Robert Reich must teach a helluva course at the University of California. The former Secretary of Labor offers a clear understanding of wages, economics and life for folks who work for a living.
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As a crane lowered a steel-and-concrete slab onto support pillars, construction workers swarmed around to bolt it down – a choreography of mad-dash steps against a backdrop of firecrackers, and a sacrificed cow, to herald China’s latest “instant building”.
The three-story structure, a workers’ cafeteria, was just a side note to a 30-story hotel built over 15 days outside this city in Hunan province in December. Both are examples of the streamlined construction being pioneered by China’s Broad Sustainable Building.
“There is an urgent need for construction security, especially energy-saving in construction, and this touches on conserving materials,” Zhang Yue, Broad Group’s founder and chairman, told Reuters in an interview at his headquarters in Changsha.
Over the last decade China has seen one of the biggest construction booms in history to house a surging urban population and an expanding industrial sector. But with that construction have come worries about environmental destruction, waste and shoddy buildings. Zhang argues that his buildings represent just the opposite…
“It’s very easy to learn the construction – all the workers need to do is fasten the bolts,” said Liu Zhijian, a 23-year-old site worker from the nearby city of Loudi. “There’s no welding, no dust, no water,” he said. “It’s not at all like traditional construction, which is all about bricks and concrete…”
The approach is relatively straightforward. Workers prefabricate flat modules at two factories in Yueyang, about 90 minutes north of the provincial capital of Changsha…
The process also leaves little trash behind…”We have only 1 percent of construction waste at building sites,” said Shang Dayong, a worker from Ningxia province who came to learn the quick-build process to teach others back home.
Modular construction truly rocks. Even though most of the housing I worked on was custom designs, there are firms I competed against that did a stellar job with production modules built off-site and transported to fit the site. If their pre-designed packages fit the needs and taste of clients, savings of 20-30% were common.
In commercial construction — even faster and easier. There is one chain of motels that builds all of their modules as opposite rooms in the motel with a section of hall way between. They’re trucked to the job site and dropped into place floor by floor, side by side. Easy as pie. A hell of a lot less job site labor, savings on insurance, raw materials, scrap all-round.
You went and told them the truth?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Mitt Romney wants to shut down or amalgamate several US government departments if elected president, but has no plans to tell voters in advance of November’s general election, he told wealthy campaign donors.
The presumptive Republican nominee let slip his plans at a high-rollers fund-raising event in Florida estate that was supposed to be a closed-doors event but was accidentally overhead by a group of waiting reporters standing on the pavement outside.
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Mr Romney said, according to NBC News, who had a reporter outside the event…
The issue of closing departments sunk the campaign of Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, earlier this year when, having promised to shut three federal agencies, was only able to name two of them in a live televised debate.
Mr Romney said that the Department of Housing which was headed for four years from 1969 by his father George Romney, who served in Nixon’s cabinet, was also in the crosshairs…
Of course. His father really was a compassionate conservative. He wouldn’t be allowed in a position of responsibility in today’s High Holy Church of Republicanism.
The Obama campaign, which hopes to paint Mr Romney as an out-of-touch multi-millionaire, is pressing Mr Romney to release more of his tax returns that could contain details of potentially embarrassing offshore investment trusts used in legal tax avoidance…
“Hearkening back to my youth, which extends far beyond yours, there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign,” David Axelrod told the Politico website, recalling the story that Mr Romney removed the hard drives from his office computers at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts.
“There are central issues, but this is a disturbing one,” he added, “and it goes to that question of, like, ‘Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?'”
All most American voters need to know is that – wimpy as Obama may be on critical issues of bigotry, peace, civil rights and jobs – Romney is guaranteed to be worse.
He’s stuck into dribble-down economics which Republicans have been trying to justify since Herbert Hoover was president. His lack of integrity is sufficient that he kowtows to every religious nutball who finds his way into the Republican Party hoping to join the aristocracy.
A boy of 11 called a German police emergency line to complain of “forced labour” after his mother told him to help clean the home.
Police say the boy from Aachen, who has not been identified, spoke to an officer via the 110 number. They say he complained: “I have to work all day long. I haven’t any free time…”
A transcript of the conversation, printed in local newspapers, revealed the officer asking the boy to describe the kind of “forced labour” he was doing.
