The Olympics, distraction for the masses.
Disclaimer: Please do not read this if you’re really looking forward to watching the Olympics, as it may be a “downer”. Ignorance is bliss for a reason.
It constantly amazes me how easy it is to distract most people from their plight. Kate Middleton’s marriage (what’s Charles’ son’s name again?), which cost the taxpayers millions during a recession (recession?, depression?, what are “we” calling it now days?), because we know the “royals” deserve it, right? Besides being born, ie. sperm/egg lottery, what do these people do to “deserve” it? Well you got me. I thought we chose democracy over monarchy. Silly me.
And then there’s the Olympics. I wonder how much of the expected 4 billion pound profit will trickle down to the 99%? I know, I’m a total socialist, sorry about that. Trickle baby trickle. Cannibalistic capitalism, the other white meat …
But it’s the Olympics, so we must appreciate the …
As the corporate Olympic bandwagon rolls into town, it’s easy for us to think back to the ancient Olympics with rosy, idealistic spectacles. We imagine them as ‘sporting’ affairs as pure as the blue Mediterranean skies that formed the backdrop.
Thanks to the writer Pausanias and his ancient Guide To Greece in the 2nd century AD, we know quite a lot about how the Olympics were run.
They were filthy, riddled with cheating and bribery and often ran over budget, necessitating rescue packages from millionaire benefactors. And with all those contestants and spectators pouring into the little town of Olympia in rural Greece, the traffic congestion was even worse than we will see in London 2012.
The whole occasion was a religious festival in honour of the pagan gods. We nod to this every four years, when jobbing Greek actresses dress in long white frocks and light the flame of the Olympic torch at the site of the ancient Games — before seeing it carried off to the new Olympic venue.
But this is a complete modern fantasy. There is nothing here that the ancient Greeks would have recognised [sic].The torch ritual, played out across Britain in recent weeks, was an invention of the Nazis for the 1936 Olympics, and was never done at the ancient Games
Pagans and Nazis, oh my. Ah yes, the Nazis. It’s like playing the Kevin Bacon game, except substitute Nazi for his name. Fascists – check. Corporate-government collusion – check. The more things change …
Classical athletes didn’t have the range of performance-enhancing drugs that are available today, but they cheated, bribed and lied as much as their modern counterparts — perhaps even more so.
But what about the 1%ers? (Why does everyone forget the “poor” 1%ers and their “trails and tribulations”?
Then there was the issue of sponsorship. For most of the history of the ancient Games, plutocrats poured money in to keep this (very expensive) show on the road — and got concessions in return.
It’s not personal folks, it’s just business!
And how do they do it? Well maximize profit of course. Increase benefit, decrease costs. That simple. But how? Well … (I know, sorry for the “downer”: worker abuse? Worker abuse is irrelevant. It’s just a business decision: money, profit, greed. It’s not personal, it’s just business.) Sorry again, I know, I’m a bleeding-heart “pinko commie”.
Workers churning out toys of Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville are being paid just £6 a day to toil in sweatshop conditions, a report claimed today.
Plastic figures of the London 2012 mascots – which are sold for up to £10 – are mass-produced by factory workers in China who are forced to do 120 hours’ overtime a month.
Workers allegedly being exposed to hazardous conditions and being docked half a day’s pay for being five minutes late were some of the other ‘rampant rights violations’ apparently witnessed at the factory in Guangdong province where the mascots are made.
“Around the world, thousands of people making Adidas goods face appalling conditions, poverty wages, and excessive working hours, with little dignity or respect,” says Murray Worthy, a spokesman for the London-based nonprofit. “This is exploitation. Exploitation of workers is not OK, no matter where they are.”
As the lead sponsor of the upcoming London Olympics, the human-rights group says, Adidas stands to make millions in profits, yet its workers earn as little as 34 pence (52 cents) an hour, are forced to work 15-hour days, and face constant harassment or threats of dismissal. “Adidas must take responsibility for the workers who make their clothes,” Worthy says.
Sorry, another pinko-commie socialist. It’s not personal, it’s just business! Exploitation? Irrelevant! The one and only priority is profit.
But it’s not just Adidas.
