Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance To The $39 DVD Player

Prologue: I'm writing on this topic because I work for a company that manufactures goods in China that are sold back to the United States. I've always been proud that my company cares about all of its employees, and as a result, has vowed to enforce every environmental law and workers right statute in China that it does in the United States. This makes us slightly less competitive against companies who don't, but we've been able to stay profitable and keep our market share. Unfortunately, since I've become intimately involved in our operations overseas, I've come to realize that even though we are able to operate our factories to the highest standard, many of the component parts and raw materials we purchase from local vendors are not made under the same conditions. I am not sure how to think about that, or what can be done about it.

100 years ago, American industry treated its workers like cattle and wreaked havoc on the environment. This is the kind of stuff that happened in US factories:

  • Children were hired to work long hours every day.
  • Factories ran without air conditioning in summer or heat in winter.
  • Dangerous machines were operated without guards or emergency stops or worker training.
  • There were no emergency exits, or they were blocked by stock or merchandise.
  • Factories spewed out soot, unscrubbed, unregulated, and the height of the smokestacks was not always sufficient to dissipate pollutants, which simply settled on the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Workers were forced to stand for many hours, or work overtime, or relinquish half a day's pay for arriving one minute late.
  • Workers were not provided health insurance.
  • Wages were often well below living wages.
  • Workers were physically beaten and/or mentally abused.
  • Collective bargaining units were not permitted.

Relatively little of that goes on any more in this country. There were worker uprisings in our grandparents' day and lots of people died. You can have a look at some of what went on here. At the cost of their blood and guts, we now have very strict laws protecting our workers and our environment (for the most part) from the ravages of unchecked corporate greed.

But all that stuff costs money. Makes products more expensive.

Which is why we now buy 60% of our manufactured goods from China. Wanna take a stab at how the Chinese are able to make anything and everything cheaper than we can? Well , first and foremost, wages are much lower - even fair wages. Second, their currency is devalued which puts the exchange rate in their favor, making their products cost less than ours. I can live with those two disadvantages. But here's what also goes on:

Children are hired to work long hours every day.
Factories run without air conditioning in summer or heat in winter.
Dangerous machines are operated without guards or emergency stops or worker training.
There are no emergency exits, or they are blocked by stock or merchandise.
Factories spew out soot, unscrubbed, unregulated, and the height of the smokestacks is not always sufficient to dissipate pollutants, which simply settles on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Workers are forced to stand for many hours, or work overtime, or relinquish half a day's pay for arriving one minute late.
Workers are not provided health insurance.
Workers are paid unfair wages.
Workers are physically beaten and/or mentally abused.
Collective bargaining units are not permitted.

So in effect, American industry has done a complete end run around the rights our great-grandparents fought for, and simply moved all its manufacturing overseas where it can once again treat workers like cattle while wreaking havoc on the environment. (Just as an aside, pollutants originating from the Dongguan manufacturing areas in China are now measurable in Southern California.)

So, in discussing this with some buttheaded right wing idiot recently, it was suggested to me that perhaps the Chinese should adopt "American Values". And as long as they don't, then we have every right to go ahead and let them make $39 DVD players for us.


Now here's the real kicker. Chinese workers, not surprisingly are starting to get restless. There have been many small uprisings here and there in China, as workers begin to demand better conditions, better pay and the right to organize. In an unprecedented response, (and a rather astute attempt to avoid a repeat of American labor history) the Chinese government has proposed a new national workers rights law that provides sweeping reforms on behalf of the Chinese laborer.

Pretty cool. But wait. There is opposition to the new law.

From........... The American Chamber of Commerce in China. That would be made up of chief executives from Coke, Pepsi, General Electric, Nike, even Microsoft. Seems American Values are already firmly entrenched in China, and this new law will only muck them up.

Their argument? It'll drive up costs and ruin them financially. In other words, that DVD player might end up costing $59. And Michael Jordan will not be paid $39 million dollars a year to wear a pair of sneakers made by a guy who makes $39 a year.

Perhaps the $39 DVD player, folks, is the true American Value.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Theologically Supportable Position

In a recent conversation on the internet, a theologian referred to something as a "theologically supportable postion". The reply from his opponent was hilarious:

Sorry, but the expression 'theologically supportable position' put me in mind of this -

1) Buttered bread always lands butter-side-down.
2) Cats always land on their feet

Therefore, if you tie a piece of buttered bread to the back of a cat and release the assembly in mid air, as 1) and 2) are mutually contradictory, the buttered bread/cat assembly will hover.

I'd never heard that before. But I immediately applied for the patent rights...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Recruiting Procedures

Dear Jesus,

I think you need to take a look at your top-spokesperson recruiting process.

Seems like a rather large number of the folks who lead your flocks and provide spiritual guidance in your name are turning out to be, well...flaming, hypocritical ass holes.

I would suggest that quite a few of them could be weeded out in the interview process. Here are a few things to watch out for: First, I think we can safely say that if a guy is over 40 years old and he still looks like he's twelve, something is awry. Yes?

Dude could be making deals with the guy downstairs, if you get my drift.

Next, I would say that anyone who parts their hair starting from below the top of their right ear may be sending a message that there are bigger issues lurking.

Take a look at their ears, JC. If their ears are bigger than their feet, I think that's a problem.

