Food for thought on trade, inequality
People in Philly cannot get groceries, because the grocery stores are too far away. In fact, whole swaths of the city consist of dilapidated buildings where people seem to have not a lot going on. Is this a story about lazy people, or is there more to it? Kudos to the Times for making the unmissed connection that points right back to our trade policies:
Depopulation and the loss of industrial jobs in recent decades have taken an especially harsh toll in this neighborhood. They left row houses abandoned or in disrepair, and vacant lots strewn with trash, broken whiskey pints and hypodermic needles. Progress Plaza, which was founded with great hopes in the 1960s by an association of black residents, fell on hard times. Even mom-and-pop stores are rare.
If there was any doubt that inequality is not the outcome of some sort of flat world magic, but is in fact a direct outcome of public and private CHOICES and the balance of social power, The Times had a piece on the growing gap between corporate honcho numero uno and corporate honcho numero dos that shows just how acute the income distribution crisis is getting. Eduardo Porter points out that it's pretty difficult to believe that this inequity could be the benign result of some sort of economic force of nature, a point which should be pretty obvious to anyone that's ever tried to ask for a raise and have your boss DECIDE to not give you one. Yesterday, high tech workers joined the fair trade fight; tomorrow, Rupert Murdoch's deputy?
Finally, you gotta love the Chinese government for telling it like it is. This from USA Today:
More than two months after the USA began a massive pet-food recall, since linked to contaminated ingredients imported from China, business and government officials in China are investigating what went wrong and promising improvement in a country where mass poisonings from tainted foods have been common. But they also say they're not the only ones who need to take more responsibility.
"Officials like me in the Chinese government can supervise the producers here, but U.S. companies doing business with Chinese companies must also be very clear about the standards they need, and don't just look for a cheap price," says Yuan Changxiang, a deputy director in the ministry responsible for inspecting imports and exports.
Jin Zemin, general manager of Shanghai Kaijin Bio-Tech, which specializes in wheat gluten, agrees. U.S. importers "want cheaper prices, but that can come at a cost," he says. "You should know exactly where the products you buy are coming from. Don't just look at the price."