Category Archives: Vietnam Trade
Rarely a column (especially one in an establishment shitrag like the Washington Post) is able to completely sum up a decades running American tragedy that has led to 2008’s march of the lemmings into the abyss like Harold Meyerson’s Why Were We In Vietnam? This piece in and of itself should be an essential part of the arsenal when it comes to the inevitable re-fighting of the Vietnam war that is going to go live soon as a key part of the upcoming presidential campaign. The Vietnam war, always just below the surface of the American subconscious (although a good amount of the population hadn’t even been fucking born when the choppers lifted of that embassy roof for the last time) like a trailside booby trap just waiting to be tripped anew by a ruthless post-Nixon political party of perverts, jackals, thieves, looters and thugs and their billion dollar propaganda machine. This piece is stunning in pointing out that ugly elephant in the middle of the room that is the pursuit of Vietnam as the latest destination in the off-shoring exodus, it seems like the availability of ever cheaper labor, the crack cocaine to Wall Street parasites and traitors is very alluring in the former Indochina.
From Meyerson and at length because I can’t do it justice otherwise:
Why Were We In Vietnam?
Doing business in China is beginning to cost real money. Not that Chinese workers are buying second homes or anything like that: Their average wage is still a little short of a dollar an hour. But so many Chinese have now left their villages for the factories that the once bottomless pool of new young workers is beginning to run dry, and the wages of assembly-line employees are rising 10 percent a year.
Worse yet, new labor laws are making it harder for employers to cheat their workers out of their wages and benefits. Many American businesses that do their manufacturing in China had warned against those laws; the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai had flatly opposed them. But the good old days of Maoist labor discipline, when the government could send tens of millions of skilled workers down to the farms to be toughened up and periodically tortured, are gone. Mao’s heirs, though not above a touch of torture here and there just to keep the system humming along, are concerned, as he was not, with achieving social harmony, even if that means compelling employers to sign, and honor, contracts with their employees.
Confronted with such appalling squishiness, what’s a good, cost-cutting American business to do? Many are fleeing south of the border — not our border (Mexico costs way too much) but China’s.
They’re bound for Vietnam.
According to a report by Keith Bradsher in the New York Times last month, such multinational companies as Canon (the printer and copier maker) and Hanesbrands (the North Carolina-based underwear empire) are expanding or building factories in Hanoi, where they churn out products for Wal-Mart and other American retailers. Foreign direct investment in Vietnam increased 136 percent between 2006 and 2007, while it increased just 14 percent in China.
The reason for the move south is straightforward: Vietnamese factory workers make about a quarter of what their Chinese counterparts earn.
But why Vietnam and not, say, Thailand, where labor is similarly cheap?
Vietnam’s edge, it seems, is political. “Communism means more stability,” Laurence Shu, the chief financial officer of Shanghai-based Texhong, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cotton fabrics, told Bradsher. This view, Bradsher reports, is common among Asian executives and some American executives, too, though they have the presence of mind never to say so on the record. After all, Vietnam, like China, outlaws independent unions. Absent free speech and free elections, no radical shifts in the government’s economic policies are likely to be sprung upon unsuspecting American businesses.
Now, far be it from me to begrudge the Vietnamese their moment in the sun before global capital finds them too costly and moves on to Bangladesh and Somalia. But didn’t we fight a war to keep Vietnam from going communist? Something like 58,000 American deaths, right? And now American business actually prefers investing in communist Vietnam over, say, the more or less democratic Philippines? In all likelihood, it would prefer investing in communist Vietnam to investing in a more chaotic, less disciplined democratic Vietnam, if such existed.
Let’s imagine, just as an exercise, that we’re trying to explain this to those 58,000 Americans and their loved ones. We could argue that by investing in communist countries, we’re pushing them toward democracy. But everything we know about China suggests that, in reality, such investments merely make authoritarian regimes stronger. We could argue that what we’re really doing is bringing communist nations into the world capitalist system. Then again, the effect of bringing into the global labor pool hundreds of millions of low-wage workers — people whose wages are held in check by both capital mobility and communist repression — is to hold down wages in democratic nations with advanced economies and with no national strategy to preserve and expand good jobs at home (i.e., in the United States).
