Archive for the 'Economics and Politics' Category



30
Sep
16

Manufacturing Has Been the Economic Engine of the USA

Manufacturing has been the Economic Engine of the USA

I want to remind everybody about the importance of manufacturing and its vital importance to the U.S. economy. Manufacturing has been the heart of the soul of America. It has been the main “Job Creator” since the 1800s. It is too bad we have abandoned manufacturing by offshoring millions of these U.S. jobs to other countries over the past three decades. It is not only the United States that has had to deal with the loss of manufacturing, but, also, the countries in Europe (except Germany) and Australia. It has been a very difficult adjustment for all of these countries. This one of the major reasons why there is so much unrest in these countries. For the United States, the areas that have been hardest hit have been small towns. Once upon a time, these small towns were agricultural (farming). Over time, with less need for people to work in the fields, these previous “farm” towns became great places to set up for manufacturing because of its lower cost of living. Many jobs were ciphered from the large cities to the small towns. Many big cities have been able to adjust (not all) with this transition. However, the small towns have been decimated by the loss of manufacturing since 1980.

Let us look at a few issues regarding history and globalization.

Is Globalization good?

It depends on how you look at it. Globalization has meant there has been a great improvement of infrastructure to many third world countries. Global poverty has greatly improved over the past three decades. For Europe and the United States, globalization has meant the loss of manufacturing to these third world countries. In the USA, it has caused the loss of 20 million manufacturing jobs to these lower-cost countries since 1980 (8 million manufacturing and 12 million associated manufacturing jobs). Globalization has meant economic hardship for the US, Europe and Australia.

Manufacturing: The Heart of the US economy for More Than a Century

Question: When did the United States first become a major player in economics?

Answer: 1870. The United States was re-building from the civil war. Government was free to complete infrastructure projects such as building railroads, making new trails, canals, and new shipping ports. Industrialization with its ability to make mass-produced, cheaper and newly innovated products created new jobs. And with its newly improved infrastructure, the US could send its products to its ever-expanding borders as well as exporting its products to other countries. Soon, American steel production surpassed the combined total of Britain, Germany and France. By 1890, the USA surpassed Britain for first place in manufacturing output.

 

A Graph of the Greatest World Economies from Year 1 A.D. to 2008

In the early years it was China and India who had the greatest economies based on their shipping of its wealth of goods.

The following graph shows the history of the World’s GDP and the percentage contribution by major countries.

(Source: History of World GDP)
The shrinking of the US economy started when the U.S. deliberately allowed manufacturing to disappear with the passage of Free Trade Acts in the 1990s. China, as of 2015, is the number one economy in the world.

Why is Manufacturing so Vital for the US Economy?

  1. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, every dollar spent in manufacturing generates $1.48 in economic activity, more than any other major economic sector.
  2. Each manufacturing job creates three other jobs. In the U.S., the Economic Policy Institute has found that each manufacturing job supports three other jobs in the wider economy, through something called “the multiplier effect.”
  3. The growth of manufacturing machinery output, (and technological improvements in that machinery), are the main drivers of economic growth.  Just consider the explosion of the Internet, iPhones, and the like — all made possible by a small subset of production machinery called semiconductor-making equipment (SME), which itself is dependent on other forms of production machinery.
  4. Global Trade is based on goods, not services. A country can’t trade services for most of its goods. According to the WTO, 80% of world trade among regions is merchandise trade — that is, only 20% of world trade is in services.
  5. Services are mostly the act of using manufactured goods.
  6. While manufacturing is only 12% of the U.S. economy, it accounts for two-thirds of all private spending on R&D. While it provides only 9% of U.S. jobs, it employs one out of three engineers. Fully 60% of royalties from licensing intellectual property go to manufacturing firms.
  7. Manufacturing is the engine that drives U.S. innovation.

There are still Free Traders who feel that U.S. manufacturing is not important. Of course, the Free Traders have a hard time contradicting the following graph.The graph demonstrates what happens to the middle class when we abandon supporting manufacturing.

When we employed Top Down Economics – We cut taxes. Technology and competition from abroad started whittling away at blue collar jobs and pay. The financial markets took off. And so when growth returned, it favored the investment class — the top 20 percent, and especially the top 5 percent (and, though it’s not on this chart, the top 1 percent more than anybody).

Pew_History_Middle_Class_Families_Income_History-thumb-615x447-96949

How Free Trade Has Hurt The US Economy

Since the beginning of the United States, in order to protect U.S. Businesses from being overrun by products from other established countries, our Founding Fathers did what other countries did to protect their own country’s businesses, they levied an import tax. The import tax kept the price of foreign goods more expensive, giving our own business a fair playing field. The import tax fee was anywhere from 50 – 200% on each item.

Then, in the 1970s, some new school economic geniuses thought that it was silly to stay with the tried and true. So, they pressed for “Free Trade” – which meant import taxes are eliminated. It meant lower prices for imported goods, people would spend more. A win/win situation thought these geniuses. These same geniuses also thought Trickle-down economics would also be beneficial – which has caused 90% of all profits to go to the top 1% and caused the greatest economic inequality since the 1920s. The Free Trade agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO) did eliminate many import taxes especially into the USA, but corporations started to notice that they could maximize profits by moving their companies to other countries with their lower cost of living. So, they started new companies in China, Mexico and started closing factories in the United States to open factories in these third world countries (offshoring). This is our present situation. The United States is still a Free Trade nation with manufacturing continuing to wobble – making only 4% of what Americans need.

Which Political Party is for Free Trade?

The Libertarian Party is the greatest backer of Free Trade by far. Gary Johnson, their Presidential candidate has said they are definitely Free Trade at all costs and would like to pass The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Treaty – a deal with the USA and 13 other Asian Nations (not including China at this time).  The TPP waits is Congress waiting to be ratified. The Libertarian Party is Pro- Big Business, feels that consolidation of business into fewer larger corporations (monopolies) is fine, thinks that the “Citizen United” decision is good – Corporations can put unlimited money into elections. They are against “entitlements” like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Democratic Party has always been the political party against Free Trade. Backed by Unions who felt that Free Trade jobs would take away American jobs – the unions were correct. Unions within private businesses comprise only 7% of companies where it used to run about 45-50% in the 1950s. The Democrats who have been for Free Trade are the so-called “Business Friendly” Democrats. During the 1990s, when Free Trade was the most popular the split was 60% against Free Trade and 40% for Free Trade. Today, the Democratic Party is 80% against Free Trade and 20% for Free Trade.

The Republican Party has always been Free Trade. They are still 95 to 98% Pro Free Trade. The exception is Donald Trump. Now, the question is whether Donald Trump is truly against Free Trade. He has always said I have been the greatest Free Trader. Trump has always been a follower of polls and once he saw that a substantial number of Americans were skeptical of Free Trade he changed his tune. But he has really no plan. He rarely tells the truth. The question is whether the Republican Party is the Trump Party and would get rid of Free Trade (highly doubtful) or that Donald Trump is Pro- Republican and nothing would change (it is more likely that the TPP would pass silently under the cover of darkness under his administration).

The future is now.

31
Aug
16

Under Aged Models Work as Slave Labor in New York City

Under Aged Models Work as Slave Labor in New York City

Source: Former Models for Donald Trump’s Agency Say They Violated Immigration Rules and Worked Illegally | Mother Jones

This is actually a big story, too bad the main stream media has missed this one. The case that Mother Jones, in this August 30, 2016 article, makes is that the Donald Trump modeling agency was involved in illegal immigration. I make the case that the following is a classic case of slave labor (also known as forced labor).

