Thursday, 13 October 2011

middle class movements; and a fishing industry going bad

i'm going to put up some links i've picked up from here and there. firstly, a couple of good pieces from people of colour re occupy wall st (and other places).

- this is an interesting experience of pushing for change and being heard.

- i liked this post about images of native americans used by the movement.

i also loved this tumblr, which parallels the "we are the 99%" one. but it reminds me once again how much of a middle class protest this is. as with the arab spring. when doing some research for the arab spring, which started in tunisia, i found this piece which discusses the factors that started the protests in that country, causing movement across the whole region. it started with the suicide of one young man, whose despair was echoed across the country:

The recent suicide of an unemployed 24-year-old man in Tunisia -- who electrocuted himself by touching a high-voltage electrical pole after shouting "no for misery, no for unemployment" — and the ensuing unrest are signs of the frustration and despair felt by the country's youth as Tunisia's economy slows.

Even as the level of education among job seekers in Tunisia has improved, the government has failed to make policies guaranteeing enough job creation to absorb new entrants to the labor market, especially among those with university degrees.

As a result, Tunisia has one of the highest levels of unemployment among Arab states: more than 14% overall and 30% among those between age 15 and 29.

...the demand for highly skilled labor has not kept up with the increased level of education in Tunisia. Over the last decade, the proportion of job seekers with higher education rose from 20% of the labor force in 2000 to more than 55% in 2009.

this is so similar to the stories on the "we are the 99%" site. for so many years, young people have been told to work hard and get an education if they want to succeed. the neo-liberal creed that failure is simply a result of laziness was taken to heart, and young people around the world have taken to higher education in the hope of achieving financial security. except, as shown with the tunisian experience and mirrored in so many other countries, there's no point in getting an education if there aren't the skilled jobs available in the first place.

thinking anxiously about the future of my own girls, i wonder what is going to be available for them even with their very expensive educations and hefty student loans. unless the government invests in creating jobs and thereby growth, there's not much hope. austerity measures will balance the books but leave the majority without a sustainable society.

an article in stuff papers finished with the line "But support for the anti- capitalist protest movement was light in Asia." yet this article from CNN states that there were protests in tokyo, hong kong, jakarta. there were also protests in manila, and looks like there are moves to occupy mumbai on oct 29 (if you can believe twitter). even so, the movement clearly isn't as strong in asia as it currently is in europe & america and has been across the middle east. perhaps because some asian countries are still experiencing growth, and the middle classes aren't feeling quite so hopeless and helpless yet?

in other news, this submission by the seafood industry council to a ministerial inquiry just makes me angry:

New Zealand's fishing industry needs more cheap Asian labour not less, the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) told a ministerial inquiry into the use of foreign charter vessels.

FCVs, flagged in mainly Asian states, operate New Zealand's deep sea fishery with around 2000 low wage crews from Third World countries. SeaFIC says New Zealand-flagged fishing boats cannot get local crews and they now want to import low wage labour as well.

Despite high unemployment it was hard to get New Zealanders to work on fishing boats. New Zealanders did not like being at sea for weeks at a time, working in uncomfortable conditions and living in an isolated and enforced alcohol and drug free environment.

as I/S points out, the solution is surely to pay higher wages. i'd add that they could also improve working conditions. comfort can be increased if companies are willing to put the money in. if they think they can't be profitable by paying higher wages and improving conditions, then perhaps they shoudn't be in business. the answer certainly isn't to find impoverished people elsewhere in the world to exploit.

and seriously, pointing to other firms that behave badly as justification is pathetic.

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