finishingcom

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This is one of a series. We welcome news or editorial content from our readers, and will revise this page each afternoon that we receive input.


Oct. 16, 2003

by Anonymous from Tennessee

I've become increasingly annoyed at the number of technical questions from people in other countries. They even extend to the point of asking how to set up shops, how to start processes, etc.

While I am not an isolationist nor do I object to people in other countries asking for help, it does occur to me that we are actually contributing to our own demise. These guys obviously don't have the experience of hard knocks that we have experienced, they are trying to gain knowledge for no cost and with no research. I realize that most of us give answers like "hire a consultant, read some technical literature," etc., but I would like to challenge those in other countries to look elsewhere for free advice that could potentially cost Americans jobs.

Any thoughts on this? --name omitted at writer's request

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reply by Ted Mooney, finishing.com

Benjamin Franklin promises us that "No nation was ever ruined by trade" -- but I'm beginning to doubt even him.

Loss of jobs & industry is an emergency. High-tech manufacturing jobs are moving to China at an accelerating pace, service jobs are going rapidly to India. The money a metal finisher spends on supplies today ends up in Germany, England or France because our suppliers sold out. I see no American forklifts in finishing shops. Intel & Boeing are moving to China. Finishing.com is not enabling this, your government and the Fortune 500 is. I'm from families of entrepreneurs as far back as I can trace, but I'm steering my sons into public service careers so they'll be the last to suffer if things continue to deteriorate.

Metal finishing books and journals are available to foreign readers, and many of the best answers to finishing questions posed by Americans come from India (Khozema Vahanwala), Mexico (Guillermo Maruffo), Croatia (Goran Budija), Korea (Se Do Jang), England (Trevor Crichton), Sweden (Anders Sundman), Israel (Sara Michaeli), South Africa (Trudy Kastner), Turkey (Timur Ulucak), Australia (Bill Reynolds), U.A.E.(Qutubuddin), Egypt (Raafat Albendary) -- and the list goes on and on.

We can't stop foreign readers from reading the answers, but we do limit the general technology questions posted; we print only the better half of incoming questions, and reject a dozen "general" questions a day from the third world. We color-code questions from outside of North America so that non-international businesses can avoid the distraction of them if they prefer.

Part of the reason finishing.com hasn't lost the website war to sites in foreign countries -- where, as everyone knows, they could operate at much lower cost -- is that influential foreign readers discouraged the startup of competing services in their own countries, suggesting that all of the world's questions be posted here instead. We currently have 5 supporting advertisers from India alone. Although finishing.com is a very small-potatoes operation, America is better served when the jobs flow this direction, with metal finishers from around the world posting their questions and their advertising dollars to America. --Ted Mooney

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Different countries = different regulations!
Freeman Newton, White Rock, B.C. Canada

Ah,

I read the comments above and somewhat agree ... but the finishing.com site gives quicker answers than most books!

Regarding loss of jobs due to other countries getting involved, ah, in many cases blame your own Companies who, to be more 'productive' acquire foreign Companies or just relocate in a different country such as Weiser Lock did and moved their plating plant from B.C. to Mexico.

Back in the 70's, I heard a Pakistani minister say on the radio, "we don't care about pollution, we just want jobs"

Then a friend who operated a major chrome plating plant in St. Catherines Ontario said to me in the mid 80's that Taiwan (I think it was) doesn't bother with chromic discharges but has a Poly line sticking out into the sea to discharge plating wastes. Dick was the Manager and that Company that used to sell complete plating plants abroad.

So what to do when foreign Companies, who import into the USA and elsewhere, don't bother with complying with any local discharge waste laws, IF THEY EVEN HAVE ANY, and yet export? My answer is to say, ah, please continue to export but PROVE TO US positively that you are meeting waste and discharge standards comparable to our own or to advanced European countries OR ELSE WE WILL HIT YOU WITH A SURCHARGE (Which should make Taiwan car mfgs shudder!).

