So The Rich Really DO Hate The Rest of Us
by The Cranky Media Guy
|Nike's Phil Knight
At the risk of reviving the specter of
the McCarthy era, I'd like to ask a question: What makes
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
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.