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Sidebar: Britain's Economy is Great Again, Say Corporate Media. So Why Are British Workers Fleeing to Germany?

Attacks on Living Standards: A World Order Devouring Itself

by Mark Cook

Things are not going well for the New World Order.

In Germany, unemployment has shot up half a million in a single month, leaving the country with the same jobless rate that existed when Hitler came to power. Sharp increases in official unemployment figures have just been announced in France as well.

But to the surprise of the New World Order's rulers, the double-digit unemployment figures have only increased popular resistance to "reforms" such as "labor flexibility" and lower wages.

Protests are rapidly spreading in Europe, especially in Germany and France. Despite official efforts to blame the joblessness on workers' resistance to "reforms," the public is increasingly accusing the rightwing French and German governments, and asserting that European governments have deliberately sought to increase unemployment to make the labor force more pliable and to pit the unemployed against the still employed.

"At boiling point"
Elsewhere in the New World Order's realm, South Korea is "at boiling point," the London Financial Times reported February 3, adding that "South Koreans feel their country is collapsing" as a result of the government's extreme right-wing economic policies, aimed at imposing the same "reforms" there.

Meanwhile, Albania, characterized by the Financial Times as the International Monetary Fund's "best pupil in Eastern Europe," has imploded after the collapse of a Ponzi scheme that took with it a third of the country's gross national product.

Mexico, the previous "IMF best pupil," lost that title when its economy collapsed in December 1994. The week before the bust, Salomon Brothers, the respected Wall Street investment firm, issued a "very positive" opinion on the Mexican economy, and Moody's Investors Services gave the country a similarly laudatory classification. (Le Monde Diplomatique, March 1995). Business Week magazine had gushed with enthusiasm for the Mexican economy in articles until the crash.

Unabashed, these same disinterested experts carry on as if nothing happened, and denounce all who oppose the New World Order economic project as ignoramuses who are trying to hold back the inevitable.

In a front-page article April 3, The Washington Post presents the case of a 49-year old French lower management worker, Nicolas Duthuille, who was laid off but regained his job when a French court voided the dismissal, and reports that French workers cannot be laid off with impunity as they are in the United States. "The overturning of the layoff plan could not be better for Duthuille," the Post notes. "But is it good for France?" The Post, affecting a concern for what's good for France, concludes that it is not.

"In these difficult and competitive times, the French government and the private sector of the economy are beginning to fear that the price for protecting those already employed and keeping them at their current level of compensation and job security is fewer jobs for the nonworking," the Post explains.

Directly contradicting its expressed concern for the "nonworking," the Post adds: "In the past, personnel reductions on this side of the Atlantic were accomplished largely through early retirement and attrition. Now, companies say they must lay people off, where they can."

In other words, before they only got rid of workers by retirement and so forth, without hiring anyone new, which explains the alarmingly high French youth unemployment rate which the Post claims to be concerned about. Now, however, attrition is not enough: they need to boot out those with jobs without waiting for them to retire, which will mean high unemployment not only for young people but for mature workers as well.

Nobody Believes the Message
The New York Times grudgingly admitted April 5 that the French government and the New-World-Order forces are having a hard time getting their message across. It is not hard to see why.

The Post article, for example, reports that there is a crisis of overproduction in the European auto and steel industries, and then presents "labor flexibility" as a solution. The Post does not explain how greater "labor flexibility" will increase projected demand for autos or steel. It will obviously increase profits for transnational corporations.

The problem for New World Order propagandists, in both governments and in the media, is that nobody in Europe believes anything they say any more.

The explanations for unemployment are especially problematic. The Post refers to "these difficult and competitive times."

The French public responds that if the times are "difficult" that is not the workers' fault but the fault of those who run the economic system, or the fault of the system itself. Anyway, the big business media have been trying desperately over the past year and a half to paint the economic situation as rosy.

On the other hand, if the times are merely "competitive," the population will naturally demand to know why. Of course French or American workers cannot compete against third world police states where workers have no rights. Why should they?

It is small wonder that the European population increasingly suspects the high unemployment rate is deliberately induced by the authorities to lower wages and destroy worker resistance.

"Needed: Higher Unemployment"
That is exactly what the rich-nation-club Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, has been publicly declaring for the past three years. "A higher level of conjunctural unemployment is needed to obtain an adjustment in wages," the OECD stated in a July 1994 report cited at the time by Le Monde Diplomatique.

"The OECD experts had a dream one night," the paper wrote in summing up the New World Order project. "In Paris in front of their offices in the Chateau de la Muette, a crowd of angry unemployed demand the abolition of the minimum wage, a reduction in social spending, general labor flexibility and the auctioning off of the public sector."

The hope is to use the army of unemployed in Europe to roll back all of the social gains of the past 50 years. The mobilizations against unemployment in France and Germany suggests that the European public is not falling for the scam. South Korean Scandal

In South Korea, efforts by authorities to impose brutal anti-labor "reforms" despite massive worker opposition were interrupted when the Hanbo steel and construction empire collapsed, leaving $6 billion in bank debt and triggering a scandal that has left the government staggering.

