01
Jul
15

Fourth of July Apparel

Independence Day is just around the corner. Here are a few ideas for the Fourth of July, items all made in the USA.

Classics Floral American Flag Cropped Top

Classics Floral American Flag Cropped Top

 

The above picture is from Love The Classics.

 

July 4th T shirt from American Giant

July 4th T shirt from American Giant

The above picture is from American Giant.

Chaser American Flaf T shirt from Nordstroms

Chaser American Flag T shirt from Nordstroms

Don’t forget to check out Nordstroms.

American Flag Thong by Bodyzone Apparel

American Flag Thong by Bodyzone Apparel

This thong can be bought through Amazon.com, suit by Bodyzone apparel.

Fleece jackets by Fleece corner

Fleece jackets by Fleece corner

Then there is the Elvis look – a fleece jacket with the American Flag and USA on it. It looks like it was made somewhere else, but no, it is made here in the USA by Fleece corner. Buy American for this Fourth of July.

26
Jun
15

New Balance Bringing “Made In USA” To Four Cities With Special Tour

New Balance Bringing “Made In USA” To Four Cities With Special Tour – SneakerNews.com.

New Balance Bringing “Made In USA” to Four Cities With Special Tour

From Sneaker News by Zack Sclemmer June 10, 2015

New Balance the only shoe manufacturer that still makes shoes “Made in USA” takes its show on the road.

New Balance hits the road to promote their Made in USA sneakers this summer, touring various music and arts festivals around the country with ‘New Balance Made in USA Experience Tour’ pop-up booth. Emphasizing the American made high-quality and superb craftsmanship of their sneakers, the exhibition features product displays of Made in USA styles including the 993, 997 and 2040, a “NB Maker” Customization area, display from New Balance collector Richie Roxas (@newbalance365), and a local artist to each stop printing customized tour posters.

The event will visit the following cities this summer:
Manchester, TN / Bonnaroo / June 11-14
Manayunk, PA / Manayunk Arts Festival / June 20-21
Washington, DC / DC BBQ Battle / June 27-28
Milwaukee, WI / Summerfest / July 2-5

 Thanks to The Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this article. By the way, the above shirt is also made in the USA.
22
Jun
15

The TPP comes Knocking on Your Door on Tuesday

House Sends Trade Bill Back to Senate in Bid to Outflank Foes – The New York Times.

One of the most important legislative battles of this century comes back to the Senate on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. For those who do not know what is going on, I am not surprised (because a lot of it is secret).  But I will simplify it all: what is the Trans-Pacific Partnership; what is Fast Track; who is for it and who is against it; the expected results of the TPP and the legislative wrangling that has led us up to Tuesday’s crucial vote.

What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

For those of you who know nothing at all about The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it is a Free Trade treaty between the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. What “Free Trade” Treaties do is it eliminates import taxes and therefore, theoretically, increases trade between countries. So, why have import taxes in the first place? Right? Nobody likes taxes.

The Reason For Import Taxes

After the US Constitution was ratified, our Founding Fathers, at the very beginning, had placed a 95% tax on all imports (like other countries did at the time). The reason: they wanted to assure that American businesses had a fair shot at staying in business (so England did not overrun U.S. businesses) and to raise money for the government. Through the 20th Century, the US gradually decreased rate on import taxes.

Free Trade Treaties

Then, in 1990, US businesses got even more aggressive and start pushing “Free Trade” Treaties – eliminating all import tax form countries that had treaties with the U.S.. The first modern Free Trade Treaty was the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico, which became law on January 1,1994. The next year, and an even bigger Free Trade Treaty came into being on January 1, 1995, called the World Trade Organization (WTO) which presently encompasses 144 countries with China joining in 2001. Today, the average import tax rate into the US is 2.5% (which is almost non-existent).

What is the Result of Free Trade Treaties?

The results of Free Trade Treaties has been very mixed. The winners: people who like $6 shirts from Old Navy (and don’t care how it got that way); China; India; Multi-national Corporations; and anti-union people. The losers: small businesses, the American middle class, small towns (the multiple manufacturing ghost towns caused by offshoring), manufacturing jobs and its related jobs, and multiple other conditions (see the movie “The True Cost“).

