Reese Witherspoon visits workers at Draper James factory in Georgia

Reese Witherspoon visits workers at Draper James factory in Georgia | Daily Mail Online.

If you hadn’t heard, Reese Witherspoon started up her own clothing factory this year. The factory is located in Blue Ridge, Georgia with a commitment to making their clothing and accessories in the USA and giving back to the community: Girls, Inc. The Brand name, Draper James, comes from the names of Reese Witherspoon’s grandparents: Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon. The Draper James fashion look will be true to Southern Heritage. At this point, Draper James clothing can be purchased online at draperjames.com with an upcoming store coming to Nashville soon.

The first article is a fun-filled visit to the Draper James Factory – covered by Daily Mail Online.

The second short article is from Forbes about the story of Draper James.

Proud Reese Witherspoon Visits Workers at Draper James Factory In Georgia

by Kayla Caldwell

Since its launch May 6, Reese Witherspoon has frequently taken to her social media accounts to excitedly document the progress of her new lifestyle brand Draper James.

And on Thursday the 39-year-old shared a sweet video of a trip she took to Blue Ridge, Georgia to check out one of the company’s denim factories and visit with the dedicated American workers.

‘The south has a long history of making denim,’ she says in the clip, later adding that when she started her company she knew she wanted to ensure, ‘whenever possible, that we could make the clothes in the United States.’

(To see the below video, got to the top link to get to original story)

'Made with love' On Thursday Reese Witherspoon shared a video of her trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia where she visited a factory that produces jeans for Draper James

‘Made with love’ On Thursday Reese Witherspoon shared a video of her trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia where she visited a factory that produces jeans for Draper James

Showing her appreciation: Throughout the video Reese shares her gratitude for the workers there, who 'work hard, care about their work, and take pride in it'

Showing her appreciation: Throughout the video Reese shares her gratitude for the workers there, who ‘work hard, care about their work, and take pride in it’

 Reese Witherspoon visited the place where her clothing comes to life, the Draper James factory in Georgia.

The movie star started life in the deep South of America which is where she drew her inspiration from for clothing designs on her website, Draper James.

Nowadays, you’ll be tough pushed to find Reese out and about without donning a piece from her own collection.

The starlet/designer made a visit to the factory wearing none other than Draper James.

She kept it simple with a circle logo graphic tee paired with dark denim and white shoes.

The shirt she’s wearing is $58 and you can make it yours by heading over to DraperJames.com

Want more graphic tee options? Not a prob, we’ve got you covered on our style edit below. Pair them with dark denim and some Vans Authentic Lo Pro’s and you’ll look like a casual belle.

The clip begins with Reese behind the wheel as she starts her road trip to Georgia, and describes the importance of American craftsmanship.

Reese and her team then make it to Georgia, where they appear to be in good spirits as they are given a tour around the factory, which features a prominently-displayed ‘Made in America’ banner.

The blonde beauty can then be seen smiling and pointing as she watches staff go through the 42 steps – cutting, stitching, sewing, etc. – that it takes to make a pair of Draper James jeans.

On the road: The video begins with Reese behind the wheel as she starts the drive to Georgia, while discussing the south's history of making denim 

On the road: The video begins with Reese behind the wheel as she starts the drive to Georgia, while discussing the south’s history of making denim

On schedule: Reese gushed about the city, later posting on Twitter: 'A special shout out to beautiful Blue Ridge'

On schedule: Reese gushed about the city, later posting on Twitter: ‘A special shout out to beautiful Blue Ridge’

‘People from here work hard. They care about their work. They take pride in it,’ she says, of the American workers.

Then it’s Reese’s turn, as she can be seen sitting down by a sewing machine to try her hand at creating a pair of jeans.

The mother-of-three beams once she has succeeded, holding up her handiwork to the camera and smiling as those around her applaud.

Introductions: As the blonde beauty and her Draper James team arrived they met factory workers before heading on a tour 

Introductions: As the blonde beauty and her Draper James team arrived they met factory workers before heading on a tour

Reese Witherspoon promotes her new retail brand Draper James

Checking it out: Reese looks thrilled as she's seen touring the facilities with her team

Checking it out: Reese looks thrilled as she’s seen touring the facilities with her team

Riveted: The mother-of-three seemed riveted, asking questions as she took in the 42-step process 

Riveted: The mother-of-three seemed riveted, asking questions as she took in the 42-step process

Meanwhile, via a voice over she says: ‘Draper James was named after my grandparents. It makes all the difference to know that each pair is made with love.’

On June 4 Reese took to Instagram to share a snap from her visit – along with the pair of Draper James jeans she had created – writing: ‘Pure joy! That’s the feeling I had making a pair of #DraperJames jeans in our denim factory in Georgia today! #MadeInUSA’

Meanwhile, Reese shared the video from her trip on Thursday, writing: ‘Can’t tell you how much this meant to me…A special shout out to beautiful Blue Ridge!’

Examining their work: The Wild star seemed impress as she checked out one of the employee's handiwork 

Examining their work: The Wild star seemed impress as she checked out one of the employee’s handiwork

A pat on the back: Reese could be seen commending the staff as she watched their skilled handiwork 

A pat on the back: Reese could be seen commending the staff as she watched their skilled handiwork

In good spirits: The Oscar winner looked to be enjoying herself as she mingled with the factory workers and learned how to make a pair of jeans 

In good spirits: The Oscar winner looked to be enjoying herself as she mingled with the factory workers and learned how to make a pair of jeans

The Blue Ridge, Georgia factory manufactures three pairs of jeans sold on the Draper James website.

It is responsible for the Toostie Jean – in Blue Ridge Wash and River Rinse – and the White Tootsie Jean, which comes in Cotton White Wash. All retail for $148.00.

While on holiday the Reese has been seen wearing dresses and accessories from her fashion line, which she premiered earlier this year.

Getting along nicely: Everyone in the video sported a wide grin during Reese's visit to the denim factory in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Getting along nicely: Everyone in the video sported a wide grin during Reese’s visit to the denim factory in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Her turn! Later, Reese was seen sitting down at the sewing machine as she attempted to make a pair of Draper James jeans 

Her turn! Later, Reese was seen sitting down at the sewing machine as she attempted to make a pair of Draper James jeans

The brand, named after her grandparents – Dorothea Draper and William James – has been doing well, selling more than $100K even without a flagship live store.

The official store will open in Nashville later this year.

