if a complete global financial collapse were to occur, that might be the only solution given that the financial/corporate “oligarchy” is international in nature.

  • Richard Hankin

    Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.
    Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual

  • Richard Hankin

    Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
    Law and Governance The Spacing Guild Manual

  • Justin Ferrell

    I’d just like to say [poorly considered, inflammatory opinion] because it is obvious that [reasoning based on desire to gain a sense of authority]. Moreover [truth and accuracy besides the point] and therefore [confirmation bias]. I’m sure you will agree that [fundamental attribution error].

  • pineforest


    You’re right, but I thought of it first. Quit plagiarizing me, man.

  • outofspace

    Do you have a link to that article on police use of military tactics?

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    #36, I couldnt find the article but here is something just as good, a video that outlines many of the same points.

    My view on government is that while there is a legitimate role for it to perform, it quickly takes over roles that it should not be performing. I can really see an argument for some kind of government to be a legitimate provider of defense, both from foreign and domestic threats against the security of the citizenry, as well as the provider of courts of law that would mitigate conflict between citizens. And were it at all possible to keep government confined within these limits, I would support that. But such a point has long ago been passed despite the US having had it pretty well spelled out as to what a government can and cannot do. But to say that today the Constitution is in any way an authority is really to be absurd. Empty words are spoken about the Constitution, mere lip service is paid to it, while across the board it is ignored and trampled. It simply is not possible to keep government in check, its growth is inevitable and it always ends up behaving fascistically. The police, originally meant to provide security for the citizenry, ends up being a tool of government in enforcing its power. It, the government, needs to control us. It begins in the schools where it creates complient citizens filled to the brim with pro-state propaganda, while the ability to think creatively is destroyed, and the police take care of those who couldn’t be adjusted, as well as those who wake up one day and see what is happening and start to revolt. One of my favorite writers is Deepak Lal who describes the State, all states, as predatory. I don’t see any state in the world today where that would description not be the apt. Another one of my favorites is Bastiat who famously descibed the State in the following way: “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” But Im not sure how right Bastiat is here because not only is the State a means for living off others, the State is also an ends in itself for itself: men who desire power are drawn to the State, be that for ideological reasons of simply for material purposes or because they want to be able to bully others. For them the State’s machinery is the enabler in their quest for power. They become politicians, they become bureaucrats, they wear uniforms and carry guns and feel themselves to be above the law – they are the law’s enforcers – and they will make sure you know it. I would recommend Lysander Spooner’s great little booklet “No Treason: the Constitution of no Authority” for an eye opening look at why the State lacks any authority and why no authority can come to it from the democratic process. I am myself a great skeptic of democracy especially as it works today, complete with the marriage of corporations with government, the massive overreach of governmental powers, the state of the citizenry itself, the power of mass media to sell the people on a huge lie, etc.

  • jdog2050

    What’s sad about this is that there’s going to be a violent revolution in America, and soon, and the clamp down on Occupy Wall Street is going to be the cause of it.

    The semi-failure of occupy showed that if people even *vent* their frustrations, they’d be pepper-sprayed and hauled off without cause.

    Occupy was a good chance to start a dialogue about the direction of the country, and instead it was stomped down with an iron boot and laughed away by conservative pundits.

    We tried peace, didn’t work. Violence is next.

  • jdog2050


    I find it really interesting that you can say “[government] quickly takes over roles that it should not be performing”, and yet blithely ignore the fact that some of the most competitive economies right now are quite heavily socialist.

    Socialism, Capitalism, Anarcho-sindicalism…it doesn’t fucking matter which economic system you use–all of them actually have their advantages and disadvantages. The factor is, and will always be, corruption. Until we separate business from government, America is screwed, flat out. Stop rooting for a blind, amoral economic system as though your’e on a “team”.

  • slim
  • SalarymaninSeoul

    #39, What planet are you living on to make a statement like that? The US is up to its chin in debt and is rapidly becoming a fascist police state. Europe is on its last legs and a collapse seems quite likely . China, the “healthiest” of the bunch, is a paper tiger with massive social and ethnic problems, massive corruption and huge environmental degradation, not to mention the massive misallocation of capital that is inevitable with centrally planned economies (or even ones where government simply allocates a large amount of money). Just what part of the world is doing well, even among the economies that have a huge state component to them? Sweden? Its not exactly surprising that a country like Sweden is doing well, having less people than Seoul does not hurt, nor does having a very homogenous population with a strong Lutheran work ethic (Max Weber would approve, Im sure) but I would also point to the fact that Sweden, despite its large social sector, is not exactly a socialist state nor would I actually say that Sweden’s success is BECAUSE OF its system but rather DESPITE OF it. Here is an article on Sweden:
    I find it interesting to note that what was the fastest growing economy in the industrialized world dropped almost out of the top 20 after the Social Democratic Era began. Another very interesting point from the article is how much better, SIGNIFICANLY better, Swedes in the US do that Swedes in Sweden. One could even state with some confidence that the system they have adopted is HURTING them more than it is helping, but this is a case of the seen vs the unseen, as Bastiat would say.