The Donald Trump Modeling Agency existed from 1999 to the present. The following case of the Donald Trump Model Agency involved slave labor. The model agency brought in under-age foreign models on “tourist” visas to work. If you did not know this – it is illegal to work with a tourist visa. The penalty for employing a person with a tourist visa ranges from $16,000 per employee and/or 6 months in jail. In the below story, Rachel Blias (see also 2:04 CNN Video) states that over her three years (2004-2007) working for the Trump Modeling Agency, while she made tens of thousands of dollars with her modeling jobs, the Trump Agency  paid her only a total of $8,000. That was due to deducting expenses such as exorbitant rent ($1600 a month for a bunk in a room being shared  with five other models (while a similar entire apartment was $1375 per month), and various other expenses (such as trainers, beauty treatments, travel, and administrative costs). Let us say she made $50,000. They paid her $8,000. That is a fee of $42,0000.

We have heard these stories over and over again. A foreigner is brought into another country – sometimes the worker is charged for the recruiters fee, travel and miscellaneous items – having to work off these “fees”. Sometimes their visas are taken. Then, they are charged exorbitant rates for housing, food, and other miscellaneous items. The workers have no rights and are constantly threatened of being reported to the authorities to be jailed or exiled. Workers continually toil to pay off the continually mounting debt.

The only thing missing from the story is sexual slavery with a 13 year old girl and sexual harassment. The sexual harassment story, from The Guardian, actually involved a make-up artist and not a model. Of course, Donald Trump is no stranger to lawsuits at least 142, see top 15 lawsuits involving Donald Trump.

Just a few informational nuggets before we get to the whole story.

The Incidence of Slave Labor

From End Slavery Now: An estimated 20.9 million are victims of forced labor, a type of enslavement that captures labor and sexual exploitation. Forced labor is most like historic American slavery: coerced, often physically and without pay. All other categories of slavery are a subset of forced labor and can include domestic servitude, child labor, bonded labor and forced sex. State authorities, businesses and individuals force coercive labor practices upon people in order to profit or gain from their work.

Forced Labor in the United States

In the U.S., more foreign victims are found in labor trafficking than sex trafficking. Some of these labor trafficking victims entered the country under work or student-based visa programs. Victims can be targeted once they arrived in the U.S., or foreign recruiters may bring these forced laborers to the U.S. using fraudulent or coercive means. Immigrants can be vulnerable to U.S.-based traffickers because of unfamiliarity with the English language, American customs or job processes.

The Story

Source: Former Models for Donald Trump’s Agency Say They Violated Immigration Rules and Worked Illegally | Mother Jones written by James West

trumpmodel_master3

Republican nominee Donald Trump has placed immigration at the core of his presidential campaign. He has claimed that undocumented immigrants are “taking our jobs” and “taking our money,” pledged to deport them en masse, and vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border. At one point he demanded a ban on Muslims entering the country. Speaking to supporters in Iowa on Saturday, Trump said he would crack down on visitors to the United States who overstay their visas and declared that when any American citizen “loses their job to an illegal immigrant, the rights of that American citizen have been violated.” And he is scheduled to give a major address on immigration in Arizona on Wednesday night.

But the mogul’s New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, has profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here, according to three former Trump models, all noncitizens, who shared their stories with Mother Jones. Financial and immigration records included in a recent lawsuit filed by a fourth former Trump model show that she, too, worked for Trump’s agency in the United States without a proper visa.

Foreigners who visit the United States as tourists are generally not permitted to engage in any sort of employment unless they obtain a special visa, a process that typically entails an employer applying for approval on behalf of a prospective employee. Employers risk fines and possible criminal charges for using undocumented labor.

Founded in 1999, Trump Model Management “has risen to the top of the fashion market,” boasts the Trump Organization’s website, and has a name “that symbolizes success.” According to a financial disclosure filed by his campaign in May, Donald Trump earned nearly $2 million from the company, in which he holds an 85 percent stake. Meanwhile, some former Trump models say they barely made any money working for the agency because of the high fees for rent and other expenses that were charged by the company.

Canadian-born Rachel Blais spent nearly three years working for Trump Model Management. After first signing with the agency in March 2004, she said, she performed a series of modeling gigs for Trump’s company in the United States without a work visa. At Mother Jones‘ request, Blais provided a detailed financial statement from Trump Model Management and a letter from an immigration lawyer who, in the fall of 2004, eventually secured a visa that would permit her to work legally in the United States. These records show a six-month gap between when she began working in the United States and when she was granted a work visa. During that time, Blais appeared on Trump’s hit reality TV show, The Apprentice, modeling outfits designed by his business protégés. As Blais walked the runway, Donald Trump looked on from the front row.

Former Trump model Rachel Blais appeared in a 2004 episode of Donald Trump’s hit NBC reality show, The Apprentice. Trump Model Management had yet to secure her work visa. NBC

Two other former Trump models—who requested anonymity to speak freely about their experiences, and who we are giving the pseudonyms Anna and Kate—said the agency never obtained work visas on their behalf, even as they performed modeling assignments in the United States. (They provided photographs from some of these jobs, and Mother Jones confirmed with the photographers or stylists that these shoots occurred in the United States.)

Each of the three former Trump models said she arrived in New York with dreams of making it big in one of the world’s most competitive fashion markets. But without work visas, they lived in constant fear of getting caught. “I was pretty on edge most of the time I was there,” Anna said of the three months in 2009 she spent in New York working for Trump’s agency.

“I was there illegally,” she said. “A sitting duck.”

 According to three immigration lawyers consulted by Mother Jones, even unpaid employment is against the law for foreign nationals who do not have a work visa. “If the US company is benefiting from that person, that’s work,” explained Anastasia Tonello, global head of the US immigration team at Laura Devine Attorneys in New York. These rules for immigrants are in place to “protect them from being exploited,” she said. “That US company shouldn’t be making money off you.”

Two of the former Trump models said Trump’s agency encouraged them to deceive customs officials about why they were visiting the United States and told them to lie on customs forms about where they intended to live. Anna said she received a specific instruction from a Trump agency representative: “If they ask you any questions, you’re just here for meetings.”

Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, declined to answer questions about Trump Model Management’s use of foreign labor. “That has nothing to do with me or the campaign,” she said, adding that she had referred Mother Jones‘ queries to Trump’s modeling agency. Mother Jones also sent detailed questions to Trump Model Management. The company did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls requesting comment.

Fashion industry sources say that skirting immigration law in the manner that the three former Trump models described was once commonplace in the modeling world. In fact, Politico recently raised questions about the immigration status of Donald Trump’s current wife, Melania, during her days as a young model in New York in the 1990s. (In response to the Politico story, Melania Trump said she has “at all times been in compliance with the immigration laws of this country.”)

Kate, who worked for Trump Model Management in 2004, marveled at how her former boss has recently branded himself as an anti-illegal-immigration crusader on the campaign trail. “He doesn’t want to let anyone into the US anymore,” she said. “Meanwhile, behind everyone’s back, he’s bringing in all of these girls from all over the world and they’re working illegally.”

Now 31 years old and out of the modeling business, Blais once appeared in various publications, including Vogue, Elle, and Harpers Bazaar, and she posed wearing the designs of such fashion luminaries as Gianfranco Ferré, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Her modeling career began when she was 16 and spanned numerous top-name agencies across four continents. She became a vocal advocate for models and appeared in a 2011 documentary, Girl Model, that explored the darker side of the industry. In a recent interview, she said her experience with Trump’s firm stood out: “Honestly, they are the most crooked agency I’ve ever worked for, and I’ve worked for quite a few.”

Rachel Blais appeared in this Elle fashion spread, published in September 2004, while working for Trump’s agency without a proper visa. Elle

Freshly signed to Trump Model Management, the Montreal native traveled to New York City by bus in April 2004. Just like “the majority of models who are young, [have] never been to NYC, and don’t have papers, I was just put in Trump’s models’ apartment,” she said. Kate and Anna also said they had lived in this apartment.

