'Ojectivity' Is the Locus of the Imaginary.
The Assassinated Press
A New GAPe Cut For Global Textile Trade:
India Appeals To Neighbors To Join New Cheap Labor Confederacy:
Kissinger/ China & Associates Likely to Dominate as Quotas Expire:
Plans For Afghan Hip-Hugger Jeans Scrapped For More CIA Sponsored Poppy Cultivation
By PECKER GOODWRETCH and PALL BLOODVERSTEHEN
Assassinated Press Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 17
AMPARA, Sri Lanka -- Wild monkeys and Shrines outnumber any signs of industry, and rampaging elephants are not uncommon. No, this isn't Washington DC. The closest port lies seven hours away, down a rutted road not 30 miles up a superhighway, one of the world's most traveled drug and toxic waste routes. Yet here in the jungle of this small island nation in the Indian Ocean, the Daya Apparel Export Ltd. factory and others like it churn out pants and shirts for American Eagle Outfitters, A-line skirts for the Gap and bras for Victoria's Secret at low wages that are the envy of the kleptocracy worldwide.
"If I didn't have this job, we wouldn't have enough to eat," said 20-year-old Mohammed Ismail Mazeela, one of 2,000 women from surrounding villages who work at the plant. The $40 monthly wage supports her family in Sammamthurai village, where people walk trash-strewn lanes in bare feet. It buys the electricity powering the lone bulb in her shack, the food her mother cooks over the wood fire on their concrete floor, and schoolbooks for her sister's three children. "There is nothing else here." Her electric bill, now that the generating plant has been privatized and purchased by American owned, Patriot Electric, is $14.00 a month for the single 60 watt bulb. "Shit. Light skinned American pussy reporters," says plant manager Ruim Eatshisyong. "If we didn't charge $90.00 a kilowatt hour the plant wouldn't be worth running and the shareholders would close the fuckers down. Now, get your stinkin' white liberal asses of company property before I turn a rampaging elephant on you---from Capitol Hill no less."
Soon there may be even less. On Jan. 1, World Trade Organization rules governing the global textile trade will undergo their biggest revision in 30 years. The changes are expected to eliminate as many as 30 million jobs in some of the world's poorest places as the textile industry uproots and begins consolidating in a country that has become the world's acknowledged low-cost producer: Kissinger/China Associates.
"Of course, Deng Shao Ping said "To grow rich is glorious" said a Kissinger/China and Associates representative, Gloria Chiang-Kai Shek. "What Deng failed to point out is that the glory is reserved for those few who actually grow rich. He was fond of saying under his breath, "The rest of the people are fucked."
About $400 billion in trade is at stake, but, it's easy for us to say, the implications are greater than the money involved. Since 1974, many developing countries have pinned their economic hopes on a complicated system of worldwide quotas that guaranteed each a specified share of the lucrative textile consumer markets in the United States and Europe. By specifying how many blue jeans or how much fabric an individual country could export, the quotas have effectively limited the amount of goods coming from major producers like China, while giving smaller or less competitive nations room to participate. Capital and jobs followed the quotas, helping countries build a very, very modest industrial base through textile exports. Now, that's for shit.
The jobs are low-paying and tough: Overseas textile plants have been a central target for labor and human rights activists. But the textile industry has, since the Industrial Revolution, provided an opening wedge for broader economic development, and officials in dozens of countries hoped it would continue to do so. Either they were stupid or in on the take or both because conditions in Europe the countries of which possessed world-wide empires was radically different from former colonies that must pay the going rate for what they don't produce themselves.
Now, in a matter of weeks, those quotas will be scrapped. Buyers for companies like J.C. Penney Co. or Banana Republic Inc. will be able to purchase as much as they want from whoever gives them the best price -- and there is widespread agreement that Kissinger/China & Associates will capture an increasing share of the trade. The coming transition has already prompted factory closings in places such as former U.S./contra/death squad ally and Banana Rebuplic, Honduras, worry about falling wages and labor standards in U.S. saturation bombing victim Cambodia, and a general despair in Sri Lanka and dozens of other countries expected to lose a key economic prop. "Just because they helped us murder foreign policy rivals or we tore their grandmothers to into snack size bits for the jackals doesn't mean I gotta let them make our jeans," said Benaton/Boeing rep and shop til you drop mommy of three, Pixie Frist. "I've got payments on three BMWs and private school for the kids. I want value and I won't hesitate to kill to get it. Its just maternal instinct deformed by capital."
If the emerging world economy has sparked anxiety among white-collar Americans about outsourcing abroad, the expiration of the textile quotas signals that, in the endgame of globalization, even sweatshop jobs can be undercut signaling that many émigrés to the U.S. will soon be on their way home and many Americans will be seeking a better future in places like Iraq where they can work for Halliburton/KBR earning high pay in high mortality jobs.
"You're Fucked, Dude."
