Baksheesh

Baksheeh is a Persian word widely used throughout the Arabic world as well as in south east Asia and India to describe tipping, charitable giving and certain forms of political corruption and bribery. Think of it. With the same word, one can be said to be inducing someone to conduct illicit behavior or giving them alms.  Isn’t language wonderful. Continue reading

Made in America…..Not

Everyone knows that Walmart is America’s “low cost leader” to a fault. The dots that many have not connected is that Americans pay a cost for this low cost strategy.

Let’s start with the basics.  America is and has been running a negative trade balance for lo these many years.  And everyone knows that pundits like Lou (The Hitman) Dobbs has been tearing corporate America a new a**hole for their unconscionable outsourcing of American jobs to far away places. Are there dots here to be connected between these two events?  Of course there are, but we love to buy cheap stuff too much to connect them.  Whaddya mean, you say?  Well, lemme connect them for you. In the latest period for which I could get reliable date, our exports (that’s the stuff we sell outside the US of A) were 9.8% of our GDP, while our imports were 13.9% of GDP.  For those of you who are quick with numbers, you will have noted that results in a negative gap of 4.1% which doesn’t sound like much until you know that our GDP (the sum total of all goods and services produced by the US economy) is estimated to be $14.3 trillion (there’s that trillion word again) which is about 23% of the known world’s GDP.  Voila and ergo…..4.1% of 14.3 = wait while I lick my pencil…$5.863 trillion.    So what you say!  Well, for example, if all of that almost $6 trillion of stuff that we bought from other countries, manufactured in factories populated by their workers rather than our workers had been produced in America…..you get the point.  Jobs.  That’s the connection of the dots.  The more we buy from say China or Lithuania, the fewer jobs we will have in America.  Got it Lou?  It’s really that simple. But that’s really not the point.  To get to the point (patience dear reader) I have to go a little deeper.  Walmart accounts for about 10% of all US imports from China….$32 billion in round numbers.  Some guy smarter and more patient than me calculated that these imports accounted for approximately 300,000 job losses in the US between 2001  and 2006.  Now, I ask you, who exactly is it that buys that stuff in your local Walmart Supercenter made in China by Chinese labor?  It’s pretty clear to me that it’s us, the very people  for which Lou Dobbs and all American labor leaders are championing.  The very people who’s jobs have been “outsourced overseas” are buying the stuff made by the people who’ve taken their jobs.  Go figure.  And the more we buy, the less jobs we have. I don’t want to be known only as a Walmart basher.  Heck, I buy my fishing license there every year.  But let me give you a few other examples.  S. and I were in Sears yesterday checking out the flat screen TV’s (none of which have been made in America for years) and checked out a few labels for country of origin information and found a blouse from Indonesia, jeans from Vietnam, belts from Kenya and lot’s of other stuff from China.  A few weeks earlier I was checking out the fresh veggies in Dallas’ farmers market (surely nothing Chinese here) and found a package of twelve garlic heads for $1.00, or maybe it was $2.00…you guessed it…produced in China.  My recent random survey of twelve items  in the local Dollar General produced eleven items from China and one from Mexico.  My unsatisfying search for American made work boots came to naught as well.  There are none to be found.  And on and on and on.  I’m not by nature a jingoist, but this is putting a strain on my free trade principles. So finally to the point of it all.  Lou, if you want to save American jobs, quit harping on American companies that are producing in overseas factories and shipping back to Walmart and others to sell to the mass of Americans (including the jobless) for a few cents or a few dollars less. It’s us doing it to us, not them doing it to us.   Try convincing people to behave consistent with there own interest, demand American made products, and stop buying anything else. Good luck with that.  I’ll be watching. Until then, stop bitching.