Models’ apartments, as they’re known in the industry, are dormitory-style quarters where agencies pack their talent into bunks, in some cases charging the models sky-high rent and pocketing a profit. According to the three former models, Trump Model Management housed its models in a two-floor, three-bedroom apartment in the East Village, near Tompkins Square Park. Mother Jones is withholding the address of the building, which is known in the neighborhood for its model tenants, to protect the privacy of the current residents.

When Blais lived in the apartment, she recalled, a Trump agency representative who served as a chaperone had a bedroom to herself on the ground floor of the building. A narrow flight of stairs led down to the basement, where the models lived in two small bedrooms that were crammed with bunk beds—two in one room, three in the other. An additional mattress was located in a common area near the stairs. At times, the apartment could be occupied by 11 or more people.

“We’re herded into these small spaces,” Kate said. “The apartment was like a sweatshop.”

Trump Model Management recruited models as young as 14. “I was by far the oldest in the house at the ripe old age of 18,” Anna said. “The bathroom always smelled like burned hair. I will never forget the place!” She added, “I taught myself how to write, ‘Please clean up after yourself’ in Russian.”

Living in the apartment during a sweltering New York summer, Kate picked a top bunk near a street-level window in the hopes of getting a little fresh air. She awoke one morning to something splashing her face. “Oh, maybe it’s raining today,” she recalled thinking. But when she peered out the window, “I saw the one-eyed monster pissing on me,” she said. “There was a bum pissing on my window, splashing me in my Trump Model bed.”

“Such a glamorous industry,” she said.

Blais, who previously discussed some of her experiences in an interview with Public Radio International, said the models weren’t in a position to complain about their living arrangements. “You’re young,” she remarked, “and you know that if you ask too many questions, you’re not going to get the work.”

A detailed financial statement provided by Blais shows that Trump’s agency charged her as much as $1,600 a month for a bunk in a room she shared with five others. Kate said she paid about $1,200 a month—”highway robbery,” she called it. For comparison, in the summer of 2004, an entire studio apartment nearby was advertised at $1,375 a month.

From April to October 2004, Blais traveled between the United States and Europe, picking up a string of high-profile fashion assignments for Trump Model Management and making a name for herself in the modeling world. During the months she spent living and working in New York, Blais said, she only had a tourist visa. “Most of the girls in the apartment that were not American didn’t have a work visa,” she recalled.

Anna and Kate also said they each worked for Trump’s agency while holding tourist visas. “I started out doing test-shoots but ended up doing a couple of lookbooks,” Anna said. (A lookbook is a modeling portfolio.) “Nothing huge, but definitely shoots that classified as ‘work.'”

Employers caught hiring noncitizens without proper visas can be fined up to $16,000 per employee and, in some cases, face up to six months in prison.

The three former Trump models said Trump’s agency was aware of the complications posed by their foreign status. Anna and Kate said the company coached them on how to circumvent immigration laws. Kate recalled being told, “When you’re stuck at immigration, say that you’re coming as a tourist. If they go through your luggage and they find your portfolio, tell them that you’re going there to look for an agent.”

Anna recalled that prior to her arrival, Trump agency staffers were “dodging around” her questions about her immigration status and how she could work legally in the United States. “Until finally,” she said, “it came to two days before I left, and they told me my only option was to get a tourist visa and we could work the rest out when I got there. We never sorted the rest out.”

Arriving in the United States, Anna grew terrified. “Going through customs for this trip was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life,” she added. “It’s hard enough when you’re there perfectly innocently, but when you know you’ve lied on what is essentially a federal document, it’s a whole new world.”

“Am I sweaty? Am I red? Am I giving this away?” Anna remembered thinking as she finally faced a customs officer. After making it through immigration, she burst into tears.

Industry experts say that violating immigration rules has been the status quo in the fashion world for years. “It’s been common, almost standard, for modeling agencies to encourage girls to come into the country illegally,” said Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, an advocacy group that claimed a major success in 2014 after lobbying the New York State legislature to pass a bill increasing protections for child models.

Bringing models into the United States on tourist visas was “very common,” said Susan Scafidi, the director of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute. “I’ve had tons of agencies tell me this, that this used to happen all the time, and that the cover story might be something like ‘I’m coming in for a friend’s birthday,’ or ‘I’m coming in to visit my aunt,’ that sort of thing.”

For their part, modeling agencies have complained about the time and resources required to bring a foreign model into the country and have insisted that US immigration laws are out of step with their fast-paced industry. “If there are girls that we can’t get into the United States, the client is going to take that business elsewhere,” Corinne Nicolas, the president of Trump Model Management, told the New York Daily News in 2008. “The market is calling for foreign girls.”

In 2007, a few years before his career imploded in a sexting scandal, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) sponsored a bill that would give models the same kind of work visas that international entertainers and athletes receive. The tabloids had a field day­—”Give me your torrid, your pure, your totally smokin’ foreign babes,” screamed a Daily News headline—and the effort ultimately failed.

Trump Model Management sponsored only its most successful models for work visas, the three former models said. Those who didn’t cut it were sent home, as was the case, Blais noted, with many of her roommates.

“It was very much the case of you earn your visa,” Anna said. “Essentially, if you got enough work and they liked you enough, they’d pay for a visa, but you weren’t about to see a dime before you could prove your worth.”

The company eventually secured an H-1B visa for Blais. Such visas allow US companies to employ workers in specialized fields. According to financial records provided by Blais, the company deducted the costs of obtaining a work visa from her earnings. (The agency did not obtain work visas for Anna and Kate, who each left the United States after their stints with Trump Model Management.)

H-1B visas have been increasingly popular in the high-tech field, and Trump’s companies, including Trump Model Management, have used this program extensively in the past. But on the campaign trail, Trump has railed against the H-1B program and those who he says abuse it. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” Trump said in March. “No exceptions.”

Nearly three years after signing with Trump’s agency, Blais had little to show for it—and it wasn’t for lack of modeling jobs. Under the contracts that she and other Trump models had signed, the company advanced money for rent and various other expenses (such as trainers, beauty treatments, travel, and administrative costs), deducting these charges from its clients’ modeling fees. But these charges—including the pricey rent that Blais and her roommates paid—consumed nearly all her modeling earnings. “I only got one check from Trump Models, and that’s when I left them,” she said. “I got $8,000 at most after having worked there for three years and having made tens of thousands of dollars.” (The check Blais received was for $8,427.35.)

“This is a system where they actually end up making money on the back of these foreign workers,” Blais added. She noted that models can end up in debt to their agencies, once rent and numerous other fees are extracted.

This is known in the industry as “agency debt.” Kate said her bookings never covered the cost of living in New York. After two months, she returned home. “I left indebted to them,” she said, “and I never went back, and I never paid them back.”

The experiences the former Trump models related to Mother Jones echo allegations in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against six major modeling agencies by nine former models who have claimed their agencies charged them exorbitant fees for rent and other expenses. One plaintiff, Marcelle Almonte, has alleged that her agency charged her $1,850 per month to live in a two-bedroom Miami Beach apartment with eight other models. The market rate for apartments in the same building ran no more than $3,300 per month, according to the complaint. (Trump Model Management, which was initially named in an earlier version of this lawsuit, was dropped from the case in 2013, after the judge narrowed the number of defendants.) Models “were largely trapped by these circumstances if they wanted to continue to pursue a career in modeling,” the complaint alleges.

“It is like modern-day slavery” Blais said of working for Trump Model Management—and she is not alone in describing her time with Trump’s company in those terms. Former Trump model Alexia Palmer, who filed a lawsuit against Trump Model Management for fraud and wage theft in 2014, has said she “felt like a slave.”

