Archive for February, 2009

Problems with Housing Loan Modifications Being Proposed

February 18th, 2009


We would all agree that the housing industry is vital for America not just as source of employment, but to every family that owns a home.

For decades most of the country followed the trend for housing prices rising on average at the rate of inflation plus roughly 1%. This allowed many millions of American families to live, raise their families and secure their retirement.

Somewhere along the way, certain areas of the country saw housing prices artificially shoot way beyond this long term trend. California, Florida, and Arizona in particular saw prices increase by double digits, sometimes as much as 20% a year. This made housing unaffordable to many, but also left other people already owning homes feeling much richer. Once speculation took over from reality an euphoria came over some local markets. That is quite common in the stock market, like with the dot.com boom. The eventual result is the bubble bursts and prices come down to earth. After bubbles burst prices often temporarily move below where they would have been otherwise.

Attempts to “solve” the problem of speculation gone bad in the real estate market face a lot of obstacles:

-Investors own many of the properties going into default, and they will not be allowed to join any proposed bailouts.

-The plan is to bailout those behind on their mortgages, but many of these folks are unfortunately also behind on second mortgage, tax, and insurance payments too.

-Even reduced loan amounts will not be enough for those that have lost their job or were not close to accurate in what they had initially shown as their income. Speaking of which, apparently some loan officers advised people to overstate their income to get a bigger loan than they could really afford. Why aren’t these loan offices liable or even being prosecuted?

Time heals. That is true in the case of housing prices as well. My concern is in trying to help victims, the government may unintentionally delay the recovery in prices by stretching this bad situation out. Perhaps the focus should be on transition instead of propping up unsustainable prices.

Sincerely,

Todd Lipscomb

Founder of MadeinUSAForever.com (http://madeinusaforever.com/) your source for products made by Americans

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Pepperidge Farm Embraces Indonesia

February 17th, 2009


We enjoy occasional cookies, and over the years have been attracted to the hometown style of Pepperidge Farm. Imagine my shock yesterday to note the package of Pirouette cookies we were eating is actually from Indonesia. Having been to Indonesia several times it certainly not where I would consider buying food for my family particularly from a cleanliness perspective.

I called their customer service hotline (at least she was American), and was told they understand my concern, but they are an “international company” with bakeries around the world. Apparently the Timtam style of cookies are foreign too.

The majority of the rest of their cookies are still made here for now, but how long will that be the case?

If you want to join me in expressing concern to Pepperidge Farm about bringing third world food products into the USA instead of employing Americans, their phone number is 888-737-7374. They will probably give you some coupons for free cookies…

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On USA Employed Customer Service: Avoid Travelocity.com, but Geico Scores An “A”

February 11th, 2009


I had a strange run in with Travelocity.com last week. After realizing I made a small mistake on a hotel reservation, I tried to call their customer service number to get assistance fixing it. Their customer service is based overseas and we could not communicate effectively in English. The manager there, “Joe”, even gave me a false case number ID to try to block me from speaking with their real management. This was disappointing to me on several levels – bad service, dishonesty, and lack of American jobs.

Shortly later I called Geico’s customer service to get a copy of a document. A US citizen who spoke perfect English picked up the phone. She was polite, responsive, and personally made sure I got the necessary document. What a welcome relief!

How is it that Geico, who is known for their low prices, finds it best to employee Americans, while others feel the need to push these jobs abroad?

Geico scores an A!

Travelocity.com an F…

Let’s support companies that actually employee Americans.

Sincerely,

Todd Lipscomb

Founder of MadeinUSAForever.com (http://madeinusaforever.com/), your source for American-made products.

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$900 Billion Dollar Stimulus Plan Must Include “Made in USA” Spending Guidelines to Help Our Economy

February 5th, 2009


Ironically, an e-mail that was going around last summer about our lack of ability to spend refund checks on American-made products is going around again. I have received this same message included with folk’s comments showing their real concern about this issue many times lately. The message being forwarded goes on about our being able to buy a TV, car, etc. from Asian countries, but only beer in the USA.

This new stimulus plan, 100% of which will need to be borrowed, meaning the Chinese will have to loan us a huge percent of that amount. What is it per US citizen? About $3000 added to the national debt for every single American. Therefore, it really does need to be spent wisely.

The media talks about “protectionism” as if it caused the last depression (there were many factors), but I know from my years working abroad that we are by far the most open major country when it comes to taking imports. The fact is, it is much harder for us to ship our products anywhere else than foreigners bringing their’s here. The reality is that free trade is only free coming here. Every other major nation is following protectionism to much greater degree than us – that is in the end a major point in what causes massive trade deficits.

Just the government borrowing huge sums and spending it without considering American industry is not at all effective at putting Americans back to work or protecting our nation in the long run if we do not have it focused on local production.

For example, if contractors are allowed to buy Mexican concrete for highway projects, it very much limits the effectiveness of each dollar spent on that project to stimulate OUR economy. It is no wonder some other countries are complaining about our new “protectionism”, as they are the likely beneficiaries of our money!

Each of us, as a taxpayer, is carrying a large national debt burden into the future because of this plan. I am not saying it is wrong, but I am saying we need to make sure Washington at least attempts to aim this massive effort in the right direction.

Here is a link to finding your local US Representatives contact information:

http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml

Not that they care, but perhaps they may look up from the trough do something right if enough of us bother them…

Sincerely,

Todd Lipscomb

Founder of MadeinUSAForever.com, your source for American-Made products.

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