Posts Tagged ‘politics

19
Nov
16

The Era of Apprehension: The Trump Effect

The above music video conveys the feeling of all of the people who did not vote for Donald Trump. With all of the false campaign promises, the lies, the misogyny, the bigotry and the violent rhetoric, it is no wonder the the Trump Presidency will usher in “The Era of Apprehension.” There is some hope that it wouldn’t be as bad as all of that, after all, a lot of Americans are optimists. (Obviously, we are not all that optimistic or we wouldn’t have elected a candidate that felt that the United States of America  was the worst nation in the world).

So, would the not-Trump voters be happy if he does not destroy the world?

And would Trump supporters be happy if he did nothing and kept the process rigged?

Those are the questions: posed by the following article in the November 17,2016 edition of USA Today

 

Why It Might Not Matter if President Trump Keeps His Promises

Why It Might Not Matter if President Trump Keeps His Promises – USA Today

President-elect Donald Trump is backing off of some of his more dramatic campaign promises, but – and don’t breathe a word of this to George H.W. Bush – neither his supporters nor his opponents seem very upset.

Studies show that most presidential candidates have honored most of their campaign promises. Once elected, however, everyone compromises, backtracks or fudges to some extent.

For a variety reasons – including his supporters’ love of him, his opponents’ hatred of his proposals and a general acknowledgement that Trump is best taken seriously but not literally – this president may prove more immune than most to the political cost of broken promises.

John McGlennon teaches government at the College of William & Mary: “Both sides are willing to give him more flexibility than a conventional candidate would be allowed.’’

More, certainly, than the 41st president. Bush failed to win re-election in 1992 after campaigning in 1988 on a promise — “Read my lips: No new taxes!’’ – he later felt compelled to break.

Possibly because few major candidates have run for president with such drastic proposals, many Trump opponents are relieved that he apparently won’t try to do everything he said he’d do. And many Trump supporters say they never really expected him to do everything he said he’d do.

First, some Trump opponents.

“I prayed that he would have a change of heart, that he’d realize that some things he said he’d do he cannot do,’’ such as vaporize the Affordable Care Act, says Angelina Iles, a retired school employee who lives in Pineville, La., and voted for Hillary Clinton.

With that prayer seemingly answered, she has another: “That he’s backing off because he’s learned that the bullying attitude he had in the campaign won’t work once he’s in office.’’

After Trump passed 270 electoral votes on Election Night, David Bugh of Lancaster, Ohio, a pastor and small business owner, says he was afraid. But given signs of what he calls Trump’s “moderation,’’ says “I’m a little less pessimistic now.’’

Even a diehard Never-Trumper like Democrat Rich Langan of Ashwaubenon, Wis., a retired police officer, says he’s trying to keep an open mind: “I’ll give him six months.’’

As for the Trump supporters.

Despite some fiery campaign rhetoric, “once he’s in office he’ll soften up on pretty much everything,’’ says Barry Fixler, who last year opened his own local Trump headquarters in Bardonia, N.Y.

And that’s fine with Fixler, a jeweler. “In his heart, Trump loves people. He won’t do anything to drastically affect people,’’ such as non-criminal illegal immigrants. “He’s not going to throw out children (of illegal immigrants). He’s just going after the criminals and ISIS.’’

Many Trump voters say their man’s opponents were spooked by his campaign promises because they didn’t understand how he works.

Gene Dunn is a longtime Trump admirer who took his son out of school to attend Trump’s presidential campaign announcement at Trump Tower. Trump’s campaign promises were “standard The Art of the Deal practice,’’ he says, referring to Trump’s 1987 best seller. “Asking for the whole enchilada, but settling for what’s reasonable. And all sides can claim victory.’’

A. D. Amar, an Indian immigrant and business professor who lives in Warren, N.J., agrees that many of Trump’s campaign promises were really opening gambits: “That is Trump’s style as a negotiator. He throws the extreme negative outcome at his opponents. This brings them to the table, and then whatever they get after the negotiation is better than what Trump originally threw at them.’’