Why Have Free Trade Treaties been Bad for the United States?

When Free Trade Treaties were initially discussed, economists knew that there would be loss of some US jobs, especially the industrial type jobs. It was 1994, America was in the middle of an economic boom, loss of US jobs didn’t seem to be such a big deal. However, the economists were greatly off in their predictions. According to the Economic Policy Institute, NAFTA costs the US 3.1 million jobs (examples: car manufacturers moved many plants to Mexico; Hersheys moved all of its operations to Mexico), and the World Trade Organization costs the US over 20 million jobs (even a recent report by the Congressional Research Service acknowledges that America lost over 2 million factory jobs just to China).

Why were the economists so far off?  First, globalization – all of the world became instantly interconnected by telephone, internet and travel. Because of this interconnectedeness, US corporations suddenly became multi-national corporations to take advantage of several issues: decreased of costs of wages, minimal safety regulations for workers, minimal regulation of pollution standards, subsidies from the US government to move their US companies overseas, avoid American taxation, and special kickbacks to CEOs from foreign governments to take advantage of the 0% import tax into the United States. To become multi-national corporations, CEOs had to offshore millions of U.S. jobs, not only manufacturing jobs, but also technical and service jobs. And it is still going on.The US offshored more than 2.6 million jobs in 2013 and there is a potential of offshoring another 25% of the American workforce or around 40 million jobs in the next few years according to the Congressional Research Service. These are all products of the Free Trade Treaties.

For more details (and graphs and citations) on the Global economy see my Blog entry: The global economy: A Short Lesson.

Who Are For the TPP and Who Are Against It?

The people who are for are the ones that wrote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, obviously. The people who wrote the TPP: 28 trade advisory committees have been intimately involved in the negotiations. Of the 566 committee members, 480, or 85 percent, are senior corporate executives or representatives from industry lobbying groups. Many of the advisory committees are made up entirely of industry representatives. From leaked documents, we know that Big Pharma is a big player. The TPP has written sections to increase the length of their drug patents and make generics more difficult to produce.  Big Ag has been a big player and they have been trying to get countries to accept their GMO vegetables/fruits or hormonally treated livestock. We also know that intellectual property is also another section that has been leaked, which means this involves number of large corporations, Wall Street as well as Hollywood/Big Media. So, in a couple of words the ones that wrote the TPP: Big Businesses (small companies not allowed).
Politically, who supports Big Business? The biggest supporter is the Republican Party. Even most Tea party members support the TPP, see the voting record. Another group of supporters are big corporate Democrats, called “bought” Democrats, which are less than 15% of all Democrats. And, of course, President Barack Obama.

Who is against the TPP? The middle class, the poor, progressives, Tea Party members who have seen US jobs offshored, people who care about the US economy and its future as well as organized labor. If you do see anything printed in the newspaper about the TPP, it says that the only opponents to the TPP is organized labor. Really?!! Organized labor comprises only 7% of private businesses. It is the ordinary citizens who are against the TPP and we don’t even get to vote on this. Not only do we not get to vote on the issue, we are forbidden to read it. And Big Media rarely report anything about the TPP. But, the grassroots movement from the opponents of the TPP have been making the legislative process bumpy.

The Legislative Process of the TPP

Now this is where things get a little hairy. After years and years of private negotiations, the TPP finally was brought to Congress, just at a time when things seemed favorable for passage, a Republican majority in both the Senate and The House. To get around the usual wrangling in Congress, the President with the permission of Congress is trying to pass the Trade Promotion Authority – which is used to be called “Fast Track” (probably changed the name to confuse the public), which means Congress can not debate aspects or add amendments to the bill, just an up or down vote. This was introduced to the Senate, however it could not pass the 60 vote filibuster needed to send it to the House. So, to entice some Democrats, the Senate added another bill that would help out workers that will be displaced by the TPP, called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act (TAA). These two bills were coupled and sent to the House of Representatives to be passed. However, the House couldn’t get enough votes to pass the coupled package. Then, this where the wrangling starts. The House of Representatives then de-coupled the two bills and just voted on the Fast Track (TPA) and passed it on a 219-211 vote. However, it is not law because the two bills were de-coupled. So, the House just kicked the can over to the Senate to see if they can pass Fast Track without the Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act. The Senate vote is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23rd. Write to your Senators. We have seen what previous Free Trade agreements have caused. The TPP is absolutely no different. And China can join this treaty as well. Why President Obama is pursuing this is beyond me. Stop The TPP. My prediction: The TPP, if passed, will cause a loss of more than 5 million US jobs in 15 years and make income inequality worse.