Elated: Reese took to Instagram to celebrate her accomplishment, writing, of the experience: 'Pure joy! That's the feeling I had making a pair of #DraperJames jeans in our denim factory in Georgia today! #MadeInUSA'

Elated: Reese took to Instagram to celebrate her accomplishment, writing, of the experience: ‘Pure joy! That’s the feeling I had making a pair of #DraperJames jeans in our denim factory in Georgia today! #MadeInUSA’


From Forbes Magazine

No one embodies southern charm quite like Reese Witherspoon. From her cheery demeanor to her impeccable lady-like style, the Academy Award-winner is the poster child for the region. And now you can bring a piece of that into your home—and closet—with Draper James, the Southern-inspired line of fashion, accessories and home décor that Witherspoon launched today. Named after her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon are still her most important influences. “I created Draper James to honor my past and allow others to embrace the beauty, style and excitement that embodies what is happening in the South today,” Witherspoon has said. Growing up in Nashville, Witherspoon was raised with Southern rules to live by, such as that it’s better to be overdress than underdressed, and to never underestimate the power of charm and grace.


Witherspoon’s feminine aesthetic is evident her brand’s clothing, with dresses in classic silhouettes, lacy skirts, floral printed tops, graphic tees, and tweed shorts, in an all-American palette of navy, white, bright yellow and baby blue. The accessories include luxe leather handbags, totes, sunglasses and hats, while the jewelry offerings encompass pearls, charm bracelets, enamel bangles and statement necklaces. No Southern-inspired line would be complete without stationery, and the home goods are rounded out with picture frames, blankets, pillows and cocktail napkins.


Draper James will collaborate with Southern artisans and will keep much of the line’s production local. “Draper James was built on the backdrop of Reese’s Southern past, which is both timely and relevant,” Draper James CEO Andrea Hyde has said. “Not only is the South having a cultural surge, but it has a rich ecosystem that we tapped into on every level.”

Further Reading

Reese Witherspoon’s Clothing Line Already Selling Out – Cosmopolitan

Reese Witherspoon Updates the All-American Look with Her New Line Draper James – Vogue

Check out their Facebook page.

Thanks to the Alliance of American Manufacturing for highlighting this article.


Homerica – American made Building Supplies and Appliances

American Made Home Supplies and Companies| Homerica.

There is a brand new website called Homerica which features “Made in America” building supplies, furniture and appliances for the American home. This should be your first stop when remodeling or furnishing your home, apartment or rental.

Made in USA Appliances

There are plenty of products still made in the USA, which are almost always higher in quality and reliability. But the problem is that you have to go through so many different websites to find what you are looking for. For the person who wants to furnish their house with “Made in USA” furnishings, this is THE  ultimate website . For Appliances, Homerica lists washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, garbage disposals, air conditioners and vacuum cleaners. As for myself and appliances, just last month, I purchased the GE Washer: GFWR4800FWW, purchased from the Home Depot. (they were having a great sale and it just so happened my 7 year old, foreign made Maytag had bitten the dust).

GE Washer

GE Washer GFWR4800FWW

Made in USA Furniture

If you want to decorate each room, Homerica has listings for the bedroom, the dining room and the living room. The listings from the furniture category are all 100% American made. There are more companies (not listed in this website) that make furniture “made in the USA”, but some are not 100% American made. Companies like Ethan Allen or Flexsteel make some pieces in the US, but they also sell products made from other countries which makes the decisions and setting up of pages more difficult and, therefore, are not included.

Vermont Furniture

Vermont Wood Studios

Now that you have put your furniture in each room, it is time to add the extra touches, see Furnishings: Linens, Drapes, Rugs, Carpets, Clocks, etc.

Made in USA Building Supplies

If you are one of those building a new home or re-modeling, Homerica has a great list of Made in USA building supplies exterior and interior: cabinets, ceilings, flooring, moulding, tiling, insulating, stairs, and lighting.

About The Owner of Homerica

From the website, John Briggs is the CEO of Homerica. John had been the blogger for simplyamerican.net which highlighted various products “Made in America” Here is the information from the Homerica website:

John Briggs

John Briggs

John Briggs, Owner and CEO

My name is John Briggs. Four years ago I started blogging and speaking about how Americans like you and I could create jobs for members of our extended American family just by purchasing the products they manufacture. It soon became clear that building, remodeling and furnishing an American home with American products could have a big impact on job creation in American. It was that realization that led to the creation of Homerica. Homerica offers one stop shopping for building materials, appliances, furniture, furnishings made by Americans for your home. So have a look around Homerica, find what you need for your home, then contact the American firms making exactly what you need.

Good luck on you new venture, John.

On a related story, about a house made entirely out of Made in USA supplies, check out the link: “ABC World News: Home Made in America Can It Work.”


Is Tyson Having Chicken Processed in China and Selling it to the USA?

There has been a heated Facebook discussion about the USA allowing American chickens to be processed in China – and this “processed chicken from China” does not need to be labeled as such. This has sparked outrage (delayed – as this became law in 2013 see Chinese Chicken Processors are Cleared for U.S. Imports – NY Times). Some have suggested that Tyson is sending their chickens to China to be processed into small chicken nuggests and sent back to the U.S. to be sold. The outrage has become so loud that even Tyson has publicly come out and said that this is all a hoax:

On July 14, 2015, Tyson Foods came out with this Facebook post:

There is a post going around Facebook suggesting we are planning to ship chicken to China for processing to be returned to the U.S. for sale, eliminating thousands of jobs in the process. This is a hoax, and nothing suggested in the post is true. For more information click here http://www.tysonfoods.com/…/China%20Poultry%20Exports%20to%…

So What is the Truth? Does Tyson Plan to Process U.S. Chickens in China?

If you want a very brief answer – skip to the conclusion. If you want to know about the circumstances, please read below.

Before we can answer the question of whether Tyson plans to process poultry in China ,we first need to evaluate the history of the law that was passed to allow U.S. poultry to be processed in China.

In order to be able to process chicken in China, it meant that somebody (China) had to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)(notation corrected 7/26/15)  to certify that that China was “equivalent” in processing to the United States. This happened in 2004 when China lobbied the U.S. to process chicken (as well as to slaughter chicken and handle raw chicken – both of which have not been approved as of yet.) China received permission, in November 2005, when a branch of the USDA, the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS), passed the law allowing processing of chicken in China even though no “equivalent” processing plants were specifically approved. Following FSIS passing this law (still unfinalized), there was a two month period of final comments from Congress. Some people who received leaked news of this law, violently protested. But the law was finalized in 2006. However, the criticisms of the law raised the ire of many in Congress which then refused to fund this law from 2006 to 2009.