Here’s how President-elect Trump has been rewriting candidate Trump:

  • Some elements of the Affordable Care Act, which he’d promised to repeal and replace, are worth keeping. He cited provisions requiring coverage of pre-existing medical conditions and allowing children to remain on parents’ plans until they turn 26. “I like those very much,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal.
  • Some illegal immigrants are “terrific people,” and his priorities are 1) securing the border and 2) deporting criminals. The number of all illegal immigrants is around 11 million; criminals in that group number anywhere between 800,000 and several million.
  • Some sections of the “big beautiful wall’’ he’s vowed to build along the border might actually look more like fencing.

If and when Americans try to pin candidate Trump’s promises to President Trump, they will have their work cut out for them, says John Baick, who teaches American political history at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass.

One problem is sheer volume – the “many, many promises made on the campaign trail,’’ says Baick. “There is almost certainly no candidate who has produced more verbiage, in person and in digital form, than Donald Trump.’’

Another is the lack of specifics. Trump, Baick says, “can claim that he has kept many simply by taking symbolic steps.’’ For instance, it may be enough if Trump starts to build the wall, just as John F. Kennedy gets credit for starting a man-on-the-moon program that was not scheduled for completion until after what would have been his second term.

In defeating the GOP establishment in the primaries and Clinton in the general election, Trump may already have kept his biggest, most emotional promise to supporters, McGlennon says: “As long as they feel he’ll bring an end to business as usual in Washington, they’ll worry about the details later on.’’

But there will be a later on.

McGlennon says that while there’s merit to the idea that Trump spoke to his supporters in ways that should not be taken literally, “The question is how long the public will be satisfied with that. At some point people want specifics. Is Trump disciplined enough to provide them?’’


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Editor’s Note

Actually the USA Today article was a puff piece will no real insightful value. But it does bring up the discussion that is truly meaningful.

Can Somebody with Such Low Expectations Be Successful?

Let us start with the crux of the article: can somebody with such low expectations, be successful, just because they started out with such low expectations? The USA Today article suggests yes. But let us further dissect this. For Trump supporters, they feel that the promises were false to begin with. That they were happy just to find somebody who felt their anger. What were the Trump supporters angry about? You name it, they were angry about it, logical or not, they were angry. They were angry because they had been whipped up into a frenzy for the past eight years by their favorite media outlets. (It will be interesting to see, with a Republican President and Republican Congress, if the Angry White Man Network becomes the Kumbaya Channel or the Network of Apologists).

So, if Trump does not do anything about the Free Trade Deals and he brings no jobs back to America, the Trump supports will not care. If the corporations take a higher percentage of profits and the middle class further sinks into the poverty levels, the Trump supporters will not care (they have been supporting that plan since 1980). If the system is even more rigged and the USA enters more wars, the Trump supporters will not care. If the economy goes into recession, they will say it was Obama’s fault. The Trump supporters will be happy that their favorite born-millionaire and “champion of the working-class people” won the election. It does not matter if he sucks at the office. His supporters will stay by him. That is plain and simple. Even if Trump gets impeached for treason in the next six months, he will always be popular with his supporters. Nothing can tarnish him (from that side).

Will Non-Trump Voters Be Happy That He Doesn’t Destroy the World?

How about from the other side -the non-Trump voters and critics? Will they be happy just for the simple reason he does not destroy the country? The answer is no. Yes, they will be relieved, but they won’t be happy. They live with this belief: Every day is a possible day that an idiot could destroy the world or part of the world, or parts of society or collapsing of economies. So, would the Non Trump voters be happy that that Trump does not do all those things? Again, NO! Just relieved. How about some specific issue that non-Trump voters care about? Would non-Trump voters be happy if Trump does not dismantle The Affordable Care Act? No, but they would be relieved. You don’t get credit for doing nothing (or for threatening to do something bad and then not do it.)

How about anything positive? The only measure that I can see in the foreseeable future that would make Non-Trump voters not hate Trump would be to pass an Obama-like Infrastructure Spending bill of 2009. Remember, the GOP stopped other stimulus/infrastructure bills in 2010,2011,2012, 2013,2014, etc. So, we shall see if the President-neglect can pass a “non-GOP” bill. (Funny, the GOP always used to fund infrastructure bills, but that was until the election of President Barack Obama, who also passed the GOP sponsored health care bill – which ultimately was re-named The Affordable Care Act). My feeling is that the non-Trump voters will see Trump like they did George W. Bush. They were both clowns, doing bad wherever they went, although this new clown wears make-up 24 hours a day. The final answer to USA TODAY – no, the non-Trump voters will not be happy. And the Trump supporters will be happy even if he brings on “The End Of The World.”

