Archive for May, 2008
May 28th, 2008
It is important that we utilize resources that can help us educate ourselves and locate products made here in the USA. One such resource is Americans Working, which has an awesome blog, news site, and product index.
For their superb blog on issues in regards to American made products and issues checkout www.Americansworking.com/blog1/.
To checkout their resource of related news – www.Americanworking.com/intel.html.
They also have a great index of products, for instance, here is the link to one for clothing – www.americansworking.com/clothing.html.
Take a look. You will not be disappointed.
Founder of www.MadeinUSAForever.com
May 26th, 2008
Here it is another Memorial Day. For some, it is kind of easy to slip into three day weekend mode, but let’s take a minute to remember how we got here as a nation.
Not long ago, I was hiking near my office. One neat thing about the area is there are some decent trails. As I went up a steep hill, something caught my eye. Close, yet remote, someone had planted several small flags in the ground overlooking the hills and distant ocean. I approached and realized there were messages written on each. Farewells to a man who had died overseas recently serving our country. I caught my breath trying to hold back a tear, wondering about the circumstances that would end a young life and inspire this sad farewell, but I knew. This is a volunteer military. No matter the circumstances, he died doing something important and meaningful for us all – protecting democracy and his country. How recent in man’s long history, and so rare even today, that this dream of freedom, this candle in the darkness, burns bright because of the sacrifices of such men and women, and their families.
Bless this young man and the others and keep their families safe. We won’t forget.
I will hike up there again today and pay my respects. Such a beautiful place won’t also be a lonely one.
May 18th, 2008
Here it is Saturday night and I read something this morning that I found so profound it could not wait until Monday. As you may know, before founding www.MadeinUSAForever.com, I came from, and actually did pretty well in the corporate world. I know it both from being there at a decision level as well as from investing over the years. It is particularly as an investor that the skyrocketing level of CEO compensation at some of our companies has been irritating.
A CEO of a major corporation decided that he had not done a sufficient job and not to take his annual bonus worth just under $1.5 million. Well, there is the first clue, only $1.5 million in bonus when CEO’s who screw up at Countrywide, Wachovia, and GE continue to earn tens of millions while destroying billions in shareholder value? It’s complex, but what’s driving the explosive growth in American CEO compensation is the combination of weak boards of directors, apathetic shareholders, “compensation consultants” in bed with some executives, and some CEO’s influence over company Human Resources departments. Some CEO’s manage to get to ridiculous levels, allowing many other CEO’s to “show” their board that they need more, and so on. On the whole, American CEO’s are vastly more compensated than their counterparts in Europe or Asia (More on this issue will be discussed over time).
The CEO who walked away from this bonus was Willie Walsh of British Airways. They had a major screw-up with their new London airplane terminal. Supposed designed around automated luggage handling, it actually ended up causing them to cancel hundreds of flights and lose track of untold thousands of bags. Yet, they managed to remain profitable and even paid a significant bonus to staff employees. Mr. Walsh said, “I felt in the context of a disappointing opening of Terminal 5 it would be inappropriate to take a bonus”.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear that sort of comment out of our own CEO’s? Walsh could have easily pawned off the issue on software or something and taken the money, but he owned up to it like a true leader.
Nothing will every change my commitment to American made products, but we sure could use a few more CEO’s with the willingness to actually take ownership of issues, like BA’s Willie Walsh.
Founder of www.MadeinUSAForever.com
May 16th, 2008
I was loading a new section for www.MadeinUSAForever.com on furniture made here in the USA. A lot more similar American made furniture and other products will be coming soon.
On the furniture, I could not help but consider how much more the price tag is compared to the imported junk furniture at the big chain retailers.
Wal-Mart, and the like, have been encouraging us for years to only consider the price tag, and not factors like quality. Quality meaning how long the item will last in good condition under normal wear. After all, it is in Wal-Mart’s interest if we just throw away that broken/torn/worn item and buy another one. Naturally, they advertise how much money they have “saved” us, without considering how soon we will have to buy a second or third one. This does not even consider the jobs eliminated in the USA, worker conditions in China, etc., toxins in the products (83 MILLION toys recalled last year), etc.
They would have us buy cheap, low quality stuff and just throw it away and buy a new one in a few months, but we do have a choice. We can buy items that will last years. It ends up cheaper in the long run. Something with real meaning instead of just the disposable.
On the furniture, yes, solid hardwood American made furniture does have a higher price tag. However, in this case we really are talking something that really can last decades instead of just a year or two. Something that has real value, not just another throw away from the age of plastic.
