As we gear up for trade war with a major creditor and producer of many consumer goods, Rolling Stone looks at how China is treating North Carolina like the developing world.
American farmers take on the debt for facilities and the environmental legacy, including any – potential – public health issues related to factory farming pigs. Smithfield keeps the pork which finds its way to China for consumption. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s pretty much colonial behavior. Once upon a time, the British took the tobacco and the tea. The Belgians took the ivory. The Americans took the oil. But now the United States is a third-world country dressed up in an ill-fitting suit.
No, “third-world” isn’t a good word for it. It’s a shame that the actual intent of the third-world movement was spoiled by the first and second worlds refusing to allow all those nations to develop without choosing sides and being effectively colonized. But “third-world” has a connotation for us Americans. It’s poverty and degradation; corruption and violence. “Developing world” suggests that the arrow’s pointing up, so that’s hardly fitting for the United States in the 21st Century. It’s stepping out of colonialism and finding footing and a voice.
As the story about China pork farming in America suggests, we’re stepping into colonialism, not out. We have enough footing to stomp our feet and enough voice to complain, but that’s about all we have and to prove it we elected a guy who only knows how to complain and stomp his feet. Fitting that he’s an ignorant, classless asshole who still hasn’t learned how to wear a suit.
If it were only pork, we might stand a chance. But maybe you’ve noticed that the industry which has risen in the South over the last two decades is based on foreign, if household, names. After politicians practice legal corruption in competition with their fellow Americans to lure foreign companies into their state, a factory gets built. The wages are lower than what – say – America’s unionized autoworkers won for themselves, and the destruction of those unions along with the low wages that are better than what people in the region had been earning are hailed as victorious Capitalism. You could believe it’s that. Or you might see that these companies establish themselves here with taxpayer support in order to get around mild tariffs that have long been in place to allow American companies room to breathe in the domestic market. These companies look at Southern Americans the same way American companies look at Mexican and Asian workers: cheap and disposable. Fortunately for those companies, American politicians share their view of American workers.
It used to be that when empires wanted colonies for raw materials and dirty work they had to go out and conquer them with force. It’s a horrid and bloody history that we’ll never make amends for. But here in America, we’ll sell ourselves into colonial status. Give us your offshored jobs and pigshit lagoons yearning to break free. We’ll do anything for a quick buck.