Thursday, February 14, 2013

American Workers have Done so Much, for so Long, for so Little

The U.S. Navy had modified a Mother Teresa quote to read, "We have done so much, for so long, with so little, that we can now do anything with nothing."

It had been posted on a wall of the USS W. S. Sims when a Texan named Virgil Bierschwale had once served on board her from 1976 to 1982. If you ask him where he's from, he'll tell you, "I was born in Fredericksburg and raised in Harper, about 2½ beers west of Luckenbach."

I took the liberty to revise the quote to describe the current unemployed American worker today:
"We have done so much, for so long, for so little --- but we're now told that we're not qualified to do anything, for anyone, at all."

The USS W. S. Sims was decommissioned on September 6, 1991 and was sent to Turkey on December 21,1999 for scrap.

As of today in 2013, Virgil now lives in San Antonio and is an unemployed software engineer. He has been out of work since 2010 --- because just like his old war ship, he too was decommissioned by America for scrap.

After two long years, the U.S. Navy veteran now thinks he's found the reasons why he's no longer "qualified" to do anything, for anyone, at all.

Significant Milestones - Edited from Virgil Bierschwale's website Keep America at Work.

June 3, 2010 - Keep America at Work has found a reason why millions of people in the newly-formed  middle-classes of China and India would one day go the way of America's middle-class:

Chris Ruffle, who helps manage $19 billion as co-chairman of Martin Currie Ltd. in China, says "We have been seeing wage inflation over the past several months. Rising salaries may prompt businesses that operate plants in China to move to lower-costcountries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia."
January 18, 2011 - Keep America at Work developed three simple rules that will allow free trade on a global basis --- and at the same time put an end to the global sweatshops that our corporations have been funding:
  1. It is OK to grow, raise or manufacture your products here in America and sell them to other countries --- and the same applies to those other countries.
  2. It is OK to open retail or manufacturing branches in other countries to offset the shipping problems, as long as you hire the locals to work in those countries.
  3. It is NOT OK to put the people in your country out of work, send the growing, raising or manufacturing to another country --- and then import those products back into your country to sell.

June 15, 2011- Keep America at Work had learned why Americans are having such a hard time finding work, and especially in the engineering industry, whether it be software, hardware, aerospace, etc.

More college-educated immigrants came to the United States in the past 10 years than immigrants lacking a high school education, in part due to increased demand from U.S. employers. Half of all skilled immigrants are overqualified for their current jobs, the report finds.

The Washington Post summarized a Brookings Institute finding in a front-page report, and found that some regional employers are increasingly favoring a foreign-born workforce. Some employers say they prefer immigrants to native-born workers. When Samir Kumar needs to hire employees for his Northern Virginia-based IT business, he often looks overseas. He said, "Not only do workers from India and Ukraine have the required training, but their expectations are lower.”

And “they actually don’t demand a very high amount of salary --- their expectations are kind of grounded, and they don’t jump around so much [between companies]," said the 39-year-old Ashburn resident, an immigrant from India. "U.S.-born technology and business analysts are hard to find and hard to retain. While immigrants with the same skills and education are much easier to manage.” More here...
June 25, 2011- Keep America at Work found a reason why the middle class of America was being slowly but surely destroyed. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds had said that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy.

In a recent internal debate, he said that one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle-class didn’t really matter. His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle-class, while meanwhile, means one American drops out of the middle class, "that’s not such a bad trade".

June 11, 2012 - Keep America at Work found the best explanation as to why Americans are saying they can’t find work and why corporations are saying that they can’t find employees, and can be seen in a video posted at the Wall Street Journal called "Why Good People Can't Get Jobs" --- and in a book on sale at Amazon.

July 3, 2012 - Keep America at Work found a reason why employers in America were slowly being forced out of business in an interview with Joe Allen Jr.

"I’m an 81-year-old retired apparel manufacturer. I had five factories, and all of them were here in Texas. I was producing apparel for JC Penney, Sears, Montgomery Ward and a multitude of other independent stores, small chains.

I had a business and I built it up to $50 million a year, which was a pretty good size back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. When I started my companies, I said we were going to do everything possible to make conditions as good as possible --- and wages as good as possible. Not out of the goodness of our heart, but I believed that if we treated people right, and paid reasonable wages, and have good working conditions, that we’ll have good, productive workers.

And it worked for us. I hired the best engineering firms in the country to come in and make my plants the most modern plants in my industry -- productive and efficient. I’m out there competing with the rest of the manufacturers in this country. I probably had a thousand competitors, but we had the best, most efficient plants --- so I could be priced efficiently.

But then Walmart would squeeze you so much on prices that you couldn’t do these things and still remain in manufacturing in this country.

I was president of the Southwestern Apparel Manufacturers Association. There was a meeting sometime between 1985 and 1990. Walmart had contacted our organization and asked if they could meet with us at our beautiful Apparel Mart that we had here in Dallas, which has since been razed --- because all the independent merchants don’t exist anymore.

Two people from Walmart came down and they said they were going to be sourcing goods from overseas and that we'd have to meet those prices for consumer products --- and to get ready for it --- because they were going to be sourcing the world.

Walmart was the only company that came right out and said this. It was sort of shocking: I was selling them some merchandise at the time. On the back of their trucks it was saying “Bring it Back to America!” They had the big “Keep it in America” program going on at that time, with the big signs in their stores.

Meanwhile, when I reminded the buyer of that, she told me, “That is just for domestic consumption, we’re going to buy at the cheapest we can anywhere on earth."

I could see that if you’re going to be a "player" in the apparel industry, you’re going to have to sell Walmart --- because they were just too big a user. Their orders were like telephone numbers --- the quantity. You don’t negotiate prices with Walmart because they can just tell you what they’re going to pay and that’s it. You got to make it cheaper and cheaper than you did the year before.