Yes, it is worth it.
Products and gifts made in The USA available at www.MadeinUSAForever.com
May 12th, 2008
We had a strange experience recently with our local pharmacy. As readers of this blog may know, my wife is pregnant with our second child. She has been taking prenatal vitamins prescribed by her doctor. When she went in to get it refilled, the pharmacist told her in very bad English that there was some issue with her insurance, but my wife could not understand any of the details this person was trying to say. My wife next started trying to check with the insurance company, who also seemed out of the loop, and meanwhile a weekend passed and she ran out of the medication.
That’s when I got involved and called the pharmacy to try to find out more about the issue before calling the insurance company. I got another pharmacist there, who also could not speak English. It took awhile, which surprised me, as I am used to dealing with poor English in the years I lived in Asia for work.
She also could not clarify the problem, so I asked if we could just buy the medication without using the insurance, as my wife and baby were going without it. She said yes, and then we spent some time trying to communicate over whether she meant it cost $60.50 or $16.50. It turned out to be $16.50, to which I said they should have let us know we could buy it for that amount in the first place and it is ridiculous to have blocked my wife from getting what she needs. Again it took awhile to understand, but I finally realized her next point was an attack on prenatal vitamins, as “millions (of people) go without this all over (the) world”. At that point, I told her we of course following doctor’s orders and insisted she put the manager on the phone.
It turned out that the manager was some kid in charge of the grocery store, but he let me know this was not the first issue recently with the pharmacy where he ended up talking to upset customers and that he was reporting it regional management… At least he seemed polite and could speak English. Meanwhile, I also complained to Sav-On’s corporate office and am waiting to hear back from them.
You can be certain that Sav-On and Albertsons have lost this customer, but more importantly, it is very scary and just wrong that people in key positions of the medical industry cannot speak understandable English. I am not in a position to judge his or her technical qualifications, but when there are clearly situations like this, where the patients cannot understand the medical professional, there is obviously a huge potential for problems.
I am considering writing our legislators that there should be a SPOKEN English test for folks seeking this sort of work in the USA.
Founder of www.MadeinUSAForever.com
May 5th, 2008
Since I have the dual experiences of having lived in Asia as well as founding www.MadeinUSAForever.com, I have a unique background and perspective. I often get asked why products coming from abroad are cheaper. Hourly labor cost is obviously pointed at, but is actually just one factor involved of many where the USA is at an artificial disadvantage.
Here are some other major factors:
-The cost of meeting environmental pollution requirements. Meaning some countries either officially or unofficially (bribes) allow manufacturers to pollute heavily, while American manufacturers spend millions on pollution control.
-The cost of maintaining a safe working environment. Low safety standards means a significant cost advantage for China, etc. This is a lot of money, not just in the lack of fair reimbursement for worker injuries, but also because it allows them produce more volume at a lower cost.
-Currency. Many countries, particularly China, are artificially holding their currencies weaker than their true value. This factor alone can make products produced there 40% cheaper or more.
-Lack of workers ability to legally organize or question the government. Indeed challenging the company in many cases means challenging the government itself, which is literally suicidal. Not many countries in history have held such total control over their people as China. The higher the degree of control of a government over its people, the more they can be exploited. This is another huge cost differential.
So you see, there are many factors that make the playing field far from level. Products are brought in by the big retail chains without their true costs being a factor. This is undermining America’s ability to compete.
For product made in America please visit www.MadeinUSAForever.com
May 2nd, 2008
I have had about a half dozen people forward to me a joke chain e-mail where the writer goes down a long list of potential things to buy and all of them are foreign except for the beer and certain services.
The point of the joke being that money will just end up going overseas anyway. I know this seems like a fact to anyone walking into a Target or Wal-Mart because of the definite lack of American made products to be found. I suppose their corporate buyers and executives do not consider America’s future to be of any concern, and assume we do not care either. Hopefully, they are wrong about the second assumption.
The fact is there are lots of American made products available, and not just on my website, but all over that are still made right here. For example, look at Texas Jeans, Holgate Toys, Relic Furniture and many others.
Unfortunately, the real joke is on all of us, as this is not really “extra” money, but simply adds to the national debt, so we pay for it eventually.
However, in the spirit of things, my wife and I have spent that money on an Oreck vacuum, which is made right here in the USA (though the iron they try to give away is not).
Made in USA products available at www.MadeinUSAForever.com