Or we could argue that our onetime opposition to communism was noble and all that but that, unburdened by the illusions of the past, American business, backed by the American government, has realized that the problem with communism wasn’t that it was undemocratic but that it was anti-capitalist. And that once communism was integrated into a world capitalist system, its antipathy toward democracy not only wouldn’t be a bad thing but would actually be good. That is clearly the political logic that underpins our involvement with China. It’s a little dicier to say this about our growing involvement with Vietnam, since all those Americans whose names are on that wall on the Mall probably didn’t realize how compatible with global American enterprise Vietnamese communism would turn out to be or how the cause of democracy would turn out to have been of no real importance at all.
I guess a note from the American establishment to those men and women with their names on the Wall would be in order. Something like: Say, guys — sorry ’bout that!
Maybe the Vietnamese can now start manufacturing those crappy little flag pins that have so cheapened the concept of patriotism, they are nothing but merkins (a pubic wig, originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia to eliminate lice or disguise the marks of syphilis) anyway, displayed upon increasingly empty vessels who shamble about in a fog of fear and jingoism even as they are herded towards the network of fences that end at the shoot where the pneumatic air hammer stuns them in preparation of the slaughter. The ‘gooks’ can even take away the American flag business from China now that it is no longer a cost effective destination for labor arbitrage.
With ‘free trade’ that the flip-flopping charlatan John Sidney McCain III has just spent the better part of a week sliming his way through Latin America promoting as a shill for the rapacious, anti-American strain of virulent looter capitalism (how could you ever expect anything less from an elitist who owns EIGHT houses) that has cut a swath of economic destruction through Der Homeland it would seem that the issue of using Vietnam as the latest destination for exported American jobs while cloaking himself in the immunity of some sort of phony war hero is more than a tad hypocritical.
When and if those ludicrous public relations gimmicks used by McCain actually allow anyone other than another adoring sycophantic war freak to ask questions the ‘maverick’ should be called out on this but it of course he won’t be, it is just too dangerous to the entire bogus Vietnam storyline that has been constructed around the self-admitted war criminal. For all of his paeans to the moneychangers to even acknowledge that America has now sought out Nam as the latest and greatest Mecca for labor arbitrage would be as if he himself were to walk up to that black granite wall, whip out his dick and piss all over those names that are carved into it.
Not only are we prepared to export jobs en-masse to Vietnam but the ongoing cynical invocation of that goddamned fucking war has been used as a cudgel to brutally beat into submission those who were suckered into accepting all of that hogwash about the American Dream at face value only to see their pockets picked and their bank accounts sucked dry by those who cashed in on the four decade tragedy of fighting and re-fighting it, like some acid and viscera drenched version of the movie Groundhog Day. Manchurian McCain and the fascist Republican party will escalate the fighting in Vietnam in the next few months, count on it! The carpet bombing runs are already being planned, the napalm pods polished with loving care, the effigies of Hanoi Jane to be burned slowly stitched together.
The Republican Tet Offensive is coming and coming soon and their pimping of the ongoing revisionist history of the war that the hippies and liberals didn’t let us win, the horseshit of spitting on the troops and the media blame game are all going to spring this bouncing betty one more time for their war criminal candidate and free trader McCain, a man whose only ‘qualification’ for the job is his phony Vietnam narrative.
And once again the Democrats will be true to form, they will capitulate, dissemble, plant big wet, sloppy kisses on McCain’s mangy ass, triangulate, cower and likely even in some cases even contemplate fleeing to Canada to avoid the war rather than fight in what to them has been a lost cause ever since they allowed themselves to be labeled as the party of “acid, amnesty and abortion” and allowed George McGovern to be defined as some sort of anti-American pinko even though history has proven that he was right..
As no less an authority on Nam than Captain Willard once: “Saigon…shit, I’m still only in Saigon”