 

18
Jun
15

Wal-Mart’s request moves toothbrush production to Michigan from China Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart’s request moves toothbrush production to Michigan from China | MLive.com.

Maybe Wal-Mart is serious about making things made in the USA.

Tooth brush heads manufactured at the Ranir plant in Kenwood, Michigan

Toothbrush heads manufactured at the Ranir plant in Kenwood, Michigan

Wal-Mart’s Request Moves Toothbrush Production to Michigan from China

KENTWOOD, MI — Those toothbrush heads you buy at Wal-Mart will now be American-made.

Ranir, the largest maker of store brand toothbrushes and oral care products, is shifting production in China to its Michigan headquarters at the request of the retail giant.

The company will now make an additional 400,000 power toothbrush heads a month in its Kentwood facility at 4701 E. Paris Ave SE.

Making the switch required Ranir to invest $3 million to add 7,500 square feet of new high-tech equipment. It is also hiring 19 employees, a stat that Wal-Mart is tracking.

Ranir’s efforts are helping the world’s biggest retailer meet a new long term goal.

“We committed to spending another $250 billion on products made in the United States over 10 years, and in the long run we think that can create 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States,” Wal-Mart executive Joe Quinn told MLive and The Grand Rapids Press.

Quinn, the senior director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart U.S., flew in from the retailer’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters to visit Ranir on Tuesday, June 16, for an expansion ribbon-cutting ceremony at the West Michigan facility. The expansion celebration included a tour of the high-tech factory.

The new hires are significant for the company, said Ranir CEO Christine Henisee.

“It sounds like a small amount, but the more we see this, the more we secure the entire 500-plus site that it is here and not get tempted to say let’s move it to Mexico or China,” Henisee said.

Wal-Mart, which has been criticized for playing a role in driving manufacturing overseas to low-wage countries by demanding suppliers cut costs, is about two and half years into its ‘Made in the USA’ initiative.

Quinn said he couldn’t share the progress Walmart has made toward its goal either in spending or adding U.S. jobs.

While Quinn says Walmart is sincere in its goal to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. that doesn’t mean the retailer is willing to give up being a low-price leader in the retail sector.

Ranir won the contract because it was able to use new technology to meet Wal-Mart’s price and quality requirements for the products while simplifying the supply chain and the speed to market. The contract could lead to more direct jobs at Ranir as well as draw more suppliers to the area.

“The reality of Wal-Mart is that you walk through a Walmart and you see tens of thousands of items,” Quinn said. “Behind every single item you see there is a massive supply chain like this and there is inevitably a company like this that is thinking about what the electric toothbrush of the future should look like and what is the technology and how you can bring it back from Asia.”

As part of its push to bring off-shore manufacturing back to the U.S., Wal-Mart is highlighting the need for a trained workforce.

“Certainly in a state like Michigan that has a huge heritage of manufacturing, people understand that,” Quinn said.

Wal-Mart spends $2.9 billion annually on buying products from Michigan companies, said Quinn, sourcing Dun and Bradstreet, a business database.

Henisee, who has been invited by the retailer to speak at a summit in Bentonville next month about bringing manufacturing back from China, agrees that is a major issue. Finding engineers and candidates with technical training has been challenging, she said.

Editor’s Note

It is great to see good news coming from Wal-Mart who plays both sides of the fence. Let us not put Wal-Mart into the “saint” category just yet. We shall see what future plans Wal-Mart has before making any judgements. Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for pointing out this story.