11
Dec
14

Farewell to the Made In USA Guy

Josh Miller, creator of the movie: “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey” and owner of the Facebook page called Made in USA Guy is hanging up his shingle. Josh, like several others before him, have ended their public pursuit of convincing Americans that the nation would be better if we just started buying American products, keeping Americans employed and avoiding foreign products produced in a shroud of secrecy in making their “safe” products. I, myself, have had difficulty soldiering on at times especially after I wrote my blog entry about the future of America if we didn’t change our direction: “How Did We Get To Here: Years 2014 – 2034. This was so depressing and it is truly happening.

 

What impressed me about Josh Miller’s final entry was his frustration with the politics and the apparent lack of an ever expanding movement. Here is his comment:

It has been a fun adventure the past few years, but with a baby on the way and the crew moving on to other projects it’s about time for me to try some other things as well. The overall reach of this page has dwindled the past couple years and I have multiple new projects I’m developing. I have several regrets during my first project:
1. I wasn’t able to get on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir which seems really odd to me. Maybe David Muir and his producers don’t like competition?
2. I didn’t hammer the cowards in Washington DC more who take a healthy paycheck out of our tax dollars and do so little to ensure we have a prosperous future by bailing out failures of business and vote themselves pay raises in a down economy. Also, I wish I would’ve revealed the truth about the apparel industry, companies like Nike, etc. and how they use modern-day slavery to make ungodly profits while the folks making them live in extreme poverty and risk their lives in horrid working conditions everyday. Same goes for our obsession with making things in China as they undercut us whenever possible and steal intellectual properties every step of the way. But one thing is true about China, they put their country first no matter how screwed up things might be.

3. I wish I wouldn’t had fell for John Ratzenberger’s American Made producers bullshit saying they were thinking about making me a co-host, but needed my help and my fanbase to get out the word. Needless to say that didn’t pan out plus I gave a contribution to revive the show. Live and learn. Hell I offered to pay my way to LA and meet with him for a dinner and he still wouldn’t meet with me because I wasn’t “high profile” enough.

4. The truth is the movement is a mess full of union sections, right to work folks, green energy folks, fossil fuel folks, liberal, conservative, and so on. It’s so fragmented it has little chance of being cohesive. I remember when I was filming on the road and connected with a Congressional Republican who recently became a US Senator. Her communication director said she wouldn’t speak to me because ‪#‎MadeinAmerica‬ was a Barack Obama thing. I’m literally exhausted from crap like this, how hard can it be to promote and want prosperity for one’s country? Apparently, making a sex-driven bullshit reality show is the easier way to go. They have millions of fans, we have about 23k. Makes you scratch your head…

Finally, being my last post on this page I want to thank those folks who have been loyal the whole way through. My baby girl is on my mind and I’m going to dedicate my time to her and the couple projects I committed to this year.

It’s very sad even writing these words, but this is a business just like anything else and my personal money has kept it floating along for quite some time. With my baby girl on the way that just can’t continue to happen.

My final suggestion is to migrate over to Mike Rowe and support his foundation. I just hope he is one of the few celebrities that aren’t full of shit.

Best,

Josh Miller
The Made in USA Guy

Editor’s Comment

Make sure you check out Josh Miller’s final Facebook entry and read all the comments from well wishers and others who believe in the Made in the USA movement. Josh, I did like your movie and I loved your passion. The ‘Made in The USA’ movement SHOULD go beyond all politics, but I am afraid it doesn’t. As Josh so rightly pointed out, the current President, Barack Obama, made a pledge to bring back more manufacturing to the USA and to build more infrastructure, however, as if you didn’t already know it, the Republican Party wants anything to do with the President to die, even if it is in the nation’s best interest – like bringing back manufacturing and increasing infrastructure projects.  And, if you didn’t know this as well, it is the Republican Party that has fueled the outsourcing (sending American jobs overseas) crisis and have no interest in killing the Golden Goose that pays our CEO’s so well. So, any politicians with influence from big multi-national corporations are not interested in stopping outsourcing – that means all Republicans and one third of Senate Democrats. And it means that the multi-national corporations are not going to give the Made in America movement any media time. The only way to keep track of “real news” about the USA is paradoxically only from BBC World News – then you will hear about things like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty – another disastrous Free Trade agreement for the USA. We just have to remember – politicians don’t do anything on their own. They only move when their is a movement making them move. So, we will continue to deliver our message: “Buy American – Keep yourself and your neighbor employed.” Eventually, common sense will prevail (we can only hope).

