See Payne’s Twitter message from July 3:
Unemployment in the U.S. is currently at its lowest rate in six years, which would ordinarily be an indicator of economic improvement. That’s not how Charles Payne of the Fox Business Network takes it, though, Media Matters recently reported. According to Payne, this recent job growth could be bad because, he said, it’s putting the stock market at risk.
See Payne’s Twitter message from July 3:
In 2012 the American public objected after learning that U.S. Olympic team uniforms – from hats to shoes and all worn in between – were made in China. For athletes who represented the country to wear clothing made in another country was, well, un-American.
A new report by New York Times’ Ian Urbina, though, finds even more unpatriotic purchases: the U.S. government spends $1.5 billion annually on items made overseas.
Uniforms for federal firefighters and law enforcement, souvenir clothing sold by the Smithsonian and others items carrying military logos, and even uniforms worn by particular military units are made at factories in Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
And even though some laws and policies still exist to deter such outsourcing, it seems that few in charge of the relevant purchasing departments know much about it, and don’t seem to care, either.
According to the article:
Federal agencies rarely know what factories make their clothes, much less require audits of them, according to interviews with procurement officials and industry experts. The agencies, they added, exert less oversight of foreign suppliers than many retailers do.
And not only do these U.S. government offices not care if their goods are made outside the U.S., but they also don’t seem to care about the unfair – even dangerous – conditions in which those products are made.
(T)here is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.
Attempts to at least ensure that the products purchased are safely made have been fruitless, too, and due to apparent profit-oriented selfishness.
Labor and State Department officials have encouraged retailers to participate in strengthening rules on factory conditions in Bangladesh — home to one of the largest and most dangerous garment industries. But defense officials this month helped kill a legislative measure that would have required military stores, which last year made more than $485 million in profit, to comply with such rules because they said the $500,000 annual cost was too expensive.
That the Dept. of Defense insists on overlooking life-protecting safety to preserve only one percent in profit doesn’t uphold its stated mission of security and protection, it seems.
Foreign facilities aren’t unsafe to their workers alone, though. They’re dangerous for Americans, with high rates of product recall due to safety violations.
Perhaps worse, they’re also a danger to the U.S. economy. Losing over 2 million jobs during the 2007-2009 recession, unemployment in manufacturing remained as high as 13 percent through early 2010, months after the recession was declared over, and is still at a 6.2 percent level in the last-reported period of November 2013.
The 6.8 percent difference isn’t complete regain, either. Many of those jobs were eliminated, and the workers had to find employment in other industries.
Continuing economic damage to the U.S., those new jobs are paying workers less than they previously earned. While unemployment has notably declined, today’s wages are 6.1 percent less than national average income before the 2007-2009 recession began.
Manufacturing was once the dominant industry in the U.S., employing 19.5 million in 1979. Since then, over a third of those jobs have been lost to overseas facilities, though; only 12 million Americans currently work in this industry.
Through the last century, many laws were created to protect U.S. businesses and employment, including three Buy American Acts that pertained to general and specific product fields.
The first one from 1933 was updated eight years later with the Berry Amendment, which specified that the Dept. of Defense could only purchase uniforms and food items (with other products later added) that are made by American companies throughout all phases of production.
In recent years, though, the federal government has sought continuous loopholes to these job-protecting measures. In 2001, for example, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would exclude particular clothing items from the Berry Amendment; it passed later that year. Fasteners were eliminated from inclusion by the Dept. of Defense in 2007, and in 2008 Congress removed many other metal items and even general off-the-shelf products from the list, too.
The American public is greatly aware of the impacts of job loss to foreign countries; 86 percent agree that U.S. companies are outsourcing jobs simply for lower wages, 95 percent agree that this practice has contributed to unemployment in the United States, and 90 percent think the primary method for economic recovery would be regulations to “keep jobs in America.”
Before they can attempt to correct this in the role of conscious consumers, however, the public will need to return to gainful employment with proper wages.
And to reach that first step, the U.S. government should stop spending its money on foreign-made goods.
The interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 on July 1 unless both houses of Congress approve a bill declaring new rates.
And if that wasn't bad enough, consider the basement-level interest rates that banks have to pay - just 0.75 percent, a rate they will continue to pay without interruption, either.
So who is Congress representing, actually? Their constituents, who need these loans to accommodate the ever-increasing cost of tuition? Or are they only serving their corporate donors?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has introduced a "Bank on Students" bill that would not only prevent this doubling of interest rates, but would also give students the same three-quarters-of-one-percent rate that's paid by corporations.
There are other bills addressing student loans prior to this July 1 deadline, but they don't offer the needed terms. Those bills either leave the rate at 3.4 percent, make it subject to a variable rate, or even set it at the high 6.8 percent rate.
Even keeping it the same isn't helping students, though. Tuition rates have gone up about a third overall since 2002, and the total student loan debt is now more than the amount owed on mortgages and car loans combined.
Just like today's students need help, so does Warren's plan. Through a directory website, persons who want Congress to support the "Bank on Students" bill can enter their home addresses to receive the telephone and fax numbers of their senators and congressional representative, as well as links to the contact forms on their websites. Another directory offers Twitter account information for members of Congress. Be sure to let them know your support!
(a TOTH to SC ProNet for having this on its fb page)
Using a chained Consumer Price Index to calculate Social Security increases would negatively affect millions of seniors, whose benefits are already low.
And Social Security isn't in any kind of trouble to begin with, so why is all this even being considered?
Wal-mart, Wal-fare, or maybe Wel-mart.
But the name doesn't matter, as long you understand that the store you know as Wal-mart probably carries the most responsibility for welfare and poverty in the U.S.
Check the graphic below that offers more details on how Wal-mart (or Wal-fare) is the biggest freeloader of all time. We're the ones paying for it, and in more ways than one.
(from The Winning Words Project)
How Wal-Mart is devouring the food system
As if the pay and benefits weren't bad enough
Chris Lamb: What Happens if There's a Fiscal Cliff? "Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together ... Mass Hysteria!"
Dr. Chris Lamb, a professor of Communication at the College of Charleston, composed the following entry that recently appeared on OpEdNews.
If no budget deal is reached between Congress and President Barack Obama by the end of the year, the United States will face what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described as "a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases."
We know the seriousness of this situation because no news program goes more than 10 minutes without telling us the seriousness of the situation.
The closest historical precedence for anything like the "fiscal cliff" is found in the 1984 movie, "Ghostbusters" -- when the ghostbusters inform the mayor of New York that the city is threatened by a disaster of biblical proportions:
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr. Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
The news media have told us that the failure to avoid the fiscal cliff will result in--and make no mistake about it--a serious situation. They've reported that there will be an immediate tax increase on most earners and massive cuts to government programs, the defense budget, and Medicare.
But this is just the stuff they're telling us. Could it mean the end of the world? It might just be worse than that.
Here is a partial list of what will happen if Congress and the president don't agree to a budget deal before January 1, 2013.
-- The United States will convert to the metric system.
-- Replacement refs will return to the National Football League.
-- Congress will repeal the laws of gravity, leaving thousands of other bills up in the air.
-- The National Anthem will change from the "Star-Spangled Banner" to "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight."
-- Hours will have 61 - minutes.
-- All prime-time television programs will be required to include at least one appearance by a member of the Kardashian family.
-- Cell phones will only work in South Dakota.
-- Supreme Court justices will exchange their traditional robes for hoodies, low-rider jeans, tank tops, and doo rags and write their decisions in rap.
-- The letter "e" will be removed from the alphabt.
-- You will only be able to buy shoes for left feet and socks for right feet.
-- Olivia Newton-John will marry former major league pitcher Tommy John, divorce him, marry singer Wayne Newton, divorce him and then marry chef Jamie Oliver. She will become Olivia Newton-John-John-Newton-Oliver.
-- Texting will end, forcing millions of Americans to talk to each other.
-- Texas and Arizona will be returned to Mexico, which will then pass repressive anti-immigrant legislation.