17
Jun
15

Dad’s Beach Shirts from Bills Khakis

Bill’s Khakis Father’s Day Shirts

Bills Khakis, one of the few places where all of the garments are always assembled in the USA, periodically Bills Khakis offers some specialized products. These are called “small batch” products. This particular small batch is called Dad’s Beach Shirts, just in time for Fathers Day.

Dad’s Beach Shirts

Our Hand-Blocked Kalamkari Beach Shirt is equally suited for the beach as it is for the weekend. This Father’s Day, give your Dad (or yourself) something uniquely special. He’ll never want to take this one off…not even on the beach.

There are two choices in the shirts: Red and Midnight.

Dad's Beach Shirt (red) from Bills Khakis

Dad’s Beach Shirt (red) from Bills Khakis

Dad's Beach Shirt (Midnight) by Bills Khakis

Dad’s Beach Shirt (Midnight) by Bills Khakis

Father’s Day, Summer, Hawaiian type shirts – perfect.

To order see the following link: Bills Khakis Small Batch.

Have a Happy Father’s Day and Buy American.

16
Jun
15

The American middle class isn’t coming back — it’s going to die with the Baby Boomers

The American middle class isn’t coming back — it’s going to die with the Baby Boomers – Salon.com.

This is a recent article by Salon written by Scott Timberg.

boomersThe American Middle Class Isn’t Coming Back – It’s Going To Die With The Baby Boomers

It’s no secret that the American middle class has been on the ropes for a while now. The problem isn’t just a crippling recession and an economic “recovery” that has mostly gone to the richest one percent, but the larger shifting of wealth from the middle to the very top that’s taken place since the late ‘70s. Add in things like the dismantling of unions that has accelerated apace since Ronald Reagan crushed the air-traffic controllers, and we’ve seen the middle class more solid in places like Canada, Germany, and Scandinavia, and begin to grow in a number of nations even while it shrinks here. Economists like Thomas Piketty thinks the process is inevitable with global capitalism, while others – the equally wise Joseph Stiglitz, for example – think the balance can be restored if we can find the political will.

It turns out that those concerned about a tattered middle class are right about most of it, but overlooking one thing: Boomers – or rather, a particular strain of Boomer and near-Boomer – are doing great. That is, if you were born in the ‘40s, you are going to be the last American generation to enjoy a robust safety net, and your gray years will be far more comfortable than those a decade older or younger.

Here’s a New York Times story, which looks at “the 25 million Americans now between the ages of 65 and 74”:

Supported by income from Social Security, pensions and investments, as well as an increasing number of paychecks from delaying retirement, older people not only weathered the economic downturn that began in 2007 but made significant gains, a New York Times analysis of government data has found.

And despite our generally ornery Xer jingoism, we’re going to concede something here. We’ve noticed that our friends who we could call “young Boomers” – born in the late ‘50s and early ’60s – are often far less privileged and spoiled than those born in the years right after World War II. This younger group grew up or came of ago, after all, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as the postwar boom was fading, colleges were becoming expensive, and the Reagan Revolution was pulling the rug out from under the middle class.

And it turns out that those young Boomers are indeed a kind of transition generation. It’s the group now retiring that will take most of the spoils of the U.S. postwar boom and leave the rest of us with scraps:

In the past, the elderly were usually poorer than other age groups. Now, they are the last generation to widely enjoy a traditional pension, and are prime beneficiaries of a government safety net targeted at older Americans. They also have profited from the long rise in real estate prices that preceded the recession. As a result, more seniors now fall into the middle class — defined in this case between the 40th and 80th income percentile — than ever before.

If you wonder why you are working so hard to get a job, please note that a lot of these guys are sitting on theirs or at least working part-time. (It reminds us of the Onion story: “Parents With More Vacation Time, Financial Resources Want To Know When Son Will Come Home For A Visit.”)

The Times piece shows how a variety of Americans in that sub-generation is faring. Some are struggling, like the rest of us. But between the fancy cruises and fat pensions and gated communities and golf courses and vintage ‘57s Chevys, it’s not a world that younger Americans have any reason to expect. In fact, it sounds like something from a museum of postwar affluence.