The boy replied that he had to clean the home and terrace, it said.
Asked if he knew what forced labour was, the boy said he did, and the police officer asked to speak to his mother, who at that stage was standing next to him.
She explained he had called after being asked to pick up paper from the floor, adding: “He plays all day long and when told to tidy up what he’s done, he calls it forced labour.”
Sounds like he’ll grow up to become a member of the Bundestag.
Filling out applications at a sidewalk recruiting station
If Wang Jinyan, an unemployed factory worker with a middle school education, had a résumé, it might start out like this: “Objective: seeking well-paid, slow-paced assembly-line work in air-conditioned plant with Sundays off, free wireless Internet and washing machines in dormitory. Friendly boss a plus.”
As she eased her way along a gantlet of recruiters in this manufacturing megalopolis one recent afternoon, Ms. Wang, 25, was in no particular rush to find a job. An underwear company was offering subsidized meals and factory worker fashion shows. The maker of electric heaters promised seven-and-a-half-hour days. “If you’re good, you can work in quality control and won’t have to stand all day,” bragged a woman hawking jobs for a shoe manufacturer.
Ms. Wang flashed an unmistakable look of ennui and popped open an umbrella to shield her fair complexion from the South China sun. “They always make these jobs sound better than they really are,” she said, turning away. “Besides, I don’t do shoes. Can’t stand the smell of glue.”
Assertive, self-possessed workers like Ms. Wang have become a challenge for the industrial titans of the Pearl River Delta that once filled their mammoth workshops with an endless stream of pliant labor from China’s rural belly.
In recent months, as the country’s export-driven juggernaut has been revived and many migrants have found jobs closer to home, the balance of power in places like Zhongshan has shifted, forcing employers to compete for new workers — and to prevent seasoned ones from defecting to sweeter prospects.
The shortage has emboldened workers and inspired a spate of strikes in and around Zhongshan that paralyzed Honda’s Chinese operations last month. The unrest then spread to the northern city of Tianjin, where strikers briefly paralyzed production at a Toyota car plant and a Japanese-owned electronics factory.
Although the walkouts were quelled with higher salaries, factory owners and labor experts said that the strikes have driven home a looming reality that had been predicted by demographers: the supply of workers 16 to 24 years old has peaked and will drop by a third in the next 12 years, thanks to stringent family-planning policies that have sharply reduced China’s population growth…
The other new reality, perhaps harder to quantify, is this: young Chinese factory workers, raised in a country with rapidly rising expectations, are less willing to toil for long hours for appallingly low wages like dutiful automatons.
RTFA. Nothing surprising to someone who’s read any labor history. The distinct difference in China is that – no one is skipping any stages; but, time is compressed, the rate of change in every part of the socio-economic structure seems to happen overnight.
In the daily world of TV America, the funniest commentaries come from market analysts who worry over declining real estate prices and trends reversing the balance between production for export vs. production for domestic consumption in China. Which are primary goals of the government over the next five years.
It’s like the dweebs – usually on CNBC – who whine about Americans finally starting to save some of their family income instead of being dedicated consumers.
A U.S. think tank said Wednesday the latest figures conclude there are nearly 13 million Mexican immigrants living in the United States.
The Pew Hispanic Center said 55 percent of those 12.7 million immigrants were “unauthorized” and Mexicans now account for 32 percent of all immigrants in the United States.
The report…was based on a March 2008 Current Population Survey.
Pew said in a written statement that the number of Mexicans living in the United States increased 17 fold over 1970, and it is estimated one of every 10 living persons born in Mexico now lives in the United States.
Sounds about right. The information that is.
15% of the population in my county is here illegally.
“Three people die every day on the border”
They are the new secret weapon of the US Border Patrol: toe-tapping ballads with Spanish lyrics that tell of the risks of trying to cross illegally into the US from Mexico.
The songs are on a CD that has been distributed free to dozens of radio stations in northern Mexico as part of a campaign called “No more crosses on the border” – a reference both to the illegal crossings and to those who have lost their lives in the attempt.
The songs are all tragic, giving accounts of abuse, rape and death as immigrants embark on the often dangerous journey.
The CD is called “Migracorridos” – which suggests the US Border Patrol is happy to use “la migra”, the Spanish term used to describe, almost always in a derogatory way, US immigration agents.