    I do agree with your assessment of corporatism, it is a direct path to fascism, though I don’t know what system you think I am rooting for. As for “morality,” as Nietzsche said, there are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena, and your interpretation is simply a personal one, it might not be anything like mine, so I’d prefer to keep morality out of this, and stick to things that are observable and quantifiable: the world is quickly heading towards a state of increasingly tight government control of our lives, and any person looking at this from a strictly self-interested point of view should be scared for his or her safety, or simply protective of his or her pride (unless you enjoy the humiliation of having to live under the thumb of government agencies asserting themselves, often violently, as for example the TSA or the increasingly aggressive police forces). Not only that, in the end, this is not sustainable, and economic collapse is something even the short-sighted special-interests feeding off the system should be weary of: you can only suck on a host for so long till you’ve sucked it dry.

  • jdog2050


    And here goes the “living under the thumb of…” blah blah blah. America was at its most competitive after the implementation of social security, the new deal, extremely high taxes on the rich, the institution of the 8 hour work week, etc ,etc. All of which has been eroded and “broken on purpose”.

    I mean, you can go ahead and advocate stripping away “the state”, but what you’re really advocating is a return to the gilded age and predatory capitalism. This is my disagreement with libertarianism (if you’re not espousing libertarianism, I apologize)…it merely replaces “the state” with “capitalism”.

    If there is no state, what is there to stop companies from implementing 15 hour work days? Or child labor? Or forcing their employees to vote a certain way…? Oh, wait, people fought tooth and nail over that shit 100 years ago and the product of their struggle is you, on the Marmot’s Hole, whining about how unfair the “state” is. All the while, Nixon is laughing at you from his grave because the whole republican/neoconservative playbook since the 60’s has been to break the government on purpose and then place themselves there as the ones who can fix it.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I would LOVE to see the evidence to support that first claim about competitiveness. Im calling bullshit on it. And are you sure they have been eroded on purpose? Check out how much the US owes in unfunded liabilities alone, which are basically entitlement payments. The number dwarfs the 16 trillion in debt. These things have eroded on their own because they are unsustainable and run by government – the absolute gold medalist in incompetence.

    When I advocate stripping away the state I mean eliminating it entirely. As far as companies having too much power and forcing people into slavery, these are just scare stories on par with “But who will build the roads?!” They shouldnt even be taken seriously, but I will give you the short answer. Without guns it wouldn’t happen. Whatever the situation was then, it was a product of the times. a lot has changed since then, people no longer accept certain norms and you would find it extremely hard to set up a company which relied on 15 hour work days and child labor and to actually find workers. Unless you had a monopoly on the market where you were literally the only employer, it simply wouldn’t happen. and without government regulation creating massive barriers to entry and literally creating monopolies, there would always be companies that would come in and offer better conditions and steal away employees. Christ, man, Ford realized this very thing when without any government mandate he offered superior pay and conditions and was able to have workers line themselves for work.

    Here is some reading on your first claim, about when America was most prosperous:

    “Progressives from the left and right—Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and many others through the first half of the 20th century culminating in Franklin Delano Roosevelt—ushered in a more centralized government approach, always a little at a time. Their efforts gave us the income tax, the Federal Reserve and, as a result of their policies, the Great Depression and the New Deal. Notably, the most prosperous period of the first half of the 20th century was the 1920s, when President Calvin Coolidge adopted a hands-off approach to the economy.”

    Most prosperous of course until the crash and the Great Depression. The depression was already showing signs of a quick recovery when Roosevelt put in the New Deal which extended the length and deepened the severity of the Depression significantly.

  • jdog2050

    It’s almost time for me to leave work, so I’ll keep this short.

    On my claim about tax rates:
    “Contrary to what Republicans would have you believe, super-high tax rates on rich people do not appear to hurt the economy or make people lazy: During the 1950s and early 1960s, the top bracket income tax rate was over 90%–and the economy, middle-class, and stock market boomed.”