The 2012 London Olympics may be looming over the horizon, but Adidas, Nike, and Puma are playing anything but fair, according to War on Want, an anti-poverty charity accusing the sportswear giants of exploiting their workers in Bangladesh. In Race to the Bottom, a report released on Monday, the organization documents evidence of illegal work hours, dismal wages, sexual harassment, and physical violence in six factories contracted by Adidas, Nike, or Puma. All three companies have a heavy stake in the Olympics. Adidas is the official sportswear of the London games, while Nike will be providing footwear and apparel to the U.S. athletes. Puma’s logo, of course, has prime real estate: the chest of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.
Oh Mr. Bolt, you are an exceptional athlete. Let’s all hope you cash in on your exceptionalism, as all good capitalists do. Think of your profit margin only, and you to sir can sleep just fine.
Hilary cites as one example a factory that makes baseball caps for Adidas. One in five employees interviewed clocked in more than 90 hours a week—in breach of Bangladeshi law—with the lowest-paid staff receiving a miserly 9 pence (14 cents) an hour. Four in five workers described verbal abuse from their managers, two in five said they’ve been pushed, and half claimed public humiliation. Sexual harrassment of female workers was just as widespread.
“They have slapped, kicked and pushed me often,” says Hajera Khanom, who works in a factory that supplies goods to Puma. “Calling us by abusive names is frequently done. This hurt us emotionally and mentally.” Poppy Akter, from the same factory, has been scolded with “very bad language, slapped, pulled by the hair, made to stand on the table and threatened to be fired and sent to jail.”
Although Sebastian Coe of the London Olympics organizing committee, has asked Adidas to uphold ethical standards at factories directly making Olympic-branded goods, such as the Stella McCartney-designed uniforms for Olympic volunteers, he does not seek the same of the company’s other factories.
“Lord Coe has called the Games ‘a powerful lever of change, improving lives across the world,’” says Murray Worthy, a sweatshop campaigner at War on Want. “Yet this research shows the appalling abuses committed by a company the games have endorsed. If the London 2012 organizers are serious about improving lives across the world they must demand that their official partners respect basic human rights wherever they operate. We hope they will make clear that they believe these conditions are completely unacceptable.”
14 cents? Well you pinko-commie, what would you be making if the job creators fired your unexceptional ass? A worker with rights? What are we commies? Mr. Coe is not a commie. Neither is Ms. McCartney. A buck to be made, booyah. Gotta break a few eggs to make a buck baby. It’s not personal, it’s just business.
You might consider missing out on Missoni for Target a tragedy, but trust us, that’s just the hyperbole talking. For the female garment workers in Jordan, however, the nightmare of cranking out cut-price clothing to sate American appetites is very real. After the Institute of Global Labour and Human Rights reported allegations of serial rape, abuse, and torture at Classic Factory—which makes clothing for U.S. companies such as Target, Walmart, Hanes, Macy’s, and Sears, and Land’s End—the fifth woman in two years has come forward to claim she was raped by a manager.
The American retailers have all refused to take action, according to the human-rights watchdog group, and the Jordanian government admits no wrongdoing. “The Jordanian government investigation of Classic has been severely flawed by incompetency, a lack of resources and trained investigators, and a deliberate campaign by Classic management to hold the foreign women guest workers in a state of terror and repression,” says Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which has banded with Change.org to demand immediate suspension of the managers involved.
Although global media coverage is only now gathering momentum, the government has known about the violations as early as 2007, says Kernaghan. In October, 2,400 Sri Lankan and Indian migrant workers went on strike to demand the expulsion of Anil Santha, a manager and alleged rapist. Sanal Kumar, who owns Classic Factory, removed Santha, only to reinstate him a month after the workers returned.
They call it a “rape factory”. These are just the women who have come forward. Jordan allows this. They are good capitalists. As is Sanal Kumar, who makes a buck while women are raped in his factory by his lieutenants, and so is Anil Santha, the alleged rapist. Don’t worry though, as long as Kumar keeps paying Jordan hush money, … there’s more money to be made. Systematic and continued rape? Well I think they call that a “cost of doing business”. Cost to the women, and benefit to the 1%. Now that’s a profit margin.
