Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why you don't want to buy things made in China

There have been many arguments about why we, as Americans, shouldn't buy anything made in China. I'd like to make a new argument, that no one here in the United States, or anywhere else that Chinese products are sold, has made: that the Chinese people are paying the price for America's insatiable need for the cheapest products. And there is no regulation (or little) of industrial pollution in China, unlike here. Don't believe me about the pollution? I saw pictures in this link that document how China's booming, and unregulated, manufacturing is killing its people. China is paying, environmentally, for being the manufacturer of most of the products sold here in America. The Chinese people are paying the price for America's insatiable need for the lowest-priced products. And there is no regulation (or little) of industrial pollution in China, unlike here. These pictures alone are a good argument for continued, and even strengthening, the regulations on industries here that are major sources of pollution and industrial waste.

There was an excellent article in the New York Times, by Thomas L. Friedman, titled "China Needs Its Own Dream." The comments below the article are quite interesting; many of the comments below the main article were written by those whom have lived in China or are native to it. One of the commentators included the link above, that documented the pollution due to the manufacturing boom in China.

If more people that purchased their high-tech products produced in China could see what the effects are in that country, maybe they would think twice about purchasing the products made there; perhaps they would be grateful that here in America, we have stringent regulations that keep our country from returning to 1950s-era pollution, such as that shown in the pictures from China.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What happened to true people of faith?

Whatever happened to true people of faith? Our country professes to be one that follows Christian ethics, yet the poor, disadvantaged, society's "rejects," and people that are not of the proper socioeconomic mix (Caucasian, Christian, and Anglo-Saxon) are not considered important to many of those who follow traditional Christian religions (and "religiously" attend church every Sunday.) Click here to read a post by a pastor who really "tells it like it is" regarding the religious right and what is happening in the right wing of politics in collusion with the Christian Evangelical Right in America.

Those of us who profess to be true followers of Jesus Christ should really take the time to read what he said in the New Testament of the Bible. This country has become profit-centered, rich-centered, and me-first-centered (witness everyone walking with their heads down, looking at their phone, oblivious to their surroundings.)

While we are busy spending billions overseas on wars of dubious value to either the country that we are "protecting," we are rapidly becoming an extremely polarized society with the rich at the top, happily raking in profits, and the rest of us are at the bottom, barely able to survive in this "new economy." And those in our country's right-wing party would have us go back further in time to an era when old people died early (no income, no health care) and the poor went away quickly to their demise. Hungry people ate boiled shoe leather and people regularly got sick from unregulated pollution from factories and poisoning from unhealthy food.

Yet -- our "upright Christian" right-wingers believe that the poor should remain that way, that everyone can get a job (so they say,) the American Dream is only accessible to those who are on the "right side" of God -- i.e., no "lazy welfare poor," no ex-prisoners, no "rejects of society," no aged or sick. As they would say, "God helps those who help themselves." That's not what Jesus said -- he said to "feed my sheep." He didn't specify which ones.

The right-wing led House of Representatives is busy plotting their strategies for taking away more benefits and rights of those who live in this great country called the United States of America. I'm sure that many of them go to church on Sunday and feel justified in their actions. To understand this mind-set better, click on this link to read Stan Moody's post on the failing of the right-wing Evangelical religious in helping those less fortunate then themselves.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A very good blog to follow

I recommend following this blog:, an excellent forum on what's wrong with our current leadership and the current Congress (and the puppet masters on Wall Street that are controlling them both!)

I really wanted to believe that 2008 was going to be the start of a new, progressive era -- when change to our country would come -- change in our energy policy of sucking up all the resources we can; change in our employment policy where we reward companies that "offshore" our jobs, thereby eliminating good American jobs in the interest of costs; change in our goal of being "the world's policeman" by bringing our troops home and starting to take care of our people first. The list could go on and on ... I have joined the disenchanted people who don't see much chance for significant change in this administration in Washington. We're still at war, spending billions -- for what? Our security? Do you feel more secure now than you did before 9/11/2001? The House of Representatives will continue to obfuscate any kind of change introduced by the minority party (and the party of leadership in the White House.) If fact, Congress is silently working at taking away some of the most important social protections that we have today, in the interest of "reducing the debt" -- Medicare, food assistance for the poor, unemployment benefits, and perhaps even Social Security. What they don't change, the conservative-biased Supreme Court will help overturn, such as the decision to declare a corporation as a "person" for means of controlling political donations (and of course, power.)

What in the hell is going on with this country? Why aren't the people rising up against what is going on? And yet, you'll see the Sarah Palin "One Nation" bus tour getting headlines -- does anyone know what she stands for, really? Why are we a nation of "haves" and "have nots?" Where did the middle class go?

As a nation, many are collectively burying their heads (or minds) in their smart phone, Wii console, or other entertainment and blissfully unaware of the tidal wave of change coming over this country. We will be a second-class nation soon, with China dictating the economic fate of the world, and perhaps even the military one. It is time to get involved, and turn this tide around.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The world is flipping upside down!

