This is the office of the National Labor Committee here in the garment area of New York City….these are all from different campaigns to make this stuff as concrete as possible. We purchase all of the products from the factories that we are talking about. This shirt sells for 14 dollars and 99 cents and the women who made the shirt got paid 3 cents. Liz Claiborne jackets made in El Salvador ..the jackets are 178 dollars and the workers were payed 74 cents for every jacket they made. Alpine car stereos 31 cents an hour. It’s not just sneakers. It’s not just apparel. It’s everything.
One day we found a big pile of Nike’s internal pricing documents. Nike assigns a time frame to each operation. The don’t talk about minutes. They break the time frame into ten thousandths of a second. You get to the bottom of all 22 operations to give the workers 6.6 minutes to make the shirt. It’s 70 cents an hour in the Dominican Republic that 6.6 minutes equals 8 cents. These are Nike’s documents..that means the wages come to 3 tenths of 1 percent of retail price. This is the reality. It’s the science of exploitation.
As the petrochemical era grew and grew warning signs emerged that some of these chemicals could pose hazards. The data initially were trivial, anecdotal, but gradually a body of data started accumulating to the extent that we now know that the synthetic chemicals which have permeated our workplace, our consumer products, our air, our water…produce cancer, and also produce birth defects and other toxic effects. Further more, industry has known about this, at least most industries have known about this and have attempted to trivialize these risks.”…”the industrial world is awash in milk. We’re overproducing milk. We actually have governments around the world who pay farmers not to produce milk. So the first product Monsanto comes up with is a product that produces more of what we don’t need.”…”there’s a cost to the cows. The cows get sicker when they’re injected with rBGH. They’re injected with antibiotics. We know that people are consuming antibiotics through their food. And we know that that’s contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria and diseases. And we know we’re at a crisis when somebody can go into a hospital and get a staff infection, and it can’t be cured, and they die. That’s a crisis.”…”Bad for the cow, bad for the farmer bad potentially for the consumer, the jury’s out. We see a lot of conflicting evidence about potential health risks. And of course as a consumer why should I take any risks?
The Chakrabarty case was one of the great judicial moments in world history, and the public was totally unaware that it was actually happening as the process was being engaged. General Electric and Professor Chakrabarty went to the patent office with a little microbe that eats up oil spills. They said they had modified this microbe in a laboratory and therefore it was an invention. The patent office at the U.S. government took a look at this invention and said ‘no way’. The statutes don’t cover living things…this is not an invention it turned out.
Then General Electric and Dr Chakrabarty appealed to the U.S. Customs Court of Appeal and to everyone’s surprise, by a 3 to 2 decision, they overrode the patent office. And they said this microbe looks more like a detergent or a reagent than a horse or a honeybee. I laugh because they didn’t understand basic biology…it looked like a chemical to them. Had it had an antenna or eyes or wings or legs it would’ve never crossed their table and been patented. Then the patent office appealed. And what the public should realize now is that the patent office was very clear that you can’t patent life forms. My organization provided the main amicus curiae brief. If you allow the patent on this microbe, we argued, it means that without any congressional guidance or public discussion corporations will own the blueprints of life. When they made the decision, we lost 5 to 4 and Chief Justice Warren Burger said ‘sure some of these are big issues, but we think this is a small decision.
7 years later the U.S. patent office issued a one sentence decree…You can patent anything in the world that’s alive except a full birth human being.
…the corporation remains as it was at the time of its origins, as a mad business institution in the middle of the nineteenth century, and legally designated “person” designed to valorize self interest and invalidate moral concern. Most people would find its “personality” abnormal, even psychopathic, in a human being, yet curiously we accept it in society’s most powerful institutions.