08
Feb
14

Americans Want To Buy American

New National Poll: Voters Blame Lawmakers for Weak Job Growth. | Alliance for American Manufacturing.

A recent poll conducted from January 6 – 9, 2014, asked 1200 likely 2014 voters from Portland, Oregon, Des Moines, Iowa and Louisville, Kentucky, conducted by The Melman Group, were asked about the economy and manufacturing. The results were not surprising, it was very similar to a survey down in 2012, US citizens from both parties favor increasing manufacturing in the United States. For the results of The Poll, click the link (it is a power point of 39 easy to read pages).

The Key Findings

1) Jobs, particularly in manufacturing, top voters agenda.

2) Voters see their leaders as more of an obstacle than a help.

3) Manufacturing is seen as the most critical component of our economy.

4) Outsourcing is the most important cause of lost manufacturing jobs.

5) China is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, not ignored.

6) Voters support a national manufacturing agenda including: worker training programs; tougher trade policies; keeping tax dollars here; and incentives to bring jobs back to the U.S.

made in america 2

Other Findings from the Poll

Manufacturing goods made in the USA: Favorability 95%.

American manufacturing companies: Favorability: 86%.

Products made in China: Favorability: 23%, Unfavorable 69%, (Very unfavorable 39%).

National Manufacturing strategy: Favorability 84%, unfavorable 7%.

Voters See US Policies as #1 Obstacle to Manufacturing Job Creation

Eligible voters see that politicians have not been doing their jobs when it comes to creating jobs especially in manufacturing. Plus, these voters see that job creation is more important than deficit reduction.

In assessing whether they think that politicians are doing at least something to create American manufacturing jobs, here is how they voted: President Obama 47%; Democrats in Congress 40%, and GOP in Congress 28%. (Obviously the thought that this is a do-nothing Congress is a bi-partisan feeling).

Voters Overwhelmingly Support Buy American Preferences

A whopping four out of five voters favor spending State and federal tax dollars on American goods, whenever possible, with 67% strongly in favor. 84% of voters also support a concerted plan to make sure that economic, tax, education and tax policies in this country work together to support manufacturing.

Conclusion

Voters definitely think buying American is very important and that we need to increase American manufacturing. Voters would like to see politicians work together to increase American manufacturing. However, it is doubtful that anything proposed by President Obama will not be filibustered by the Senate or not blocked in the House of Representatives, as this has been the practice for the past five years. And it is also doubtful that anything will be proposed by the GOP as so many are beholden to the large corporations who favor outsourcing. One would think that on issues that so many Americans want: increasing American manufacturing, immigration reform, extending the unemployment benefits that expired on 12/31/2013, and increasing the minimum wage that one of these issues would get passed.

13
May
13

The Anti-Manufacturing Forces in Washington

The Anti-Manufacturing Forces in Washington – The Made in America Movement. I think I am in good company when I say I would like to buy goods made in America (see National Survey), and that I would like to see more good paying jobs in America, especially in manufacturing. So, I find it hard to believe that there are people out there that do not want the United States to start manufacturing again. And it is not only China. It is actually  groups from within the United States. So, who are these contrarians? How can they exist when we never see any of these people speak out publicly against U.S. manufacturing except someone like John Stossel (instead of linking his post, I will link my rebuttal)? If they never speak, how do we know who these secret traitors are? Answer: By their actions, just follow the money.

Loss of manufacturing jobs with a slight increase due to the stimulus

Loss of manufacturing jobs with a slight increase due to the stimulus

The top link from the Huffington Post is written by Gilbert Kaplan, Former Deputy Assistant and Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The article lists the five groups who are against U.S. manufacturing and insourcing. (Click this link to read the article and learn whom they are. Reposted in madeinamericamovement.com.) The following is more of a summary of the link, plus a few of my own comments about the above article. (It is actually quicker to read the article than to read my arguments).