Senior South Korean officials, who were piously declaring only the day before that the anti-union "reforms" were the only way to stop economic hemorrhaging, were revealed to be among the main beneficiaries of the massive loan racket that ended in the Hanbo bankruptcy.

The "reforms" had already provoked nationwide general strikes throughout South Korea. Public opinion polls give the government the support of no more than 20% of the population.

In the circumstances, the work of corporate media propagandists gets harder every day.

Silk Purse From Sow's Ear
In a silk-purse-from-sow's-ear piece of journalism, The New York Times "business" section reported (12/13/96) that British workers are flooding into Germany to take construction jobs.

This would ordinarily suggest that the British economy was doing poorly and the German economy was doing well. But that's not how the Times sees it in the era of the New World Order.

In their latest role, corporate media journalists have been assigned the job of depicting the British economy as a success.

What makes it a success? Exactly the things-low wages, joblessness, a collapsed health care system-that only a few years ago would have rated it as a failure. What was so recently represented as "economic decline" has now become "necessary reform" which is being urged on the rest of us.

Even stranger has been Germany's sudden reversal of fortune.

Up to the end of the Cold War, West Germany was the showcase of postwar capitalism, a country so splendidly successful that workers from less fortunate countries like Italy and Turkey flocked there to work as "gastarbeiter" or "guest workers."

Now, according to the mass media, Germany has become a failure, for the very reasons that only six years ago made it a success: high wages, decent working conditions, good health care.

  Mark Cook is a New York-based free lance journalist.  

  Britain's Economy is Great Again, Say Corporate Media. So Why Are British Workers Fleeing to Germany?

by Mark Cook

In its 12/13/96 Business Section article, The New York Times presents as credible the claims of German employers that eager, hardworking British construction workers are pouring into Germany to take jobs the Germans are too lazy to do themselves. German capitalists quoted in the article (no German workers are interviewed) declare that German workers refuse to work on weekends, even for overtime pay, because they want to spend time with their families.

British and Irish construction workers, on the other hand, don't even ask for overtime pay. (Nor would they be given any if they did).

Regular readers of The New York Times and other New World Order journals may be left wondering why the British are pouring into Germany in the first place.

After all, to hear the corporate press tell it, the British economy is the one bright spot in a Europe awash in double-digit unemployment. In Britain, it is reported, there are jobs galore as a result of the "reforms" imposed by former British Prime Margaret Thatcher. (The Times 12/13/96 article does quote the British construction workers as saying that it is hard to get jobs back home in Britain).

The "reforms" have been so effective in eliminating exorbitant perks for workers such as a minimum wage that South Korea is now exporting factories to Britain because labor costs are lower there and job security far more precarious.

In fact, the British standard of living, as measured by the per capita gross national product, has just sunk below that of Ireland, having already gone past Italy and Singapore.

It is, of course, not surprising that British and Irish workers are willing to work seven days a week. They have nothing else to do in Germany. The New York Times article was based on interviews at a pub in Germany where these guest workers spend their idle time.

Almost none can speak any German and they are not usually accompanied by family members, since the pay is too low. Dormitories, South African-style

"To work 'til you're dead, for one room and a bed, is not the reason I left Mullingar," runs an Irish ballad sung in the 1980's by the Furies, deploring the conditions of Irish workers in England forced to live in London's notorious "bedsits."

Now, Irish (and British) workers do not even get the single room and the bed. In the Times article, the British workers in Germany were sharing bedrooms in an apartment, and three more were camped in the living room. Many British workers in Germany live in large dormitories.

In fact, the presence of British construction workers in Germany is nothing new. Stories on the workers and their dormitory life have appeared in the British press as far back as 1974. The reason then, as now, was the desperately low level of wages in Britain.

What is new is the US corporate media's attempt to portray this savaging of living standards as something positive.

As for the line that Britain has a low unemployment rate, the truth is British unemployment figures omit to mention the "forgotten" unemployed-those who have become discouraged and have given up looking for work. If they do not appear at an unemployment center every week, and there is nor reason to do so, since their benefits have run out, they are "disappeared" from the ranks of the unemployed. According to Cambridge University economist John Wells in a an article in the London newspaper The Independent (Jan. 2, 1994), the British government thereby "forgets" between one and two million unemployed. A similar scandal has existed for years in official US unemployment reporting.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, praised by then-US Secretary of State Warren Christopher as "the architect of the world economy," has admitted that unemployment statistics "do not lend themselves to international comparison because they reflect institutional particularities in each country." (cited in Le Monde Diplomatique, July 1994, p.1).

American Express, calculating the "forgotten" unemployed, came up with unemployment figures for Britain that were virtually identical to the official ones for France-and sharply higher than the British government's own figures. (Source: Amex Bank Review, Jan. 24, 1994, quoted in Le Monde Diplomatique, July 1994, p.1). The Amex figures at the time were for 12.3% for Britain, not 9.8%. The disparity in US figures was even worse: unemployment in the US was calculated by Amex as almost half again as high as the official rate.

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