Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hurrah! FedEx – Boo! Libby Purves

FedEx employees
I decided to give Sir Trevor MacDonald’s new ITV series, in which he floats down the Mississippi, a wide berth. (In fact, I’ve signed a pledge never again to watch any television programme in which a celebrity is paid to go somewhere pleasant while cameras record their banal reactions and their stilted, unilluminating interviews with the locals.) But I caught the old boy being interviewed by Libby Purves on Radio 4’s Midweek this morning – and, believe it or not, something interesting came up.

After the murder of Martin Luther King, Memphis – where King was shot – suffered economic meltdown because of firms pulling out: in effect, the city was being economically punished for the actions of one man, James Earl Ray. Then in 1973 – a stroke of good fortune -  Memphis became the headquarters of FedEx. Memphis International Airport was basically been taken over by FedEx as their main sorting centre, and now it employs 10,000 night-workers. (The firm had started up in Little Rock two years earlier, but moved because of a lack of co-operation from the town’s airport.)

I was expecting Ms Purves and Sir Trevor to lavish praise on FedEx for providing so many jobs in an area that was in desperate need of them – but this was a BBC programme, and as far as the BBC is concerned, all businessmen are evil exploiters of the weak and the powerless. Here’s how the presenter slipped her liberal dagger in:

“Ten thousand night-workers come in, who I have to say seem to be almost all black and low paid, so we’re still there, really.”

You see, liberal media types hate it when businesses create jobs in areas where they’re actually needed. Better a massively expensive, taxpayer-funded government call centre or 10,000 families on taxpayer-funded welfare than a private company making – heaven forbid – profits!

This mirrors the libera media’s obsession with Third Worlders being employed to make goods for western companies. Better that lots of foreigners die of starvation than make Nike trainers! Better that Nike pays western wage levels to all its workers wherever they may be employed, no matter what the local average income is, prices its goods out of the market, and goes bust! Result! Another vicious global capitalist running dog robber baron bites the dust. Don’t worry – we’ll just up the aid budget and the tiny percentage that doesn’t end up in Swiss bank accounts can be used to give those former employees benefits instead: they’ll be starving, of course, but western liberals will feel pleased with themselves, and that’s all that really matters.

But onto th part of Libby Purves's remark that really annoyed me. What exactly does the phrase “so we’re still there, really” mean? This is the Deep South of America, so I presume Ms Purves means that FedEx’s 10,000 Memphian night-workers are basically slaves. What the hell else could her comment mean? It is so breathtakingly arrogant and thoughtless and stupid, that you could only come out with it on Planet Liberal without getting your daft face slapped.

How dare this Oxbridge-educated woman, with her lovely license fee-funded BBC gig and her delightful drama critic gig at the Times (owned by vicious global capitalist running-dog robber baron Rupert Murdoch), get all hoity-toity about companies providing employment for 10,000 mostly black workers (protected by a minimum wage and most of whom won’t pay tax) in an area of low employment.

Later on in the interview, Purves, perhaps having realised how grotesquely unfair she was being (though I doubt it), mutters a grudging rider about FedEx providing its employees with health cover. This she gets – you see, it’s a benefit. Being paid less than a BBC presenter to do a job that would be inconceivably beneath an Oxbridge liberal - and, even worse, one from which some ghastly racist American Tea Party Republican is actually making a profit - well, it's unthinkable. But she and her ilk adore benefits, because benefits are cuddly and caring.

And the fact that FedEx szhow some signs of a social conscience means she won’t have to boycott the company or Memphis Airport.

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