Palmer has alleged that she was forced to pay hefty—sometimes mysterious—fees to Trump’s agency. These were fees on top of the 20 percent commission she paid for each job the company booked. Palmer charged that during three years of modeling for Trump’s company, she earned only $3,880.75. A New York judge dismissed Palmer’s claim in March because, among other reasons, she had not taken her case first to the Department of Labor. Lawyers for Trump Model Management called Palmer’s lawsuit “frivolous” and “without merit.”

Palmer filed a complaint with the Department of Labor this spring, and in August the agency dismissed the case. Palmer’s lawyer, Naresh Gehi, said he is appealing the decision. Since he began representing Palmer, he said, fashion models who worked for other agencies have approached him with similar stories. “These are people that are coming out of the closet and explaining to the world how they are being exploited,” he said. “They are the most vulnerable.”

Documents filed in Palmer’s case indicate that she worked in the United States without a work visa after being recruited by Trump’s agency from her native Jamaica. Gehi declined to discuss his client’s immigration status.

Former Trump model Alexia Palmer posed for this Teen Vogue shoot in January 2011. She secured a work visa in October 2011. Teen Vogue

A Caribbean model contest launched Palmer’s career in 2010, and at age 17 she signed an exclusive contract with Trump Model Management in January 2011. Department of Labor records show she received approval to work in the United States beginning in October 2011. Yet according to a financial statement filed as evidence in her case, Palmer started working in the United States nine months before this authorization was granted. Her financial records list a January 22, 2011, job for Condé Nast, when she posed for a Teen Vogue spread featuring the cast of Glee. (The shoot took place at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.)

“That whole period, from January to September, was not authorized,” said Pankaj Malik, a partner at New York-based Ballon, Stoll, Bader & Nadler who has worked on immigration issues for over two decades and who reviewed Palmer’s case for Mother Jones. “You can’t do any of that. It’s so not allowed.”

Trump has taken an active role at Trump Model Management from its founding. He has personally signed models who have participated in his Miss Universe and Miss USA competitions, where his agency staff appeared as judges. Melania Trump was a Trump model for a brief period after meeting her future husband in the late 1990s.

The agency is a particular point of pride for Trump, who has built his brand around glitz and glamour. “True Trumpologists know the model agency is only a tiny part of Trumpland financially,” the New York Sun wrote in 2004. “But his agency best evokes a big Trump theme—sex sells.” Trump has often cross-pollinated his other business ventures with fashion models and has used them as veritable set pieces when he rolls out new products. Trump models, including Blais, appeared on The Apprentice—and they flanked him at the 2004 launch of his Parker Brothers board game, TRUMP.

Part of Blais’ job, she said, was to serve as eye candy at Trump-branded events. Recalling the first time she met the mogul, she said, “I had to go to the Trump Vodka opening.” It was a glitzy 2006 gala at Trump Tower where Busta Rhymes performed, and Trump unveiled his (soon-to-be-defunct) line of vodka. “It was part of my duty to go and be seen and to be photographed and meet Donald Trump and shake his hand,” she remembered.

Trump made a strong impression on her that night. “I knew that I was a model and there was objectification in the job, but this was another level,” she said. Blais left Trump Model Management the year after the Trump Vodka gala, feeling that she had been exploited and shortchanged by the agency.

Kate, who went on to have a successful career with another agency, also parted ways with Trump’s company in disgust. “My overall experience was not a very good one,” she said. “I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t like the agency. I didn’t like where they had us living. Honestly, I felt ripped off.”

These days, Kate said, she believes that Trump has been fooling American voters with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, given that his own agency had engaged in the practices he has denounced. “He doesn’t like the face of a Mexican or a Muslim,” she said, “but because these [models] are beautiful girls, it’s okay? He’s such a hypocrite.”


Barbara Boxer, Democratic Senator from California has asked for an investigation regarding this story according to The Huffington Post.

30
Jul
16

Challenges of Getting a Product Made in the U.S.A. – The New York Times

Source: Challenges of Getting a Product Made in the U.S.A. – The New York Times

 Abby Hansen, center, stitches a Pad & Quill leather cuff for the Apple Watch at the Softline manufacturing facility in Minneapolis. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Many manufacturers perform a cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether to move production abroad. Others, however, are determined to make their products in the United States, even when the costs are higher.

It was craftsmanship rather than the bottom line that motivated Brian Holmes when he decided in 2010 to start a business and went looking for a manufacturer. He and his wife, Kari, started Pad & Quill, a company based in Minneapolis that makes high-end cases and other products for the iPhone and other Apple products.

“They had to be beautiful,” Mr. Holmes said of his products. “Good art is a beautiful product that is functional.”

 Brian Holmes, founder of Pad and Quill, says keeping production in the United States offers benefits to a seller. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

To make the high-quality cases he set out to sell, Mr. Holmes needed a bookbindery that could stitch together the protective wood and soft leather he wanted to use. But he found out that in the digital era, bookbinding is a dying industry. He searched overseas and found a vendor in China, but was unimpressed with the results.

“I’ve never seen bookbindery quality better than in the United States because of the tradition here,” Mr. Holmes said. After several months of research, he found one he liked close to home: Trendex, a company based nearby in St. Paul.

Mr. Holmes said keeping production in the United States was not only possible, but that it offered added benefits to a seller. It improved the turnaround time, he said, and customers were willing to pay more for American-made goods (his iPhone cases range from $50 to $110 — about twice as much as a typical case). Plus, it gave him a sense of pride knowing that he was creating jobs and helping the economy.

His efforts come at a time when other American luxury brands are reshoring, or moving overseas production back to the United States, believing that cheaper is not always better.

The retail stalwart Brooks Brothers has three factories in the United States that make 45 to 50 percent of the company’s clothing, according to The Business of Fashion, an industry publication. And Walmart announced its commitment to American-made goods by pledging to purchase $250 billion in products by 2023 that support the creation of American jobs.

Reshoring is more suited to the luxury goods market, according to Jeffrey Silberman, the chairman of the textile development and marketing department at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

“Reshoring will happen, but not in the way people expect it to,” Professor Silberman said. “It will happen in a smaller way. It’s a high-priced, luxury niche market, at this point at least.”

Consumers looking for luxury products are often drawn to a company’s dedication to craftsmanship. As part of Pad & Quill’s marketing strategy, its website includes videos of cases being made by hand. A blog also allows Mr. Holmes, his wife and others to ruminate on a range of topics, such as how to repair leather scratches and what it’s like to turn 48.

That aspect of tradition carries over to Pad & Quill’s suppliers. Trendex has nearly a century of bookbinding experience, according to Jeff Polacek, the company’s president, who took over the business in 1985 with his brother Tom. But it was facing a shrinking industry, and the company had to move into packaging materials to remain stable.

“When I got into the business, every paper was stored in file cabinets or ring binders,” Mr. Polacek said. “Information was stored that way; now, information is electronic.”

With a bindery in place, Mr. Holmes was able to build the rest of his supply chain. To do so, he borrowed from skills he learned while working for a medical start-up.

He kept a lean staff of himself and three others, which meant he outsourced jobs like customer service and accounting to consulting companies in the United States.

But even with a trusted supplier in place, it took a while to get the product right.

“Our first iPad cases were total bricks,” he said. “So huge, so ugly.”

So he rethought the design and began looking for better materials that would provide a longer life span for his products. And despite his efforts, he realized that some production facilities he wanted to use could only be found in other countries.

For instance, he works with a company, Saddleback Leather in Fort Worth, that makes leather products by hand at a factory in Mexico. And after three years of searching for an American company to manufacture a case constructed of wood and Kevlar, Mr. Holmes had to turn to a company in China.