According to a recent article by Mitch Albom - (click here to read) the “Kardashians prove that the world is upside down.” The gist of his article is that today, in the American “New New Economy,” we specialize in getting people’s attention. The people that prosper the most are the ones that are shouting (tweeting, using Facebook, blogging, etc.) the loudest. I don’t understand the fascination with the Kardashians — why would I want to make them rich by following them or caring about anything that they do? But their attention getting technique has garnered them over 6 million Twitter fans. There are reality shows on TLC, MTV, and many other of your favorite three-letter TV networks. Today on NBC they were showing teenage girls fighting each other quite brutally. This is today’s entertainment. It is empty and there is collateral damage from it, such as the girl who was badly hurt in the fight. Or the teenager who has enemies in school, who have created a Facebook hate page that says the most demeaning things about him.

It’s all about the information. Find it now, find it fast, and it had better be entertaining. If it takes a little work to find it, the info is not worth finding. But all of this information and pointless entertainment is just cluttering up the Internet, the airwaves, and the smart phones of all the people using it. And only a select few are getting rich or making a living off it.

In Mitch Albom’s article, he mentions that the real “products” sold here are now being made mostly in Third World nations, and that the American specialty is “audience.” That sure seems to be more and more so every year. The world has changed so much in the past 10 years that I can’t imagine what it will be like 20 years from now. We aren’t manufacturing most things that are purchased by Americans today. Not everybody can hope to get a job sitting in front of a computer screen (or in the future, squinting at their small smart phone screen.) Not everyone wants to be part of the “New New Economy” that Mitch Albom writes about. In fact, there are many who would love to just go to work, make something of value, receive a paycheck for it, and live a simple life.

I hope that America wakes up soon, turns off the reality shows, quits squinting at the smart phones, and realizes that unless we start producing something of real value (not just mindless entertainment,) our way of life will go away forever. And the only way to build America back up to a solid producing nation is to take back our industries and build products here, producing income for Americans.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is too much knowledge and "social connectivity" a good thing?

I've been posting to Twitter lately, and have discovered that there are quite a few intelligent people on the site! It's kind of got me hooked as I discover links to people and then other people -- then I end up reading their tweets, and so on. I was a bit puzzled why some people decided to "follow" me, but I "followed" them back, and discovered interesting people in the process! But one can really spend more time on Twitter than one should, and if I had work to do right now, I'd probably be missing what's going on in Twitterworld.

There was an article by New York Times writer David Brooks today () called "The Experience Economy" (What happens when wealth and living standards diverge?) which really got me to thinking, "what has happened to this country lately?" Well, I have my own ideas on the matter, which revolve around a certain political party, American corporate greed, China, and the powerlessness of the American people. I discovered a blog called "The Terry Report" () whose writer echoes my sentiments exactly on many issues.

But, back to the NYT article. I agreed with what Mr. Brooks wrote about the changing condition of the US manufacturing capability. The new "information and social networking age" doesn't create a lot of jobs for people -- he said that Facebook has about 2000 employees and Twitter 300. The wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. At one time, most of the goods sold in America were made here, and sold here. Many people who didn't have college degrees could live a decent life, raise a family, buy a house, and retire to relative security due to many jobs in the manufacturing sector. Now, we are all so fascinated with the information that is available out there (myself included) that we waste time becoming more informed but not wealthier; socially connected (electronically) but with no real person-to-person interaction. There are those few who capitalize on the Internet and use the social media to further their own agenda. There is a problem with all of this information and social media -- we can't all be sitting at a computer (just like I am,) and typing away, or busily thumbing away on our smartphone. This activity produces nothing of physical utility, such as an automobile, steel, or electronics. We all can't be doing this in the future -- if we are doing that, here in the US, and relying on China or some other third-world country to create our products, we will become slaves to them, in a sense: in debt, without work, and reliant on them to create our everyday products. They will have conquered America without firing a shot.

I keep hoping that our decision makers in Congress will wake up some day and decide that China (in particular, since most goods sold at Wal-Mart are made there) is not our friend, but is a serious threat to our economic security, and will immediately create a steep tariff against their products. Also creating an incentive to "buy American" again by crediting the makers of American-made (and American-sourced) products with a significant tax break to stimulate the economy by creating jobs again that actually produce something physical with real value. It's probably just a pipe dream, however. American Greed will reign, regardless of the political party in power. We will continue to "race to the bottom" in pay scale and quality of life.

On the technology front, we will continue to outsource jobs -- that is why it is difficult getting employment in I.T., because the foreign workers have dropped the pay rates by almost half in ten years. Only if you have a very specialized kind of training can you demand the pay that I used to get just ten years ago. This outsourcing is not just in I.T., either -- I read that Boeing is outsourcing some of its work to China. Imagine that -- the company that is a symbol of American greatness, outsourcing its workers to save money and lay good people off! I hope that the younger generation coming up sees what's going on, and once they manage to push out the "old folks" out of Capitol Hill, bring back some sanity to this country.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Tech will take over your life!

