WTO Rejects US Country-of-Origin Labels for Meat – ABC News. The World Trade Organization has just eliminated a popular labeling requirements for meat. This is actually important news that nobody has paid any attention to.Since this story can be dull with its full details and too important just to rant about, I will try to make the story more interesting.
It is 1967, on the set of the TV show “Batman”, in the Bat Cave, Robin (played by Burt Ward) is sitting in a chair reading the newspaper, Batman (played by Adam West) is looking at the blinking lights of his Bat computer.
Robin: “Gadzooks, Batman! Did you see this story?! The World Trade Organization is repealing labeling requirements on meat!!”
Batman: “I am sorry, Robin, I failed to notice that, like 99% of God-fearing Americans.”
Robin: “It says here that they won’t even let you know where the meat originated, where it was raised or where it was processed.”
Batman (with a puzzled look): “Let me see that newspaper.” He takes the paper from Robin and starts to peruse it,”Hmmm… uh-huh, I see. It says they won’t permit the labeling because it would hurt Canadian and Mexican ranchers.”
Robin: “But, Batman, if the meat says it is from Canada – How does that hurt Canadian ranchers??! They have great meat, better land for grazing, less artificial supplements, good processing, in fact, I think it would be a benefit to sales if it said it was from Canada!”
Batman: “You’re right, Robin! It’s like saying they are losing money because they have to label their shoes “Made in Italy”. This is very puzzling.” Batman walks over to the Bat computer and starts pushing some buttons : “Let us input everything we know about the World Trade Organization and find out who is behind it and what they are doing.”
The Bat computer whirrs into action and a few seconds later a punched-out computer card is ejected from the computer. It simply says: WTO.
Batman and Robin study the computer card closely. Then, Batman takes out a magnifying glass and examines the card: “Robin, look at this “W”, it looks like it is made out of question marks, WTO looks like Who? But it could just as easily mean What? or Where?”
Robin: “Obviously this is the work of the Riddler!”
Batman: Precisely, Robin. Now, the “T”. The T is supposed to stand for “Trade”.
Robin: “Like in Free Trade. But there is no Free Trade, somebody is always paying. Free Trade is a joke! That’s it. The Joker!!”
Batman: “Exactly. And look at this “O”. That is not an ordinary O. It is shaped more like an egg. And didn’t this group just approve processing of chickens in China…and suppress any labeling about it?”
Robin: “Holy Chicken flavored poison. China is processing our chickens?!! With their poor food safety record?!! And weren’t they the ones that poisoned American dogs with their chicken jerky!”
Batman: “The egg shaped ‘O”, the Chinese chicken processing – this is the work of only one man…”
Robin: “Egghead! So, all of the master villians are running the World Trade Organization”.
Batman: “That’s right Robin. We need to get to Gotham City and warn the commissioner.”
They both jump into the Batmobile, tires screeching and bulleting out of the Batcave.
At the office of Commissioner Gordon, Batman and Robin enter the room. Batman starts: “Commissioner Gordon, we have reason to believe that there is a plot by the World Trade Organization to repeal food safety standards.”
Robin: “And it’s all run by villians!”
Gordon: “Regarding the World Trade Organization, I know they are controlled by some of the biggest corporations in the world and their purpose is to eliminate anything that interferes with trading between countries, whether it is higher safety standards, doing business with highly oppressive governments or encouraging children to work in factories, as long as they get their maximum profits, but I won’t call them villans”.
Robin: “I had to disagree, Commissioner, but I would.”
Batman: “So, what the World Trade Organization is doing is, instead of raising the bar and making things safer and making working environments better, they are, in fact, lowering the ceiling, making everybody conform to the lowest standards possible.”
Robin: “Holy slave labor camps! You’re right, Batman! They must be stopped now!”
Gordon: “Now, now, Boy Wonder. Before you do anything rash, you must realize that many people here in Gotham City are profiting greatly from the World Trade Organization. And stopping them may cause many people in Gotham City may lose a lot of money. People like the Mayor, and the Governor, and prominent citizens, like Bruce Wayne.”
Batman: “The Commissioner is right, Robin.”