 A Pad and Quill leather bag. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Seventy percent of Pad & Quill products are made in the United States, Mr. Holmes said, and reaching even that level was not easy. “Manufacturing is getting harder and harder in the United States,” he said. “But if you plan well, you can make products in the United States.”

As the quality of his products improved, so did sales. But his business was outgrowing his cash flow, and he needed investors. So he reached out to his business partners at Trendex.

“I wanted an investor in the supply chain because they would be vested in my success, not an angel investor,” Mr. Holmes said.

Mr. Holmes negotiated in 2011 to sell the Polacek brothers a 35 percent stake in Pad & Quill. In return, he was able to get a line of credit and pay off some old debts.

The deal was a good growth opportunity, Jeff Polacek said, adding that it was the first time that Trendex had taken a minority stake in another company.

“I think it’s been a good match; he is very quality-conscious,” Mr. Polacek said of Mr. Holmes. “He knows what his customers are buying and why his customers are buying, and he’s good at filling their needs.”

Mr. Holmes said it was important that he found investors who shared the same ideals. “You have to look into them and find out as much as you can, because you are married, and divorces are ugly,” he said.

Pad & Quill struggled in the beginning, but became profitable in 2011, Mr. Holmes said. The next year, sales of the leather and wood cases shot up, and revenue grew 50 percent over the previous year, he said. This year, he said, the company is projected to bring in $2.5 million in revenue.

Mr. Holmes acknowledged that his company might have been profitable sooner if he had moved manufacturing overseas. But “we learned so much about manufacturing by working with American companies” that it made better sense to keep it in the United States, he said.

The next step for Pad & Quill is to enter the retail mass market. Mr. Holmes said he was considering approaching Best Buy, which is based in Richfield, Minn., because it carried some luxury goods already and would be a good fit for his cases.

But moving into the wholesale market is “fraught with risk,” he said, and comes with added expenses, like maintaining a larger inventory and paying a distributor.

Before undertaking such an expansion, Mr. Holmes said he was looking for another round of investment. Another alternative would be to sell the company outright — an option Mr. Holmes would consider only if he found the right buyer.

“I would want a good buyout because my investors took risks,” he said, “but I would want a good fit.”

Pad & Quill was established as a quality brand, Mr. Holmes said, but it’s also part of his identity, so it would be important to find a buyer with values similar to his own.

“I think a lot of entrepreneurs are narcissists,” he said. “And that’s normal to have an inflated view of yourself.”

13
Jul
16

Will RNC Delegates Flip-Flop on Trade?

Interesting News: It seems that people do have a voice, however, it comes only during the time of the Presidential elections. For years, many people have felt that Free Trade has been a killer of American jobs (but have been unable to do anything about it). Exactly who has been AGAINST Free Trade for years? Progressive Democrats. Who has been FOR Free Trade? All Republicans (until now) and several big-business-friendly Democrats. Since the second Great Depression, there has been a slow growing resentment of Free Trade agreements. And, of course, now, both political parties are pandering for these discontented voters. For more about Free Trade, see my blog  entry: Why Free Trade is devastating to the USA.

Here are a couple of articles showing the current positions on Free Trade of the political parties.

Source: Tuesday Preview: Will RNC Delegates Flip-Flop on Trade? – Washington Wire – WSJ

Will RNC Delegates Flip-Flop on Trade – Wall Street Journal

Greetings from sunny Cleveland, where Republican Party delegates writing GOP platform will be in a windowless conference room to formally determine the party’s trade and immigration policies.

Headed into Tuesday, the big question on trade will be how far GOP Platform Committee delegates flip-flop on free trade. In 2012, the party formally called for enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. On Monday, delegates in a subcommittee stripped from the party platform draft language opposing passage of the TPP in the congressional lame-duck session this winter.

 Though Republican National Committee delegates will hash out the party’s platform this morning, the most likely outcome now appears to be sticking with a specific language condemning trade deficits without offering a position on either the North American Free Trade Agreement or the TPP, both of which presumptive nominee Donald Trump has promised to upend.

“There’s going to be nothing controversial in the platform because Republicans want to stay away from controversy,” said Justin Everett, a Platform Committee delegate from Colorado. “The true fight is going to be in the Rules Committee over our candidate.”


Republican Platform Subcommittee Follow Trump on Trade – Bloomberg Politics

Republican Platform Subcommittee Follows Trump on Trade – Bloomberg Politics

The Republican Party, which has long backed free trade, is poised to support slowing down approval of trade agreements with Donald Trump as its presumptive presidential nominee.

A party platform subcommittee on the economy, jobs and debt voted on Monday in Cleveland to recommend language that significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a lame-duck Congress. It also removed a reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement at the request of members who oppose it and didn’t want any suggestion of support. The full Platform Committee, meeting in advance of the party’s convention next week, will vote on the provision either late Monday or Tuesday.

The 2012 Republican platform called international trade “crucial for our economy” and said a Republican president will complete negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open Asian markets to U.S. products. Trump’s stringent opposition to trade deals such as TPP — which he has called “a rape of our country” — pits him against some party stalwarts and pro-business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I expected it to be contentious and it wasn’t,” Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc. and co-chairman of the subcommittee, said about the debate on trade. “People all seemed to be going toward the same goal here, which is to get our candidate elected.”

Democrats stopped short of calling for a “no” vote on TPP during their platform committee meetings this weekend. Delegates for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unsuccessfully pushed an amendment blocking TPP and urged that the trade deal not come to a vote in Congress.

The Republican Platform Committee sessions on Monday and Tuesday and Rules Committee later in the week are offering the first signs of how much turbulence Trump will face on his convention flight to the Republican presidential nomination on July 21.

Anti-Trump delegates are trying change party rules so that delegates who are bound by election results to back Trump can “vote their conscience” in Cleveland. Critics of the effort say that plan lacks the votes it needs and would thwart the will of about 13.3 million people who voted for Trump in the party’s primaries and caucuses.

Puzder, a Trump supporter whose company owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains, said he backs free trade and that there’s no disagreement that the U.S. needs it. Yet Trump regularly states that the country doesn’t need large trade deficits, that existing deals should be enforced, and that they can be improved with better terms has broad appeal.

 “Who can argue with, ‘We should have a better deal?”’ Puzder asked in an interview. “It has emerged in this election cycle that free trade is not the overwhelming popular issue it used to be because working-class Americans and middle-class Americas — whether accurately or inaccurately — perceive that they have borne the burdens of free trade, whereas other sectors of the economy have garnered the benefits.”

David Johnson, a member of the platform committee’s economic subcommittee, owns Summitville Tiles in eastern Ohio and said trade deals have decimated his company. It once had 800 workers and now is struggling to maintain 150, he said.

“Wall Street likes TPP, but the 70 percent of the people that are employed in this country by small businesses don’t like it,” Johnson said during the subcommittee meeting. He called trade a huge issue in the election as Trump seeks to appeal to working-class voters in states such as Ohio.

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Republican Party Platform Takes a Hard Turn on Trade – Alliance for American Manufacturing

Republican Party Platform Takes a Hard Turn on Trade | Alliance for American Manufacturing

GOP’s official stance could be very “Trumpian.”

The Republicans are working out their official party platform right now. And CNN, an enterprising newsgathering upstart, got a hold of a first draft of the platform document.

