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