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weasel of the week
So The Rich Really DO Hate The Rest of Us
by The Cranky Media Guy
Nike's Phil Knight
Nike's Phil Knight   

At the risk of reviving the specter of the McCarthy era, I'd like to ask a question: What makes someone "un-American"?

Would opening factories in far-flung Third World countries so that you could pay the people who manufacture your over-hyped, over-priced sneakers as little as possible qualify you as un-American?

No?  Well, how about if, on top of that, when people criticized your company's policies, you acted like a whiny, thin-skinned five-year-old and stopped making donations to your alma mater in retaliation?  If so, then Nike's CEO, Phil Knight, more than qualifies as a greedy, un-American SOB.

For the past few years, there's been a movement on some of America's college campuses to oppose Nike's employment practices.  Pressured by students, some colleges have joined an organization called the Workers Rights Consortium.  One of those is the University of Oregon, the school Knight attended.

On April 24th, Knight released an open letter to the University's administration.  The tone of the letter is like something a husband might write to his wife after catching her in bed with his twin brother.  "How could you do this to me!?" he says in effect.  Don't they understand how hard Nike is trying?  After all, Nike has "increased minimum age requirements for footwear workers to an industry-high 18 years of age."  And hasn't the company, "disclosed the U.S. and global locations of the 45 factories that produce collegiate licensed apparel"?  Yup, no more little kids working in secret factory locations for Nike.  Not any more.  No sir. We really mean it.

So, although Knight says, "from the time I was 14 years old, it was the only college for me" and "I have personally have given $50 million to the University of Oregon--$30 million for academics and $20 million for athletics," he's turning off the tap.

"For me personally, there will be no further donations of any kind to the University of Oregon.  At this time, this is not a situation that can be resolved.  The bonds of trust, which allowed me to give at a high level, have been shredded."  Clearly, his feelings are hurt. 

Poor Phil.  No one understands just how tough it is to be criticized.  Those under-18-year-olds who worked long hours for low wages in Nike's secret factories think they've got it tough?  They should try walking a mile in his athletic shoes for a change.  Of course, on the money Nike pays them, that remains something they can only dream of doing.

Of course Knight is perfectly free to donate--or not donate--his money as he sees fit.  It takes a huge pair of gonads, though, to throw a hissy fit because some people object to you having become obscenely wealthy by exploiting poor, uneducated people who manufacture the shoes you pay already rich athletes to endorse. 

Hey, Phil, I think I just came up with a new use for your shoes.  Why don't you take a pair, fold them in half and put them where the sun don't shine?  Just do it.




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