Batman: “We mus’nt be hasty. First, I will need to change my portfolio.” Batman starts to leave the room. He signals the Commissioner to walk with him. They exit the room together. Batman says in a low voice: “What do you mean many people may lose a lot of money?” They exit.
Robin is left alone in the room. He moves to the commissioner’s desk, finds the large, black rotary telephone. He picks up the receiver and dials zero: “Operator, could you get me the number of Sherlock Holmes?”
End of Scene II End Part I
The Following Video From Whole Foods is exactly what the World Trade Organization is against.
Oscar Aristedes de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo on July 22, 1932. He came to America in 1961 to try his hand at fashion in 1961. His peers in New York City included Bill Blass, Roy Halston and Geoffrey Beene – they defined “American style.” However, of these famous American brands, it is only Oscar de la Renta that still makes clothing made in the USA. In 1993, he became the first American to design an important couture collection in Paris since World War II.
Oscar de la Renta loved the glitz of Hollywood and he loved to be around powerful women. His name became linked to celebrity events like the Oscars. Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker and Penélope Cruz were among the actresses who wore his dresses.
Amy Adams wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress at the 2013 premier of The Master
Recently his biggest coup was to make the ivory tulle gown that Amal Alamuddin wore to wed George Clooney in Venice.
Amal Alamuddin Wedding Dress
Oscar de la Renta is also known as being the dress designer for the First Ladies, starting with Nancy Reagan. He had designed dresses for four of the First Ladies and had once chided First Lady, Michelle Obama, for not wearing a dress “Made in the USA”. Mrs. Obama, however, recently remedied this by wearing one of his designs earlier this month.
Michelle Obama in an Oscar de la Renta dress
Full view of the same dress
Oscar de la Renta had an extraordinarily long career in the fashion industry. Considering how fast fashion changes and how fast designers come and go, it is truly amazing that someone who was designing back in the 1960’s could still be relevant in 2014. He did have to re-invent himself (twice). Oscar de la Renta can be found at high end department stores like: Nieman Marcus, Nordstroms, Bergdorf-Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue. All of the following links demonstrate Oscar de la Renta dresses “made in the USA, of imported fabric”, except Saks which has many Made in Italy dresses as well. Be prepared to gasp, if you are not used to shopping for high end dresses. For more information about the man, Oscar de la Renta, please read the excellent article by the New York Times (it is the top link).
Basically, the method used by the IMF adjusts for purchasing power parity, explained here.
The simple logic is that prices aren’t the same in each country: A shirt will cost you less in Shanghai than in San Francisco, so it’s not entirely reasonable to compare countries without taking this into account. Though a typical person in China earns a lot less than the typical person in the US, simply converting a Chinese salary into dollars underestimates how much purchasing power that individual, and therefore that country, might have. The Economist’s Big Mac Index is a great example of these disparities.
So the IMF measures both GDP in market-exchange terms and in terms of purchasing power. On the purchasing-power basis, China is overtaking the US right about now and becoming the world’s biggest economy.
We’ve just gone past that crossover on the chart below, according to the IMF. By the end of 2014, China will make up 16.48% of the world’s purchasing-power adjusted GDP (or $17.632 trillion), and the US will make up just 16.28% (or $17.416 trillion):
IMF, Google Public Data Explorer Adjusted for purchasing power, China’s economy is now the world’s largest. It’s not all sour news for the US. It’ll be some time yet until the lines cross over in raw terms, not adjusted for purchasing power. By that measure, China still sits more than $6.5 trillion lower than the US and isn’t likely to overtake for quite some time:
IMF, Google Public Data Explorter But in terms of the raw market value of China’s currency, it still has a long way to go.
Well, ‘Financial Times’ is the first to proclaim that China is the number one economy in the world, however, in the next couple of years, all of the economic literature will clearly demonstrate that China is the number one economy. So, how did this happen? For the United States, the decline started in 1980 with Ronald Reagan administration. The credo for this administration is that the rich aren’t rich enough, the corporations aren’t big enough and the regular workers make too much money. The results – loss of good paying jobs to other countries especially manufacturing jobs. And, in 2014, the income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest in over a hundred years, 90% of all profits go to the top. Salaries for workers have plateaued and, possibly, will decrease in the future (especially when taking into inflation). China’s story starts in 1990, when the Chinese government went all in on manufacturing. By 1995, by hook and by crook, they were allowed as a preferred trade partner through the World Trade Organization agreements, which meant they could charge any import tax rate on U.S. imports coming into China, while getting 0% tax placed on their products shipped into the USA. This was the floodgate that caused an immediate and irreversible decline in jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, all the while sucking money out of the U.S. economy and directly deposited into the Communist Chinese banks.
