Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vietnam to America: “You Lost, Get Over It”

We trounced Japan in World War II, and several decades later they got even with us. Japanese cars and electronic equipment accomplished what Japanese bombs couldn’t.

In the early 1970s we got our asses kicked in Vietnam (might as well call a spade a spade), and now it’s payback time.

Multinational corporations are waging an aggressive multimillion dollar advertising binge to sell baby formula in Vietnam. Shades of the early 1980s when Nestle wreaked havoc all over the Third World, pushing their baby formula on impoverished families who couldn’t afford it.

The formula would be mixed with water, and since the local water supply was apt to be contaminated, a lot of babies died. There was a lot of global outcry at the time, but it was OK with American conservatives since those dead infants had already been born.

One of Nestle’s most famous advertising billboards showed a picture of a woman breastfeeding her baby, and a big red X was drawn through the picture.

Vietnam has strict laws promoting breastfeeding. The companies pushing their baby formula are either breaking these laws, or (more likely) they have lawyers who know exactly how close to the edge they can go and still be technically within the law.

These companies are paying doctors to promote their products, and these products are being pushed at health clinics. The baby formula industry spent more than $10 million on advertising last year, making it one of Vietnam’s top five advertisers.

Annelies Allain of the International Code Documentation Center said: “The companies have millions of dollars and dozens of lawyers, but the Vietnamese government has a tiny budget and just two people promoting breast-feeding.”

Yeong Joo Kean, an attorney with the same organization, said: “Just when you think you might have a watertight case, you'll get shot down on a technicality.”

Gee, why does the Third World have such deep resentment of the West?

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Blogger Lew Scannon said...

It would appear that Vietnam has become a capitalist's wet dream, fresh consumers, ripe for the scamming. So did we really lose in Vietnam?

September 21, 2009 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: When you look at it that way, yeah, we didn't do so bad after all. A free market economy with very little political freedom -- Republicans have a new role model.

September 21, 2009 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

By logical extension, should we now invade Old Europe? I volunteer, for once I hit the French shores, I'm going AWOL and enjoying life. Semper Fudge!

September 22, 2009 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

Something we all take for granted in the so-called "civilized" world, is for the most part, clean safe, drinking water. The water situation is probably why the government in Vietnam encourages new mothers to breast feed, things probably haven't improved that much since the Nestle incursion into Asia in 80s.

The corporations have got their markets sewn up in North America and Europe, and are looking for news way to increase their bottom lines. Got to keep those shareholders and Wall Street analysts happy. Making a dollar in the name of globalization. Pretty sickening really.

September 22, 2009 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: There you go. If we're gonna invade somebody, it might as well be a place where life is good. Fuck those 140 degree jungles with mosquitoes the size of sparrows. I wanna invade Sweden and Denmark after we invade France.

Holte: That's right, shareholders and Wall Street analysts uber alles. Who cares if some swarthy third world peasants get poisoned.

September 22, 2009 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Multinational corporations that owe allegiance only to their own profit-maximizing compulsion -- greed, basically -- represent a menace as bad as fascism and communism. For one thing, they're more insidious because they are presumed to be helpful, or at least benign. Plus, they always have the unquestioning support of free market zealots.

This isn't just a Western thing, BTW. Keep in mind China-produced lead-laced toys and melamine-tainted pet food.

September 22, 2009 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Huge, powerful multinational corporations whose only allegiance is to their profit-maximizing compulsion, represent a clear and present danger to people everywhere. This threat is as real now as fascism and communism were in their heydays. All the more so because the corporations benefit from being able to lobby and outright bribe public officials in rich and poor countries alike, ast times getting governments to act against the interests of their own people.

This threat is all the more insidious because it enjoys the enthusiastic endorsement of free market zealots and extremists, like George W. Bush.

It's not just a Western thing, either. Let's not forget the poisonous toothpaste, lead-laced toys and melamine-tainted pet food from China.

September 22, 2009 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: That's very true; huge corporations are even more dangerous than a government police state, in some ways, because they can wrap themselves up in all those feelgood capitalism slogans. "Let the market forces decide." "If consumers aren't happy with a certain company they'll take their business elsewhere." Etc.

If the government is doing something heavyhanded, the public gets alarmed, and rightly so. But if a corporation is doing the same thing, people will say "oh well, people must be happy with them or they wouldn't be buying billions of dollars worth of their products."

That's true about China. Globalization has turned this into a 2-way street.

September 22, 2009 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know let the government, make a swooping takeover of everything so we can emulate the economies of Cuba and the USSR.


September 22, 2009 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lisa: And your comment is related to this post, uh, how? Or are you saying you think this is a neat thing these global corporations are doing?

September 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Lisa thinks she can hide? HAHAHAHAHA..... we know that idiotic spew when we see it.

I do have to take issue with something my friend SW said though. Chimpy is no more a "free market" person than Joseph Stalin was. Chimpy's allegiance is always with oligarchs, and that's why the laws were tuned to allow them to get ever-bigger and control more and more during the Reign of Error. These guys don't believe in competition at all.

September 22, 2009 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Jolly Roger said...

I do have to point out Lisa's idiocy though, because it is representative of her mind(?)set.

According to them, it's either corporate oligarchy and a vast sea of desperate poor, OR it's Stalinist Marxism and totalitarian control. They don't seem to believe that there may well be other ideas somewhere in-between the extremes.

But extremists never do see a third way, do they?

September 22, 2009 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

When you demonize big corporations it seems like a justification for the government to take over everything. At least to me that seems like the hidden message. We know how you guys hate business and loooove government so much now that we have a government we can
all trust.
That's really not much different. Like the fox watching the hen house.

September 23, 2009 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: It's true that neocons and wingtards don't want any competition or the free market. But they wrap themselves up in all these "free enterprise" slogans, so they can pretend that all of their manipulations and crackdowns are just "the invisible hand of the marketplace," "market forces running their natural course." And millions of people fall for it, which is what makes these corporate oligarchs so dangerous.

Lisa: "We know how you guys hate business and loooove government so much." Is that the best talking point you can come up with? It's been done to death already.

September 23, 2009 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Bee said...

SW said Huge, powerful multinational corporations whose only allegiance is to their profit-maximizing compulsion, represent a clear and present danger to people everywhere.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Crikey, we're finally just getting out from under the Nestle formula bomb ourselves, now they go and take over another country? WTF??? This is making my blood boil.

September 23, 2009 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: I remember a lot of outrage against Nestle in the early '80s. This story doesn't seem to be getting much coverage. Either corporate sleaze is more common now than it was 25 years ago, or it's just better known nowadays. Either way, the public seems jaded; another day, another crooked corporation.

September 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

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