The Simpsons perpetuating “The Competitiveness Myth”

As Krugman pointed out in the column linked in our previous post, below, we’ve been down this road before. Americans are suddenly worried about being overtaken by the surging Chinese; just as 30 years ago they fretted over the surging Japanese.

In 1993, when the Japanese miracle was a fait accompli, the Simpsons worked it into their famous Citizen-Kane-referencing “Rosebud” episode. Mr Burns is allowed glimpses of his own youth, as he toured the proto-atomic plant founded by his grandfather:

[Mr. Burns is reminiscing about his grandfather’s old Atom Smashing Plant]
Burns’ Grandfather: Come on, men! Smash those atoms! You there, turn out your pockets.
[Two goons seize a waifish worker and turn out his pockets]
Burns’ Grandfather: Aha – atoms! One, two, three, four… SIX of them! Take him away!
Waif: You can’t treat the working man this way! One of these days we’ll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we’ll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!
Burns’ Grandfather: The Japanese? Those sandal-wearing goldfish tenders? Ha ha! Bosh! Flimshaw!
Mr. Burns: Oh, if only we’d listened to that young man, instead of walling him up in the abandoned coke oven.

Of course, it’s a lot funnier with animation and goofy voices.

 

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3 responses to “The Simpsons perpetuating “The Competitiveness Myth”

  1. “Improve competitiveness” is a mantra frequently heard in discussions of how countries can increase economic growth. What that slogan actually means is that global corporations want workers in developed countries to agree to wage reductions to levels similar to those in the People’s Republic of China. The unspoken threat is that workers will be driven to accept such reductions inevitably.

    Wages in China are actually rising due to the country’s success in extracting manufacturing jobs from the rest of the world. The correct policy that should be pursued by developed countries and China is to have the PRC adjust its labor markets so that Chinese workers’ wages continue to converge with those of workers in developing countries.

    Increased standards of living for Chinese workers will mean less of a reduction in standards of living in developed countries. In some industries, Chinese goods are already not competitive with similar goods produced in developed countries due to transportation costs.

    Executive management currently colludes with a corrupt PRC system to extract the value of increased productivity throughout the world to increase the wealth of the top 1% of society…the super-rich. Workers throughout the world need to organize to reject the “competitiveness” propaganda and restructure the distribution of wealth more fairly.

  2. “Improve competitiveness” is a mantra frequently heard in discussions of how countries can increase economic growth. What that slogan actually means is that global corporations want workers in developed countries to agree to wage reductions to levels similar to those in the People’s Republic of China. The unspoken threat is that workers will be driven to accept such reductions inevitably.

    Wages in China are actually rising due to the country’s success in extracting manufacturing jobs from the rest of the world. The correct policy that should be pursued by developed countries and China is to have the PRC adjust its labor markets so that Chinese workers’ wages continue to converge with those of workers in developing countries.

    Increased standards of living for Chinese workers will mean less of a reduction in standards of living in developed countries. In some industries, Chinese goods are already not competitive with similar goods produced in developed countries due to transportation costs.

    Executive management currently colludes with a corrupt PRC system to extract the value of increased productivity throughout the world to increase the wealth of the top 1% of society…the super-rich. Workers throughout the world need to organize to reject the “competitiveness” propaganda and restructure the distribution of wealth more fairly.

  3. Is from Last Exit to Springfield, not Rosebud.

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