Posts Tagged ‘The True Cost movie

05
Jan
16

Why Made in USA 2016

I have be doing this Made in America movement since 2011. I thought it was time to re-examine whether in 2016 is “Made in America” reasonable to follow. Obviously, the big corporations and their paid politicians think this “Made in America” movement is silly. I mean what else can be better than cheap imports? We measure our economy by how the US spends its income, so, obviously with corporate profits bulging (which is all that matters to the big corporations) and people buying cheap useless stuff – all would appear to be rosy.

In some respects they are correct, after The Great Recession, there has been: 70 months of net job growth, an addition of 14 million private sector jobs, 1-2% GDP growth and people filing for unemployment benefits was the l0west in 42 years (1973 – even lower than the incredible Clinton years), The US has added more jobs than it lost in the Great Recession, unemployment rate is 4.9%, things, indeed, do appear rosy.

private sector growth

But all is not as rosy as it appears, it is because the American public knows there is something fundamentally wrong. And we will examine this.

The Major Reasons why People Buy American

There are three main reasons why people buy American: 1) America produces great quality products; 2) Buying American is good for the American economy and stops outsourcing of American jobs; and 3) ethical concerns such as child labor, slave labor or human trafficked workers, unsafe products, unsafe food, countries that blithely pollute the environment.

#1 Americans want great quality products

Most people want quality products, of course, there are people who insist on the cheapest, but then that is what The Dollar Stores are for. Even tourists from China often want quality American made products. Good luck in finding them.

What are Quality Products?

Quality products means that products do what they are supposed to do reliably and consistently (and fashionably). Who wants a Christmas toy that breaks down the first time you use it? Who wants to have to replace a piece of apparel because it looks awful after a couple of washes? Clothing should look good year after year and not just thrown in the dump after wearing it once. Not all objects should be disposable. With quality products, one will actually save money over time.

Why Are American Products Considered Higher Quality?

In general, American products have more oversight, more inspections and higher expectations, the results are higher quality products. American workers are adults (as compared to many countries where child labor is the norm) and are considered to be decently paid (as compared to their foreign counterparts). American pride is part of what makes quality higher. No company likes to be on the news for making inferior products, and some feel that making a quality product will establish customer loyalty.

#2 Buying American is Good for the American Economy

As we mentioned earlier, the American public feels that there is something fundamentally wrong with the current American economy. The traditional American economy meant good paying jobs, making American made products and service jobs that sold these American products. Products were a little more expensive, but they were quality and the jobs paid so well, that only one person working a full-time job not only had benefits but made enough to buy a house and support a wife and three children. This was still present in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Beginning of the End

Extreme Capitalism

The beginning of the end started in 1980. The US economy was so strong that economists thought they could do anything, in fact, what they tried was down right radical. First, they made businesses completely independent of government. Never mind that the Federal, State and City governments had created an incredible infrastructure for these businesses run easily and efficiently. By making the government stand back – businesses were able to to practice extreme capitalism: 1)monopolies, 2) huge chains,and 3) volume discounters which decimated millions of small businesses, making laborers out of people who used to run small businesses. Just look at today’s landscapes, millions of strip malls which could be in any city in the U.S. (there are no countries in the world that have copied this.)

More extreme Capitalism

Further Extreme Capitalism: Greed became the norm. Profits and stock prices became all that matter. Growth and employee loyalty became obsolete. Benefits were cut. Full-time became rare. All companies severely trimmed their (American) work force and made their remaining employees work harder and cheaper even when they were making incredible profits.

Globalization and Free Trade

Globalization and Free Trade were the forces that further destroyed the US economy. Globalization made it easy to communicate and transfer products easily from one end of the world to the other. Free Trade (NAFTA, World Trade Organization) eliminated taxes on products coming into the U.S., together with the elimination of quotas, allowed tons of foreign cheap products to undersell American products. So, big companies closed down American plants, with the help of tax breaks to help move their companies, made China the # 8 in the world’s economy in 1999, into the number one economy in 2015.

GDP 1999

Even California had a bigger GDP than China in 1999.

The Process where American jobs were shipped to other countries is called off-shoring.

The Result of Extreme Capitalism

Thirty five years of this extreme capitalism has made the American people very angry. (See Angry  Esquire survey). The American middle class is getting smaller. The wealth gap between the rich and the middle class and poor has not been this big since 1927. For every new dollar in profit in the past 5 years, 97% went to the top 1% in income. Middle class wages are stagnant. The ability to climb the ladder by going to college is hindered by rapidly escalating college tuition. And even the ones that go to college, the pay is less.(See NY Times: Year 2015 in charts).

For the ones not going to college, good paying jobs are as rare as white rhinocerosis, American manufacturing (traditionally good paying jobs) has lost eight million jobs since 2000. Also, more people have dropped out of the work force at any time since 1977. (See NY Times: Year 2015 in charts). For each paying job, the number of applicants has multiplied, no longer are you competing against people in your community but also against candidates from other states and countries, thanks to globalization. And the future shows that many current jobs are potentially off-shorable (moved to other countries) or technologized (replaced by machines) -like cars they drive themselves or drones that deliver packages. Doesn’t the United States already have the worst service ever – just go to any Home Depot or Wal-Mart a find a person to help you.

