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Corporate love for communism (2008/7/21 20:39:49) [发送到微博]
 
Corporate love for communism
美国企业拥抱共产主义
By Harold MeyersonTue Jul 15, 4:00 AM ET
请各位有幸路过的高手指教,此文绝不代表我本人的观点。
Doing business in China is beginning to cost real money. Not that Chinese workers are buying second homes or anything like that: Their average wage is still a little short of a dollar an hour. But so many Chinese have now left their villages for the factories that the once bottomless pool of new young workers is beginning to run dry, and the wages of assembly-line employees are rising 10 percent a year.
在中国做生意开始越来越费钱了。这倒不是说,中国工人正在买第二套住房或者与此类似的问题。实际上他们的平均薪水还只有不到一美元一小时。但是,如此多的中国农民离开家乡到城里的工厂就业,以至于原来那个看似去穷无尽劳动力大军,现在看来开始枯竭了。而且与此同时生产线上的工人的薪水每年都涨约10%。
 
Worse yet, new labor laws are making it harder for employers to cheat their workers out of their wages and benefits. Many American businesses that do their manufacturing in China had warned against those laws. But the good old days of Maoist labor discipline, when the government could send tens of millions of skilled workers down to the farms to be toughened up and periodically tortured, are gone. Mao's heirs, though not above a touch of torture here and there just to keep the system humming along, are concerned, as he was not, with achieving social harmony, even if that means compelling employers to sign, and honor, contracts with their employees.
Confronted with such appalling squishiness, what's a good, cost-cutting American business to do? Many are fleeing south of the border – not our border (Mexico costs way too much) but China's.
They're bound for Vietnam.
更糟的是,新的劳动法让工厂主很难在工资和福利方面糊弄工人。很多在中国设厂的公司已经对上述法律提出异议。那种以良好劳动纪律著称的毛时代一去不复返了(那个时代工人定期被送到农村进行吃苦和磨练)。毛的继承者(虽然没有继续折磨工人,但是也继承了他的衣钵)现在认为应该保持社会和谐(这一点毛泽东没有提过),并不惜强迫企业主和工人签订合同。面对上述困难,一个守法的希望降低成本的美国企业该怎么做呢?他们中的很多涌向南方,当然不是美国南方(墨西哥成本太高了),而是中国南方。
他们的目的地是越南。
 
According to a report by Keith Bradsher in The New York Times last month, such multinational companies as Canon (the printer and copier maker) and Hanesbrands (the North Carolina-based underwear empire) are expanding or building factories in Hanoi, where they churn out products for Wal-Mart and other American retailers. Foreign direct investment in Vietnam increased 136 percent between 2006 and 2007, while it increased just 14 percent in China.
根据上月纽约时报的Keith Bradsher的一份报告,象佳能(打印机和复印机制造者)和Hanesbrands(设在贝卡莱罗纳的内衣织品帝国) 之类的跨国公司正在河内建造工厂。在2006年,这些跨国公司在那里生产沃尔玛等美国零售巨头所需产品。越南的外国直接投资增长了136%,而同时期中国FDI只增长了14%。
 
The reason for the move south is straightforward: Vietnamese factory workers make about a quarter of what their Chinese counterparts earn.
搬移到南方的理由很简单:越南工人的劳动力成本只是中国同行的1/4。
But why Vietnam and not, say, Thailand, where labor is similarly cheap?
但是为什么是越南而不是其他国家,比方说泰国,泰国的劳动力也很便宜。
Vietnam's edge, it seems, is political. "Communism means more stability," Laurence Shu, the chief financial officer of Shanghai-based Texhong, one of the world's leading manufacturers of cotton fabrics, told Bradsher. This view, Bradsher reports, is common among Asian executives and some American executives, too, though they have the presence of mind never to say so on the record. After all, Vietnam, like China, outlaws independent unions. Absent free speech and free elections, no radical shifts in the government's economic policies are likely to be sprung upon unsuspecting American businesses.
看起来,越南的优势是政治方面。设在上海的全球领先的棉织品制造商Texhong的首席财政官Laurence Shu告诉Bradsher:“共产主义意味着稳定”。 Bradsher认为,在亚洲和美国的企业管理人员普遍持有这种观点,虽然他们并不愿意公开承认上述观点。毕竟,越南像中国一样不承认独立的工会。由于没有自由言论和自由选举,容易轻信的美国公司也因此在这些国家享受经济政策稳定的好处。
 