The 5 groups against U.S. Manufacturing

Number 1 – The People Making money by off-shoring. This is the most influential group because they have the most money and they own the most lobbyists working in Washington, DC. That is why there are continued tax breaks for the companies that outsource their jobs to other countries, even though everybody thinks these breaks should disappear. The group is composed of mostly multi-national corporations. And with multi-national corporations, they definitely have no loyalty to the United States of America. The only thing they worship is cold hard cash. That is their only allegiance. If we help them, we become their our current friend, if we make it more difficult for them, we become their lifelong enemy. So, if we want to increase manufacturing in the United States, and it costs them a nickel in total – we are now their enemy, and they will spend 1,000 times more to get their money back. And as long as the United States allows these corporations to buy our politicians, they will always get their way. The people of the United States don’t exactly like this arrangement, but they don’t really think this is corrupt, “it’s just the way our country works”.  However, all the other countries, not calling themselves the United States, think this is one of the most corrupt practices in the world. And they would not be wrong. Corporations run the world and the U.S. About 95% of what passes in Congress is blessed by this group. This is in truth, the real power and the group that needs to be outed. So,why is the Made in America movement avoided in the news, when every day more and more people are asking for items Made in the USA?

The Multi-National Corporate Pledge

The Multi-National Corporate Pledge

Number 2 – Free Trade Extremists. Actually numbers 2, 3 and five are very closely related, and all are heavily influenced with powerful propaganda financed by Number 1. Number 2 – The Free Trade extremists, believe in the ancient theory of Adam Smith. They are actually small in number and their argument is heavily flawed. The theory is that trade will become more efficient and cheaper if nothing inhibits it. The problem is it never worked, and it never will. The best chance that this theory could have worked was when monopolies were outlawed and the United States, at the time, was a bunch of small businesses. But the United States is now run by a conglomeration of Mega-Multi-National Corporations (they are all like monopolies). Just look at your own city and your own town, and count how many of your businesses are a mega-business, like WalMart, Lowes, McDonalds, H &M? The only rules that will come out of Congress now are ones that favor the large corporations – that is not Free Trade.

Chinese Sweatshop

Chinese Sweatshop

The second argument against Free Trade which is well-explained in the Huffington Post, is that the United States is “trying” to play the game of Free Trade. While countries like China, in order to further its “Exports First” Policy, clearly breaks the rules by: subsidizing multiple “private” companies; increasing tariffs on competitor’s imports; strong-arming foreign corporations into manufacturing with their own country; and artificially de-valuing its own currency, making imports more valuable. It is like The United States is playing a card game with everybody but it has to deal with different rules made up by each country, but playing their own cards with the original ‘very narrow’ rules. So, we are not dealing with Free Trade – not even close. Free Trade is a policy worth dropping.

Number 3 – People who Believe that Trade is Less Important than Foreign Policy. These people are what some people call political apologists. They are afraid that if the U.S. raises some of its zero percent tariffs on some Chinese imports, the China will increase their tariff rates on some U.S. product like wheat. The apologists argue that China is too powerful to negotiate with. (There is a trade deficit with China of $239 Billion a year. The US is China’s favorite chump..er customer). This brain-washed argument and solution of number 3 is exactly like the solution of number 2 which is to do less than nothing, but to bend over and take it.

Number 4 – The Ruling Body Of Trade Policies, the WTO, does not enforce trade infractions. The World Trade Organization is supposed to have the power to enforce trade infractions. However, recently the WTO is not enforcing anything including clear infractions by China (see the Huff Post article). So what does this mean? This means there are no referees. Only the combatants make up the rules. Here is the scenario: In one corner is China ( a no-holds-barred-government-involved-country who is determined to do all the manufacturing in the world) wearing the red trunks and wearing boxing gloves and taped feet. In the other corner, is the USA, wearing pajamas, getting advice from the mega corporations to stay passive. The bell rings, China is hyper-agressive. The U.S. walks around in a daze, watching the clouds drift by, while its economy is pummeled. The result: 10 million manufacturing jobs lost since 1980. Upstart China is the number 1 manufacturing power in the world since 2010.

