Posts Tagged ‘Ruling Class’

Was I Being Unfair in Sharply Criticizing Chinese Printers?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Where's YOUR money going? To China, my friend. To China.

If you thought my recent China post was more of a rant than an article, you are right. Offshore printing is an issue that gets me boiling.  I hope that I wasn’t misunderstood. I am not anti-China, nor am I anti-Chinese. What I am is anti-slave-like labor, anti-poor-working-conditions, and anti-business-profiteers using low prices to destroy the competition. In 1890 The Sherman Antitrust Act recognized the illegality of using low prices as a means to force out competition. If Sherman could be used against companies like AT&T, Microsoft, American Steel, etc. why can’t it be used against Chinese printers to prevent their unfair competition?

Someone wrote that I am just upset because China is doing to us what America did to Europe. It is not the same. America became a strong manufacturing and trading country because of innovation. We invented the assembly line, the steamboat, and the cotton gin. These innovations made products cheaper because they could be manufactured faster and get to market quicker. Other than in Taiwan, what has China invented in the last century to change the world? And I’m not too sure of Taiwan.  Oh sure, they may have come up with a product improvement here or there, but I’m racking my brains to think of anything new. So, they compete solely on being cheaper, and they accomplish that by underpaying workers, disregarding environmental impacts of their products, and keeping workers working in sweatshop conditions. Maybe that is China’s contribution, the sweatshop. Way to go China, you get to take credit for the sweatshop. Now there’s something to be proud about.

I have a business associate who is familiar with the situation of workers in Chinese print shops. He tells me that they stay in dorms during the working week because they put in 14 to 16 hours a day on the job. They also stay in dorms because it takes a half-day to travel to their homes. So a typical work week is 84 to 96 hours with one day off, and that day is spent largely in travel.

Those living high-on-the-hog business people in China, and anywhere really, who get away with being able to offer ridiculously low prices by taking advantage of poverty conditions in their countries should be brought to task. By engaging in this behavior they hurt their workers, and lead the world economy in a downward spiral. If the only way to compete is to duplicate their working conditions and wages, we can look forward to a very bleak existence. If you want to know what the future holds for America in 50 years, just look at where China is now. Do you like what you see?

It is true that American business people were once allowed to be as ruthless as the Chinese are now. It took many bloody union wars to force better working conditions and wages. There was a time when they were desperately needed and were run by dedicated men who truly were on the side of the workers. Will the unions be able to prevent the coming collapse of the middle class? It’s doubtful. Unions steadily lost ground through corruption and vilification by the ruling class. The upper 2% has almost total control over Washington, the Unions, and apparently the Supreme Court based on their recent rulings giving corporations and foreign entities unlimited rights to promote their political agendas. Look out China, your unfair competitive edge will dissipate when American’s standard of living drops to your level. Trading will then be equal, but sad, very sad indeed.


More Dangerous To Us Than Terrorists

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

RE: Previous Blog, Stealing Customers for Profit in the Recession

My last blog post has stirred a lot of interest and sparked many comments. Some comments were posted on the blog, some used my contact form, and some responded through Linkedin. I’m not breaking any real news to the business world. This recession is a B-I-T-C-H  (sorry for the use of the b word, I just couldn’t express it any other way, forgive me).  Once we get through it, and I’m sure we will get through it, we will be standing on a figurative bloody battleground mourning our fallen comrades. We will never be as naive as we were and assume that the big money people know what they are doing. Just because they’re paid seven figure incomes doesn’t mean they have any sense. To believe otherwise is naive with a capital N.

We have a chance now to reform our system if we act fast and aren’t too weak from the beating we’ve taken. Here’s my thought. If a company is a publicly held corporation, doesn’t it have a public responsibility? Those CEO’s who bag multimillion dollar compensations despite the fact that their companies are losing money should be subject to Old West justice, in my opinion. One case in point is Prudential Financial’s CEO John Strangfeld. For the year 2008 Mr. Strangfeld snagged between $14 million and $16 million dollars in salary and other compensations. Now what did John Strangfeld accomplish to be worthy of such a grand bounty? Under his $14 million dollar leadership, Prudential Financial Inc. posted a net loss of $1.1 billion dollars. That’s right. Okay, his personal management may not have been totally to blame for the loss, but where does the buck stop? Where does it stop?

There is a ruling class in America today. If you aren’t in it. you count for nothing, or less than nothing in their minds. John Strangfeld when questioned about his excessive compensation said that the people expect him to live a lavish lifestyle. The King has spoken and of course We The People want him to live a lavish lifestyle even if it bankrupts us all.

Can you believe the gall? This ruling class is so out of touch with reality that they truly believe what they are spouting. My point goes back to the meaning of a public corporation. Now I know that the distinction by law is that a closely held corporation has a limited number of private stockholders and a public corporation sells its stock on the open market, so some would brush off my argument without thought. The thing we overlook is that great power to do harm lies in the hands of this “uncrowned royalty.” The United States of America was brought to its knees because these power brokers decided that No Income Verification mortgage loans, and 1% interest only loans, were a good idea. Really? Any elementary grade student could tell them that loaning money to people who didn’t have the means to repay it, was a very bad idea.

Then when they packaged their terrible decisions into stock and sold them to unwary consumers and foreign companies they walked away stuffing money in their shoes, pockets, under their hats and smiling the whole time. Who pays? We do. The common people losing jobs and businesses. That’s who pays. Heck if one of them got charged with a crime the justice system would take some money away from them. Let’s see, you get $14 million and lose half, you still walk away with more than I’ll make in my lifetime. How is that fair?

Now when you think about it, really think about it, these multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires did more damage to our country than Al Quida could ever do. They perpetrated economic terrorism on us all and when the government suggests that their compensation packages ought to be reviewed they scream to high heaven. Again I say they have a public responsibility that goes beyond the front gates of their lavish castles.

Why am I so angry? I’m angry because the printing business has fallen on very hard times. Printers are closing doors, and may never reopen again. I’m sure the same is happening in other industries, but the one I am most familiar with is printing. It breaks my heart to see companies who have been around for decades and their owners who put their whole lives into their businesses reduced to shambles. Now we see printers who used to be friendly competitors, employing guerrilla tactics just to keep their businesses alive.

Write to your congressmen, write to the President, tell them that those who head public corporations need to be answerable to the public, and if they wreak havoc on the economy because of their self-serving decisions we want them individually and severally to be held responsible. We want to take away all of their toys and give them stock-boy jobs at Wall Mart. If they had to make ends meet like the rest of us I wonder how long it would take to effect real change?

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