And more in the It’s Just Business section:
The Olympics is a hug cash-generating machine for collectibles. According to SACOM, sales of London Olympics merchandise could total about $1.5 billion in U.S. dollars although that estimate seems excessive.
Poor working conditions in China’s factories (including Apple’s Foxconn facility) have attracted international attention in recent years.
In a separate, but related, story, it recently emerged that Team USA’s uniforms at the opening and closing ceremonies during the 2012 London Olympics are made in China.
And in the It’s not Personal section (It’s not personal for the 1%, and who cares what workers think or feel):
Workers producing sportswear for Olympic sponsors Adidas, Nike and Puma are beaten, verbally abused, underpaid and overworked in Bangladeshi sweatshops, a shocking investigation has discovered.
Workers for all three companies had been physically abused. In one Puma supplier, two thirds of the workers interviewed had been beaten, slapped, pushed or had their hair pulled by their managers.
Women working for all Adidas and Nike factories reported sexual harassment and workers for all three companies had to work illegally long hours for less than the minimum wage.
Some Adidas workers were paid as little as 9p an hour, with the average worker in all six factories investigated earning just 16p an hour.
A little abuse. 2/3 were physically abused? I believe they call that “motivation”. As for the wage, isn’t that just the “free-market” price?
It’s just business? Really? It’s not personal? Really? And more:
From the early announcement that McDonalds would be the official food sponsor, it was clear the only real sponsorship criterion for the 2012 games was how much money and power a company has. As if selling McD’s at a major athletics event wasn’t enough, other key sponsors include Coca Cola, Cadbury’s, and Heineken.
Leading medical professionals have all waddled forward to point out the yawning chasm between the athletic events and the abundance of nutritionally deficient crap. One such was London cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who also vented additional concerns about a nation already riddled with an obesity crisis, but, as can be seen from the Corp-Speak riddled replies of the sponsors themselves, there’s no concession on their behalf.
The paragraphs speak for themselves. By and for the corporations.
Even more dubious are the sponsors with questionable ethical reputations, including Dow, the chemical company who produced napalm for the Vietnam War, was involved in the manufacture of Agent Orange, and who acquired the chemical plant Union Carbide – but rejected any responsibility for the 1984 Bhopal Disaster despite over 100,000 people still suffering from the chemical leak (which killed tens of thousands at the time). The latter move has led Bhopal victims to host their own Olympics in protest).
Napalm, the gift that keeps on … burning? Agent Orange, because when we use chemical weapons, it’s A-OK. Kill a person, you’re a murderer. Kills thousands, and poison 100,000 people, … well that’s just good business.
The Bhopal disaster (commonly referred to as Bhopal gas tragedy) was a gas leak incident in India, considered one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes. It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of people. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shantytowns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 3,000 died within weeks and another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
Well Fuck me! This is like the Who’s Who of Socipaths. What other sociopaths, oops I mean capitalists, do we have lined up?
Then there’s BP and Rio Tinto, neither of whom you’d invite to meet your mum. Allegations against the former include funding human rights abuses and death squads in Colombia as well as exacerbating poverty and environmental disasters. The latter, a mining company, has such an awful legacy of death and ecological destruction that the Norwegian Government sold its shares in the company in 2008 due to Rio Tinto’s participation in the Grasberg Mine in Papua New Guinea.
Seriously, BP!? Don’t these folks ever think enough is enough? Opps, sorry, that’s just the pinko-commie socialist in me. Let’s continue with our reverence of the “job creators”:
Not only has the choice of sponsors been dubious, but the IOC (International Olympic Committee) have been hysterically over-zealous in the protection of their logo, branding, and sponsors.
McDonalds recently forcing the Olympics Committee to ban anyone else from selling chips is one prime example of corporate bullying — as is Games boss Sebastian Coe’s outburst that any staff wearing rival brands (Pepsi, Nike) would be kicked out.
And so it goes, and goes, and goes:
Of course bullying and displacement of communities and businesses isn’t really a new trait nor a specifically London one. According to this fantastic and erudite comic strip by Tom Humberstone, the Centre For Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE), the Olympic Games are one of the top causes of displacement and real-estate inflation in the world.