The future of the economy of the U.S. is not very rosy, especially when it continually is aiding its main competitor, China. Whereas the Chinese government is doing everything it can to encourage its economy to grow, large stimulus package during The Great Recession, huge infrastructure projects – improving freeways, bridges, airports and bullet trains and putting millions to work, the United States has done nothing (except for the minor stimulus package of 2009), and has been totally hands off, much like the Herbert Hoover administration during The Great Depression. Despite verbal commitments from the President and some Congressmen – nothing has been done. All projects to: increase jobs, raise wages, bring jobs back from foreign countries have time and time blocked by the multi-national corporations (because it is in their best financial interests). As the mid-term elections in 2014 looms, the future looks even bleaker with a good possibility that the Party of the multi-national corporations, the GOP, will become a majority in the Senate, together with their majority in the House, American jobs have never looked more vulnerable. This looks exactly as I predicted in my entry: How Did We Get To Here Part IV: Years 2014 – 2034. Remember to start collecting your Made in USA artifacts – they will be very valuable in twenty years.
Hucklebury is a clothing brand who recently reached its Kickstater (a crowd-source funding) goal and has started delivering its product, premium dress shirts. Does its product satisfy its stated promise of a great dress shirt made in the USA for $74?
First off, does Hucklebury qualify as a premium shirt? Let us check the characteristics of the shirts. Great material – Egyptian cotton, check; Great processing of material – milling in exclusive Italian Mill, check. Quality sewing – Made in USA, Washington DC plant with extensive experience in sewing, check. Other details: Mother of pearl buttons, double stitching along the sides (instead of stays), bottom horizontal reinforced button hole, stiffer, hand-sewn, collars, and an excellent fit for an off the rack measurement (thanks to Styku technology). So, yes, the shirt definitely qualifies as a premium made in USA shirt. For what makes a great dress shirt, see my blog entry: Best Dress Shirts: USA vs the World.
Second, is a Hucklebury shirt worth $74? For some men who have never paid more than $20 or $30 for a shirt in their life, it probably isn’t worth it to them (but they might be surprised with their first ever quality shirt). But, for those who value their appearance and appreciate a good shirt, then, Hucklebury is definitely worth it. I have compared my two Hucklebury shirts with my own closet of shirts which comprises brands such as Kiton, Versace, Armani, Black Fleece, Eton, Brioni, Hickey Freeman, Burberry, Oxxford, Robert Talbott, Etro, Hamilton, Yves St. Laurent, Tom Ford, Breuer, Haupt, Brooks Brothers, and Rag and Bone (all made in Italy or the U.S. except for Eton & Burberry ). From this, I can safely conclude that the Hucklebury shirts are the equivalent of a $250 shirt (retail).
Hucklebury Made in USA
The Story of Hucklebury
Hucklebury is the brain child of two San Francisco based. entrepreneurs, Parag Jhaveri and Dhawal Shah. Parag is an engineer, whose family was greatly involved in the fashion industry – exporting scarves and white shirts to some of the main clothing supply chains. His interest is, however, more into product development as well as manufacturing and marketing strategies. Their are obvious inefficiencies in making off the rack clothing and selling them through various department stores. WIth Hucklebury many inefficiencies have been eliminated: No unnecessary clothing is made, and no needless shipping to various department stores with all of their devastating mark-ups.
Co-founder of Hucklebury, Dhawal Shah, is a former computer prodigy and internet genius. This talent is of paramount importance in this modern day where on-line shopping is rapidly expanding versus the brick and mortar stores, which are decreasing. Both, Parag and Dhawal, are master marketers. This is essential in any direct to consumer product (which Hucklebury is). Their marketing strategy is interesting. They are getting the word out by targeting bloggers who are interested in fashion or made in the USA, social media, twitter, Reddit, Facebook ads, newer technologies and eventually, regular media.