Revenge By China

China, which was happy to finally acquire “equivalent” processing, was not amused that Congress would not let them process poultry from the United States (by de-funding the project). Also, unhappy were major American corporations like Cargill, Tyson, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Yum! Brands which had strong financial interest in exploiting the burgeoning Chinese poultry markets. Many of the companies already had large financial stakes and favorable contracts in the Chinese Markets.
China retaliated by raising import tariffs on U.S. poultry by 43%, up to 104.5%. The result: a 90% decrease in “broiler” chicken imports from the U.S. In another case of retaliation, in 2003, China and several other countries banned U.S. beef, because of a single case of “Mad Cow” disease found in Yakima, Washington. Every other country has lifted the U.S. beef ban except China.
China then went running to their old-time friend, the World Trade Organization, to sue the United States. China contended that Congress’s inaction was costing them money. The WTO agreed. And funding was restored to the law and U.S. poultry could legally be processed in China on August 30, 2013. And even though all USDA audits demonstrated that Chinese processing plants were inadequate, still four plants were approved. (The U.S. government currently allows Canada, Chile, France and Israel to export processed poultry to the U.S.). Only mild outrage followed the back page story that announced this controversial law was active.
The Tyson Story
Since Tyson has gone to great lengths to deny they are processing U.S. poultry in China, let us put a spotlight on some of the ties between Tyson and China: (From the 2012 Tyson Holdings) Tyson Foods has had a presence in China since 2001 and currently has three poultry operations in different provences in the country: Tyson DaLong, Tyson Shandong (which comprises three slaughter facilities and employs 7,000 people) and Tyson Nantong. Tyson also has processing facilities in India, Brazil and Mexico.
Possible Evidence of Tyson Importing Chicken into the U.S.
Tyson plans to import poultry into the US from its plant in Mexico. In its Tyson’s Holdings Fact Book 2012, regarding its Mexico plants: ” From our Mexico facilities, we export chicken to Vietnam and Guatemala, and we expect to achieve our first exports to the United States and Africa in the near future”.
Possible Evidence of Tyson Importing Beef into the U.S.
Tyson plans to import beef into the U.S. from Brazil. Tyson has plants in Brazil to process chicken and beef. Tyson, is very smart, by having a plant in Brazil, they can ship poultry to Europe, while U.S. poultry is still banned in Europe. Just this week, the USDA has allowed the imports of beef from Brazil and Argentina into the United States. Coincidence, I think not.
Other Evidence – Only Tyson Lobbies the USDA for market access for chicken in China 
According to Newsweek: In 2013, in the months before the USDA approved the four Chinese plants to process chickens for the U.S. market, of the country’s four major chicken companies—Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms—only Tyson lobbied the USDA for “market access for chicken to China” (and other countries). Neither the National Chicken Council nor the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association put any money toward the cause.
Tyson’s Argument that They will Not Be Importing Chicken processed in China Back to the USA
Tyson says they are not planning on processing U.S. poultry in China. They don’t have to say why, but they are playing the money card. Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in a recent Houston Chronicle article about our petition:

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” Super said. “Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the United States, pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

Rebuttal to Tyson’s Argument That Poultry Is Too Expensive to Process in China
There are good precedents about processing U.S. food in China. Salmon and Dungeness Crab caught on the West Coast are shipped to China to be processed and then are shipped back to the USA according to The Huffington Post. The reason why companies do this? Because it is cheaper in China to pay workers, wages are less and Chinese workers usually have no benefits. Factories have minimal health and safety standards. So, why not process poultry in China? Why would Tyson lobby the USDA to get processing US chicken in China approved? Why would China want to process U.S. poultry if it wasn’t economically feasible?
Rebuttal To The Rebuttal
Some think that Tyson’s lobbying the USDA to allow China process U.S. poultry may have been purely political. That it was done to get favor from China, so that China would ultimately allow U.S. meat back into their country. Tyson, also, at the same time, made an enemy of China, when they took China to the WTO court and had those extremely high tariffs on U.S. poultry repealed in 2013.
The Real Reasons
If you had to look at this issue, you might say why would Tyson go to all this trouble, spend millions and millions of dollars to have U.S. poultry processed in China. This venture could be profitable yes, but to the point of recuperating these millions already spent? Maybe, but it would take many years. Mega-corporations have been known to play the long game. And this is exactly the case. The long game is not just “Processing” U.S. poultry in China and then ship it back to the U.S. No, the ultimate goal of Tyson is to process not only poultry, but also beef and pork in China (and other countries) and ship it to all countries. And the only way that this becomes possible is through two methods. First, if Tyson can give the impression that all of exported China’s poultry and beef are safe -by  continuing to lobby the USDA – this would then allow all poultry and meat from China into the USA.
Second, Tyson needs to repeal the Country of Origin Labeling (C.O.O.L.) law written by the USA. And surprise, this is already done. Tyson which is part of the American Meat Institute sued the USDA through the World Trade Organization Court and had this law repealed. For the stunning details of the lawsuits and the repeal of COOL, see my expose: US Appeals WTO Ruling against National Meat Labels.
Once Tyson has achieved both of these goals, then Tyson can co-mix cuts of meats, they can co-mix different types of meats, they can co-mix meats from any nation, and none of it will be labelled. Then Tyson can make big profits. That is their real strategy.
Tyson has been instrumental in helping China get the status of being “equivalent” to the USA in processing poultry and therefore, China can now legally process U.S. Chicken into the U.S. And restaurants that serve this China-processed chicken do not have to label this food as being from China. So, has Tyson started sending its US poultry to China to be processed since they already have three processing plants in China? The answer appears to be no, thus far. Will it do so in the future? Yes, that is there plan. Will it happen in two years, ten years or twenty years, that is the open question. Tyson and the American Meat Institute (now called the North American Meat Institute since 2015) have clearly demonstarted that they want no meat to labeled so they can ultimately package any combination of meat products together and from any country they select – to maximize profits.
As far as the cutting of jobs, Tyson has already closed numerous poultry plants in the USA over the past six years. We do not know when the next U.S. processing plant will be closed, while we do know their international plants continue to grow.
So, is Tyson evil? The answer: Tyson is a multi-national mega-corporation that wants to dominate all aspects of poultry and meat.
For the best official reference about the Chicken processing in China case see: Country of Origin Labeling Revisited: Processed Chicken from China and the USDA Processed Foods Exception, from the Minnesota Judicial Law, Science and Technology by Daniel Schueppart.

Summer Sale 2015 – Bills Khakis

Bills Khakis Summer Sale 2015

Bills Khakis Summer Sale 2015

Bills Khakis, one of the few 100% American assembled clothing companies still around, has come out with a great summer sale, savings of up to 50%. They have a great assortment of shorts and casual shirts in a multitude of styles and colors. (Clink on the above Link to see their sale.)

Bills Khakis Summer Sale

Bills Khakis Summer Sale

Bills Khakis has the biggest selection of “Made in the USA” men’s shorts, there are multiple styles: Sunbleached Twill; Ultra Soft Nassau Twill; Poplin; Gingham; Seersucker; Island Twill Parker; Savanna Cloth; Fast Drying and Madras. There are multiple colors as well.

