As the US Becomes a Third World Country…

When you see those TV images of rioters in Greece railing futilely against an oppressive austerity program inflicted by the international financial community… When you hear about child labor and factory accidents at those Apple plants in China… When you see foreclosure signs popping up in your neighborhood like mushrooms after a spring shower…

Do you tell yourself it sucks to be them? Or do you mutter, “There but for the grace of God go I?”

For if ever John Donne’s words were true, it is now: “No man is an island.”

The bell you’re hearing tolls for us all.

We – you and I – are involved in a global struggle in which powerful corporate forces are dismantling the economies of rich countries to create a world in which they have access to universally cheap labor with no regulations or consumer protections to get in their way. And they’re winning.

The success of the corporate crusade was brought home recently by an announcement that heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. has decided to shut down its diesel locomotive assembly plant in London, Ontario, and relocate its operations in a cheaper labor market.

In China perhaps? Taiwan? Bangladesh?

No, America.

By relocating to Muncie, Indiana, Caterpillar can get non-union employees to work for about half of the pay unionized workers were getting at their plant in Canada.

It is now plain that America is becoming a Third World country, where employers can do as they like and pay what they please. Consider the union busting legislation in Republican-governed states across America. Consider the voter suppression laws, the assault on environmental and consumer protections, the divisive “culture war,” the surge in “religious” political activism.

Consider the vast and widening gap between the rich and the rest of us.

If you have ever lived in a Latin American or Caribbean country, you must be experiencing a sense of deja vu.

If the corporate elite have their way – and it looks as if they will –  there will be only Third World countries as hard-won workers’ rights are swept away, governments are dominated by the super-rich and their paid politicians, and electorates are brainwashed by expert propagandists, divided by “wedge issues,” and emasculated by fear and deception.

The rot is spreading fast and it is spreading from within. The man and woman in the street, the voters who should be controlling their destiny, are infected by the virus of free-market capitalism. They have been persuaded to act against their own interests, thought-controlled like so many zombies in a horror movie.

And if you dare to point this out, you are dismissed as a “liberal” or worse.

As so many of us stand by watching the world around us being changed beyond redemption, the famous words of Friedrich Gustav Martin Niemöller echo in my mind:

 When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

No one to speak out … just the zombies, working mindlessly around the clock in dank and dangerous factories as their overlords stalk the earth in triumph.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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