Thursday, May 02, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #106 - Part 6

Outrage of the Week: Matt Yglesias and The Market (pbui)

If you want an example of why we need that re-think of the economy, here's one. It's the Outrage of the Week.

You heard, I'm sure, about the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh on April 24. The death toll has passed 400 with 149 people still missing and some 2,500 people injured.

The people inside were garment workers, paid a pittance and forced by the bosses to work in a factory with great big cracks in the walls and foundation that actually had been ordered closed by government inspectors the day before, all so that we can wear overpriced fashion jeans.

What you probably didn't hear unless you're attuned to the internet was that Matt "I'm not a progressive, I just play one online" Yglesias, a columnist for Slate, wasn't particularly troubled by that. He was more troubled by the suggestion that what is needed is some minimum international standards for factory safety. In a column titled, I'm serious, "Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's OK," he argued that "it's entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have lower workplace safety standards than the United States" because it's a poorer country and "in a free society it's good that different people are able to make different choices on the risk–reward spectrum." In other words, the people who worked in that factory willingly accepted the risk in order to get the pay and that was their "choice." His proud conclusion? "The current system of letting different countries have different rules is working fine."

Put bluntly, because Bangladesh is poor and the people are poor, it's entirely reasonable that they should have to risk having a building fall on them in order to not let their families starve.

Yglesias was roundly and justifiably denounced in various quarters, but the real point here is that he was not being immoral, he was being amoral. He wasn't being cruel about the deaths so much as he was being indifferent to them. He was trapped inside the logic of The Market (pbui) and its powerful grip did not allow him to see the actual human component of his own words, the actual human impact of their meaning.

As another writer put it,
[i]t is the unacknowledged, dehumanizing effect of long-term immersion in a business culture that treats every human interaction as an economic transaction first and foremost.
It is what The Market (pbui) does to your soul. It is why we need that re-think and it is an outrage.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');