Friday, June 17, 2005

When the chickens don't vote for Frank Perdue

Alexander Cockburn takes on Thomas Friedman:

". . . when I read the reports filed by U.S. correspondents and pundits from Paris, after the French Non! to the EC proposed constitution a couple of weeks ago. It was striking how many of them, presumably without any direct orders from the owners of their publications, started lecturing the French in the tones of nineteenth-century Masters of Capital.

The 'Non', they howled, disclosed the cosseted and selfish laziness of French workers. On inspection this turned out to mean that French workers have laws protecting their pensions, health benefits, leisure time and other outlandish buttresses of a tolerable existence. No one was more outraged than Friedman, a man who, we can safely surmise, does have health benefits, enjoys confidence about his retirement along with a robust six-figure income plus guaranteed vacations plus a pleasant ambulatory existence living in nice hotels, confabbing with CEOs, and lecturing gratified businessmen on their visionary nature and the virtues of selfishness.

From Bangalore Friedman issued a furious rebuke. 'French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Next to India, Western Europe looks like an assisted-living facility with Turkish nurses.' I guess it does, though 'engineers' is rather a dignified label to fix on the cyber-coolies -- underpaid clerical workers -- who toil night and day in Bangalore's call centers. But if you want a race to the bottom of the sort Friedman calls for, you don't have to travel too far from Bangalore, maybe -- though any direction will do -- north-east into the former realm of posterboy Naidu to find an Indian reality compared with which the so-called IT breakthroughs in India are like gnat bites on the hide of one of those buffaloes you see in photos in articles headlined 'Timeless India Faces Change'."

Read the rest of Cockburn's essay on Friedman

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