Number 5 – The Economic Theory of 1980. There was a “hot” economic theory running around in the early 1980’s – which was that manufacturing was “Old Hat”, but the new “hip” thing was technology. So, the US would just let its manufacturing go under and we would all become “service” people. At first, things were seemingly going O.K, we were silent about all the factories closing and jobs going overseas because we had a plethora of manufacturing jobs. And with the “tech boom” in the 1990’s, the U.S. was busy making computers and microchips. But the outsourcing was so much greater than anybody had ever anticipated (fueled by a unquenchable greed) that the economists failed to foresee some important points (which now are glaringly obvious): 1) the loss of affiliated jobs transportation, complementary services and community business that catered to the manufacturing population/workers; 2) the real costs of an enormous manufacturing trade deficit (the trade deficit is costing the U.S. an additional 1.5 million manufacturing  jobs every year); 3) the destruction of research and development; 4) the loss of the American middle class – a long time ago, there was only two economic classes, the “rich” and the “poor” until manufacturing came along, and with better wages through negotiating, a new third class called the “middle class” emerged. However since 1980, the rich have gotten richer and the middle class has lost income and buying power to inflation, with much of the middle class falling  into the “poor” class;

The rich get richer, the middle class joins the poor.

The rich get richer, the middle class joins the poor.

5) a feeling of dependence and uncertainty – “dependence” on foreign countries to furnish what we used to make and “uncertainty” – because as we have seen – just about all “service” jobs are outsourcable  and actually “service” jobs are easier to outsource than manufacturing jobs; 6) the loss of the ability to come up with an economic boom – I was talking earlier about the “tech boom” in the 1990’s, but now a tech boom is impossible for the United States to benefit from – in fact, we are in one of the largest economic booms ever in the history of the world with smart phones, electronic readers, iPads, Androids, wi-fi compatible devices – and yet the United States has been totally bypassed by this enormous boom, because we do not manufacture one of these devices at all; 7) the “high tech” things made by the Chinese: the computers, the cell phones, the solar panels were all supposed to be made only by the USA, but China now does all of this and is easily expanding further into high tech adventures like airplanes, aerospace, automobiles and military weapons (currently the meat of American manufacturing – did you expect Chinese manufacturing to stay pat? Did you think our remaining manufacturing jobs are still safe?); and 8) the decimation of the American family and communities.

This outmoded theory of economics still exists with staunch believers. They are considered dinosaurs. If you happen to listen to one of these dinosaurs defending the US should be only a service nation, just laugh right in their face.

Conclusion

It is totally insane that the United States of America is the only major country with absolutely no manufacturing policy. It is like trying to open a business without having a business plan. The United States used to have a plan, the government imposed regulations to protect the country from unfair trade practices. Some hard-right economists called this “protectionism” and that any form of protectionism is just “evil”. Therefore, since 1980, the U.S. government has deregulated and let the chips fall where they may. Not a very wise plan. The plan is called “No Clue”. Here is an analogy of how the “No Clue” policy works: it is like the U.S. economy has been placed on a boat, but the boat has no engine or motor or sail. In fact it has no rudder, no maps, no GPS, no plans and no one in charge. The U.S. economy boat is constantly buffeted by outside forces, such as multi-national corporations and by “exports-first”-mentality of countries such as China. The U.S. responds to this constant buffetting by dropping all of its assets overboard. The inside of the U.S. economy ship looks like it has been attacked by the plague and the outside does not look much better.

The current American policy on manufacturing

The current American policy on manufacturing

The United States needs a plan for to improve its economy and its ability to compete in the future. It means the people of the United States need to take action and elect responsible people who will do “something”, instead of “do nothing” to improve U.S. manufacturing and its economy.

My Solution

So what is my solution to the above problem? As far as clothing, I would start by making three classifications of clothing, all boldly printed on the inside of the garment: 1) Fair Trade garment – fair wages and fair working conditions, 2) Barely Adequate Working Conditions, and 3) Slave Labor and ethically questionable (this is where most of the present clothing would be classified). For garments made from unacceptable places like the Bangladesh Fire Garment Factory and most lately the Bangladesh Building collapse – clothing produced in those facilities would never even reach our shores. Surprise inspections would be required from all manufacturing factories to participate. My second solution, develop a national strategy to improve American manufacturing like this one from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and third, make all lobbying illegal. Remember to keep America strong and buy American.

04
May
13

Pressure mounts on Bangladesh after deadly collapse

Pressure mounts on Bangladesh, clothing brands to fix factories after deadly collapse. (Link from The Star Phoenix)The death count from the Rana building collapse in Bangladesh is up to 1,127 (as of 5/17/13), all garment factory workers. Now, comes the political fall-out. Which companies will say they have had enough with Bangladesh? So far, only one, Disney, back in March (after the Tarzeen fire, in Bangladesh 5 months ago, which killed 112 people), has said that they have had enough. Other companies have said nothing or claim they weren’t involved with the building collapse, even if they were. But, there are a few companies that have said things must change.

