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Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 8 Num. 44

("Quid coniuratio est?")

JIM HIGHTOWER -- 07/11/96

They say if you lay down with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas.

Meet Phillip Knight, the flea-ridden chief executive of Nike, Inc. "Just do it!" exclaims the advertising slogan of his company. And Mr. Knight has been "doing it" big-time, to working people all over the earth. Mr. Knight is a "bazillionaire" shoe salesman with more than $5 billion in personal wealth. He got all this by peddling sneakers at up to 175 bucks a pop. Boy, those must be some sneakers, huh?! Probably made by master craftsmen, paid a premium for their art.

Hardly. Phillip Knight is always scanning the world, looking for the cheapest contractors he can find: whichever dirty dog will pay the most miserly, miserable wage to the workers who actually make his shoes, and his fortune.

In recent years, "Mr. Phil" has centered Nike's production in Indonesia, a repressive military dictatorship that encourages exploiters like him to move their factories and jobs there, where impoverished young women can be hired dirt cheap. These women get just over 2 bucks a day to make your high-dollar high-tops, a poverty wage even in this poverty-stricken country.

But wait! Like the money-grubbing hound he is, Phil has sniffed out an even better deal: Vietnam! Yes, our country's former enemy is now the friend of American corporations, allowing executives like Knight to get their products made at slave wages.

"Hold it," says Nike. "We pay those workers 331,000 Vietnamese dollars a month."

True. But Bob Herbert, the award-winning New York Times columnist, dared to ask, "How much is that in American?"

"I don't know," said the Nike man.

But Herbert figured it out on his own. It's about a buck-and-a-quarter a day.

This is Jim Hightower saying: Remember the name Phillip Knight. He's what they had in mind when they coined the term, "filthy rich."

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9