People didn’t start importing from overseas because they wanted to. They did it because they had to, to survive. Those that didn’t join the club, now aren't around anymore. I could see the handwriting on the wall.

July 26, 2012 Keep America at Work found what the middle class in China really makes. A report released by Tsinghua University’s China data center suggests the average monthly pay of college students who graduated in 2011 was 2,719 yuan --- just $426 USD a month.

China Youth Daily reported that among the same group, 69 percent earned less that that, and only 3 percent made more than double that. The lowest monthly pay reported was a pittance --- 500 yuan, and the highest was only 100,000 yuan.

Meanwhile, the average salary of migrant workers has increased rapidly. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the average monthly income of migrant workers reached 2,049 yuan in 2011. Many such workers earn more than recent college graduates. Those who are highly competent can make more than 10,000 yuan a month, an amount exceeding the pay of many office workers.

July 27, 2012 - Keep America at Work learned that the media is controlled by as few as six corporations, all of which may or may not, share board members with members of the same corporations that they should be monitoring. Our news is determined by fewer and fewer people every year.

August 5, 2012 - Keep America at Work found yet another reason why the riches our corporations are chasing will never materialize.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, said “We give fiscal incentives and we want something in return --- stable employment. Tax breaks for car makers are among a host of incentives for an industry the government has unveiled as Brazil’s once-booming economy stagnated over the past year."

Of the workers at risk of losing their jobs, GM will keep 900 on the assembly line, the company said. The rest will continue receiving their salaries as they undergo training for other jobs. The decision to maintain some production on the line, was a “sacrifice by GM for the community.”

Since 2008, GM has directed its investments in new models to other factories in Brazil, citing high salaries and rigid labor agreements at the São Jose complex. The high costs, GM says, make it the least competitive plant in Brazil.

In November 2012 Keep America at Work found the best description of all of the events that led us to where we are. From the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s was the Heyday of the middle class, when the U.S. economy was driven by the dynamics of “the virtuous circle.”

Companies paid high wages and tens of millions of families had a steady income to spend, generating high consumer demand. Robust consumer demand propelled businesses to invest in new plants and technology and to hire more employees, fueling the “virtuous circle of growth” to another round of expansion and higher living standards. (Click here to read the rest, and prepare to be blown away by the level of detail)

January 31, 2013 - Keep America at Work found a good description of what is happening to those corporations that chase the Fool's Gold that China offers. A rising number of companies have found China simply to be fool’s gold. The most naïve — typically smaller companies — have seen their corporate blueprints, processes or technologies quickly stolen, and many have lost their proverbial shirts. But even large American corporations with sophisticated management structures have had their pockets picked.

Feb 2, 2013 - Keep America at Work recently learned through a video that, way back in 1988 our leaders already knew that we were headed down this path, and they were in fact,complicit.

February 4, 2013 - Keep America at Work also learned by way of Bob Hall that the government's economic reports have been altered all the way back to the Kennedy days (that we are aware of) in order to manipulate the public that is unaware that this has been happening.

Government data has been biased in politically correct directions, and has increasingly diverged from common experience and reality since the mid-1980s. Inflation and unemployment reports are understated, while employment and other economic data are overstated — deliberately.

  • During the Kennedy administration, unemployment was redefined with the concept of “discouraged workers” to reduce the unemployment rate.
  • If Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t like the way growth was reported in the GNP, he sent it back to the Commerce Department until they got it right. His administration was also responsible for the accounting gimmicks that hide most of the federal deficit.
  • Richard Nixon had a highly publicized war with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding unemployment data. Nixon wanted to report the unemployment rate as the lower of seasonally adjusted rate without disclosing this to the public. This methodology — at the time unconscionable and therefore never implemented — was later introduced as “state-of-the-art” by the Bush administration in 2004.
  • Jimmy Carter's administration was caught deliberately understating inflation.
  • Ronald Reagan's administration introduced changes to boost reported GNP/GDP on a regular basis, and heavily manipulated trade deficit data in 1987.
  • The first Bush administration launched efforts to reduce reported CPI inflation and worked an outside-the-system GDP manipulation to help with the 1992 campaign.
  • Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary Robert Reich explained, "The Clinton administration found that if the government inflated economic reporting, enough people would believe it to swing a close election. Unemployment was redefined to eliminate five million discouraged workers and lower the unemployment rate. Methodologies were changed to reduce poverty spending, reduce reported CPI inflation, and inflate reported GDP growth.
  • George W. Bush's administration expanded on the Clinton changes, particularly regarding a lower-inflation CPI, redefined GDP, and changes to seasonal adjustment. Seasonal factors typically are calculated annually, based on recent years’s patterns of activity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics however, began revising and recalculating its employment seasonal factors every month as of January 2004.
  • Under Obama, it was more of the same. Currently the jobs numbers are much worse than are reported in the media. By October of 2010 more than 15 million Americans were unemployed and the reported unemployment rate was 15.2%. More than 8 million Americans had lost their jobs from 2007 to 2010 --- and most have never found work again. Yet the unemployment rate has dropped, even though the number of jobs created over the past four years has barely kept up with the natural population growth. The government calls them "discouraged workers", and claims that they just "dropped out of the work force."

Virgil Bierschwale is not alone --- he's but one of millions of unemployed Americans who are slowly beginning to realize the truth about the future of our economy, and especially for the Baby Boomers.

But unlike those who are still gainfully employed, and are too busy working and/or raising families, they might not yet know...but eventually, they too will be witnessing the death throes of the American worker...those, who in the past, have done so much, for so long, for little.

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