"You're dropping us in the well on the first of January with no rope. Fifty to sixty thousand people might lose their jobs. Fifty to 100 factories will be closed," said Sri Lanka's minister of trade, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, whose country of 19 million depends on the garment industry for 450,000 jobs, more than half of its exports and as much as one-sixth of its total economic activity. "Most of the factories are in rural areas. Almost all the families are dependent on their wages. All their livelihood is gone when you take off the quota."
With the new system so close, buyers from companies like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. say they have already set plans to collapse their business from factories in dozens of countries down to a carefully hedged and competitive few -- with Kissinger/China & Ass. topping the list.
"That's about it. You're fucked, dude," said Toby 'Chop' Tsuei, Wal-Mart's global procurement chief, who expects to reduce the number of countries where Wal-Mart has apparel deals from around 63, cobbled together based on which countries have room to export under their quota limits, to a mere four or five that can produce as much as Wal-Mart orders. "The overall balance of quality, reliability and price makes Kissinger/China & Ass. probably the most exploitable market in the world."
The result is not a likely bonanza for consumers. The United States alone imports approximately $90 billion worth of textiles annually. Under the new system, prices of blue jeans, men's shirts and other types of clothing now governed by quotas should fall by as much as one-third, as much of the world starves to death.
"I wouldn't expect much of a drop in textile prices in the U.S.," said Tsuei (who got his colorful moniker, "Chop", from the $28,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle he cruises in). "We fuck over cheap labor one way. We fuck over the fat American consumer another way. First, rule is to fuck people over. All happiness springs from fucking people over."
However, it has left development and trade officials in other countries worried about their future in a global system that makes job security for seamstresses in Asia, Africa and Latin America dependent upon the decisions of stockholders in Manhattan and industrial policy in Kissinger's Beijing.
In Honduras, Minister of Industry Norman Garcia said he hopes the country can hang on to most of its 130,000 textile jobs but acknowledges that economic survival may require a detour back to agriculture and outsourcing thugs for regional instability. At least, he said recently, economic success for China's 1.3 billion people will probably mean rising prices for the melons, peppers, shrimp and fish that Hondurans can harvest year-round.
"If the Kissinger's Chinese are destined to become the manufacturing center of the world," he said, "somebody's got to feed those guys. Why not Honduras," as the Minister snorted up another line from the mirrored coffee table in the CIA liaison's office in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. "Or maybe we can work something out with Porter Goss and the Colombian drug cartels like in the old days."
Initially rooted in efforts to protect wealthy investors with interests in developed world factories by limiting imports, the textile quotas evolved into a sort of de facto bonanza for U.S. companies and their shareholders, awarded as a way to spread the use of near slave labor for the wealthy U.S. and European kleptocracy. Ironically, many of the same countries voicing concerns today about the end of quotas argued for decades that they should be abolished. At the time, those countries believed that scrapping the quota system would give their textile companies unlimited access to the United States and Europe which they wrongly imagined was a sure path to riches. They had only to look at the American south. They got their way when the member states of the World Trade Organization in 1994 agreed that the Multifibre Arrangement would expire after 10 more years, ending one of the world's more extensive exercises in managed trade.
Of course, if you believe the drivel contained in the original of the paragraph above, that position now stands as a colossal miscalculation, which failed to factor in the rise of Kissinger & China. But it was by design. Even though the original authors articles would argue the world's most populous country was on the outskirts of the global economy at that point, and there was little inkling that its cautious economic reforms were about to begin reshaping international commerce, this is horseshit. Anybody who had even cursorily followed Henry Kissinger and his interest in the Chinese economy would have admitted that the capitalization of the Chinese economy began with the opening of China by Nixon and Kissinger himself back in 1973. Nah. The Multifibre Arrangement was world class exploitation but now Kissinger/China & Ass. is offering an even better deal which includes promises to American investors that oppression will be even more brutal and widespread to insure wages remain low.
Since then, Kissinger/China's increasing efficiency and its burgeoning, exploitative arrangement with U.S. consumers have prompted other textile-exporting countries to appeal to Washington for new preferential trade agreements. The quota system is independent of the customs duties that the United States and Europe apply to imported textiles, which average 16 percent in the case of the United States. Countries such as Cambodia and Honduras have asked that, as the quota system disappears, their goods be given duty-free access to the United States to give them a cost advantage over China. U.S. textile executives, concerned about the approximately 695,000 jobs left in the dwindling U.S. industry, likewise have asked that the Bush administration use its power under global trade rules to limit the growth of Chinese imports until 2008 in the hopes that by then the U.S. under PNAC control will have invaded China with the cry "Isn't The World Better Off Now That Wen Jiabao Is Gone."
These sorts of measures, like the quota system itself, may distort free trade. But proponents argue that Kissinger/China & Ass. has its own unfair advantages -- including currency rules that keep its goods cheap, hidden subsidies and, most significantly, a billion point two people that can be abused and played off each other to get the best deal for western investors who are, of course, the only beings that matter in this story.