Obviously, it's not fair to judge them completely by appearances. So you might also want to take a close look at their behavior. F'rinstance, if they act sort of like raving lunatics, further investigation could be in order.

If they cry every week on cue...

You may also want to check out their wives.

It would be in everyone's best interests if you asked them a few questions about their ideology and beliefs. In the I-can't-make-this-shit-up category, this guy's name is Dr. Creflo Dollar. He claims to be a Christian, but he worships money. Off the top of my head, I'd say possible conflict of interest there.

Now looky here. Satan himself, it appears, managed to slip through the interview process. Not good.

What I'm getting at is this - all in all, I think with a little more in the way of interviewing skills and due diligence, you might have been able to head this one off at the pass:

First of all, he's got the Ken-doll look, which should send alarm bells ringing at the outset. Second, that "H" on his forehead should have been cause for concern.

In the future, let me know if you need any help with this.



Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cool new things that can happen now that the Dems are in the House:

Finally, gay congressmen can marry their pages.

Barbra Streisand can be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Nancy Pelosi can start performing partial birth abortions on the House floor.

Is the budget balanced already?Dang...that was quick!

Social Security is going back in the lockbox.

Scientists announced today that global warming has been reversed.

All Gitmo prisoners will be released and replaced with Halliburton executives and stock holders.

Christopher Reeve will be resurrected through stem cell research.

Everyone in Mexico can now move to Santa Barbara.

Flag burning party. Saturday night. My house.

The Sunnis and Shiites will sing Kum Ba Yah, arm in arm, in the streets of Baghdad

Hillary Clinton will pardon Saddam Hussein.

The ACLU will be made the fourth branch of government.

Ted Haggard will convert to Kaballah and will be appointed as the new House chaplain.

Spanish will be declared the new official language everywhere south of the Dakotas.

Treasury Department will announce a new 3 dollar bill bearing the image of Barney Frank on the front, and a lovely picture of San Francisco on the back.

President Bush will announce a new Cabinet level position. Secretary of House and Senate Surveillance.

Congress will debate a Constitutional Amendment banning the display of the Ten Commandments in churches.

Closed door energy planning meeting to be scheduled at Capital building attended by Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, Ralph Nader, Al Gore and Kim Jong Il.

Gerry Falwell and Pat Roberston will be declared enemy combatants and sent to secret CIA prisons, all their assets seized and given to the ACLU to fund investigations of people saying “god bless you” after someone sneezes in a public school.

Axis of evil will be reconfigured to include Exxon/Mobil, Texas, and Rush Limbaugh.

Homeland security to be outsourced to Pakistan.

Ann Coulter will be forced to betroth Mary Cheney in a same-sex marriage ceremony in Newark, New Jersey, after which her embryos will be extracted, fertilized ex-utero by Al Sharpton and placed into stem cell research facilities.

Finally, finally, finally.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just when I thought it couldn't get much better -

Rumsfeld gets out of Dodge.

Adios, scumbucket.

The good thing about the past 6 years...

I'm in a good mood. Feeling charitable.

So rather than gloat about the political sea change going on in our country today, I'm going to point out what has been good about the past 6 years, politically speaking.

What's been good about the past six years is that we've had an opportunity to see and hopefully remember what happens when you let Republicans rule as a majority for six years.

This is what you get:

  • Stunning abuses of power.
  • Shameless warmongering, carried out with astonishing ineptitude
  • Fear based politics
  • Religious fascism and pandering applied to social issues, ignoring popular concerns
  • Financial irresponsibility on a macro scale
  • Insane pork barrell spending
  • Massive deficits
  • Increasing dependence on fossil fuel, inflamed by government policy favoring fossil fuel companies
  • Failed foreign policy resulting in increased nuclear proliferation worldwide, increased anti-American sentiment worldwide, increased terrorist recruiting worldwide, increased security risk to the USA
  • Unprecedented political divisiveness
  • Reduction in Constitutional rights for individuals
  • Gay bashing
  • Dwindling middle class
  • Increased disparity between the rich and the poor
  • 800,000 children with no health insurance
  • Drug benefit programs designed to uphold the profits of drug companies at the expense of the elderly
  • Inability to systemically deal with illegal immigration issues
  • More children left behind
  • Jobs exported overseas
  • Congressional pay increases/minimum wage decreases
  • Back room secret policy making
  • Unchecked global warming, denial that problem even exists, government suppression of scientific study results
  • Paid political propagandists posing as unbiased news reporters
  • Torture as a policy, revocation of Geneva convention, secret prisons

And in case we still need to be reminded why Democrats picked up 27 seats in the House, at least 4 seats in the Senate and ousted 6 Republican governors yesterday, here are a few proper names to remember:

Mark Foley, Tom Delay, Scooter Libby, Jack Abramoff, Enron, Duke Cunningham, Tyco, Osama bin Laden, Bob Ney, Hurricane Katrina, Terry Schiavo...I'll stop there. I said I was feeling charitable.

So now we begin the process of trying to dig out from this mess.

Good luck to us all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I win...

You lose.


Kim Jong Il

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Do you think somebody's trying to rip us off?

Cost of a brand new Epson R200 printer (complete with ink cartridges) on sale in CompUSA: $92.00
Cost of one replacement set of ink cartridges for the Epson R200 printer in CompUSA: $96.00

When it's cheaper to throw out your printer and buy a new one every time you run out of ink, you gotta scratch your head and wonder about that.