“The important thing is that we reach (people) with this message and are able to save as many lives as possible,” Eugenio Rodriguez Jr, spokesman for the US Border Patrol in Laredo, Texas, told BBC Mundo.
What’s desperate about life in Mexico is corruption and gangsterism. Poverty is nothing new and it’s not especially on the increase – though our present to the world, Global Recession, may change that. With fewer jobs available in the U.S., the number of undocumentados is decreasing anyway.
Point is – poverty alone isn’t sufficient reason in most cases for illegal migrant laborers to make the trek north. The motivation is to make more money, a surplus, to acquire more stuff. Just like the rest of us. Though most of the rest of us aren’t as likely to jeopardize our lives to do so.
Roh Won-baek – one of 10,000 Koreans forced into labour by Aso Mining
The Japanese government has acknowledged for the first time that Allied prisoners during World War II were made to work at a coal mine owned by the family of Prime Minister Taro Aso, contradicting longstanding denials by the Japanese leader.
The admission came after the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, under prodding from an opposition lawmaker, released documents showing that 300 British, Dutch and Australian prisoners of war worked at a mine owned by Aso Mining during the last four months of World War II in western Japan.
At a parliamentary session, officials of the health and foreign ministries acknowledged the validity of the documents, which, totaling some 43 pages, were retrieved from the basement of the Health Ministry building…
One of Japan’s wealthiest politicians, Aso has long denied what historians and survivors of his family’s coal mine have consistently asserted: that the mine, like many others during the war, had used prisoners of war as well as forced laborers from Asia. In the 1970s, Aso served as president of the company, which is now called the Aso Group and is run by his family.
Japan has long used the absence of official Japanese government documents to deny wartime crimes, rejecting documents from other countries or accounts of survivors.
Contradicting the stance of other Axis partners like Germany, Japan maintains a steadfast denial of campaigns of torture and genocide throughout the Pacific Rim during WW2. These politicians – like Joseph Goebbels – must still believe that if you tell the same lie long enough and loud enough, the rest of the world will eventually come to accept it as truth.
That much evil and greed is worth remembering.
Confusion is rampant in Japan
Japan’s workers are being urged to switch off their laptops, go home early and use what little energy they have left on procreation, in the country’s latest attempt to avert demographic disaster.
The drive to persuade employers that their staff would be better off at home with their wives than staying late at the office comes amid warnings from health experts that many couples are simply too tired to have sex…
Many couples said they didn’t have the energy for sex, while others said they found it boring…
Japan’s birth rate, at 1.34 – the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime – is among the lowest in the world and falls well short of the 2.07 children needed to keep the population stable.
I still get pissed off over the premise of articles like this one. Use existing and advanced labor-saving techniques and technology to shorten the work-week. Use them to reduce the amount of people-power required to achieve necessary tasks.
It make reduce the margins for some of the Zaibatsu grand corporations; but, there will be no need to import labor or motivate procreation beyond whatever people feel like. Especially, the half of the equation that gets to be the Moms.
Chinese laborer in a Japanese lettuce field
With one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations and lowest birthrates, Japan is facing acute labor shortages not only in farming towns but also in fishing villages, factories, restaurants and nursing homes, and on construction sites. Closed to immigration, Japan has admitted foreign workers through various loopholes, including employing growing numbers of foreign students as part-timers and temporary workers as so-called foreign trainees.
But that unofficial supply route has left some businesses continually scrambling for a dependable work force and the foreigners vulnerable to abuse. With Japan’s population projected to decline steeply over the next decades, the failure to secure a steady work force could harm the nation’s long-term economic competitiveness.
“It’s not only in farming but everywhere else,” said Kenichiro Takano, an official at Kawakami’s agriculture cooperative. “If we don’t at least start by allowing in unskilled laborers for a limited period and for a limited number of times, and then come up with long-term solutions, Japan won’t have a sufficient work force. The deadline is approaching.”
The labor shortage has grown serious enough that a group of influential politicians in the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party recently released a report calling for the admission of 10 million immigrants in the next 50 years.
Junichi Akashi, an immigration specialist at the University of Tsukuba who advised the group, said its members had come to realize how Japan had come to depend on foreign laborers.
Of course, being an island nation it’s a lot easier to regulate traffic in legal migrant labor. As we all know, the open borders American model results in chaos.