A lot of its content is what you might call “the usual” from the GOP. But, as CNN notes:

The most substantial changes to the 2012 platform came on trade — a key issue for Trump where he has sparred with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other reliable conservative business backers. The new language sounds remarkably like Trump, though it stays away from some of his more inflammatory positions including renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Here’s a snippet of that language that is downright Trumpian:

We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first. When trade agreements have been carefully negotiated with friendly democracies, they have resulted in millions of new jobs here at home supported by our exports. When those agreements do not adequately protect U.S. interests, or when they are violated with impunity, they must be rejected. We cannot allow foreign governments to limit American access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents, brands, know-how, and technology. We cannot allow China to continue its currency manipulation, exclusion of U.S. products from government purchases, and subsidization of Chinese companies to thwart American imports. The current administration’s way of dealing with these violations of world trade standards has been a virtual surrender.

That this is in the draft language of a bona fide GOP platform pretty remarkable. This kinda talk doesn’t go over well in some corners of the Republican establishment; the Chamber of Commerce is not a fan.

That’s not to say the free-trade-at-all-costs types are particularly enamored with Trump’s likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, either. The Democratic nominee has taken a trade-skeptical position this election season – presumably because her rival, Bernie Sanders, pushed her very hard on the issue.

And that’s not to say that either party has suddenly become vehemently opposed to trade deals: The platform committees for both rejected attempts to get anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership language into the drafts.

But still: The polling, particularly in swing states, backs up the calls for trade skepticism. Whether or not explicit, yes-or-no language is included in either party’s platforms, voters are clearly concerned that American jobs – often manufacturing jobs – are put at risk by our government’s current approach to trade policy.

If they weren’t, no one would be talking about this so seriously in 2016, and Donald Trump wouldn’t be poised to win the presidential nomination of the Republican party.

Anyway, the drafting continues. So let ’em know: Pro-manufacturing policy deserves a place in their platforms.


Editor’s Note

It is interesting that both political parties want to represent that they are AGAINST Free Trade Deals without actually coming out and officially opposing them. The GOP, who are the architects of these Free Trade agreements and champions of “Free Trade”, have suddenly become the “Trump Party”. Is the GOP all just full of hot air? One way to find out: the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Deal with Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Brunei, is sitting in Congress waiting to become law during the Lame Duck session (after election day).  Let us see which party calls for the rejection of the TPP. Will it be the GOP who really want it to pass or the Democrats who really don’t want it to pass, except President Obama who would like it to pass. What did the TPP vote in 2016 look like? The vote in the Senate: passed 60-38 (Yeas: 47 GOP, 13 Dems; Nays: 7 GOP, 31 Dems & Ind.). The House vote: The vote was 218-208 (Yeas: 190 GOP, 28 Dems, Nays: 50 GOP, 158 Dems).

Free Trade has, without a doubt, costs the United States millions of good paying jobs and changed the US trade surplus into a giant trade deficit. Buy American, support your neighbor and reject the TPP and these awful Free Trade Deals.

I would recommend the elimination of all Free Trade deals except with the countries that have the same standards as the USA like Canada, and Western Europe. Which party will do that? Stay tuned.

07
Jul
16

Can Fast Fashion Really Be Good? We Sat Down With H and M To Find Out.

Can the King of Fast Fashion, H & M, really be eco-friendly?

Can Fast Fashion Really Be Good? We Sat Down With H & M To Find Out

Source: Can Fast Fashion Really Be Good? We Sat Down With H&M To Find Out. (from aplus.com)

written by Danute Rasimaviciute

“Fashion and quality at the best price, in a sustainable way,” reads retail clothing behemoth H&M’s description on Facebook. But for many of us who know a thing or two about fashion and its supply chain, fast fashion is hardly synonymous with sustainability.

A couple of weeks ago we got a chance to sit down with Catarina Midby, H&M’s sustainable fashion advisor, backstage at Fashion-Culture-Design, an “unconference” at Parsons School Of Design here in New York City, after she flew in from London for a panel discussion with other industry experts. We got to discuss H&M’s sustainability efforts and tried to find an answer to a not-so-easy question:

Can fast fashion be manufactured responsibly?

H&M would like us to believe so.

As a company, H&M is focusing on and investing in sustainability more than any other fast-fashion retailer. This includes launching their Conscious collection back in 2013,  partnering up with The World Wide Fund for Nature on water conservation strategies, educating farmers on how to grow cotton that is better for the environment, and, most recently, launching World Recycle Week.

During the week, H&M aimed to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted garments and contribute towards closing the loop in fashion, “where old clothes can be turned into new ones.”

“We collected 1,100 tons of garments, so we reached our goal,” Midby told A Plus.

Catarina Midby, H&M's sustainable fashion advisor

Catarina Midby, H&M’s sustainable fashion advisor

“What is really good about the program is that normally when you go to Oxfam or Redcross — which is also great — they sell mainly for rewear,” she added. “Whereas with our partner, I:Collect, [H&M] can actually recycle 97% of what we collect […]. That way we can close the loop in fashion as we make new clothes out of the old ones.”

But Jennifer Gilbert, the Chief Marketing Officer of H&M’s partner I:Collect, had conflicting information on the topic. As she explained A Plus, only an extremely small portion of clothes can be recycled into new ones because the necessary technology doesn’t yet exist.

“Sixty percent of all the items we collect from our 60 partners worldwide is rewearable/reusable,” she told A Plus.

The rest is recycled into secondary materials like cleaning cloths, and processed to reclaim their fibers for insulation, carpet padding, and filling material. Only 2 percent can be technologically upcycled or fiber-to-fiber recycled and used for new clothes.

To have retailers offering a convenient way to either donate or recycle our unwanted garderobe pieces is fantastic. But to claim that H&M can close the loop in fashion is a stretch. A stretch of 98 percent, to be exact.

60%: Rewearable; 15%: Processed to secondary materials for new products like cleaning cloths; 20%: Processed to reclaim fibers for insulation material, carpet padding etc.; 2%: Fiber recycled to fiber; 3%: Waste

60%: Rewearable; 15%: Processed to secondary materials for new products like cleaning cloths; 20%: Processed to reclaim fibers for insulation material, carpet padding etc.; 2%: Fiber recycled to fiber; 3%: Waste

“H&M appears to amount to more of greenwashing, the promotion of green-based environmental initiatives or images without the implementation of business practices that significantly minimize environmental impact (or any of the other negative effects of their businesses) than actual changes,” Julie Zerbo, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Fashion Law, who also participated in the  Fashion-Culture-Design panel discussion with Midby, told A Plus in an email. “Their recent Recycling Week […] is just one example of the big game they speak and fail to back up in the ways they promise.

But Zerbo is not the only one in the industry who is skeptical of H&M’s Recycle Week efforts.

Julie Zerbo, Catarina Midby, Dominic Rushe and Julie Gilhard at Fashion-Culture-Design conference.

Julie Zerbo, Catarina Midby, Dominic Rushe and Julie Gilhard at Fashion-Culture-Design conference.

“Using publicly available figures and average clothing weights, it appears it would take 12 years for H&M to use up 1,000 tons of fashion waste,” writes The Guardian‘s Lucy Siegle. “Meanwhile, if 1,000 tons is recycled, that roughly equates to the same amount of clothes a brand of this size pumps out into the world in 48 hours.”

In an interview with A plus, Midby, however, seemed to question Siegle’s calculations.

“Lucy Siegle is very anti-H&M, unfortunately,” Midby said. “I don’t know on what she bases [her calculations] on. [….] We work quite scientifically.”

While Siegle did not reveal her exact sources in the interest of protecting their professional privacy, she walked A Plus through her calculations. These are based on how many pieces of clothing would be in 1000 tons of garments, and how many years it would take them to recycle all of them into textile fibre at the rate of 20 percent per new garment, the figure stated in H&M’s sustainability report, and their ambition of 1.2 million pieces a year.

