Buffett’s profits are not tied exclusively to low wages stateside; his Wal-Mart earnings are a result of paying the lowest garment wages in the world, according to labor rights advocates. Wal-Mart has started moving some of its garment factories out of China, where garment workers have been making the princely sum of $147 per month, to Bangladesh, where monthly earnings total $64, the lowest wage of its kind. In this world of farce these wages are linked to Bangladesh’s low literacy rate—55 percent. Had workers only acquired educations, the master thespians of farce would say, wages would be higher.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up