    On my claim about Conservatives purposely breaking government:
    First, read “Nixonland”. This is a pretty good overview of the Nixon administration and the beginning of the tactic of “claiming that government is broken, breaking it through policy, then when things go to shit, saying “See, government IS broken”. If you think I’m making this up, look at what’s been happening for the past 30 years. 2000-2010–lowering the tax rates then saying we don’t have enough money. 1990-2010, pushing to deregulate Wall Street (removing Glass-Steagall) and then, when the deregulation leads to the biggest collapse since the great depression, arguing that it needs to be deregulated even more. I could go on. I’ll leave you this to read:

    So, that’s my response to your 1st paragraph. Let’s move one to the 2nd.

    “these are just scare stories”

    Dude…so, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was a scare story? What about the worker’s riots that were happening all the way up into the 1910s to protest the fact that railroad workers were *expected* to lose limbs because the conditions were so unsafe? As far as setting up companies that use 15 hour days and child labor…well hell, why do it in America when you can do it in India, China, or where ever else multi-nationals have outsourced to? And don’t you think it’s not happening in America. Child labor? Not so much. But ridiculous hours and working conditions? Google Walmart.

    Alright, I have to take off. Will respond to your other claims later.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Why isnt there enough money? The answer is that while taxes were slashed, as they should have been, spending was not really touched. Each party has its holy cows that it lavishes money on, and then there are the untouchables for both parties – the entitlements. Real reform would start here: slash the entitlements, slash military spending, shore up the currency by taking the money monopoly away from the Fed, get government out of education, reduce regulations to allow for competition, stop inflating the dollar.

    Sinclair’s book was a fiction NOVEL not any sort of reportage.
    You better have something better to back yourself up with than a cheap propaganda booklet. As the link says, the Jungle has had a horrible impact on how people think: the idea that ONLY government regulations can improve conditions is bogus, but it is a direct result of this novel. And people like you, #41, buy into that idea.

    But as I said, conditions at any time are a symptom of the time. And the free market does a great job of regulating things even on the labor side. The scare story is saying that “well, it was like that 100 years ago (though if you are claiming conditions for a century ago based on The Jungle, then it WASN’T like that 100 years ago), so it would go back to being that now.” Its the same as “But who will build the roads?!” Which implies that only government can build roads and we would be road-less if the magial power of government to create these magical things we call roads, were to disappear. And one by one we have things that people like you claim can be done only by government. Its too ridiculous even to address these seriously.

    In the past 100 years management theory has changed, people’s mindsets have changed, and the change need not be attributed to government either, as you will probably claim. It is an emergent phenomenon of improving conditions. As improvements happen, people get used to certain minimums and norms, and these evolve as conditions keep improving. Its a sort of feedback loop, and it is most certainly not dependent on government. People 100 years ago rode in horse drawn carriages: would eliminating government force us back to horse a buggy? Or steamers?Of course thats a silly notion, but it is every bit as silly as what you are claiming.

    India, China, etc have vastly different cultures and vastly different levels of development, and so certain conditions can prevail there that simply couldn’t in the United States or in the West anymore because people still accept them. But as China gets richer, there will be improvement and changes in what people are ready to accept. Management will change, too, to reflect refinements in accepted practices and demands of workers. Management will realize that certain practices work and will adapt those pracices if they are forced to do so by competition from outside. None of this requires governments to set up labor regulations. Unless you give companies guns to force people into 15 hours of labor a day, these companies simply will not be able to find workers unless they match, more or less, what workers are ready to accept. henry Ford realized this way back when he started offering wages ABOVE what the market was offering and got better employees. And today companies regularly overpay skilled people so that they can have better employees. There is competition in the labor market as well, you know. Low barriers to entry, which means eliminating regulators whose primary raison d’etre is to protect the incumbents in any industry against new competition, would mitigate any threats of some companies monpolizing an industry and forcing workers into horrible conditions reminiscent of fiction novels and hollywood movies.

    It is not government’s role to improve conditions at work. Looking at the long history of government interference in the market one can see that for the most part it has been a great negative, especially when it comes to creating what are BY FAR the most outrageous cases of monopoly – the labor unions – and pretty much excusing them from the law by allowing them to turn to violence, making them immune from any sort of anti-trust regulations. Minimum wage is another example of a reglation that has had more negative effects than positive: if there is one factor most to blame for low employments among blacks and other visible minorities, it is the minimum wage.

    As far as Walmart, I again ask this question which I asked elsewhere: where does the expectation come from that what has always been part time work that requires no qualifications should offer the same conditions as skilled blue collar or white colllar labor? If Walmart employees have a problem with the work, then its up to them and management to change it, and not up to the government. Walmart is not to blame: it pays what the market demands. If it couldnt get the workerts at that rate, it would raise wages and benefits. Again, though, where is the expectation that unskilled, essentially part time work, should provide a family of 4 with a house and car?