Technology has accelerated so fast just in the past 3 years that I fear for the future -- not just for me, but for young people that have to live through it, well into the mid-century. And it's not just iris scanning that has me worried -- most of the new cell phones have built in GPS that broadcasts where you are at. I had read recently on the Internet (and saw it this morning on ABC) that newer digital cameras have a "place" setting that is done through built-in GPS on the camera! I had wondered how Flickr knew where some people's pictures were taken -- now I know. My digital camera doesn't have it. You should check yours. The dangerous thing about this is that vulnerable people such as underage and old people may unknowingly broadcast their location to thieves, rapists, and scam artists. Facebook has a "places" option that they are adding to track you. What is the purpose of all of this information? Some people would say that it is a benefit; I would beg to differ. Too much information is not necessary. But people have become voyeuristic, hence, the TLC (and other video channels) "reality" series where we can peek into other people's private lives, almost in real time. For someone who has committed ANY kind of offense, civil, criminal, misdemeanor, even littering, the new scary future will be just like what was in the movie "Minority Report": they'll know your crime before you even think about committing it. "Future crime" it was called ... Already they are develop brain wave reading machines -- yes, they will actually be able to read the mind. Not specific thoughts, as yet, but they are getting to that point and I believe within the next 20 years that will be a reality.

This is the future in 20 years (if the world doesn't end in 2012, that is ...) : everyone in most "civilized" or "technological" societies will have an implanted chip that has all of their information on it, SSN, medical history, criminal history, voter registration record, employment record, your personality profile, your propensity for "antisocial" behavior such as violence (think of it as your sociological profile,) your purchasing habits and needs, your location broadcast via built-in GPS to local authorities (and if criminal record, FBI or NSA.) All of this can and will be updated dynamically. "Registries" will no longer be needed -- people can be "buzzed" on their phone if a certain kind of criminal (or a person that they no longer want to see) comes near.

And that is just off the top of my head! I have been avidly reading technology blogs, major newspaper publishers such as the New York Times and other sources trying to keep abreast as to what is ahead. I guess I should feel fortunate that I only have so many working years left (if I can ever find employment,) because I won't have to worry about interacting with people that are so "informed."

One of the editorial writers in the NY Times (I think it might have been George Will, a conservative, but I agreed with this article) wrote that young people don't know how to function without constant stimulation -- music plugged in the ear, a ringing cell phone or buzzing with text messages, constant connection with other people day and night, always-on Internet, technology in the car (talk to it,) refrigerator (it will buy your groceries for you if you let it,) etc. Many young people don't know how to be "alone" any more! I used to practice a form of meditation (which I haven't done much lately because I am so wrapped up in just living and surviving daily) where you completely "clean out your mind" of any thoughts and just BE. You want this to be a pleasant moment, of course. Live the moment -- smell the air, listen to your surroundings, notice the colors of the sky or wherever you may be. Sense your body, your breathing, your -- YOU. You pause, taking in all of these sensory inputs at once, and it builds in you to a crescendo of amazing PEACE, and -- yes -- JOY. I did this in conjunction with prayer and, I swear, I felt connected to God and the universe. That's what most busy, wired, interconnected people are missing. And do we really need to be connected all of the time?

That's my take on the "brave, new, scary future." I want to believe that the superficiality of many young people is not an indication of where we are heading in the future. If only technology would be reined in a bit ... to give some of us a chance to just live and be left alone!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time to bring back American Manufacturing!

My experience today was a perfect reason why we need to bring back American manufactured goods, and quit making inferior ones overseas in China. I bought a power washer / compressor with a brand name of "Task Force" from a major hardware store here two years ago. I have used it VERY lightly in the past two years, and I know that it came with only "a limited ONE-YEAR warranty," but a $150 product should last longer than this ... The power washer quit spraying after the first use of the day (when I would let go of the trigger) -- it just wouldn't spray after that. Not wanting to just throw away a $150 product that is barely two years old, I took it apart this weekend to check it out. The compressor was fine -- the only thing that could have failed was the cheap electrical switch used to turn the compressor off and on. When I called the 1-800 number (a place in Canada) they gave me another number to call. That person told me that "no parts are available here, everything is from China." So I told him, I guess that means I just "throw the machine away, right?" He said, "Right." Twenty years ago, that little electronic switch would have been a mechanical one and would have lasted for hundreds of on-off cycles. But the short-sighted manufacturers wanted to cut 50 cents or a dollar of the cost of the product, so they replaced it with an electronic one, controlled by a chip. It just amazes me, the built-in obsolescence of products we buy here now. All designed to fail, quickly, so the owner(s) of the companies can profit off our misfortune, and we are poorer still. It looks like the richest 2% of the country will soon control more than the 50% they are supposed to have. It will be more like 80% or more, if we continue to buy this junk from China.