It’s been big fun the last few days watching Slate’s Distinguished Neolib Bidness ‘Splainer Matt Yglesias get his ass handed to him by a host of left commentators, from David Atkins to Corey Robin. It’s all over what he still thinks is a trenchant, brilliant, insightful left-wing analysis of the sources of last week’s building collapse near Dakha -- a disaster that crushed the life out of hundreds of the exploited Bangladeshi garment-factory workers who deliver cheap wearables for The Gap, Walmart, and most other US bigbox chains. The analysis is titled (and I shit you not) Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's OK.
Go ahead and hit the link to it. I’ll wait. While you’re reading, remember that Matt’s a “liberal”, whatever that means. He has the bio to prove it.
Now that you’ve read it, don’t you admire whatever web monkey at Slate picked the victim photo that runs right over Yglesias’ post? Real tasteful. None of that crushed-limbs-and-raspberry-jam disaster porn for Slate. I mean, we’re talking about Serious Stuff here, folks: business and economics. Let’s not clutter up the Serious Issues with uncomfortable realities.
Matt supposes the shitstorm this generated is all about everyone misreading him. He thinks that’s really, really annoying and unfair. He’s just as liberal as…well, Obama! And he supports stuff like enforcement of building codes (assuming Bangladesh has any, which Matt doesn’t know) and workplace safety (also no actual info).
But let’s be fair, he says. Making US companies pay a price for outrageous abuses in the countries where they source their products, as Erik Loomis proposed, is a mug’s game. After all, Bangladeshi workers are rational actors, just like US workers. They had a choice whether to work in these dangerous factories or not. They chose wrong. And, hey, there’s a side benefit: It also means things are safer here in all our US garment factories, because we exported all the dangerous work to Asia. Pragmatic Econ Orthodoxy 101, Loomis. Grow the fuck up.
Dear Mr. Loomis, Matt Yg is not the “left side of the political spectrum” — he’s an apologist to the left for the sins of our Barons and Betters, in the same sense that Rush Limbaugh is an apologist to the right for those same sins.
Yep. Sorta like the current White House Press Office. Or most of the Daily Kos front page.
Gaius then capped it with a pithy set of facts that most of us on the left never seem to have figured out, or, if we have, frequently forget:
Our Barons and Betters are monsters, monomaniacs, slaves to hubris and greed, bringers of death and pain. Our Betters send men to Iraq. They force children into factories in China and women into slave-work in the Marianas. They employ death squads to murder union leaders in Colombia. They would roll across your body with a truck if there was a dollar in it for them and immunity from prosecution.
But I suppose our forgetting that is understandable, in a world where the unenforced Lilly Ledbetter bill is considered a huge Democratic victory for workplace equity.