Not Made in America

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/30-7

by Ralph Nader
Published on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

“Here, look at this handsome L.L. Bean catalog and tell me what you want for Christmas,” said a relative over Thanksgiving weekend. I started leafing through the 88 page cornucopia with hundreds of clothing and household products, garnished by free gift cards and guaranteed free shipping. I wasn’t perusing it for any suggested gifts; instead, I was going through every offering to see whether they were made in the U.S.A. or in other countries.

This is what I found: over 97 percent of all the items pictured and priced were noted “imported” by L.L. Bean. The only ones manufactured in the U.S. were fireplace gloves, an L.L. Bean jean belt, a dress chino belt, quilted faux-shearling-lined L.L. Bean boots (made in Maine), a personalized web collar and leash (for your pet), and symbolically enough, the “made in Maine using American-made cotton canvas are the Original Boat and Tote Bags” to carry all those goodies coming in from China and elsewhere.

That was it for the products that were “Made in America.” The former fountainhead of global manufacturing has been largely deflated by the flight of U.S. companies to fascist or communist regimes noted for holding down their repressed workers.

But there is much more to this story and the plight of millions of American workers and hundreds of their hollowed out communities that are the visible results of corporate free trade propaganda.

How many times have the politicians and their corporate paymasters told us that “free trade” with other nations is a “win-win” proposition? They win and we win. After all, isn’t that what happened two hundred years ago when Portugal sold its wine to England in return for British textiles? Economists have won many prizes elaborating this theory of comparative advantage.

That is what Nobel laureate super-economist Paul Samuelson believed in the many years he wrote and updated his standard “Economics 101” textbook studied by millions of college students for nearly 50 years. For many of his colleagues, the theory of “free trade” had become an ideology bordering on a secular religion. Don’t bother them with the facts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/30-7

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Restore the Basic Bargain

From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/13469691304

By Robert Reich
Monday, November 28, 2011

For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.

Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day – three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”

But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.

That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.

The basic bargain is over – not only at Ford but all over the American economy.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/13469691304

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Homophobia: A Mark of Loser Nations

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-besen/homophobia-a-mark-of-lose_b_1117747.html


Posted: 11/29/11

I knew Russia was likely to embrace homophobia the moment I read that approximately 1.25 million Russians have emigrated from the nation in the past decade. Population experts say that the mass exodus is comparable in size to the migration following the Bolshevik Revolution.

This one-time superpower is disintegrating into a superstitious country more concerned about angels than economics. Each day, for example, tens of thousands of Russians stand in line for up to 12 hours in frigid weather to kiss a glass-covered case that they believe holds the Virgin Mary’s belt.

To top it off, Vladimir Putin’s voracious appetite for power is morphing Russia into an unsettling hybrid that vacillates between pseudo-democracy and sort-of dictatorship. The faltering of this country, which has the world’s 11th largest economy, would be significantly worse if it were not for the good fortune of having oil and gas exports.

In this politically stagnating and spiritually stifling environment, it is predictable that the city of Saint Petersburg would consider a totalitarian bill imposing fines for the so-called promotion of gay “propaganda.” If it were to pass, anyone who committed “public acts” promoting homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender identity to minors could pay up to 3,000 rubles, while an organization could pay 10,000 to 50,000 rubles.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-besen/homophobia-a-mark-of-lose_b_1117747.html

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Barney Frank: ENDA Won’t Pass Unless Democrats Regain Control Of Congress, Hold White House

From Think Progress:   http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/11/29/377950/barney-frank-enda-wont-pass-unless-democrats-regain-control-of-congress-hold-white-house/

Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) attributed the failure of Congress to pass a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a “crowded agenda,” health care reform, and “transgender inclusion” during a press conference in Washington, D.C. this afternoon. “Given the polarization on this issue…[the bill will pass] the next time you get a Democratic House, Senate and President,” Frank predicted in response to a question from Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner, adding that in his 32 years in Congress, Democrats controlled all three for just four years. Frank said that openly LGBT members can also influence their fellow legislators to vote in favor of equality. “Legislating is the most personal form of governance…and personal factors mean a lot. Voting on the abstract on an issue is one thing, telling someone with whom you had good personal relations that you think he’s inferior, that’s harder.” Watch it:

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Hartmann: Everything U Know is Wrong – The Golden Motorcycle Gang

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Mortgage Servicers: Getting Away with the Perfect Crime?

From New Deal 2.0:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/11/28/mortgage-servicers-getting-away-with-the-perfect-crime-65555/

by Matt Stoller
Monday, 11/28/2011

Without prosecutions, there’s nothing keeping fraud from becoming a standard business practice.

In 2004, the FBI warned Congress of an “epidemic of mortgage fraud,” of unscrupulous operators taking advantage of a booming real estate market. Less than two years later, an accounting scandal at Fannie Mae tipped us off that something was very wrong at the highest levels of corporate America.

Of course, we all know what happened next. Crime invaded the center of our banking system. Wall Street CEOs were signing on to SEC documents knowing they contained material misstatements. The New York Fed, riddled with conflicts of interest, shoveled money to large banks and tried to hide it under the veil of central bank independence. Even Tim Geithner noted that Lehman had “air in the marks” in its valuations of asset-backed securities, as the bankruptcy examiner’s report showed that accounting manipulation to disguise the condition of the balance sheet was a routine management tool at the bank. There’s a reason Charles Ferguson got an Academy Award for his work on the documentary Inside Job.

And yet, no handcuffs. The big news on prosecutions in the traditionally high-powered Southern District of New York are convictions for relatively petty insider trading that are unrelated to the collapse of the economy. The criminal charges could have been filed in the 1980s. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has brought minor civil suits against banks, but nothing significant, and no criminal indictments for the Ponzi scheme of the last four years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/11/28/mortgage-servicers-getting-away-with-the-perfect-crime-65555/

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“I’ll Occupy” Recruitment Song: The 99 is Pissed and We Will Not Be Dismissed!

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