What’s Swedish for ‘Exploitation’?

Here’s an interesting story (hat tip to Steve Benen) that really highlights what 30+ years of outsourcing, off-shoring, and trickle-down economics have done to this country. It’s all about Swedish furniture giant Ikea’s factory in rural VA. Evidently, when prosperous companies have access to low wage worker and an opportunity to pad the bottom line, they’ll take it. Shocking, I know. Let’s just look a little closer at what separates a burgeoning first world country from a declining one:

“The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation day — eight of them on dates determined by the company.”

Just to be clear, and as Steve points out, this is all about America becoming the low wage workforce for new economic powerhouses like Sweden. I’m not going to defend Ikea’s practices in VA because they’re abhorrent and frankly I expected a little more from a “progressive” company.  However, the whole story definitely gives one pause. In the same scenario involving any two countries, there should not be the opportunity for such disparity in employment practices. And yet our entire house-of-cards hyper-capitalism is based on just this type of exploitation. Obviously, we’re just used to doing to other countries, not having it done to us.

Maybe, just maybe we’re doing something wrong?


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