“I have a huge love for supply chain innovation and fresh strong authentic sustainability marketing and I love profiling brands that do this,” Siegle said. “Indeed I have done this throughout my career. Unlike many green and social justice writers, I believe sustainability marketing is important. It can, when authentic and deeply rooted be a major force in the transition to a sustainable economy. When initiatives, programs, whatever you want to call them don’t add up, over claim or set out to distract in a very high profile way, it damages that whole transition.”

Being eco-friendly, however, is not the only issue facing H&M as a fast-fashion retailer.

There’s also the issue the of providing textile workers in South East Asia a fair living wage, working in conditions that do not endanger their lives, and equitable  job contracts.

“We believe that [everyone] working for H&M — even if you don’t work [for us directly] and are producing [H&M] clothes [in our supplier factories] — should earn a fair living wage, [have] good working conditions, which we are really committed to fulfilling,” Midby said.

But it looks like H&M still has a long way to go to achieve this.

Back in 2013, the company announced its ambition to pay fair living wages by 2018 to their strategic suppliers. These suppliers currently produce 60 percent of their garments. While the salaries of strategic suppliers in Cambodia have indeed increased to $187.97 a month, garment workers said they would require $230 “to live with dignity.

There’s also the fact that H&M picked only suppliers that are already above the industry’s standard for the program and committed to fair living wages without clearly defining what they actually were.

“But how can we say what’s a fair living wage?” Midby asks. “That’s not our place […]. We can strengthen the workers [and their skill development,] but we can’t dictate.”

Jason South / Fairfax Media / Getty Images

Jason South / Fairfax Media / Getty Images

We also discussed Sweatshop, an award-winning Norwegian documentary-style TV show featured on A Plus that follows four Scandinavian fashion bloggers around Cambodia as they expose the less than glamorous origins of fast fashion. In one of the episodes, exploited textile workers in Cambodia admit to manufacturing clothes for H&M and talk about unsafe working conditions, salaries that do not provide enough for food, the use of short-term contracts for years on end, and the practice of not renewing contracts for women who become pregnant.

“We are, of course, shocked [about what emerges in the series] too,” Midby said. “Our suppliers have to comply with our code of conduct […]. We do not accept discrimination of any kind, we do not accept termination of employment for pregnancy reasons for instance. So that is something that would be totally violating the code of conduct. It’s shocking.”

But as Zerbo argues, it is extremely convenient for H&M to blame their suppliers and argue that they are not liable as they don’t own any of the factories.

“Legally they may not be, but that does not mean that they are not ethically in the wrong,” she said in an email. “This has been a go-to excuse for many retailers when tragedies occur. My research, which has included speaking with reporters on the ground in Bangladesh and Cambodia, has revealed that a noteworthy number of suppliers have begun to address health and safety inadequacies in their factories. Factory owners have, in fact, begun investing in mechanisms to improve working conditions in response to the numerous garment factory incidents in the low-cost markets, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. However, the implementation of such necessary measures – such as proving adequate fire exits, ventilation, first aid kits, water and working bathrooms for their employees (some of the most basic improvements) — requires monetary investments.”

As a result, the output from these factories comes at an increased cost, according to Zerbo. Because fast-fashion retailers are generally unwilling to cut into their own bottom lines, most have opted to source only from those offering the lowest-cost items — ones that have done little, if anything — to provide safe workspaces.

In 2013, facing strong international pressure, H&M was the first brand to sign a commitment to create a garment industry in Bangladesh “in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures.” The move came after the Rana Plaza tragedy, in which more than 1,200 garment workers died in Bangladesh when a building of factories collapsed due to non-existent health and safety standards.

Midby assures us that H&M is committed to having their clothes manufactured in safe conditions and working only with suppliers that comply with their code of conduct. But coming up on the three-year anniversary of the tragedy, H&M had yet to to install fire escapes in first-tier supplier factories. Fires leaving workers injured at H&M supplier factories in Bangladesh and deaths of garment workers in the industry continue to be reported, including numerous incidents in 2016.

So is this really “fashion and quality at the best price, in a sustainable way” as H&M claims? We’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

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Editor’s Comment
Can Walmart be eco-friendly? Technically no. And neither can H & M. When you deal with huge volumes, there is no way you can be eco-friendly. These businesses can be only be less eco-destructive and that is it. I think it is great that H & M is taking their unbought-extremely-cheap-garments, recycle them and then try to sell it to you a second time.
Look at it another way: H & M dumps 1,000 tons of new cheap clothes all over the world in 48 hours. To recycle that same 1,000 tons of clothing, it would take them 14 years to do so. H & M is not even close to being eco-friendly.
02
Jul
16

Donald Trump Has Long Benefited From Trade Practices He Now Scorns – The New York Times

As a businessman, Mr. Trump has relied on the type of cheap foreign labor that he vows to clamp down on if elected president.

Source: Donald Trump Has Long Benefited From Trade Practices He Now Scorns – The New York Times

Trump Lays Out Plans on Trade

Donald J. Trump, speaking on Tuesday in Monessen, Pa., promised to renegotiate international trade deals if elected president.

By REUTERS. Watch in Times Video »

Donald J. Trump vowed on Tuesday that as president, he would put an end to policies that send American jobs overseas, threatening to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and promising to punish companies that relocate their manufacturing to countries with cheaper labor.

“It will be American hands that remake this country,” said Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, standing before a hunk of aluminum at a recycling plant in western Pennsylvania.

But such declarations are at odds with Mr. Trump’s long history as a businessman, in which he has been heavily — and proudly — reliant on foreign labor in the name of putting profits, rather than America, first. From cheap neckties to television sets, Mr. Trump has benefited from some of the trade practices he now scorns.

Far-flung apparel

Besides construction, Mr. Trump is big in the clothing business. But most of his line of suits, ties and cuff links bear a “Made in China” label. Some also come from factories in Bangladesh, Mexico and Vietnam. He has blamed China’s currency manipulation to argue that it is almost impossible to find garments that are made domestically these days, or that they are prohibitively expensive.

“The answer is very simple,” Mr. Trump told ABC News when asked about his merchandise in 2011. “Because of the fact that China so manipulates their currency, it makes it almost impossible for American companies to compete.”

Despite that claim, some companies such as Brooks Brothers continue to make clothes in the United States.

Furniture from abroad

In 2013, Mr. Trump teamed with Dorya, a Turkish maker of luxury furniture, for his Trump Home brand. In a news release at the time, the Trump Organization promoted the craftsmanship of the pieces, which furnish some of Mr. Trump’s hotels.

“The entire production process, from the moment the raw wood is cut until the product is finished or upholstered occurs in Dorya’s Izmir, Turkey, production facility,” the release said.

Mr. Trump also invested in a line of crystal bearing his name to go with his Trump Home line. The collection was produced in Slovenia, the home of his wife, Melania. Mr. Trump told The New York Times in 2010 that the production facilities were first class.

“I’ve seen factories over there; their glass and crystal works are unbelievable,” he said.

Putting Romanians and Poles to work

Mr. Trump has not held back when it comes to his concern that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs from American workers, but he has used them on occasion.

In 1980, a contractor hired by Mr. Trump to demolish the Bonwit Teller building in New York and make way for Trump Tower used undocumented Polish immigrants who reportedly worked round-the-clock and even slept at the site. Mr. Trump said that he did not know they were undocumented and later settled a lawsuit over the matter.

Last summer, The Washington Post found that Mr. Trump was using undocumented immigrants for the construction of his Trump International Hotel at the site of the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington.

And The Times reported this year that Mr. Trump had employed hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Mr. Trump said that he found it difficult to find qualified local people to work there during the high season.

For outsourcing before he was against it

While Mr. Trump has for years railed against trade and currency policies that he says are unfair, he has not always been opposed to outsourcing.

Writing on the Trump University blog in 2005, Mr. Trump acknowledged that foreign labor was sometimes needed to keep American companies from going out of business.