Another victim of extreme capitalism has been the rural community. In the rural community, jobs were provided traditionally by farming, however, farming jobs had been displaced by technology and giant machines (only 1% of people now call themselves farmers). What took its place was manufacturing with its cheaper labor, but then the Free Trade Agreements caused off-shoring of the manufacturing jobs to foreign nations, leaving many rural towns as manufacturing ghost towns. And manufacturing is not coming back. There has not been much optimism for the future of rural communities.

An Unexpected Result From Extreme Capitalism

Once Big corporations and Big Banks became extremely wealthy, the ability to change things soon became severely compromised as corporate interests have put such a stranglehold on government that corporations are now considered people, with religious rights and are able to put in unlimited amounts of money to buy elections. Special corporate interests have been able to undercut extremely popular laws to the point that we no longer know where our meat comes from: The Official End to Country of Origin Labels on Meat.

Anger Due to Extreme Capitalism Economic Policies

The current economic condition has caused anger for millenials who see a harder time to get to the American Dream, for Democrats who have been against all of these policies of extreme capitalism and, more recently, a subsegment of the Republican Party. The Republican Party has been the Party of Large Corporations and Big Banks since 1910, they wrote all the laws of extreme capitalism. However, the Republican economic policies have hurt all of their constituents that aren’t part of the 1%. So, in response, the angry subsegment support a blow-hard, born-millionaire (like Mitt Romney) who promises more tax breaks for the rich. Go figure. If everybody stood back and looked a what extreme capitalism has done to our great country, the only Republicans left would be the 1%. But they control all the media, they control our high ranking officials, so they have been doing OK.

How Does The Buy American Movement Help the American Economy

By buying American – you are keeping other Americans employed, it may be a neighbor, in may be yourself. The Made in American movement believes that there should be more American manufacturing and not less. For every new American manufacturing job created, another 3.5 new American jobs are also created. For every dollar paid for a Made in America product, another $3 dollars goes into the economy. Compared to every dollar spent on a foreign made product, $0.40 goes into the economy. If every American spent a measly $3.33 per year on Made in USA products, it would create 10,000 new American jobs, and if it were $64 per year, another 200,000 American jobs would be created.

By buying American, we decrease our dependence on imports, we decrease our trade deficit which is now $384 Billion for 2015 with China which has cost the US  5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001 just due to the trade deficit (according to the Economic Policy Initiative).

#3  Ethical Concerns

We all know that many third world countries have very little or no supervision, and even the people who look into corruption are corrupt themselves (Evidence of Corruption in Chinese Anti-corruption Industries). In most of these cheaper labor countries – the workers can be slave laborers (Thai Shrimp Laborers tied to Slave Labor) or child laborers which is legal in all of these countries. It has been illegal in the USA since 1938. (Actually it was first passed under Woodrow Wilson in 1916, then The Supreme Court overturned the law, and it took Franklin Delano Roosevelt to finally get the measure passed [despite adamant GOP opposition]).

The International Labor Organization estimates that 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in forced child labor, the majority involving exposures to hazardous conditions. Child labor is the direct result not only of poverty, but also our demand for low-cost goods. It is our responsibility as consumers to be educated and take necessary steps toward preventing the support of child labor through our purchases.

We know that food and products from these slave labor countries can be unsafe due to little supervision or because they use harmful chemicals that are prohibited in the US.

We, also, know that these slave-labor countries, cities and manufacturing plants do not care about the environment and pollute the air, the ground and the water indiscriminately. And by buying these imported cheap and disposable products made in tremendous bulk that we are stripping our away our natural resources and filling up our landfills. Remember there is only one earth. A great film that touches on much of these ethical concerns is “The True Cost” (you can rent it for $3.99).

By Buying American, you are sending your vote to ethical standards, clean earth, and sustainability. You are standing up for the American economy and you are getting quality products in return.

Yes, I think it is still worth the fight. Buy American, stop offshoring American jobs.

 

31
May
15

The True Cost | A Fashion Documentary Movie

The True Cost | A Fashion Documentary Movie.

I have just reviewed Andrew Morgan’s Documentary “The True Cost.” It is an extremely professional and entertaining film about a rather complex and sometimes gloomy subject which is the impact of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is the term used for the recent phenomenon where clothes have become so cheap (due to them being outsourced to countries like China, Bangladesh and India) that they have become disposable. Mr. Morgan starts the film with Fashion models on runways and intersperses commercials from H& M, Zara and others to make the connection between fashion and all of the problems they have created ( many that we didn’t even realize). Some of the issues brought up by the film are: “global poverty, inequality  and environmental destruction” according to Producer Micheal Ross.