Island Twill Parker Shorts

Island Twill Parker Shorts

Nautical Flag Shorts

Nautical Flag Shorts

The varieties of tops are numerous, whether you want your basic T-shirts, polos – plain or striped, Bills has a great selection. My  favorite are the retro appearing Striped Ringer Tees.

Striped Ringer Tee Creme Grey

Striped Ringer Tee
Creme Grey

No collection of summer clothing would be complete without bathing suits. Bills offers: printed trunks, seersuckers, tropical prints, and gingham.

Embroidered Palms Bathing suits

Embroidered Palms Bathing suits

And to walk on your yacht or stroll on the beach, Bills Khakis, in conjunction with Rancourt shoes, offers a wonderful boat shoe.

Four Eye Boat Shoe

Four Eye Boat Shoe

Have a great summer and Buy American.



The Myth of the Ethical Shopper

The Myth of the Ethical Shopper – The Huffington Post.

This is an article that was published in the Huffington Post, written by Michael Hobbes. The article is a long read about 12 pages, if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, see my bullet notes under Editor’s Note.

The Myth Of the Ethical Shopper

There’s this video that went viral earlier this year. On Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a vending machine is selling plain white T-shirts for €2 each. Customers approach in ones and twos, insert coins, pick a size. Then, before the shirt comes out, a photo appears—a black-and-white image of rows of sewing machines. “Meet Manisha,” the screen reads, dissolving to a close-up of a girl in a headscarf who looks about 16. She earns “as little as 13 cents an hour each day for 16 hours.” The Berliners put their hands over their mouths.“Do you still want to buy this shirt?” the display asks. The menu comes up again. This time, the options are “buy” and “donate.” As the music swells, all the shoppers press “donate.”For a generation now, buying better has been one of our most potent forms of protest. Who doesn’t want to believe that he can rescue Manisha from misery simply by purchasing the right T-shirt? The same idea underpins hundreds of earnest NGO advocacy campaigns urging people to take action against the Swooshtika, Badidas, Killer Coke. It prompted a much-praised John Oliver exposé in which he blasts H&M for selling “suspiciously cheap” clothes sourced in Bangladesh. The only trouble is, this narrative is bullshit.It all started in the mid-’90s, when anti-sweatshop mania burst into the mainstream of American culture. Naked people chanted outside the opening of an Old Navy, Jennifer Love Hewitt led an anti-sweatshop protest on “Party of Five,” Kathie Lee Gifford cried in front of Congress. Nearly every major apparel brand was, at one point or another, the target of a boycott campaign. Radiohead told its millions of fans to read No Logo, Naomi Klein’s investigative polemic against multinational corporations.And for a while there, it worked. The major apparel companies adopted codes of conduct, first banning just the most egregious stuff—workers under 16, forced overtime—then expanding to health and safety, environmental protection and social investment. Since 1998, Nike has followed U.S. clean air standards in all of its factories worldwide, while Levi’s gives financial literacy classes to some of its seamstresses. Every company from Hanes to Halliburton has a social responsibility report. An entire ecosystem of independent inspectors and corporate consultants has sprung up, applying auditing standards that are as pedantic and uncompromising as the NGOs advocating for them.But in the past 25 years, the apparel industry, the entire global economy, has undergone a complete transformation. The way our clothes are made and distributed and thrown away is barely recognizable compared to the way it was done in the ’90s. And yet our playbook for improving it remains exactly the same.This year, I spoke with more than 30 company reps, factory auditors and researchers and read dozens of studies describing what has happened in those sweatshops since they became a cultural fixation three decades ago. All these sources led me to the same conclusion: Boycotts have failed. Our clothes are being made in ways that advocacy campaigns can’t affect and in places they can’t reach. So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?

If you’ve ever been to a corporate social responsibility conference, you’ve undoubtedly heard the story of the three fire extinguishers. The way it goes is, an inspector was walking through a clothing factory in Bangladesh and noticed that it had three fire extinguishers on the wall, one right on top of the other. He asked why, and the manager of the factory told him, “We get audited under three different standards, and they each require us to have a fire extinguisher a different distance from the floor. We got tired of moving the fire extinguisher every time an inspector came, so now we just have one at each height.”This is the world that No Logo built. By the end of the ’90s, a society-wide consensus had formed on how companies should operate their developing-country factories. First, we wanted them to ban all the terrible things we read about in magazines. No more child labor, choked ventilation, abusive bosses, confiscated passports. Companies should apply U.S. working conditions or, at the minimum, follow local laws where they operated. Second, we wanted them to send inspectors to see if those commitments were being met.
And most companies did these things. That was the easy part. The hard part, it turned out, is that these structures aren’t designed to make factories take better care of their workers. They’re designed to make factories look like they are.When you hear the word “inspector,” you think of a sort of detective, walking up and down whirring assembly lines, interviewing workers, interrogating managers. In reality, factory audits are primarily a paperwork exercise. Inspectors typically spend one day—two, tops—at each factory, mostly in the back office, checking time sheets for shift lengths, birth certificates for child labor, pay stubs for wages and overtime.In a 2009 survey, Chinese auditors referred to their work as a “cat-and-mouse game.” They updated their inspections to get around the fraud: asking workers their zodiac signs instead of their birthdays, checking for wrinkles on birth certificates. Then the factories updated their fraud to get around the inspections. Auditors tell me of arriving at factories where the owners play a song over the loudspeakers as a signal to shuffle the child laborers out the back. “Sometimes [employees] answer before you ask the question,” says Rachelle Jackson, director of sustainability and innovation at Arche Advisors, who estimates she’s done around 1,500 audits. “You ask, ‘What time do you start work?’ and they say, ‘Eight hours.’”

Those small-batch, hemp-woven Daisy Dukes you bought in Dumbo are far more likely to be made in a sweatshop than your $7 H&M gym shorts.

For his book The Promise and Limits of Private Power, Brown University’s Richard Locke examined 10 years of Nike inspections. Nike was doing two kinds of audits, one mostly based on paperwork and the other incorporating the impressions of its staff after visiting factories. From 2001 to 2005, the paperwork audit showed that working conditions in almost all of Nike’s suppliers were steadily improving. When Locke checked the qualitative audit, though, he found that nearly 80 percent of them either hadn’t improved—or had gotten worse.

Partly in response to this dynamic, a lot of the big brands switched tactics, moving from wrist-slapping to worker-training. In 2009, Nike set up a model factory in Sri Lanka and sent managers there from all over the world. Since any change in operations can make suppliers less productive at first, the company signed long-term agreements with factories, pledging to stick with them as they learned how to meet deadlines using better methods and safer equipment rather than longer shifts.