“The reality is that buyers are seriously thinking about the sourcing from Bangladesh,” said Jenefa Jabbar, regional director of J.C. Penny, according to a garment association statement, “Bangladesh government has laws, but there is no implementation of those laws. Buyers’ community want to see credible action.”

Home to five factories that supplied clothing to Europe and the United States, the shoddily constructed building’s collapse has put a focus on the high human price paid when Bangladeshi government ineptitude, Western consumer apathy and global retailing’s drive for the lowest cost of production intersect.

Some casualties of the Bangladesh building collapse

Some casualties of the Bangladesh building collapse

Major Investors Stick With U.S. Companies Linked to Bangladesh Disaster – In this second article by The Huffington Post, states there is very good evidence that at least three companies have been very recently supplied by the collapsed garment factories: The Children’s Place, Cato Corporation and Ascena Retail Group ( Dress Barn). What is unique about this newspiece is that the Huffington Post actually lists the largest Institutional Companies (and their holdings within each of the three companies), which includes companies like Vanguard Corporation, Adage Capital Management, Wellington Management, Royce and Associates, and Black Rock Institutional Trust Company, plus other. Maybe it is time to review your stock holdings or your 401K. If you don’t complain to your Congressman, then say it with your wallet. And remember Buy American, avoid slave labor. (Nobody has even discussed how many children, who are legally able to work in Bangladeshi garment factories, died).

01
Dec
12

Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fire Kills 112; Major U.S. retailers’ clothing found in debris

From the Associated Press, Thursday, November 29, 2012, San Jose Mercury News.

Blaze shows subcontracting maze – Bangladesh factory was used despite retailers’ rules by Julhas Alam

Dhaka, Bangladesh – The garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 people were killed in a fire had been making clothes for Wal-Mart, Disney, Sears and other major retailers – some of whom say they thought they had stopped doing business with the place.

The apparent confusion underscored what some industry experts say is a major obstacle to improving safety in Third World factories: Many major retailers in the U.S. and Europe rely on such a long complex chain of manufacturers, vendors and middlemen to keep their shelves stocked that it is difficult to keep track of where certain products are made.

Amid the blackened tables and melted sewing machines at Tazreen Fashions, an Associated Press reporter discovered clothes and account books Wednesday that indicated the factory was used by a host of major U.S. and European retailers.

Bangladesh factory fire

Bangladesh factory fire

Among the items discovered: children’s shorts with Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory label, hooded sweaters marked “Disney Pixar,” shorts with hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE tag, and sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith and the Scottish company Edinburgh Woolen Mill. Sears was also among the companies listed in the account books.

The tragedy at the beginning of the holiday season is putting a spotlight on dangerous workplace conditions around the world, with no clear answers to how consumers should react or who is responsible.

Wal-Mart said that it received a safety audit that showed the factory was “high risk” and had decided well before the blaze to stop doing business with Tazreen. But it said a supplier had continued to use Tazreen without authorization.

When pressed for an explanation of how a supplier could use a factory without the retailer’s approval and whether it happened often, Kevin Gardner, a Wal-Mart spokesman, did not directly address the issue in emails to The Associated Press.

Sears said it learned after the blaze that its merchandise was being produced there without its approval through a vendor, which has since been fired. Walt Disney, which licenses its characters to clothing makers, said its records indicate that none of its licensees have been permitted to make Disney-brand products at the factory for at least a year.

Combs’ Sean Jean Enterprises did not return calls.

Retailers like Wal-Mart have clauses in place that require suppliers to disclose all factories and subcontractors producing for sale. But it’s hard to crack down on unauthorized subcontracting, said Josh Green, chief executive of New York-based Panjiva, which tracks shipments for factories outside the U.S.

“The reality is you have to have round-the-clock monitoring of every aspect of the supplier’s operations,” he said. “It’s just not feasible.”

Green noted that subcontracting is pervasive as suppliers look for ways to cut costs.

