Monthly Archives: March 2019

Oppression and exploitation news: March 24 – April 3, 2019

Obtaining income through the government 2019

If those who work for Uber are classified as employees of Uber and not as independent contractors, Uber (and other employers similarly situated) will have costs rise significantly because of greater protections and benefits that employees are due. Thus Uber and other companies are working to keep their workers classified as independent contractors by government agencies.
Is gig work a job? Uber and others are maneuvering to shape the answer. Noam Scheiber New York Times March 26, 2019

Scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that two of three widely used pesticides were so toxic that they jeopardized the existence of more than 1200 endangered species, which could have led to restrictions on their use. However release of the report was blocked by political appointees.
Interior nominee intervened to block report on endangered species Eric Lipton New York Times March 26, 2019

Conflict 2019

Niger, part 1: At the centre of a brewing militant storm Giacomo Zandonini and Francesco Bellina The New Humanitarian March 28, 201

Trump administration steps up air war in Somalia Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage New York Times March 10, 2019

Preaching world peace by day, peddling lethal weapons by night Thalif Deen Inter Press Service March 11, 2019O

Discrimination against women 2019

Afghanistan: ‘Women Here Are Very, Very Worried’ Susan Chira New York Times March 22, 2019
Afghan women used to be championed by almost everyone. Now they’re all but forgotten.

Discrimination 2019

Policing black Americans is a long-standing, and ugly, American tradition Vanessa Holden and Edward E. Baptist Washington Post March 6, 2019

Oppression and exploitation news: March 21-27

Harm through the market 2019

One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales of all the eyewear companies and jacked up prices by as much as 1000% Corey Docterow BoingBoing March 12, 2019

Hidden in plain sight — private cartels in Africa Thando Vilakazi Review of African Political Economy March 26, 2019

Struggle for control 2019

It’s time to break the chains.’ Algerians seek a revolution. Adam Nossiter New York Times March 24, 2019

Algeria’s uprising: The beginning of the end of ‘Le Pouvoir’? Tin Hinane El Kadi Review of African Political Economy March 21, 2019

As Thai pro-military party celebrates election lead, so do its opponents Hannah Beech and Muktita Suhartono New York Times March 25, 2019

Old sewing machine of the type used in many Indian homes. Credit Suparna

Fashion industry exploitation of female home workers in India

Many firms in developed countries, countries which have significant worker protections, contract out parts or all of their production to contractors in developing countries, where labor protections are much less. Here is an example.
Made for next to nothing. Worn by you? Elizabeth Paton New York Times February 6, 2019

See full report Tainted Garments. The exploitation of women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector by Siddharth Kara (60 page PDF file)

Image: Old sewing machine of the type used in many Indian homes. Credit Suparna

The rise in collateralized debt obligations since 2004.

Harm through the market 2019

United States

The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery Khalil Gabran Muhammad New York Times August 14, 2019

The brutal psychological toll of erratic work schedules Daniel Schneider and Kristen Harknett Washington Post June 27, 2019
“Unpredictable hours and variable pay may cause even more distress than low wages.”

This article brings out the large supply of people who need a job enabling Uber and other gig-based enterprises to pay those who work for them low wages. (See “exploitation of labor by capital” in Understanding exploitation.) In addition, workers now are classified as “independent contractors” not employees, removing rights which workers have.
The ‘Gig Economy’ Is the new term for serfdom Chris Hedges Truthdig August 12, 2018

This article says that the time allotted for patient care during normal working hours is not sufficient, forcing health professions to work extra hours to meet the needs of their patients. (See “exploitation of labor by capital” in Understanding exploitation.)
The business of health care depends on exploiting doctors and nurses Danielle Ofri New York Times June 8, 2017

One important type of market harm is firms trying to sneak by extra charges for consumers of their product. Wells Fargo has done this on a large scale, and has been caught three times. In the most recent settlement, the bank paid to settle charges that it had charged (unnecessary) insurance on its auto loans and without informing those receiving loans.
Wells Fargo agrees to settle auto insurance suit for $386 million Emily Flitter New York Times June 7, 2017

An editorial in the New York Times sets out important ways in which worker’s rights have been reduced in the Trump administration. These include: easing the ability of firms to classify workers as temporary workers, thus eliminating the protections that full time workers have in law, restricting collective bargaining in various ways, limiting the ability of workers at franchised businesses to pursue claims against the franchiser, and failing to adequately enforce existing laws, such as OSHA.
Trump’s war on worker rights Editorial Board New York Times June 3, 2019 (opinion).