But these second-gen practices couldn’t insulate factories from the countries where they operated. The Nike training worked wonders in Mexico, but had no effect in China or Sri Lanka. Between 8 and 10 percent of Mexican workers quit every year. In China, it was that high per month: They were training employees only to send them to other firms. Mexican factories had unions and NGOs telling workers how to take employers to court if they didn’t pay back wages. In China, where labor activism is basically illegal, workers didn’t even know which rights they had, let alone how to exercise them.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that consumer boycotts were totally useless. Twenty-five years after the movement began, some large suppliers have formalized workforces, provide better health and safety practices and pay above the minimum wage. Ironically, it’s the major brands, the companies that are still the targets of those viral NGO campaigns, which are the most likely to use these factories. The biggest names, after all, have the greatest incentive (and the resources) to defend their reputations. Chikako Oka, a lecturer at Royal Holloway University, found that reputation-conscious companies had 35 percent fewer working violations in their Cambodian factories than did generic brands.

Which leads us to the first flaw with our existing model of anti-sweatshop advocacy. It’s not the largest or the second-largest company we should be worried about anymore. It’s the 44th, or the 207th. Those small-batch, hemp-woven Daisy Dukes you bought in Dumbo are far more likely to be made in a sweatshop than your $7 H&M gym shorts.

But that’s not the only problem. In the last 25 years, as the big brands were getting (somewhat) better at monitoring their supply chains, the entire global apparatus of manufacturing shifted underneath them.

 At 6:45 p.m. on November 24, 2012, the fire alarm went off on the fourth floor of a nondescript building in the suburbs of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inside, nearly 1,200 garment workers were on deadline, scrambling to complete an order. When the bells started ringing, they asked if they could leave. Their managers told them to go back to their machines.Five minutes later, the floor filled with black smoke; screams could be heard from below. The building had no sprinklers or fire escapes. Workers tried to flee down an internal staircase, but the exits were locked. Those on the lower floors were trapped by boxes of yarn and clothes that had already been completed. The fire eventually engulfed the building, killing at least 112 people and injuring hundreds more. Some broke their backs and legs jumping from the windows.
Most of the workers inside the Tazreen garment factory were making clothing for Western brands: Dickies, Wal-Mart, Disney, all their logos showed up on labels pulled from the rubble. But Tazreen wasn’t yet another example of corporations failing to police conditions in their factories. It was an example of how doing so has become impossible.

We buy more clothes now, move through trends faster. In the olden days—the early ‘90s—brands produced two to four fashion cycles per year, big orders coordinated by season, planned months in advance. These days, there’s no such thing as cycles, only products. If a shirt is selling well, Wal-Mart orders its suppliers to make more. If headbands inexplicably come into fashion, H&M rushes to make millions of them before they go out again.

This flexibility means that factories have to compete on the number of clothing lines they can produce and how quickly they can switch from one to another. Chinese manufacturers that once made four products at a time now make 300. Locke profiles a Honduran supplier that used to have around two months to prepare orders for Western brands—buy fabric, cut T-shirt shapes out of it, sew them together, send them to stores. Now they get one week.

In the fast-fashion era, Western brands can’t afford the luxury of working with the same suppliers and ensuring that they meet the company’s standards. And so, rather than manage a giant, respirating network of factories themselves, most of them have outsourced this coordination to megasuppliers: huge conglomerates that can take a design sketch, split the production between thousands of factories, box up the goods and ship them to stores in less time than they’ll stay in style.

Manufacturing middlemen aren’t new, of course: Those “Nike factories” in Indonesia that Jennifer Love Hewitt marched against were actually run by Taiwanese and Korean firms. What is new, though, is how big the megasuppliers have become and how much of the sector they control.

In Sri Lanka, four companies generate roughly 25 percent of the country’s garment income. Yue Yuen, the Foxconn of footwear, makes one-fifth of all the shoes in the world. The largest apparel megasupplier, Li & Fung, which produces everything from Wal-Mart basics to Disney plush toys to Spanx, has revenues of $19.2 billion; more than Ralph Lauren, Armani and Tommy Hilfiger combined.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport calls Li & Fung’s operations “ephemeral.” It has 15,000 supplier factories in 40 countries, but doesn’t own or operate any of them. It’s a coordinator, configuring cotton suppliers, textile mills, stitching and sewing houses into a straight line just long enough to deliver one order to one buyer, and then reconfiguring them for the next.

Li & Fung does inspect its suppliers and send reports back to its buyers. But there’s no guarantee that orders will be filled by the same factory twice, and audits are often carried out after the order has already been placed. And so clothing companies have no ability or incentive to fix what they find. It’s like finding out the results of a restaurant health inspection after you’ve already eaten your meal.

In 2013, The New York Times published a sort of greatest-hits of Li & Fung violations: 29 workers killed in a fire in Bangladesh in 2010; at least two workers killed in a “stampede,” also in Bangladesh, in 2011; 280 workers fainting at a facility in Cambodia due to malnourishment and air contamination; a dozen workers fired in Indonesia, allegedly for trying to start a union.

Jeroen Merk, a researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam—and one of the few academics who’s investigating the megasuppliers—says their business model is deliberately organized to keep buyers separated from factories. If brands discover what factories charge, they might work with them directly and keep the margin for themselves. Some companies ordering clothes through megasuppliers, he says, don’t know which factories they were made in—or even which countries.

In many cases, the megasuppliers don’t know either. Last year, a compliance manager for a European brand told NYU’s Center for Business and Human Rights that small factories in Bangladesh, capable of producing just 10,000 pieces per month, were accepting orders 10 times that large and then filling them through agents, small workshops, and home-based workers. Gale Raj-Reichert, a researcher at the University of Manchester who studies electronics supply chains, met a manufacturer in Malaysia who had no idea which company he was producing for. He got his orders and delivered his goods exclusively through middlemen.

After the Tazreen fire, NGO campaigns focused on how Wal-Mart was responsible for 60 percent of the clothing being produced there. But Wal-Mart never actually placed an order with Tazreen. In fact, over a year before the fire, Wal-Mart inspected the factory and discovered that it was unsafe. By the time of the fire, it had banned its suppliers from using it.

So here’s how its products ended up at Tazreen anyway: Wal-Mart hired a megasupplier called Success Apparel to fill an order for shorts. Success hired another company, Simco, to carry out the work. Simco—without telling Success, much less Wal-Mart—sub-contracted 7 percent of the order to Tazreen’s parent company, the Tuba Group, which then assigned it to Tazreen. Two other sub- (or sub-sub-sub-) contractors also placed Wal-Mart orders at Tazreen, also without telling the company.

It was the same with many of the other brands whose labels were found in Tazreen: They either didn’t know their clothes were being produced there or had explicitly banned the factory as a supplier. Those companies now say that, because the orders violated their policies, they’re not obligated to compensate victims.

It’s tempting to think that we can do something about this. Boycott the companies that use megasuppliers, maybe. Last year, partly over concerns about sub-contracting, Wal-Mart “in-sourced” its production back from Li & Fung and started coordinating its own network of suppliers.