The premiere of The True Cost in Cannes: Colin Firth, Livia Firth Andrew Moran and Paul Ross

The premiere of The True Cost in Cannes: Colin Firth, Livia Firth, Andrew Moran and Michael Ross

This independent film which was originally funded through Kickstarter (a crowd-sourcing funding source – by the way I was an Associate Producer for the film and got film credit) opened up this past week in Los Angeles, Cannes, France, New York, Tokyo and London. Many celebrities and Fashion icons had attended these premieres including Stella McCarthy, Colin Firth and Tom Ford. It opens tonight May 31, 2015 in San Francisco.

The Journey

Andrew Morgan and Michael Ross went to thirteen different countries to film this ambitious project which took over two years to complete. Interwoven throughout the movie is a 23 year old Bangladeshi worker who has a 6 year old daughter and covers some of her difficulties. The reason for following a Bangladeshi worker is that Mr. Morgan was originally inspired by the Rana Plaza Building collapse that killed 1138 Bangladeshi garment workers – most of them women.

The problems from Fast Fashion: starting from the beginning, delves into the subject of cotton. But, in going very deeply into cotton, possibly Mr. Morgan was sweeping his brush a bit too widely – I mean it wasn’t wrong but it does make it difficult to cover more deeply other subjects. By bringing in organic cotton, it does bring in the subject of pesticides which cause cancer, birth defects and environmental pollution. I do admire Mr. Morgan going after Monsanto which has monopolized the farming industry in every way and have made the independent farmers poor and dependent on Monsanto itself- but some may criticize that Monsanto is not a direct linear problem due to Fast Fashion. True, Monsanto is a concurrent problem along with Fast Fashion, as is, the current state of American capitalism where profits mean everything to the exclusion of everything else. The profits over everything philosophy is defended in the documentary by Free Market advocates and Big Business Top executives – they never flinch that this might be wrong – which has always been the case with hard-core capitalists. But, it is the main point of the documentary that will still need to be debated. Is it wrong for Wal-Mart to bargain to make the Bangladesh factories make shirts for $5, and then next month see if they can make them for $4? Whose fault is it? Wal-Mart or the desperate factory owner willing to cut corners? Is it the Mega company that hires these companies and has them sign agreements that promises that they will not mistreat employees and then knowingly let these companies break these agreements or is it the companies that cut the corners in order to get the job in the race to the bottom? One obvious solution is that when the Mega companies hire “these contract Factories” that these factories automatically become employees of that Mega Company. Easy solution, however, big business will never submit to this – unless legally forced to.

Another topic brought up regarding Fast Fashion is the problems with just the sheer volume of clothing being produced – the abundant use of resources, the disposal of clothing into numerous landfills, the unintended economic consequence of used clothing dumped into Haiti and the ecological disasters it has caused.

The documentary touches on many issues, however, Mr. Morgan does not give solutions. But, it wasn’t his intent.  It is hoped that this film will start some discussions on these subjects like: do we need consumerism and materialism to be happy? Isn’t it insane for us to be buying stuff we don’t need?

I highly recommend this film. See it in the theatres or you can buy it online at truecostmovie.

07
Nov
13

The True Cost by Andrew — Kickstarter

The True Cost by Andrew — Kickstarter. There is a new Kickstarter project with only 4 days to go to fund. It is a movie called “The True Cost” by Andrew Morgan of Los Angeles. The movie is about the outsourcing of our garment industry to the very poor Asian countries and its devastating effects not just to the US economy but also to the people who make the garments. See the 4:36 minute video. It looks like one great film, very professional. Just because something happens overseas does not mean it doesn’t impact your own life.

The True Cost

The True Cost

A quote from the Huffington Post on this project: The eyes of the world are opening and I believe history is giving us this moment to choose a better path forward. Now is the time for a new narrative, as fashion pioneer Safia Minney recently said, a world were “creativity, compassion, and consumption learn to go hand in hand.”

From a personal viewpoint, I do know that this outsourcing and slave labor movements as wrong, but I have never  tried to place this (present time) into an historical perspective. This past year there have been movies about civil rights (Lee Hamilton’s The Butler) and slavery (12 years a Slave and Lincoln), and I know, and history has proven, what horrendous policies they were. But, what if I had been living in that exact time period? Would I just go along like everybody else? The answer is I hope not, but, the real answer is probably. What we Americans are doing is just plain wrong. We have made slaves out of the extremely dirt poor people in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Phillipines, just so we can have our nice fancy clothes that may be a couple of dollars cheaper so we can buy some more fancy cheap disposable clothes. Ah! what it is to be an American in 2013, so rich (compared to the rest of the world), so entitled. What did you say? Let them eat Cake?! Oh, Muffy, you are so drool.

I leave you with one quote from a person who lost a loved one in the (Tarzeen factory) Bangladesh fire last year that killed 112: “They die for your clothing”. My message to the GAP, Wal-Mart, and the other multi-national corporations that profit by slave labor: You can keep your “Blood Clothing.”

Update November 10, 2013: Congratulations to Andrew Morgan who just reached his Kickstarter funding goal for The True Cost.




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