So part of us is glad the American middle class will go out with a boom, so to speak. We don’t begrudge these people – our teachers and professors, our older friends, our parents and other relatives – comfort in their gray years. The way Americans, in the days before social security and other protections, lost their footings in old age was simply inhumane. But why couldn’t the prosperity be spread so that those born in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and after can enjoy the same stability and wealth?
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Well, this is a complicated one, and we’ll nod to the usual suspects: Globalization, technology, and the depletion of natural resources (especially energy) meant that the postwar boom would not last forever.

But you know what else the original Boomers brought us? Despite their dabbling with progressivism and hippie utopianism, this group served as the shock troops for market-worshipping neoliberalism and the Reagan-Thatcher shift in the ‘70s and ‘80s. They gave us junk bonds and the privatization push and Gordon Gekko. Some of them went into the corporate world and started dismantling.

Let’s hope they enjoy their retirements. But these gray Boomers and grayer Silents – not all of them, but enough to do substantial damage – put forces in motion that mean for the rest of us, the twilight years will be significantly less cozy.

Editor’s Note

The message of the article is simple. Income inequality is worsening with each succeeding generation. This has happened since 1980 – a time which corresponds to trickle down economics, Free Trade, deregulation and the advent of Nationalized Big Box stores. Maybe the middle class is just an artificial glitch caused by the strength of Labor Unions (1950-1990), while globalization and all of its Free Trade deals designed to get rid of Labor Unions, have brought the United States and its capitalistic economy back into an equilibrium which is found in almost all capitalistic economies: two classes – the haves and the have nots. Will we have a middle class in the future? It depends on whether we change. Stay the course and continue to outsource good paying US jobs to any number of foreign countries who are willing to pay their workers nothing OR make it easier for people of any economic class to climb the ladder of success and to think of the USA as a whole and not just thinking about profits (90% of which go to the top 1%). The choice is ours, if we vote and we stand up for ourselves.

11
Jun
15

About | Buck Mason

About | Buck Mason.

About Buck Mason

“Where we’re from, the best dressed man is the one whose character is apparent in the way he wears his jeans. We’re from a place where a demand for endurance, fit and quality is the only definition of style. We’re not excited by fashion. Buck Mason was born out of an obsession with standing out by being subtle, buying smart and affirming the true, classic heartland cool that we grew up on. Cool is effortless, stable and poised. It’s the never-loud, always honest, unfailing preamble to timelessness. Cool is what happens when a picture of you today resurfaces in thirty years and people say, “He’s still got it.” With this in mind, we’re committed to crafting clothing that outlives trends, weathers use and wears true-to-character. The garments we design aren’t meant to be different, they’re simply meant to be perfect.” Founders: Erik Schnakenberg and Sasha Koehn.

Buck Mason Light Grey Oxford

Buck Mason Light Grey Oxford

Buck Mason

Buck Mason is a company that is proud to be making clothing that carries the label “Made in America”. The cotton is grown in North Carolina and sewn in Los Angeles (according to 2 paragraphs). Now that is 100% American. The company started with high quality T-shirts and now has expanded to include Henleys, denim pants/shirts, chinos, oxford shirts and even hats (through Stetson). Eric Schnakenberg was previously the retail director for Civilianaire – a high end, Made in America clothing maker. Buck Mason is definitely worth looking into at their website: buckmason.com. Great quality clothing at a very reasonable price.

White short sleeve Henley

White short sleeve Henley

Is There a Real Buck Mason?

No, there is no actual person named Buck Mason. Buck Mason is a fictional name made up in honor of their fathers of the founders. Mr. Schnakenberg’s father was a mason and Mr. Koehn’s father was a sculptor. The first name was picked because they wanted a tough sounding manly name, thus it became “Buck.”

Black Chino pants

Black Chino pants

Articles From Other Magazines

GQ (on 6/8/15)

Wall Street Journal

Forbes

Men’s Journal

LA Weekly

RAWR Denim

Well Spent

Facebook

Buck Mason does have a Facebook page see: facebook.com/buckmasonusa.

Buck Mason Rambler Hat

Buck Mason Rambler Hat




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