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This will end badly
November 14, 2006 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Compassionate Slavery. A representative of the World Trade Organization proposes foreign corporate "stewardship" of workers in Africa from the moment they are hired until they die, describing it as "the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory".
posted by Pastabagel (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Brilliant!
posted by rbs at 12:34 PM on November 14, 2006


The Yes Men are very funny. Many previous.
posted by hovercraft at 12:36 PM on November 14, 2006


Hank Hardy Unruh strikes again!
posted by stenseng at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2006


"It would be nice to have that kind of job security"
posted by PenDevil at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2006


The Yes Men might be funny, but to what end? Stunts like this don't so much raise awareness as sow confusion, perhaps making it easier for corporate entities to practice the kind of exploitation they are supposedly railing against.

However, they are the #3 Google result for "World Trade Organization," so maybe they could just completely take over operations one day and no one would notice...
posted by Urban Hermit at 1:00 PM on November 14, 2006


The Yes Men might be funny, but this fake news release is blunt and tedious. It's not even as funny as a typical contemporary article in The Onion (and way worse than Madison-era Onion).

Maybe I'm alone on this, but I've always thought good pieces of satire should at least allude to real solutions to the problems they discuss.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:03 PM on November 14, 2006


One conference attendee asked what incentive employers had to remain as stewards once their employees are too old to work or reproduce...there were no other questions from the audience that took issue with Schmidt's proposal.

Yes Men don't have solutions. I think that's the point.
posted by StopMakingSense at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2006


The irony is that this type of corporate serfdom was common in the US during the construction of the railroads and in mining (company town, etc), and is par for the course in China (except if you get sick you are tossed out).
posted by Pastabagel at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2006


I've always thought good pieces of satire should at least allude to real solutions to the problems they discuss.

Or at least decent recipes.
posted by nickmark at 1:27 PM on November 14, 2006


Ah, so this was a gag, then? What a relief! The Yes Men make me laugh, but first they make me tense. I'm still not quite unclenched from reading about the Haliburton Surviviball!
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2006


The movie is a good one to see and was partially filmed at my alma mater. They were the only ones in the film to actually call the Yes Men out on what they were proposing, rather than clap politely and make small talk like they did elsewhere.
posted by dr_dank at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2006


"This is what free trade's all about," said Schmidt. "It's about the freedom to buy and sell anything—even people."

Bit too much there. I’d’ve gone with corporate branding...not, um, actual branding like with a hot iron of people (although that’d be a neat allusion). Maybe show one of those 13 year old guerillas in a nike t-shirt, tuxedo shoes, no socks, cut off men’s slacks and an AK-47. “Just do it”
But really, no one would deliver a last line like that even if they believed it. Cute though.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on November 14, 2006


Ummm, I lived in South Carolina, and...no. Sorry, no. Find another solution.
posted by pax digita at 2:47 PM on November 14, 2006


the yes men are brilliant and ballsy as hell. it's ok that they don't have "solutions." not everybody is gandhi or mlk. they're doing a hell of a lot more than i am to raise consciousness, i can tell you that...
posted by facetious at 3:45 PM on November 14, 2006


India (real and now) - Stolen Childhood
However, there are other areas where the prevalence of child labour should be much easier to control and yet where it continues to persist.
The most appalling form of this is in the continuing prevalence of bonded child labour, which is completely illegal and yet persists in many regions and activities.
posted by tellurian at 3:46 PM on November 14, 2006


But really, no one would deliver a last line like that even if they believed it. Cute though.

Perhaps not. But in the context of an actual president of the World Bank having suggested that exporting toxic waste to LDCs (Less Developed Countries) is a good idea because, among other things, "The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand", it is perhaps less extreme than it should be.
posted by carmen at 5:05 PM on November 14, 2006


Let me tell you about slavery and the WTO!

My first job when I came to Washington, DC was as a legal writer for an immigration law firm. All day I sat and took depositions from women that had been brought over by WTO officials on "domestic worker" visas.

A Domestic Worker Visa is given to employees of international organizations (G-5 visa) and embassies (A-3 visa) to bring, just that, servants over to work in their homes. In order to get one of these visas the employer has to sign a labor contract with the worker and promise to at least pay minimum wage, overtime, medical/dental, housing etc... Rarely is this "contract" ever followed. Unfortunately, most of these, usually young women, are raped, beaten or at the very least given terrible living conditions and payed nothing. They are told that if they run away then they will be caught and deported by the US government.

For those that work for embassy personnel, there is little that can be done. Their bosses can hide behind diplomatic immunity. They can be publically humiliated, but that does little to help the women.

Those that work for the WTO and other groups are in better shape. If they are brave enough to run and can find a shelter and lawyer that knows about these situations then they can not only become permanent residents of the US as exploted persons, but they can also sue their former bosses for back pay and damages.

Usually seeking to hush up the embarrasing situation, the bosses will quickly settle for back pay plus a little hush money, with the stipulation that all the parties remain silent.

As the WTO is full of slave masters already, it does not surprize me that this is their brilliant plan.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:39 PM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that this is so plausible. It may be just a few years too early to be nonfiction.
posted by jam_pony at 6:55 PM on November 14, 2006


prostrate cancer? I won't take that lying down!
posted by stenseng at 11:57 PM on November 14, 2006


Pollomacho : "As the WTO is full of slave masters already, it does not surprize me that this is their brilliant plan."

Except that it isn't their brilliant plan. It is the brilliant plan of a bunch of performance artists pretending to be WTO personnel.
posted by Bugbread at 1:27 AM on November 15, 2006


Cannibals All! or, Slaves without Masters, a Southern justification for slavery, made the same point 150 years ago: slaves, economically cared for by their masters throughout their lives, were better off than Northern factory workers who only got paid when they worked.
posted by orthogonality at 9:03 AM on November 15, 2006


It bothers me that this is so plausible.

Precisely what makes this brilliantly uncomfortable. How many free-market preachers and neo-cons-in-libertarian-clothing and the like actually considered their proposal?
posted by dgbellak at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2006


On a related note....

My husband and I just watched C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, a mockumentary which starts with the premise that the South won The Civil War and slavery continues to the present day. Some (but unfortunately not all) of the fake commercials, movies and television show clips were amazing. The first 10 minutes or so made me very uncomfortable because there is little tongue-in-cheek attitude but rather a straight forward rewrite of history. I could easily imagine this being shown in white supremist areas and being cheered, however it is a Spike Lee Production and I think the in-your-face attitude towards slavery is thought provoking.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:15 AM on November 15, 2006


As the WTO is full of slave masters already, it does not surprize me that this is their brilliant plan.

I should rephrase:

As the WTO is full of slave masters already, it would not surprize me if this is their brilliant plan.

I swear I read it first!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:07 PM on November 15, 2006


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