“You have relentless pressure that consumers put on retailers and that retailers put on suppliers to deliver lower and lower prices,” he said. “And that pressure is a key reason why you see factories cutting corners.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry – second only to China’s in exports – has long provided jobs and revenue for the desperately poor country, while turning out the low-priced products shoppers in the U.S. and other countries have come to enjoy.

Editorial comment

This is certainly a very sad story and one that didn’t need to happen. The factory windows were all chained up, so factory workers could not escape the fire. Nor did the factory have the normal fire protections in place, because it doesn’t have to. Working conditions (poor ventilation, poor heating, no air conditioning, hazardous environment) in these factories are poor. This is common in Third World countries. So who is responsible for this? Since the 1970s, we have started on this race to the bottom: low prices trump low prices – I would have to say it is both the consumer and the retailer. Obviously, it was the retailer that started this race. Wal-Mart with the “lowest prices” lured people in. And with Wal-Mart’s success other businesses entered the low price race war. And because one needs to increase profits on these low cost products, the retailers have continually cut their costs by pressuring suppliers to make clothing much cheaper – and this has caused the outsourcing problem, the loss of American manufacturing and a less than stable American economy. The American consumer is equally to blame. By continuing to put cost as the only criteria, it has fueled this race to the bottom.

In the race to the bottom, retailers have pressured suppliers to keep their own costs down. In fact, Wal-Mart has had a habit of going from factory to factory to get the lowest prices possible. The cost from the supplier to Wal-Mart is so low that the supplier really doesn’t make a profit. The supplier (or manufacturer) is usually a start-up company trying to gain experience. Once the factory gains experience they charge a more reasonable rate, and then Wal-Mart drops them to find another lower price supplier. For these suppliers, there are two ways that they make money: one, as already mentioned in the article, is that they cut corners; and two, which is abstractly referenced in the article, is making counterfeit products. This is actually quite simple. Let us say Wal-Mart contracts with the factory for 10,000 units. The factory then makes 12,000 units, gives the contracted 10,000 to Wal-Mart and sells the other 2,000 on the Black Market.

Counterfeit products is a well-known phenomenon in these countries. The reason given why this goes unchecked is a cop-out. Josh Green, chief executive of New-York based Panjiva, which tracks shipments for factories outside the U.S. said: “The reality is you have to have round-the-clock monitoring of every aspect of the supplier’s operations. It’s just not feasible.” But, let us say the factory is located in New York City. Do you think that counterfeiting from this factory would be found out? The answer is yes and very easily. The problem is there is not the effort. If Mr. Green would leave New York and go to Bangladesh more than once or twice a year on an announced trip, he would find more corruption. Or he could hire people to do surveillance or install cameras. Wasn’t he hired to find out corruption or maybe he was hired NOT to find out what goes on in the henhouse?

The retailers give the same reason why they can not track the vendors and middlemen who stock the items on their shelves. They say it is too difficult. I find this very hard to believe. For example, Wal-Mart keeps track of almost virtually item it sells, and can tell you instantly what store has them and how many items are in that particular store as well as the other stores and they also know how many items they have in their warehouses. The problem regarding the vendors is that they don’t make the effort, because consumers don’t care. If consumers don’t care, and the retailers happen to profit by it, why should they care as well? Nobody seems to care about this unless something happens – something like a fire in a garment factory that kills over a hundred people because of unsafe working conditions. Maybe people should care. Maybe people should do something about it. Boycotting the cheapest slave labor products that are made in unsafe working conditions ( and instead buying better quality possibly American made products) might be the correct first step, because retailers will not change their behavior unless something effects their profits (it is obvious that we can’t count on their ethics to alter their behavior or they wouldn’t have waited this long before a tragedy occurs). For further information, I recommend a link from Salon.

Aftermath of fire

Aftermath of fire

21
Jul
12

The Bring Jobs Home Act

The Senate votes today on the Bring Jobs Home Act | Alliance for American Manufacturing. The Bring Jobs Home Act was a bill brought up on the Senate floor for a vote on July 19th to stop the tax breaks that help companies ship jobs overseas. Sadly, it was filibustered by G.O.P. Senators. I don’t see much happening with the Congress until the election is over. Even if the bill added incentives (tax breaks) to bring jobs home and tax breaks to help fledgling manufacturing plants, I still do not think it would pass, because of the level of dysfunction in Congress, even though 90% of Americans agree with bringing jobs back to America. This control by a very few who act only in their own self interests can only last for so long.




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