But the Wal-Marts of the world can’t magically un-link themselves from the pressures of global supply and demand. Instead, companies that in-source production just become their own megasuppliers. Subcontractors can still deceive auditors or farm out orders without telling Wal-Mart. For smaller companies, the ones NGOs aren’t watching, in-sourcing isn’t even an option.

And besides, going after the megasuppliers just moves the tired name-and-shame routine one layer down. Auditors tell me Li & Fung, just like the companies it sells to, has good factories and bad ones. As it grows, it is finding reasons to defend its public reputation—it is still the only company that has directly paid compensation to the victims of Tazreen. The worst conditions probably aren’t in Li & Fung factories, but in the ones a few billion in revenue down the rankings. In Cambodia, a group of South Korean intermediaries, all of them with names you’ve never heard, are backing a lawsuit against their own workers, demanding that they pay back $200 million in revenue the companies lost during a strike.

Consumers’ power, to the extent we had any, depended on brands forcing their supply chains to do better. Now they—and we—are losing that power. And that’s still not the worst of it. The really atrocious violations, the ones most likely to proliferate, are in places where we have no influence at all.

In Delhi’s garment cluster, “children start learning the job at the age of 8,” writes the University of London’s Alessandra Mezzadri. “They master it by the age of 12.” She calls the area a “composite sweatshop”: For every tailor working in a factory, there are several employed in homes, workshops or backyards. Around 80 percent of the workers are informal — mostly migrants, some of them trafficked, hired and fired as orders are commissioned and completed, divvied out by brokers, paid a few cents for each piece of clothing they deliver. The children get paid half as much as the adults. During her fieldwork, she found kids sitting on apartment floors, sewing and cutting, often under the supervision of their parents.Vignettes like these are usually invoked to condemn us for our own complicity in these wages, these workshops. Delhi’s garment workers aren’t producing clothes for export, though. They’re sewing saris and embroidering clothes destined for Indian and Bangladeshi and Pakistani shelves, not Western ones.
This, Mezzadri told me, is “why child labor persists.” Factories in developing countries that send clothes to export markets need to at least look like they’re complying with social standards. For domestic markets, they don’t.Maybe even more than the other reasons I’ve outlined, this is why consumer advocacy campaigns are never going to improve working conditions in the developing world: Western markets simply don’t matter as much as they used to. India produces twice as much clothing for its own consumers as it does for us. Fifty-six percent of the clothing produced in China is for the Chinese market. Both of those numbers are only going to grow.And it’s not just developing countries selling stuff to themselves. They’re also selling a rapidly expanding share to each other. From 2008 to 2013, the fastest-growing demand for apparel was in China, Eastern Europe, India, Turkey and Brazil. Garment exports from Bangladesh to other poor countries have grown by as much as 50 percent per year.Rich countries make up just one-tenth of the world’s population. In the next 15 years, their share of consumption is expected to fall from 64 percent to 30 percent. Most of the 1.2 billion people the global economy added to the middle class in the last 15 years earn between $2 and $13 per day. “The nature of demand will be for cheap, undifferentiated goods,” says a World Bank report—exactly the kinds of products that are most likely to be made in supply chains with low or nonexistent labor standards.This shift is already eroding the meager gains we’ve made protecting labor conditions and the environment in poor countries. The timber sector in Gabon, for example, used to specialize in high-quality, processed lumber for European customers. Exporting to OECD countries meant that all the wood had to comply with local labor laws and Forestry Code guidelines on sustainability and biodiversity.By 2007, however, the sector was selling 80 percent of its timber to China and India. Exporters shifted to selling unprocessed logs, which generate less profit and create one-quarter as many jobs as plywood. Since they now compete on quantity, rather than quality, they cut down three times as many trees to make the same revenue. Their new buyers don’t require environmental and labor certifications, so they’ve fallen away.It’s the same in Burma. In the two years after its military dictatorship uncorked in 2011, $40 billion in foreign investment poured in. Most of it came from Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai companies; as of 2013, the United States was only the ninth largest investor. The results are about what you would expect. Earlier this year, more than 2,000 Burmese workers marched in protest outside a factory producing for E-Land, the South Korean-owned conglomerate that is now the largest women’s-apparel retailer in China. The workers were demanding a raise from $1 per day. The factory was in a special economic zone; the workers were arrested on the pretext that they didn’t have a permit for the demonstration.

Asian companies investing in Burma aren’t run by worse or greedier people than ours are. They’re just operating under a different risk calculus. American firms putting more than $500,000 into the country are required to publicly report their land acquisitions, payments to local officials, and security arrangements. If they get busted doing something heinous, they’ll end up on front pages. Developing-country multinationals don’t have these pressures.

The standard response here is that, as Chinese consumers get richer, they, too, will start demanding pesticide-free apples, cruelty-free jeans, dolphin-free tuna. And indeed, China has passed tons of legislation the past few years to improve working conditions and even requires reporting by its companies abroad. But pointing to these small (and un-enforced) steps ignores other countries that have climbed up the income ladder and haven’t brought social concerns with them.

There have been no major consumer movements in Hong Kong against Li & Fung. South Korea has the same per capita GDP as New Zealand, but has shown no interest in regulating its companies abroad. Khalid Nadvi, a professor at the University of Manchester, says there have been no cases of Chinese consumers agitating over foreign working conditions. “The emerging middle class in China is first and second generation,” he says. “Many of them worked in the kinds of factories we’re advocating to improve.”

As more and more of the world’s economy takes place without us, we need to change the way we think about going after sweatshops. There’s only one idea I’ve heard that has the potential to address the flawed audits, the opaque megasuppliers and the changes in global consumption all at once.

