Back in 1997 I was doing business with CNN. I was talking to the CNN.com Managing Editor in his office and his secretary came in to tell him he had to take a phone call, it was George Soros. He called to complain about a misquote. He was quoted as saying that capital was "immoral" when he had actually said that capital was "amoral". It was important enough for Soros to straighten out this.
Capital is amoral. This stayed with me.
Actually what George Soros says in his book on page 6 is;
Political processes generally speaking are less efﬁcient than the market mechanism, but we cannot do without them. Markets are amoral: They allow people to act in accordance with their interests, and they impose some rules on how those interests are expressed, but they pass no moral judgment on the interests themselves. That is one of the reasons why they are so efﬁcient. It is difficult to decide what is right and wrong; by leaving it out of account, markets allow people to pursue their interests without let or hindrance.So let's take a look an example of this amorality as it relates to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.
What got me going was Romney's explanation, in the historic videos of his fund rsasing dinner, of a Bain investment in China explained in this outstanding diary by LeftOfYou;
LeftOfYou eloquently said;
Mitt Romney looked around the World for something to buy to make his investors more wealthy. What caught his eye was a chance to make money off of gadgets manufactured by young women living in a barbed wire compound, in cramped barracks with one bathroom for 120 women. The way Romney tells the story, it's obvious that he perceived and understood the terrible exploitation of these women with perfect accuracy. He just didn't really care. He had no impulse to protect, but rather considered how he might profit from the exploitation of these women. Why does Romney tell this well practiced old story? So he can pat himself on the back for being American.Some commented in the diary that the barbed wire may have been there to keep the women inside, perhaps you could tell by the way it was installed. The Chinese operators may have been lying to Romney. So he got a bit of an excuse.
I did some research about other examples of Chinese factories with horrible working conditions and I found about Jabil;
The National Labor Committee (NLC) has released a 30-page report documenting the illegal and harsh sweatshop conditions at the Jabil Circuit factory in Guangzhou, China. The report, entitled 'U.S.-Owned High Tech Jabil Factory in China Runs Like Minimum Security Prison Producing for Whirlpool, GE, HP', describes conditions at the Jabil factory where over 6,000 workers - many of them illegal temporary workers - reportedly produce hi-tech products for among others Cannon, Cisco, HP, IBM, Intel, Lucent, Nokia, Philips, Samsung, Siemens and Xerox - among whom a number of Board members of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition. The new report includes worker interviews, photographs and company documents smuggled out of the factory.Fellow Kossack Bri pointed out that;
In March 1999, shortly after Romney left Bain to take over the troubled Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Brookside Capital Investors Inc., a Bain-related entity wholly owned by Romney, filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission that listed dozens of companies in which Brookside held a stake the previous quarter. The roster included investments in Singapore-based Flextronics International ($13 million) and Florida-headquartered Jabil Circuit Inc. ($41 million), two companies that were leaders in the fast-growing field of outsourcing electronics manufacturing and offshoring production to low-wage countries.And he suggested this deserved a separate diary.
So I did some more research.
This is what I found out;
1. Jabil is big. More than 60,000 employess worldwide.
2. Brookside Capital Investors Inc., a Bain-related entity wholly owned by Romney did invest $41M in Jabil.
3. Jabil manufactures components for Apple iPhones (ouch! I own one)
4. The conditions at Jabiil factories in China are worse than I had imagined. To find out read the NLC report.
I did call the NLC, now called the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights and they told me nothing had changed since they wrote the report.
Here are some highlights;
Six thousand workers, operating around the clock, with two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
Workers are at the factory 84 hours a week.
Workers are prohibited from sitting down and must stand for their entire 12-hour shift.
Their necks, shoulders, arms and legs become stiff and sore, and their feet swell.
Workers are allowed to use the bathroom just once in the regular eight-hour shift. As
there are just three “toilet passes” per line, women say they have to wait over an hour
to relieve themselves.
Workers paid a base wage of 76 cents an hour through April, when they received a 17
cent increase to 93 cents an hour. No one can survive on the base wage and all are
forced to work overtime.
Security guards and managers patrol the shop floor as if they are police overseeing
their prisoners. Workers who make a mistake are forced to write a “letter of repentance” begging forgiveness—which they must read aloud in front of all their coworkers.
Offending workers can also be made to stay after work, unpaid, to clean
Six workers share each crowded dorm room, sleeping on double-level bunk beds.
Seventy-five percent of the workers say the factory food is “awful.”
Management’s Philosophy Is to Break the Workers
Workers say the following incident is common. A young woman on the Whirlpool assembly line was recently singled out and cursed by the line manager: “Damn it. You’re always so slow. When are you going to work harder? You want money, but you’re
not willing to work. What are you even doing here?"
The workers know exactly what is going on, but they are powerless to oppose it. Management consciously abuses and berates those workers—especially young
women—who are shy and would never think of arguing back. By publicly abusing these women in front of their co-workers, management is able to assert their authority before all the workers.
“The goal,” one employee explained, “is to belittle the workers, keep them afraid, and make sure they jump to their work.”
Everyone learns that to stay working, they have no choice but to lower their heads and take these abuses from the managers. They must swallow their anger. No one dares argue with the managers, knowing that if they did, the managers will make their lives
even more miserable.
Right now, none of the assembly lines in the plant have fixed days off each week, and some lines have gone for months without a single day off. Only occasionally will production line workers receive a day off.
This means the workers put in 11 hours of work each day –eight regular and three overtime hours—with just two 30-minute meal breaks. As the regular workweek is 40 hours, these workers are toiling 37 hours of overtime each week, which is in blatant violation of China’s overtime restrictions, which limit overtime to no more than 36 hours a month. Jabil’s day shift workers are exceeding China’s legal overtime limit by a staggering 344 percent!So Jabil even violates Chinese laws.
No, Mitt Romney is not a Robber Baron, these guys were immoral, they were very conscious of the pain they inflicted on their workers to make a profit. There are immoral Robber Barons in China today no doubt.
Mitt Romney is an "amoral capitalist".
There is a difference between "amoral" and "immoral";
An amoral person has no sense of care or conscience whether the act he is doing is morally wrong ‘“ good thing if it is the other way around. This person escapes from the moral world as he is outside the confines of morality itself. It is different from immoral in the sense that showing disapproval isn’t always the case. A good example is in the sentence, ‘According to the historian, the protagonist has an amoral stance with regard to slavery.’ In this example, the protagonist did not clearly specify that he is anti or pro slavery because he just doesn’t care about the entire issue.Romney just doesn't care.
And this has become clear to all now. He does not care about the 47%, he does not care about the consequences of his decisions, he does not care about his dog on the roof of his car, he does not care about the suffering he caused the classmate he bullied, he does not care what we think of his secret tax returns or his stashing money in the Caymans or Switzerland.
I hope Obama wins in a landslide. Let's GOTV.