Humberstone also relates in the comic how the Clays Lane Peabody Estate was destroyed for the Athletes Village, displacing 430 tenants, and that there have been 80 raids in the last 18 months on brothels in Newham, (one of the five Olympic boroughs and the one with the biggest multi-cultural population, including many muslims), putting many sex workers in danger.
Teenagers from nearby Newham have also been banned from gathering near the games, and the borough’s large Pakistani community have understandably been less than impressed. The BBC has also reported on how, despite billions being promised for schemes to help local communities, the area around the Olympic park remains plagued by slum housing.
Claims of racist tactics have been underscored by other unfathomable Olympic decisions, such as the one to block The Voice, Britain’s oldest black newspaper, from covering the event by blocking their press application.
It gets weirder, though. The IOC have also been responsible for the arrest of local professional artists like 38-year-old Darren Cullen and others “on suspicion of inciting to commit criminal damage” – despite having no record of graffiti nor previous arrests. Graffiti artists in general – including Banksy – have been forbidden to own spray paint or to be within one mile of any Olympic venue in London or elsewhere in Britain.
In fact the very use of the word ‘Olympic’ risks an enforcement lawsuit from the IOC, as do other connected words and phrases including London, 2012, games, medals, gold, silver and many more. The Spectator lists a slew of bizarre incidents of such enforcement, such as an Easyjet photographer who was banned from raising a Union flag above her shoulders during a shoot, and was forced to change from a white tracksuit to an orange T-shirt; a butcher in Weymouth was told to remove his display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings; and a small village in Surrey stopped from running an &”Olympicnic” on its village green.
Bloody shite reads like a list of how to slowly suck the place dry, before the locusts move onto the next “fresh meat” site. Top causes of displacement and real-estate inflation. Athletes’ village? And all they had to do was displace a “few” people. Prohibiting the “brownies” from coming to “close”. Blocking a black newspaper for a press application. Don’t want the “brownies” and “darkies” mucking up the good times for the rest I guess. And the word “Olympics”, “games”, “medals”, “gold”, “silver”, and others, are … copyrighted?
And what happens when the Olympics leave? Welcome to ruin porn:
And there’s much much more, google it. I just can’t read anymore of these stories right now. It’s too much. Our rulers aren’t human beings. They’re not even human animals. Animals don’t do this. No animal does this to their own kind. They don’t even do it to the other animals. Well Fuck me. Fuck us all!
Lastly, I want to mention why I actually wrote this piece. It was supposed to a short blurb with only this last part. But then I got to the reading for research, … and well certain things needed to be said. But what I wanted to say was that I am constantly amazed at the scam that is perpetrated on regular people and these same regular people will cheer and applaud as they’re tossed into the meat grinder:
The “price” of the games for the British will be very high. Very high indeed. Although most look at the official tally:
“Some of the corporate sponsors under attack are BP, Dow Chemical and Rio Tinto. The games were initially supposed to cost about 2.5 billion. At opening, it costs about 12, with final estimates around £24 billion pounds.
The cost goes far beyond that. Much much farther. I’m not even talking about the worker abuse, and rampant corporatism, and in full collusion with the UK government. Any of the preceding alone would be diabolical enough. But no, they’re really going to screw the UK people, … with full support of most of the UK people. How you ask?
Protestors are angry at such a big expense when the same National Health Service paraded and praised in the opening ceremony is being cut by £20 billion.
Cheer and applause. They tell you they love the NHS, and while they gut it, out in the open BTW, the masses, the British people, cheer and applaud. Is this even kabuki? It’s so blatantly obvious what they’re doing. They’re not even hiding it. And when the Olympics are gone, when the corporatists have made their buck at the expense of the many, all will be left is the ruin porn and cuts to NHS and services for regular people as austerity continues.
24 billion for the Olympics, and a 20 billion cut to NHS. And all the while they applaud and cheer and discuss in length who will win. Well here’s a clue, it won’t be the regular people. It’s just another distraction while they they steal from the British people and transfer wealth to the 1%.
It was a class war, and we lost.