 Not so long ago, the laborers in Brazil who made pig-iron, an essential ingredient in stainless steel, lived in hopelessly grim conditions. They would set up in a clearing in the Amazonian rainforest, burn the trees to charcoal, sell it to smelters, then move to another clearing and start over. They tended 1000-degree furnaces barefoot, earning wages just low enough to keep them trapped in a cycle of debt to their employer or a labor broker. The furnaces were small-scale, informal, everywhere. A Brazilian labor inspector told a researcher in 2004, “I saw cattle living in better conditions than the workers.”Penalizing the furnaces wasn’t an option: Brazil produced millions of tons of pig iron every year like this. Busting a single operator, or even dozens, would only add fines to the cost of doing business.
Instead, the inspectors got creative. Working with public prosecutors, they unearthed an obscure judicial statement that prohibited companies from outsourcing their “core” activities. They told the smelters, the ones buying the charcoal, that from now on it was their responsibility to make sure furnaces weren’t employing forced labor.Inspectors went up the chain too, convincing the country’s largest iron-ore company to sell only to smelters that could prove their charcoal came from replanted forests and not illegal first-growth timber. They worked with state-run banks to cut off smelters from subsidized credit for two years if they didn’t closely monitor their suppliers.Suddenly, the smelters were responsible for ensuring that their raw material was produced under decent conditions. They founded an industry-wide auditing body and started sending quality experts and auditors out in pickups to check on the furnaces. By 2009, the percentage of charcoal made from illegal timber had dropped from 60 percent to 30 percent. Workers were signing contracts and earning higher wages. Furnaces were cooperating with smelters to produce higher-grade iron.All of this, it should be obvious by now, would have been impossible for private auditors. Most of that pig-iron was being bought by foreign car companies. Sure, they could have done more inspections, delivered some training, or threatened to pull orders. But encouraging smelters to move into higher-grade, more profitable exports would have been directly against the car companies’ interests.Yet this is how we expect to bring about better labor conditions in poor countries. Instead of empowering domestic agencies with a mandate to prevent abuses, we rely on international corporations seeking to insulate themselves from bad publicity.Nearly all of the horror stories that show up in consumer campaigns are illegal in the countries where they take place. These countries simply don’t have anyone to enforce the laws. Bangladesh has just 125 labor inspectors for 75 million workers. Cambodian inspectors, on average, earn less than half as much as the garment workers whose conditions they’re supposed to be safeguarding. Uganda, with 40 million people, has only 120 practitioners capable of carrying out environmental impact assessments. In Burma, regional governments have received more than 6,000 complaints related to land revocations, but have investigated fewer than 300 of them.That’s why Brazil is so startling. It has 10,000 public prosecutors and 3,000 inspectors, all making monthly salaries of at least $5,000. The inspectors collaborate with other government agencies, workers, unions and NGOs, not just to find the most outrageous violations, but to actually fix them.NYU’s Salo Coslovsky, from whom I stole the pig-iron example, says Brazilian inspectors act more like McKinsey consultants than cops. Just as schoolteachers don’t enforce every rule every time it’s broken, he says, inspectors are allowed to overlook minor transgressions (making workers stay late to get an order completed) to solve bigger ones (outdated machinery, dangerous buildings, systematic discrimination).When inspectors wanted to reduce child labor, they convened parents, schools, and farms, created maps of the areas where the worst abuses were likely to happen, and dispatched vans full of auditors to prevent them. When public prosecutors wanted to keep shrimp farms from polluting the shore, they worked with three separate government agencies to relocate farmers away from riverbanks. “It’s a kind of regulatory acupuncture,” says Roberto Pires, a researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a think tank in Brasília, “finding the specific points where applying pressure can provoke systemic effects.”In another case, inspectors found that auto-parts manufacturers were using outdated metal-stamping machines. Those factories were responsible for almost half the country’s industrial accidents, including hand, arm and finger amputations. Inspectors couldn’t make factory owners buy new machines—that would have cost millions of dollars. So they worked with a health and safety think tank, as well as state banks, to retrofit the existing machines. Two years later, accidents across the industry had fallen by 66 percent.All this discretion and autonomy, these cowboy inspectors roaming the countryside, sounds like an invitation for corruption. But everyone I speak with says it’s far less of a problem than you’d think. That’s in part because the inspectors are required to do far more than just complete a certain number of investigations per month. Instead, they write qualitative summaries of which worksites they’ve visited, what problems they’ve found and what they’re doing to address them.

Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world is at the cash register.

This process wasn’t easy in Brazil, and it won’t be anywhere else. Brazil’s inspectorate spent more than 30 years justifying its existence. Its farms and factories are not nice places to work in by any absolute definition of the term, and will not be for a long time. The corruption and inefficiency of developing country governments can’t be solved simply with more employees.

But going around these governments won’t solve any problems either. One theory on why last year’s Ebola outbreak was so bad is that local hospitals, after years of being bypassed by international NGOs, didn’t have the training or equipment they needed to treat their own communities. For decades, we’ve been doing the same thing with factories. In the ’90s, while we were telling Western companies to audit their suppliers, the World Bank was telling them that government inspectors didn’t need to anymore.

Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world was at the cash register. But our real leverage is with our policies, not our purchases. In the ’90s, the U.S. told Cambodia that to sell its clothes here, it had to open up every single garment factory to International Labor Organization inspections. Trade agreements require developing countries to establish huge intellectual-property inspection bodies to raid markets for bootleg Blu-rays. We just need to offer poor workers the same kinds of protection we give pharmaceutical patents.

As for Western companies, we shouldn’t let them off the hook. But let’s be clear: All of those emerging-market multinationals that South Korea and China are sending abroad have operations in the United States, too. Foxconn has a factory in Indiana. It is not a sweatshop. That isn’t because Foxconn carries out such great audits or offers entrepreneurship classes. It’s because it is located in a country with functioning institutions.

We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world. Advocating for boring stuff like complaint mechanisms and formalized labor contracts is nowhere near as satisfying as buying a pair of Fair Trade sandals or whatever. But that’s how the hard work of development actually gets done: Not by imploring people to buy better, but by giving them no other option. After all, that naked protest of Old Navy in the ’90s? Behind the 50 demonstrators, a line of 300 customers stretched
around the block.


Story – Michael Hobbes

Michael is a human rights consultant in Berlin. He’s written for The New Republic, Slate and The Huffington Post.
Art – Abigail Goh

Abigail is an illustrator living in New York. Her work has been selected for Society of Illustrators and American Illustration.
Editor’s Note
Michael Hobbes article is spot on so many points. Boycotting products for ethical concerns is actually a relatively new phenomenon. It seems to correlate with the US outsourcing jobs in earnest in the 1990’s. “Ethical Boycotting” has effected changes and its ultimate target is: No more child labor, choked ventilation, abusive bosses, confiscated passports, paid overtime, safer working environments and just compensation. Ethical Boycotts have been hit and miss – while some disasters enrage the public, some do not. The reason why some stories don’t motivate the public are: short-attention span of the public, apathy, ethical burn-out, the distance of the victims from the public (overseas? who cares) and (lately) who to blame which is the latest favorite theme that the mega-companies. The best examples of this are the Tarzeen clothing factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 11/24/12 that killed 112 people and the Rana Building collapse also in Bangladesh that killed 1138 clothing workers on 4/24/13. It both cases, these factories were making clothing for some of the Mega-companies (In the Tarzeen fire 60% of the clothing was being made for Wal-Mart), however, the Mega-companies said that they didn’t directly contract these companies, they were sub-contracted from their contracted supplier. (Mr. Hobbes does a good job on demonstrating this game of “cat and mouse” whether its not enforcing employment rules or contractor/not-contractor game.)
Mr. Hobbes does bring up an example in Brazil where ethical compassion did work – it made inspectors the focal point of cleaning up the industry of the pig-iron. However, I do not think that this method can be made universal. My idea is simpler, make the mega companies responsible for all products produced and for the employees whether they are direct employees, contracted employees, or sub-contracted employees. This would make the companies “serious” about their inspections, instead of the sham inspections they do presently. Boycotting does effect change. Think of it this way, corporations are in it solely for the profits, period. If their profits recede, they will change their ways or say they will change their ways – after protests, just look at the number of times Wal-Mart said they will make things right. After the Rana Building Collapse, Wal-Mart said they are going to invest $250 Billion in products that support the creation of U.S. jobs. See boycotting does work.
Thanks to my friend, Cameron Oba, for pointing out this article to me.