Now, far be it from me to begrudge the Vietnamese their moment in the sun before global capital finds them too costly and moves on to Bangladesh and Somalia. But didn't we fight a war to keep Vietnam from going communist? Something like 58,000 American deaths, right? And now American business actually prefers investing in communist Vietnam over, say, the more or less democratic Philippines? In all likelihood, it would prefer investing in communist Vietnam to investing in a more chaotic, less disciplined democratic Vietnam, if such existed.
在全球资本因越南劳动力成本上升到很难承受并转移到孟加拉索马里之前,在我看来我们还远未到羡慕越南的地步。我们为什么不打一场防治越南进入共产主义的仗呢?那里有58000美国人的亡魂,不对吗?现在美国的企业实际上更喜欢投资在社会主义的越南,而不是或多或少有点民主的菲律宾。确实如果可能,我们当然喜欢投资在社会主义的越南,而不是一个混乱,纪律涣散的民主越南。
 
Let's imagine, just as an exercise, that we're trying to explain this to those 58,000 Americans and their loved ones. We could argue that by investing in communist countries, we're pushing them toward democracy. But everything we know about China suggests that, in reality, such investments merely make authoritarian regimes stronger.
作为一个演练,让我们想象这样一幅场景,我们试图向58000名阵亡者和他们钟爱的人们解释。我们争辩说,通过投资社会主义的越南,我们可以推进他们向民主制度过渡。但是我们在中国的经历告诉我们,这样的投资只会当地独裁政权更强大。
 
We could argue that what we're really doing is bringing communist nations into the world capitalist system. Then again, the effect of bringing into the global labor pool hundreds of millions of low-wage workers – people whose wages are held in check by both capital mobility and communist repression – is to hold down wages in democratic nations with advanced economies and with no national strategy to preserve and expand good jobs at home (i.e., in the US).
我们也许会争辩说,我们所要做的是将一个共产主义国家带入国际资本主义体系。但是这样做的后果(带入了世界劳动力市场大量低薪劳动者,社会主义国家工人的工资实际受到资本家和共产主义的双重压迫)是拉低了民主国家的工人工资,因为这些民主国家虽然有先进的经济,但是却没有国家战略去保留和扩展自己国内的优良工作。
 
Or we could argue that our onetime opposition to communism was noble and all that but that, unburdened by the illusions of the past, American business, backed by the American government, has realized that the problem with communism wasn't that it was undemocratic but that it was anticapitalist. And that once communism was integrated into a world capitalist system, its antipathy toward democracy not only wouldn't be a bad thing but would actually be good.
That is clearly the political logic that underpins our involvement with China.
也许我们也可以这样认为,我们过去和共产主义国家的对抗是一种高尚的对抗,仅此而已。放下过去对抗的思维后,在美国政府的支持下,美国的企业意识到,共产主义国家存在的问题并不是不民主的问题,而是反资本主义的问题。一旦共产主义国家融入我们的国际资本主义体系,共产主义国家对民主的厌恶不但不会成为一个问题而会变成一项优势。正是基于这种政治逻辑,我们才巩固了同中国的交往。 
 
It's a little dicier to say this about our growing involvement with Vietnam, since all those Americans whose names are on that wall on the Mall probably didn't realize how compatible with global American enterprise Vietnamese communism would turn out to be or how the cause of democracy would turn out to have been of no real importance at all.
既然美国在越战中的亡灵可能产生疑问:美国的全球企业和越南共产主义者怎么能那么和谐?他们为之奋斗的民主事业真的就那么一文不值?从这一点考虑,与越南交往可能要冒更大的风险。
 
I guess a note from the American establishment to those men and women with their names on the wall would be in order. Something like: Say, guys – sorry 'bout that!
我猜那些代表越战死难者的组织的正式关注函件也许已经拟好了正待发出。函件的内容也许会是这样的“嗨,伙计,对不起我们很难同意你的做法”。
 
• Harold Meyerson is editor at large of American Prospect and the L.A. Weekly. ©2008 The Washington Post.
请各位有幸路过的高手指教。
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