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Monday, January 29, 2007

Cleaning up the House with Slaves

The reason I write so little political commentary is that I doubt what I read in the paper and basically assume that almost (not all) but almost all politicians are corrupt and beholden to the people who put them in office.

So as soon as I put up my 3 cheers for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House post about the Woman who might actually CLEAN UP the House, I knew I had to be wrong about her. I just knew it. You get that feeling in your gut.

But we'll give her a chance. She couldn't have made it if she weren't one tough woman. We'll let her show her stuff.

But read this.

This editorial in the Wall Street Journal killed me. I'll paraphrase, but most of it is dirct from WSJ.

"Slave Wages."

Nancy Pelosi led the House effort in her first week in office to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. (So far so good.)

But the wage hike is exempt from the Marianas Islands, where in American Samoa companies like StarKist and Delmonte can tuna, where the going pay rate is $3.26 an hour. (Nanci's constituency is in San Francisco, so it still kind of makes sense, even though it's unforgivable. But read on).

A woman can get that kind of change unless she's been enslaved, in which case she might have paid $5000 a garment manufacturer for the luxury of working for them. Nutricious food, resort-style lodgings, swimming pool, and good wages were supposedly built into the contract.

But really the deal is that women who signed up for this were crammed into a poorly ventilated, humid hallway lined by tiny bunk beds with half-inch mattresses, no privacy for bath and toileting facilities that didn't work, and access to a pool filled with garbage and green slime. Of course women workers were physically and sexually harassed, used, and abused.

The proprietor of the facility, Kil Soo Lee, has finally been sentenced to jail, having lost his appeal. The now governor of this territory, American Samoa is the very same person who, as Lieutenant Governor, helped Mr. Lee set up the factory that made designer clothes. He made the company essentially tax exempt, meaning the "taxes" went somewhere.

The Wall Street Journal asks the following of our new Speaker of the House, the first woman, the first Chanel-suited, Prada-toting female to preside over the State of the Union at the President's address last week:

Is it honest to exempt American Samoa from the minimum wage requirement, especially with documented human rights abuses? Is it "advocating for the workers" to ensure that their pay is kept considerabley lower than their counterparts in the U.S.? In addition to House speaker, Ms. Pelosi can add "ethically challenged" to her resume.

See. This is why I hate politics. I can't stay romantic. I can't keep to Camelot very long when I read crap like this that I know is true. It makes me so down, so embarrassed to be an American when I want so much to love this country and EVERYTHING we stand for.
Come on, Nancy. You can do better than this. You have to do better than this. We're counting on you.

TherapyDoc

7 comments:

Mark said...

Linda,
Let's hope that she hears your words. Agree, politics is frustrating. I still believe as flawed as the American political machine is, that it is still the best form of goverment in the world.

TherapyDoc said...

Me, too. Me, too.

J said...

re: "best form of government"

Yes, but what does it say when this crap goes on? I mean, to take an extreme example to illustrate my argument, at what point does it get to be like saying that Kim Jong-il or Milosevic or Saddam is the better dictator because they haven't committed quite as many atrocities as the other?

Our so-called democracy (I initially typo-ed that "demoncracy" and almost left it...)--Democrat, Republican, state, local, federal parts included--is so pervasively flawed that I can't bring myself to defend it anymore. It seems so ignorantly self-righteous. Sure, maybe it's had slightly better results than other forms of government, but we seriously can't do any better? We've spent hundreds of years convincing ourselves that the Founding Fathers were infallible geniuses.

It's hard to even claim our hearts are in the right place anymore; we sure as hell seem to spend more time bragging about our wonderful system than we do admitting its flaws and limitations and trying to fix and improve them.

I could go on, but for everyone's sake... :/

TherapyDoc said...

Yes, J., and because this IS America, you can.

J said...

Touche.

TherapyDoc said...

The thing I remember most about Reagan was his refusal to really answer a question, rather his marvelous use of process.

Someone would accuse him of something and he'd use his label, "Well, there you go again," that meant that person was simply being repetitive, annoying.

And he slept an awful lot.

Anonymous said...

I still believe as flawed as the American political machine is, that it is still the best form of goverment in the world.

When it's all you know, I guess you could say that. But the US is not the only democratic country in the world, and other countries do just as good a job or better, in some cases.

A sign of maturity for a political system isn't just being able to pat itself on the back when it does something right, but tries to rectify its shortcomings when it knows it's made some mistakes. No system is so perfect that it couldn't stand some improvement.

Being able to recognize that is the first step. Doing something about it is the second.

Pelosi will show her true colors eventually.

I'm unfortunately of the opinion that they will be the same hue as all the ones who came before her.