Downsize this! (Michael Moore) [1996]

Bokens hafsighet och ideologiska osäkerhet gör att den presenterar självmotsägelser som t.ex. när Moore i inledningen hyllar demokratin som den enda arena där varje röst är lika mycket värd och som vår plattform för förändring. I första kapitlet hyllar han trots det de som inte går till vallokalerna och röstar, därför att ”de vet att röstning inte kommer att förbättra deras liv”. Ett annat exempel är när han argumenterar ”för” invandring genom att påstå att någon måste göra de smutsiga jobben (som om ”invandrare” är ödesbestämda att utföra dem).

Förutom det, vilket är ännu värre, innehåller boken ren idioti.

1. Som exempelvis när MM förespråkar ‘drive-by shooting contest’ som alternativ till den nuvarande valmodellen. Andra förslag är att låta valkandidaterna tävla i monstertrucks och som gladiatorer – vilket med god vilja kan betecknas som satir – medan  att uppmana kandidaterna att skjuta varandra garanterar en marginaliserande och fördömande mottagning.

2. MM är upp över öronen förälskad i en viss Hillary Clinton – från hennes skönhet och sätt att vara, till hennes humana, ”kvinnliga” sätt att bedriva politik. Ack, att den mansdominerade världen inte förstår att ta vara på denna jungru bland bestar, ack. Varsågod Moore, se på hennes facit.

3. Räknar ut priset per mördad i Förintelsen (under temat ”Tyskarna har inte sonat sina brott”), föreslår sedan hämnd genom att – 50 år senare – jaga tyskar (citat: ”RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, KLAUS!”).

Det är vad som är riktigt uselt i boken. Men i ärlighetens namn finns det intressanta och ibland riktigt, riktigt fyndiga bitar också. Utan inbördes ordning:

1. Moore presenterar ett förslag om att amerikanerna ska börja rösta på lobbyisterna direkt, istället för deras ombud politikerna.

2. Bra avsnitt på ‘corporate welfare’ (en term som är gängse nu, men inte för 16 år sedan då boken skrevs).

Daimler−Benz, Mercedes’s parent company (Germany’s largest corporation), has come a long way from the old days when it helped to build Hitler’s  war machine by using slave labor from the countries he conquered. Maybe our welfare payments to them will make them model citizens. In short, the United States gives less than one half of one percent of our $1.6 trillion budget to foreign aid. But take heart, Americans—we are still number one in providing military aid to developing countries.

3. Federala smussligheter à la Simpsons: idrottslag som flyttar, delstater hyr ut sin mark för sopdumpning, m.m.

4. Florida bankrutt december 1994.

5. Multinationella fängelsekedjor använder fångar som arbetskraft (ffa kundservice men även hantverk).

6. Exilkubaner (tjuvar, råskinn, legosoldater)

Then, on the night of June 17, 1972, three Cubans— Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, and Virgilio Gonzalez (plus Americans Frank Sturgis and James McCord Jr.)— were caught breaking into the Watergate offices of the chairman of the Democratic Party. This covert operation eventually brought down Richard Nixon, so I guess there is a silver lining to that particular Cuban−exile operation.

[…]

In February 1996, Castro was apparently fed up with this harassment, and after the twenty−fifth incident in the past twenty months of the Brothers violating Cuban airspace, he ordered that two of their planes be shot down. Even though Brothers to the Rescue was violating U.S. law by flying into Cuban airspace (a fact the FAA acknowledges), the Clinton administration again went to the exile trough and instantly got a bill passed to tighten the embargo against Cuba. This embargo has brought the wrath of the rest of the world against us—the UN General Assembly voted 117 to 3 to ”condemn” the United States for its economic violence against Cuba (as it has in every vote since the embargo was imposed). The week after the planes were shot down, the exiles tried to force the hand of the U.S., hoping to get the military to engage in some kind of action against Castro. They announced that on the following Saturday they would take a flotilla of boats from Florida to just off the Cuban coast, to protest the loss of the two planes. Clinton decided to stage the greatest show of force against Cuba since the Missile Crisis, and sent a squadron of F−15 fighters, eleven Coast Guard cutters, two Navy missile cruisers, one Navy frigate, two C−130 planes, and a bevy of choppers, AWACs, and six hundred coast guardsmen to support the flotilla.

All he forgot to send was the Dramamine—which, it turned out, was what the Miami Cubans really needed. Just forty miles out of Key West, the Cubans on the boats started getting seasick, heaving up big chunks and begging their skippers to turn the damn yachts around. With the whole world watching, the Cubans once again turned tail and ran. When they got back to port, they held a press conference to explain their retreat. One spokesman was still a little woozy, and you could see the journalists backing away from him, expecting any moment to be covered with a Linda Blair Special. 

7. Flytta handelskammaren till Mexico!

This idea may not be popular at first within the Commerce Department itself. That is understandable. Approximately 19,000 D.C. based employees stand to lose their jobs if this move goes through. But President Clinton loves to quote from a new national study that says more than one−quarter of all laid−off workers find new jobs that pay at least as much as their old jobs. So Commerce employees should look on the bright side! And the other three−quarters who may never find comparable−paying, full−time work won’t lose out entirely; if they ever earn an income again, they will end up paying less in taxes thanks to the savings of moving the federal government to Mexico. I am confident those savings will trickle down to them through tax cuts.