-- "Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together . . . Mass Hysteria."
Chris Lamb is a professor of Communication at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. His last book was The Sound and Fury of Sarah Palin (Frontline Press). This entry was first posted on OpEdNews, and is included here with Lamb's permission.
Everyone craves a fistful of dollars.
If the Government Accountability Office has its way, though, you might need a big cup to hold plenty of coins instead.
One dollar bills don’t last very long in circulation and need frequent replacement, GAO told the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Thursday.
As a result, $1 coins should replace bills, and in a recommended four-year program that could save $4.4 billion over the next 10 years.
(What’s your opinion of $1 coins instead of $1 bills? Take the survey!)
Examine the bills in your wallet. You’ll see the year that paper money was printed in the bottom-right, to the immediate left of the treasurer’s signature. It’s hard to find a $1 bill that was printed before 2000, and they only last an average of 4.7 years, GAO says.
Now scoop the coins out of your pocket and you’ll likely find some made in the 1980’s. In fact, coins typically last 30 years – over six times longer than paper $1 bills.
This reduction in printing costs isn’t the chief savings benefit, though; the net benefit of $4.4 would result from seigniorage – “the difference between the cost of producing coins or notes and their face value,” says GAO’s report.
Every paper bill costs 9.6 cents to make currently, and after a recent 50-percent increase in production costs. Producing a dollar coin would be notably less, GAO says. “It reduces government borrowing and interest costs, resulting in a financial benefit to the government.”
Many other countries know of this first-hand. When it introduced a $1 “loonie” coin over a five-year period beginning in 1987, Canada saved $450 million in comparative paper-money printing and replacement costs. It introduced a $2 “toonie” in 1996, too. And Canadians had no complaints about these dollar coins.
A $1 coin might not be so popular here in the U.S., though, and which GAO acknowledged in Thursday’s testimony.
“We realize that replacing the $1 note with the $1 coin is controversial,” GAO director Lorelei St. James said. “In fact, public opinion has consistently been opposed to the $1 coin.”
Citing a 2006 Gallup poll, St. James noted that 76 percent of Americans state opposition to $1 bill replacement by coins.
Of the $1 coins currently minted, over 40 percent are returned to the government unused, causing the U.S. Treasury to reduce their production last year.
About $8 million would need to be spent on a public promotion campaign, St. James said, should the coin-replacing-bill proposal go into effect.
The response from Subcommittee members seemed mixed, with some citing Canada’s success in switching to coin dollars, while others complained of inconveniences they could create for consumers.
The Subcommittee also seemed to focus more on the metals that would be used, not just for this $1 coin but on all U.S. coin currency, since costs of nickel and copper continue to increase.
How far the coin-switch proposal will go remains to be seen. GAO has provided the same request six times since 1990 with no success. And a House bill introduced last year to promote $1 coins – the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COIN) Act, introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) – has yet to make it out of committee. (The COIN Act has only a 4 percent chance of passing, notes Govtrack.us.)
What’s your opinion of $1 coins instead of $1 bills? Take the survey!
Dollar bill protest underway
What's wrong with the economic plans of the Republican's presidential ticket? Just about everything, says Robert Reich.
See the video below for details:
(video created by MoveOn)
A professor of public policy at UC-Berkeley, Reich is former Secretary of Labor. (He's pretty handy with those markers, too, ain't he?)
A 17-minute take on the first three years of President Obama's term was released yesterday.
Produced by Davis Guggenheim and narrated by Tom Hanks, "The Road We've Traveled" was screened at about 300 locations last night, and is now available for viewing right here on ROBservations.
It covers the trials our country was facing right before Obama took office, and the methods, negotiations and strategies he used to address those situations, such as the bankrupt state of the auto industry, a national economy on the verge of collapse, soaring unemployment and an ever-growing need for improvement in healthcare availability.
It details the successful responses Obama made in addressing those crises, too.
I'm sure most will agree that we need to continue traveling this same road in the same direction.
Robservations by Rob Groce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.