Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Future Wall Street Wants is Happening Now in Qatar

Where there is great wealth, there is exploitation of labor.  Where there is extreme, obscene wealth for a tiny minority, there is slavery for everyone else.

Real, vicious, lethal, literal slavery.

Charles Pierce:

The Trade Union Confederation has had to count the corpses the hard way. It found that 83 Indians have died so far this year. The Gulf statelet was also the graveyard for 119 Nepalese construction workers. With 202 migrants from other countries dying over the same nine months, Ms Burrow is able to say with confidence there is at least one death for every day of the year. The body count can only rise now that Qatar has announced that it will take on 500,000 more migrants, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, to build the stadiums, hotels and roads for 2022.
Not all the fatalities are on construction sites. The combination of back-breaking work, nonexistent legal protections, intense heat and labour camps without air conditioning allows death to come in many guises. To give you a taste of its variety, the friends of Chirari Mahato went online to describe how he would work from 6am to 7pm. He would return to a hot, unventilated room he shared with 12 others. Because he died in his sleep, rather than on site, his employers would not accept that they had worked him to death. There are millions of workers like him around the Gulf. When we gawp at the wealth that allows the Qatari royals to buy the Olympic Village and Chelsea Barracks, we miss their plight, and the strangeness of the oil rich states, too.
Strangeness is one way to put it.
"Absolute monarchy" does not begin to capture a society such as Qatar, where migrants make up 99% of the private sector workforce. Apartheid South Africa is a useful point of reference. The 225,000 Qatari citizens can form trade unions and strike. The roughly 1.8 million migrants cannot. Sparta also comes to mind. But instead of a warrior elite living off the labour of helots, we have plutocrats and sybarites sustained by faceless armies of disposable migrants.
Obscene is another way.

I don't want to hear anything about cultural imperialism. This is inexcusable in the 21st century. And, in the years since, we've pretty much turned Qatar into an aircraft carrier with luxury hotels. They're our plucky little ally. Sooner or later, the shit will hit the fan and we'll be startled by the ingratitude displayed. We do nothing but wrong over there. It's startling.
No taxes on the rich, of course - no need, what with all the no-cost "jobs" they create. It's the Galtian paradise the teabaggers are working so hard to make happen here, never realizing they'll be the first ones in chains.

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