The Origin of the Name Hucklebury
The name Hucklebury comes from the famous Mark Twain character, Hucklebury Finn. The founders view Hucklebury Finn as a hero that goes against the norms, persevering against the odds. I mean, look at the new path Hucklebury is creating: 1) off the rack; 2) direct to consumers; 3) a 365 day guarantee; 4) no department stores; 5) marketing through bloggers and social media; and 6) bringing back clothing manufacturing to America when other corporations within the United States, Inc., continue to outsource well paying, valuable American jobs overseas. Definitely, this is a new path.
One of the biggest problems with on-line shopping for clothing is fit. A certain manufacturer’s size “Small” may be another makers “Medium”, etc. The return rate of on-line clothing purchases due to poor fit is fairly high. However, with Styku, a new technology being used by Hucklebury, has helped with getting the consumer the correct fit and, therefore, has decreased Hucklebury’s return rate by 30% compared to standard practices. The Styku technology uses measurements uses chest, waist, sleeve length and body length to help with fit. With Hucklebury, one can specify whether one would like a slim-fit appearance or a “regular” appearance.
Why Made in the USA?
For Hucklebury and co-founder, Parag, making the product in the United States was not a gimmick in order to sell shirts. Making shirts in the United States is a way to give back to the community and a way to empower poorer people especially women. Being a socially conscious company is very important to Parag – this comes from the values taught to him by his mother, who also worked in the fashion industry. In an era where corporations are responsible for terrible working conditions all over the world – causing needless tragedies like the Bangladesh factory fires and building collapse or the massive suicides over at the Apple Foxxconn plant in China, it is refreshing to see entrepreneurs that aren’t just all about the money. As the Supreme Court in the USA continues to give corporations rights as “people” and, even, giving corporations religious rights, it seems only fair that corporations (their board of directors and their activist stockholders) should go to jail for the crimes they commit against humanity (corporations are now people, aren’t they?). Just a quick reflection about Foxxconn, in all the centuries that there have been slaves – just how bad are the conditions that the slaves actually commit suicide?
The United States has continually added jobs since the Great Recession ended, the economy is much stronger, however, people complain that wages have not come back up. This is because most of the higher paying jobs, like manufacturing have been outsourced, and many other good paying jobs have been simply eliminated in order to squeeze out more short-term profits in order to look better for The Stock Market. All the profits are going directly to the top (since 1980) and this is why there is the greatest wealth disparity in the USA since the 1920s. The only plan now to decrease wealth disparity is to increase the minimum wage because so many people are stuck in the lowest paying service jobs. And there have been no plans or laws to increase manufacturing in the U.S. that can pass Congress (the GOP is the party of big corporations and there are enough Democrats who are beholden to big corporations that future legislation looks bleak). This means the only way that the U.S. can increase manufacturing is through a grass roots effort. Buy American, put Americans to work at better paying jobs and get yourself a better quality and safe product. And vote out those outsourcing proponents.
The number of American made dress shirt makers is quite small. And the number that makes premium dress shirts is just a handful. Hucklebury, with its low price point, neatly fills the niche of premium USA made dress shirts. Hucklebury makes great dress shirts that should retail for $250 but sell less than $74. Hucklebury will be my “Go-to” site for dress shirts. (My other “Go-to” sites are Flint and Tinder (for underwear), Bills Khakis,Allen Edmonds (dress shoes) and New Balance (athletic shoes)). For more about Hucklebury, check out their Facebook page. For those who would like to order shirts from Hucklebury, go to Hucklebury.com.
Style Guide for Men’s Fashion | Bills Khakis. In this fall edition of Bills Khakis, there is something a little bit different in the way they present their fall collection. Instead of like most magazines which has all pants, then all shirts, etc., this edition gives you certain outfits or looks. The outfit within the picture then directs you (via direct links) to that purchasing of that part of the outfit – interesting concept. This is great if you like looking at magazines and then you find that certain outfit – and, voila – it is done in a snap.
Bills Khakis makes clothing for men. All of it is made in the USA. It is one of the most dependable places to find mens clothing made in the USA.