And here’s the best part: while they are out of work, Commerce employees can qualify for seventy−eight weeks of state and federal unemployment benefits (sometimes up to half their old paychecks!) and up to two years of federally funded retraining (which could include Spanish language classes to prepare them for the workplace of the future). 

[… MM publicerar annonser i mexikanska dagstidningar där han efterfrågar lämpliga lokaler…]

So in less than a week, I laid the groundwork to move the U.S. Department of Commerce to any one of five Mexican border towns. The hard part was over. It is now up to the Congress and the President to take the next step. And if the legislative or executive branches get cold feet, here’s one last suggestion: use the threat of a move and massive layoffs to force the employees of Commerce to accept a 20 percent across−the−board wage cut. That little practical joke always works in the private sector. 

8. Militias

I didn’t have an answer. Where were the liberals, the Democrats, the lefties, the feminists, the peaceniks? Why weren’t we there for the Norman Olsons when, at the moment the American Dream was ripped from him and his friends, they needed some answers, some direction? Too busy meeting with ourselves, I guess.

Och bokens höjdpunkt, tillika avslutning, i dess helhet (jag vet inte om Morgansternly är pseudonym):

EVERYONE FIRED 
Wall Street Reacts Favorably 
Dow Pushes Past 10,000

By Joe Morgansternly

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, continuing a trend it began in the early 1990s, finally broke through a bariier no one ever thought imaginable and closed the day up 3,900 points at 10,522. The average share rose an incredible $244. Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange became delirious at the 4:00 PM closing bell, throwing anything into the air they could get their hands on.

”The Dow hitting 10,000! This is better than sex,” exclaimed Miles Stanton of Bear Sterns. ”I’m going out and buying a new boat!” Others on Wall Street were more reflective.

”I was here back in 1991 when the Dow broke 3,000,” remarked Ben Vandenberg of Merrill Lynch. ”We thought we had died and gone to heaven, that nothing could ever beat that day. And then it just kept going up, up, and up. But hitting 10,000? Somebody pinch me.”

When the market closed Firday, the Dow Jones was already at 6,687 and showing healthy gains for most investors. But the tremendous surge that began this morning is believed to be in response to the news that every Fortune 500 company has fired all of their domestic employees effective immediately. Nearly 10 million American workers will lose their jobs, and Wall Street reacted favorably.

”It’s a win-win situation,” said Mickey Kantor, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the man who negotiated the original NAFTA and GATT treaties and created a boom in moving American jobs overseas. ”Literally hundreds of American shareholders have become instant millionaires. And millions of workers will now be able to pursue other activities.”

Creative Thinking

The practice of Wall Street rewarding companies that fire workers en masse was initiated in 1993 when IBM announced it would cut 35,000 jobs. The following day, IBM’s stock rose by three points. Suddenly everyone was eager to announce massive firings, even if their companies were doing well and making a profit with their existing workers. It was simply the sheer bravado that the market seemed to appreciate.

”To eliminate 10,000 jobs at a drop of a hat,” remarked Bill Boyton of First Boston, ”became a way of saying, ‘We’re in charge here, and if you don’t like it – Hasta la vista!'”

The success of this downsizing or ”rightsizing” – and its financial rewards – apparently spurred this most recent development.

”Corporations are required to produce the largest dividend they can for their shareholders,” said Ralph Mayfair, president of the Manufacturers Association of America. ”If that means downsizing the workforce by 100%, then so be it.”

Historic Day

The actions this weekend by General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Bristol Myers, and others mark the largest single announcement of corporate layoffs in U.S. history. Bill Needham, head of communications at Sachs Goldman, cautioned against any overreaction.

”It would be wrong to portray this as a mass firing,” Needham said. ”Some management personnel in the front offices will retain their jobs, as will truckers and warehouse workers involved with receiving imports. We should guard against anyone who tries to turn this issue into one of class warfare. That could be very divisive.”

It is expected that most of the products produced by these companies will now be built overseas.

A source at one of the corporations, who asked not to be identified, commented, ”Our stockholders reacted favorably each time we would downsize about 10,000 employees. The somebody said, ‘Why not downsize the whole damn company?’ It was one of those moments where everyone just looked at everyone else and we knew that we were in the presence of sheer genius.”

New Opportunities

It is unclear whether the idea to get rid of everybody all at once was a coordinated effort among the participating companies, or whether it happened coincidentally. Whatever the maneuvering, the result was clear. Shareholders have tripled the wealth they possessed last Friday, CEOs have made millions in bonuses, and entire communities will thrive as popular ghost towns for tourists.

”That’s our system,” remarked a somewhat somber President Clinton. ”We have to believe in the free market system. My heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs. I will continue to press forward to get the minimum wage raised to five dollars and forty cents an hour.”

Jack Welch, chairman of General Electric, had more concrete advice for the downsized workers.

”We’ve got 40 openings at our Tijuana facility right now,” beamed a jubilant Welch. ”I’d be more than happy to accept applications from any of our US workers who would like to relocate there. Just give our personnel department a call – and it will definitely help if you can speak Spanish!”

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