Category Archives: outsourcing

Look At The Label & Remember

Next time you see “Made in Bangladesh” on your clothing, remember this picture:

bangladesh__factory_collapse_AP809812716191_1_620x350

This is the factory in Bangladesh which supposedly made clothing for Wal-mart, Dress Barn, Benetton, and others, where workers were ordered inside despite the sudden appearance of large cracks in the building, and a hundred or more died as a result:

The cracks that suddenly appeared on Tuesday afternoon in the Rana Plaza building were large enough to send workers fleeing into the street.

They made the television news that night, but the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, told reporters the sudden appearance of cracks was “nothing serious”.

He did not say that police had ordered him to shut the factory. Nor did he mention that the top four floors of the building, in Savar, north of Dhaka, were constructed illegally without permits.

I know the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof has been trying to convince us that outsourcing our manufacturing to poverty-stricken countries like Bangladesh is a good thing because jobs and blah blah. Pretty sure he’s not saying such things with anything close to a straight face any more, though. As NPR notes:

The collapse comes just five months after 112 workers were killed in a fire in another apparel factory in Bangladesh that had supplied Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

I’d like steal a phrase (and documentary title) and say this is the high cost of those low prices. But actually, it’s not even low prices anymore; Benetton ain’t cheap. I’ve seen “Made in Bangladesh” on clothes I’ve purchased at higher-end stores, too. This seems to be “the way it’s done” these days. Clothing manufacturing has been outsourced to desperately poor countries where people work in Triangle Shirt Waist Factory conditions. I certainly didn’t ask for that, and I have no control over it. Even if I don’t buy a $10 T-shirt from CostCo, my clothes are still made overseas under specious conditions. At least if they were made in the U.S. I’d have some, tiny shred of confidence that the workers weren’t abused in the process (though the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion has even put that to the test). It’s damn hard to avoid it.

I really don’t want people dying to make my stuff. I don’t get why that’s so hard for Wal-mart and Dress Barn and Macy’s and The Gap and everyone else to understand.

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Filed under corporations, globalization, outsourcing, poverty

Why Didn’t I Think Of This

Now I’ve heard everything:

A security check on a US company has reportedly revealed one of its staff was outsourcing his work to China.

The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay.

He reportedly paid just a fifth of his six-figure salary to a company based in Shenyang to do his job.

Operator Verizon says the scam came to light after the US firm asked it for an audit, suspecting a security breach.

Brilliant. Outsource yourself, beat Verizon to the punch.

The story goes on to say that the employee apparently ran his little scam with several companies, not just Verizon. So, it appears the guy was an independent contractor. You know what could have prevented this fraud? Hiring an actual employee. Ah, well. Live and learn.

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Filed under fraud, outsourcing

>The Culprits

>Via the Economic Populist blog I discovered this handy-dandy tool where you can punch in your zip code and find out exactly who is exporting jobs from your community.

It appears Nashville’s top five employment villains are AFL Dixiewire, Bridgestone Americas Tire, Cummins Business Services, Dollar General Corp., and Ford Motor Credit Corp.

So thank you very fucking much.

Today in the car I caught the last part of Ed Schultz’s interview with Virg Bernero, Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan. Bernero is a pants-on-fire economic populist if I ever heard one and I wish I could share clips of his interview with you, it was amazing. He talked about how there is an economic war going on, which you can see in all the shuttered businesses and foreclosures all across the country, and America is losing big-time because we aren’t even fighting it. Hell we don’t even talk about it. And he’s right!

My question is, is this by design? I have to wonder if so much of our crazy discourse in this country — Christine O’Donnell is a witch! Sharron Angle says Sharia law has taken hold in Texas! — isn’t designed to distract from this important discussion. And I think it’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been so threatened by attacks from the left about its support of Republican candidates because it puts the focus exactly where the corporatists don’t want it. “Please,” I can hear them all saying, “let’s talk about the crazy people some more!”

The Chamber’s tagline is “Fighting For Your Business.” Once upon a time that implied “fighting for your jobs, your communities, your country.” Those days are long gone. Today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fighting for your business’ right to ship manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China, make those workplaces that remain in the U.S. unsafe, pollute our air and water, all to benefit a few overpaid CEOs at the top of the heap.

Again: thank you very fucking much.

Pay attention, people. You’re being played.

Hungarian authorities arrested Zoltan Bakonyi for unleashing an ecological hell on the Danube. The CEOs of Massey Energy, British Petroleum and the Tennessee Valley Authority all walk free. The U.S. Chamber philosophy is: mistakes were made! Bygones!

So yes, it’s an economic war, and there are turncoats in our midst who are aiding and abetting the enemy. Strong words? Yes of course. But I don’t know how else to wake folks up.

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Filed under economy, outsourcing, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

>More Tax Breaks To Big Business

>Shocker of the week! Our corporate-friendly government is preparing to hand out $40 million in tax breaks to “downtrodden” Ford and General Motors .

Awwww. Those poor “downtrodden” auto manufacturers! They’re so oppressed! And beleaguered! Whah!

Ford and GM both have shuttered their American plants, putting Americans out of work while opening factories in Mexico to take advantage of the cheap labor of a developing country. It’s not just factories and assembly plants that have moved overseas: in 2006 GM outsourced $15 billion in IT work to India.

Remember when all of those laid-off assembly-line workers were supposed to be “retrained” to work in new, “high-tech” industries? How’s that working out for everybody?

As if that’s not a kick in the gut, these companies continued to ignore obvious market and economic trends in the U.S., producing gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs that no one wants to buy. Check out this story from April 2006 about GM’s new $650 million assembly plant in Mexico. It was supposed to be okay because it’s to build small “subcompact” cars that no U.S. customer would want:

Even with gasoline prices averaging $2.50 a gallon, there’s little demand in the United States for such subcompact cars as the Chevrolet Aveo, said Catherine Madden, a senior analyst with Global Insight.

Gas prices would have to rise to $4 a gallon and remain there for a year to spur demand for subcompacts, Madden said.

“There’s not a lot of indication that Gen Y is going to jump into the subcompact segment,” Madden said.

GM sold 68,000 Chevrolet Aveos in the United States last year. Demand is much stronger for compact and subcompacts in Mexico and South America.

Yes, that’s the brilliant thinking that has Toyota in a dead heat with GM to be the world’s top automaker. Meanwhile, Honda and Nissan had sales increases this quarter, while Ford and GM continue to tank.

Way to go, Ford and GM. And we’re supposed to bail out these clowns with $40 million in tax breaks this year? Whatever happened to the “free hand of the market”?

We’re long past the days when the old adage ”What’s good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice versa” rings true. Because these companies no longer care about what’s good for the country (if they ever did). They care only about what’s good for their bottom line, and right now that happens to be good for Mexico and India–not so good for America.

When will we stop rewarding these corporate giants whose business policies do not benefit American workers?

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Filed under corporations, Ford, General Motors, outsourcing, taxes