“If a company’s only means of survival is by farming jobs outside its walls, then sometimes it’s a necessary step,” Mr. Trump wrote. “The other option might be to close its doors for good.”

Mr. Trump usually makes the case that foreign labor is necessary to keep production costs down, but in an interview with David Letterman in 2012 he also offered a humanitarian argument for outsourcing. Teased for selling dress shirts that were made in Bangladesh, Mr. Trump expressed pride that he was creating jobs around the world.

“That’s good, we employ people in Bangladesh,” Mr. Trump said. “They have to work, too.”


Many of us knew that Donald Trump was having his clothing made in other countries such as China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico. However, many of us didn’t know that he also has his Trump Home furniture and crystal made out of the country. And often used foreign workers to construct and to work in his Trump hotels. Donald Trump says he is like Bernie Sanders in one respect – it is against Free Trade. The difference is Bernie Sanders has been against it since NAFTA came out in 1994. Donald Trump came out against it in October, 2015.

Trump Free Trader

26
Jun
16

Brexit – Implications for the USA

There is nothing like a good story to breakup writer’s bloc. Brexit was a surprise story that has lots of parallels between United States and England. England voted to leave the European Union because of the following reasons: they were unhappy with its present economic malaise; there was a  feeling that government was not listening to them; and there was fear of more immigrants coming into the country.

One of the sad points of the story, however, is the misinformation which got the vote passed.. It is true that all nations in Europe and the U.S. have been suffering through less than vibrant economic growth. The incorrect assumption is that immigration is the cause of loss of good paying jobs. Which is totally wrong. For example, in the United States, many Americans blame immigrants, especially from Mexico, of taking away many good paying jobs. But the loss of good paying jobs has, mainly, been in manufacturing and its associated jobs, which has nothing to do with immigration. Most of the jobs that immigrants take are very poor paying jobs (often less than the federal minimum wage). And a large percentage of these jobs are in agriculture (and believe me, they are almost no Americans willing to take those jobs – I have seen it in the 2009 recession). Certainly, there are small exceptions, for example, in Southern California, there are immigrants that make clothing, but the pay scale is close to minimum wage. Other than that, immigrant workers are not in the manufacturing area, except for the foreigners which come through working visas (which is altogether different problem that needs to be handled).

The real reason for the economic malaise is globalization and free trade. Put simply: tons of cheap stuff is being made by slave labor, sent without import tax (into US and Europe), underselling home made products. This phenomenon causes the loss of good-paying home-made manufacturing and associated jobs. US businesses pile on to the problem by eliminating American jobs and opening up plants in China, Vietnam, Mexico and India (offshoring). The impact hits hardest on the small towns and small businesses.

There is definitely a correlation between England’s Brexit Vote and the upcoming United States Presidential election. The electorate in the US is, also, quite angry (although for different reasons). The Left is angry due to economic inequality. This is basically The Occupy Wall Street movement which has a mistrust of the Big Banks and large corporations who have passed laws against the will of the people (like the Free Trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO and the on-going Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement being negotiated). The Occupy movement is tired of the Republican policy of trickledown economics that have sent all the profits going to the top 1% of the population and destroying the jobs and depressing the wages of the middle class. The Right is angry, because it is just angry. This is the Tea Party. It is part nativism – fear of immigrants and people of color and part just angry in general which seems to be all directed at the 44th President of the United States and all government. They do not seem to have a plan for improvement but are against things in general. That is why year after year, the Republicans elect people to obstruct government from working.

Implication for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Anger about the current situation is good, especially if you know the circumstances that are causing it and voting intelligently to reverse it. I can not say the Brexit vote was voted on intelligently – it seemed to be more of a protest vote. As many Pro-Brexit voters said afterwards, “I just voted to protest, I didn’t think it would pass.”  Well, it did pass and now their future is uncertain. Whether the decision for Britain to exit the European Union is good or bad, remains to be seen. If the British government just concentrates on immigration, then most asssuredly the British economic situation will  not improve because it is not the problem for the economic malaise in the first place and it would result most likely will cause a moderate to severe recession.

A lot of people who vote for change for the sake of change, never entertain the possibility that things could get worse. Take, for instance, recent U.S. history. In 2000, the American people were not satisfied with its best economic growth in decades with its rapid decline of the US federal deficit, so the US decided for a change. George W. Bush was elected. Instantly, he put the US into a two year recession and then 5 years later, the greatest depression since the Stock Market crash of 1929. Now, we are looking at replacing a President that has been behind 7 years of continuous economic growth, granted it is not robust, but it never will be – not until the Republican policies of trickle down and unrestricted Free Trade are eliminated.

The Candidates

The Presidential candidate for the Republican Party is Donald Trump who is pure Tea Party. He is a born-millionaire who has never talked to a middle class or poor person in over 50 years. The only issue that separates him from classic Tea Party is “Free Trade”. He says he is all for Free Trade but wants to change the treaties we already have, but without any specifics. Personally, he continues to outsource all of his clothing to China and does not talk about bringing these jobs back to the USA. Also, in a May rally in California, besides the chants for “Build the Wall” one of supporters said “Down with Free Trade and no to the TPP”. The supporter started the chant “No TPP”. Trump joined the chant saying “No PPP”. The fact that Trump who is against certain Free Trade agreements does not even know what the TPP is shows that he is truly clueless. He is definitely not serious about Free Trade or offshoring of US jobs. Nor does he talk about breaking up the big banks, he wants to repeal regulations placed on Wall Street which caused the Great Recession in the first place, and his tax plan gives more tax  breaks and decreased taxes for other millionaires like himself. He is the exact opposite of the Occupy Wall Street movement. His continuance of trickledown economics, his ideas of letting big corporations running things unabated and the continued off-shoring of US jobs is a giant disaster ten times worse than the election of George W. Bush, who was a horrible President.

The other candidate from the Democratic party is Hilary Clinton. She has stated she is for more regulation on Wall Street and the Big Banks. She has said that she is against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). ALthough, previously she said she was for it. Clinton is also in favor of raising the federal minimum age (Trump is against this). The knock on her is that her competition, Bernie Sanders, who is much more left, had vowed to break up the Big Banks and has been consistently against all Free Trade agreements for years. Sander’s message has resonated with the extreme left. Clinton’s more moderate views have left some Democratic voters without the fiery passion that Sanders brings.

The Outcome of the Presidential Election

The outcome of the United States will be determined by many things. The nativism movement – dislike of anybody that is otherwise white and of Western Europe- is popular in about 30% of the US population. This 30% will vote for Trump no matter what other policies he supports. The fear of immigrants is a large issue that touches a broader section of the USA. If Trump can convince Americans that immigrants are the problem, similar to Hitler convincing Nazi Germany that Jews were the problem, then Trump will win.

Mexico is not the problem, there is no net immigration from Mexico for years, they are not coming over the border to take good-paying American jobs. The bigger problem is American companies eliminating American manufacturing jobs, moving these jobs to Mexico. The work visa are actually a bigger problem to good paying jobs and this needs to be fixed.

Free Trade is a double edge sword. Free Trade is great for countries that have the same values, but it puts American jobs at risk in dealing with more impoverished countries with different values.

Financially, the United States is financially strong, it is resistant to recessions of many other countries. However, the middle class has diminished and the new profits need to be shared. Getting rid of trickledown policies would help this. Changing Free Trade policies with impoverished countries including China and investing in more American manufacturing would remedy this. If we don’t do this, eventually we will have no choice but to destroy the whole political process. But I do not think we are at that point – not for another 15-20 years.

Go figure that the American public thinks that Trump would be better for US economic situation. Yeah, if you want to file Chapter 11.




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