Robert Reich points out that about 25 percent of American workers are now temporary workers, eliminating protections that ordinary jobs have including “a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation for injuries, employer-provided Social Security, overtime, family and medical leave, disability insurance, or the right to form unions and collectively bargain.” The jig is up on the gig economy Robert Reich Truthdig June 5, 2019 (opinion)

Individual consumers do not have the market power of Medicare (or large health insurance groups) and thus get charged much more. While a justification for this on the part of hospitals is that individual consumers may not pay, there is little reason why those who do pay should cover the charges (and very possibly much more) of those who don’t. This arises because of differential market power. Individual consumers of health care are limited in their bargaining power while larger consumers such as health insurance firms are able to strike better bargains. In addition, there are few providers of hospital services in a local market, increasing these providers market power. (See “monopoly and oligopoly” in Understanding exploitation.)
Many hospitals charge double or triple what Medicare would pay Reed Abelson New York Times May 9, 2019

California to ban controversial pesticide, citing effects on child brain development Reed Anderson and Juliet Eilpern Washington Post May 8, 2019

Why both major political parties have failed to curb dangerous pesticides Elena Conis Washington Post April 9, 2019

How regulators, Republicans and big banks fought for a big increase in lucrative but risky corporate loans Damian Paletta Washington Post April 9, 2019

Pork industry soon will have more power over meat inspections Kimberly Kindy Washington Post April 3, 2019
“Under the proposed new inspection system, the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees, whose training would be at the discretion of plant owners. There would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.”

The New York attorney general alleges that as investigations focused on Perdue Pharma, the family that owned the company began shifting hundreds of million of dollars from the business to themselves, using offshore entities.
New York sues Sackler family members and drug distributors Roni Caryn Rabin New York Times March 28, 2019

One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales of all the eyewear companies and jacked up prices by as much as 1000% Corey Docterow BoingBoing March 12, 2019

Wall Street’s latest love affair with repackaged debt. Investors in collateralized loan obligations are ignoring the signs of danger. William D. Cohan New York Times March 18, 2019 (opinion)

Condemned to repeat the history of bank failures? The 2008 crisis showed what happens when financial regulation is weakened while the economy is strong. The Trump administration is doing it again. Editorial Board New York Times March 20, 2019 (opinion)

Image: The rise in collateralized debt obligations since 2004. Credit Bloomberg / InvestmentNews

Other countries

One major way in which companies benefit is by locating production in countries where people’s incomes have been most limited by exploitation. This article considers the shift in textile production to Ethiopia. “Entry level garment workers in Ethiopia typically receive a base salary worth only $26 a month–the lowest by far in the worldwide clothing supply chain.”
A new industry is creating jobs in Ethiopia. But at what cost? Paul Barrett Washington Post May 10, 2019

“The current state of the migrant labor market [is] riddled with blatant violations of all the norms of an ideal workplace.”
Are migrant workers humans or commodities? Thalif Deen Inter Press Service May 1, 2019

Hidden in plain sight — private cartels in Africa Thando Vilakazi Review of African Political Economy Blog March 26, 2019

Cover of One Person No Vote C

One Person No Vote by Carol Anderson

How voter suppression threatens our economy (review of One Person No Vote) Timothy Smith Washington Post September 20, 2018

Our democracy is being stolen. It happens through election fraud and voter suppression. And Republicans are the culprits. Carol Anderson New York Times March 14, 2019

Image: Cover of One Person No Vote. Credit: Bloomsbury