Where Are the Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Where Are the Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles – Real Time Economics – WSJ.

Where Are The Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles

from the Wall Street Journal written by Eric Morath and Andrew Van Dam

The Los Angeles metro area has the most manufacturing workers in the country. Those include workers at the Karen Kane factory in Vernon, Calif.


The largest center of manufacturing in the U.S. is about as far from the rust belt as you can get.

The Los Angeles metro area has the most manufacturing workers in the country. More people work in factories there than traditional blue-collar towns such as Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia.

While the number of manufacturing workers in Los Angeles and nationwide has plummeted from 25 years ago,  the community has maintained its leadership position.

There are about 524,000 manufacturing workers in the region, well above 409,000 in Chicago and 368,000 in New York, according to the Labor Department.

Some businesses worry that increasing the minimum wage in the city of Los Angeles to $15 an hour by 2020 could threaten Tinseltown’s place atop the manufacturing list.

That’s because more than one in eight manufacturing employees in Los Angeles County, which includes the city, work in the apparel industry. That sector pays much lower wages than other factory jobs. Apparel workers in Los Angeles County earned an average of $655 a week. The average weekly wage for all manufacturing workers nationwide is $830 a week.

Manufacturing employment in Los Angeles and several other areas has stabilized in recent years.

There have also been a few growth areas.

Manufacturing employment in Houston grew steadily over the past five years, reflecting a resurgence in domestic energy production. And factory jobs in Detroit have rebounded after a sharp drop-off during the recession. That coincides with stronger vehicle sales.

Editor’s Note

It is surprising that Los Angeles is America’s hub of manufacturing. It is definitely the hub of U.S. clothing manufacturing. Also, note that most apparel workers in Los Angeles are non-union which is why they earn only $655 per week. The graph of U.S. manufacturing jobs ( like other graphs I have shown in the past) shows a tremendous decrease in the number of manufacturing jobs since 1991. The only city to show an increase is Houston. American manufacturing jobs has gone from 19.5 million in 1980 to 11.5 million in 2009. Let us continue to increase our manufacturing.

Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this article.



Santorum: Manufacturing will be the focus of my presidency

Santorum: Manufacturing will be the focus of my presidency (Link from The Des Moines Register)

Rick Santorum, one of 21 GOP Presidential hopefuls, has made himself stand out from the rest: He has proposed increasing manufacturing in the USA. Just when you thought all of the Republicans were bought and paid for by Wall Street – who believe manufacturing is unnecessary in the USA, Mr. Santorum announced his new plan which is aimed at bringing American businesses back (from China and elsewhere). The plan involves a tax holiday or “Repatriation”. In other words, big corporations who have earned millions of dollars overseas are keeping their dollars overseas (usually in tax havens) because if they bring this foreign made money back, then they are liable for the foreign earnings they have made and would have to pay the appropriate tax rate on this – which in some cases could be up to 40%. (The GOP for years have been trying to get the government to give these businesses a tax holiday – no tax on bringing foreign earnings back, like when it was granted in 2004. It is estimated that $90 Billion is sitting out there overseas presently). Santorum proposes that we give these businesses a tax break on these foreign earnings but, if, only they invest this money into U.S. manufacturing. (This sounds a lot like one of my proposals from a couple of years ago, but mine was more specific.)

In addition, to boost manufacturing, Santorum proposed an increase in vocational programs, lowering the corporate tax rate, decreasing regulation, and enforcing trade laws already in place. As far as the rest of these proposals – an increase in vocational programs – that is the President’s idea which hasn’t gotten anywhere. Will a GOP Senate and House change their tune just because a Republican proposes it? Maybe.

As far as the other proposals: lowering the corporate rate and decreasing regulation – this is standard Republican propaganda – it must cure everything – because in a strict sense it could. Decreasing regulation could mean lots of things – to common sense people, it may mean easing up bureaucratic rules, but to severely Pro-business people, it can mean getting rid of: overtime, minimum wage, health standards, pollution standards – if all of these regulations are repealed (a wish of most big businesses), then the American worker could get the equivalent of what a Chinese worker gets (not much), so CEOs can get bigger bonuses, but I digress.

Except for the Repatriation aspect – the speech (see the top link) is all bluster. I wish Santorum were truly serious. If he were serious, he would close the tax breaks that allows companies to deduct expenses when they outsource their company to another country. If he were serious, he would be out on the trail and calling out countries who artificially deflate their monetary units (Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen) which makes it easier for these countries to export their products into the US and making our Trade deficit expand exponentially. If he were serious, he would highlight the fact that the US outsources 2 million jobs each year. Ah, if only he were a genuine candidate.

I also have a new idea aimed at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Instead of being just a political entity, the Chamber of Commerce could actually promote business besides throwing social parties. My idea is that within each city or town, the Chamber of Commerce creates a website that if any new business wants to start a business in their town, that the appropriate Chamber of Commerce contacts the future entrepreneur. They would hand hold the new client through every step of the starting their new business: like finding the right place, negotiating prices, what permits to get, financing, inspections, etc. In other words, make it easy for someone to start a new business, just like all of these companies that make it so easy to offshore their companies to China, like itimanufacturing.com.

itimanufacturing - making it easy for US companies to offshore to China

itimanufacturing – making it easy for US companies to offshore to China

I saw this ad in the Southwest Airlines magazine – it always makes my heart sink when I see these type of ads. If you can’t read the writing, here it is: “ITI, an American company headquartered in Houston, has been helping clients manufacture goods in China for 40 years – boosting profits and reducing costs. ITI has unlocked the mysteries of foreign cultures, languages and trade customs, creating significant manufacturing savings over domestically produced goods – while maintaining or improving delivery expectations.”

“ITI handles all the logistics such as finding the right factory, negotiating prices, overseeing the tooling and factory production, quality inspections, financing, insurance, shipping, customs clearance and delivery. In fact, you pay nothing until the product is received in your warehouse, inspected and approved.”

“With full time ITI employees working n nine established offices in China, ITI can manage your overseas manufacturing – so you can focus on growing your business.”

Isn’t American capitalism great? Making money while cannibalizing American manufacturing – how unpatriotic. Maybe these companies should be on the Black market like ticket scalpers.

August 2015
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