However (and I'm biased) I do think that the EPA Specs are far too onerous. Heck, in the early 80's in B.C., the allowable limit for hard chrome emissions was the equivalent of around 24 mg/M3 ... actually it was 11 grains of chrome sulphuric per l,000 cfm. My gut standard l2 micron mist eliminators (which I called Chromic Dry Scrubbers) were tested at around 0.34 grains, ie. 30 times LOWER than the allowable standards but that's only equivalent to O.8 mg/M3. So you have all these biased environmentalists claiming that emission standards are far too lenient ... but they don't care about jobs, do they? They don't even think! ... and the EPA follows the wagging of the tail. --Freeman Newton

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reply by Ted Mooney, finishing.com

Freeman, for years we've endured a social environment where the public and many public employees have taken glee from harassing manufacturers, and where many teachers and media figures have programmed the impressionable toward chemical paranoia and a suspicion of business. So I certainly can't fault a little bitterness in return.

But I believe environmental standards are far tougher in much more of the world than Americans concede; so I disagree that if they were loosened here or tightened elsewhere, or environmental surcharges applied, that the loss-of-jobs problem would be reduced significantly. I'm not opposed to it, but I believe that if America doesn't take far more radical actions than that to preserve jobs and our manufacturing base, it's over. -- Ted Mooney

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reply by Freeman Newton, White Rock, B.C. Canada

Ted, I said that Taiwan (I think it was) was discharging their chrome wastes to sea ... apparently in a mile long Polyethylene pipe ... in other words they could not (or did not then) care less about any chromic AND OTHER wastes ... which is probably why their fishermen go elsewhere to fish!

This is a helluva statement. I could hardly believe Dick B. when he said that to me. People should be horrified about this, IF IT IS STILL TRUE. I take everything someone says with a proverbial pinch of salt especially if they are an Engineer or a Chemist but I fully trusted Dick's words.

So what can YOU do? With your contacts can't you verify this? Countries should not be SERIOUSLY damaging the environment... and that includes the sea! -- Freeman Newton

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reply by Frank Zemo, Polaris Plating Inc., Paterson, NJ

At no small expense and great effort our company achieved ISO14001 certification. The auditor from England was extremely impressed at our programs and commented that the perception of the European community was that Americans have very little regard for the environment at all so he was pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise. Furthermore he was shocked to find out how stringent and numerous the amount of laws and regulations actually were compared to other countries.

Perhaps we all suffer from a bit of xenophobia.

Nonetheless I am beginning to be of the mind that sharing information with other platers regardless of their location is detrimental to my business and should only be done selectively as part of a strategic alliance. There are too many companies here and abroad who never pick up the tab for services and want as much information as they can get without spending a dime on research or consulting fees. And although my ego still wishes to be recognized for my industry wide efforts my sense of due diligence towards my company and employees is over riding those personal thoughts.

So, whether the request for free information comes from India, Germany or Cleveland the symptom and motivation remain the same. And I must become more of an "isolationist" I feel.

Those of us who have fought and paid for our businesses every step of the way and volunteered to serve on endless committees for the benefit of "the Industry" have grown cynical over the years as we've also watched our bottom lines decrease because our competitors, while thanking us for our service, were also out in the marketplace eating our lunch.

I can't quote Ben Franklin but I remember something Tip O'Neil once said: All politics is local. My greatest competition could be my friendly competitor, seated right across the table from me.

The guy who had to leave before the check came. -- Frank Zemo

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Losing jobs to other countries, are we?
Mandar Sunthankar, ionEdge Corporation, Ft. Collins, CO

I read all the comments above and would like to respond knowing the other side a little bit as a "formerly" foreigner (or immigrant) from India. After growing up and getting most formal education in India, I have lived in the U.S. for over three decades, and in the mean time became an American.

As for the job losses, I was listening to an expert's commentary the other day on NPR radio station, and was surprised (and shocked) to hear that all countries are losing jobs, including China, for example. This is an international phenomenon, and is the result of increasing productivity all over the world ! If I recall correctly, he said, China has a net job loss of five million or so over the last decade. In essence, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by making it better. The commentator wondered how are we going to do to keep ourselves busy in a few decades from now !

At the same time, I wonder if there was any decade in the last 50 years or so that America has not lost jobs to some country in the world. It is just the name that changes. First, it was Western Europe, then came Japan, Korea, Mexico, China, and now India. The other regions waiting in the wing are Eastern Europe and Africa. Guess who is losing jobs to China these days, it is Japan ! And I am sure, in a few years, China will start losing jobs to India, and as the economies of these developing countries improve, the story will go on. The moral is, if you want the best economy in the world, and want to pay yourself the highest salary possible, expect to lose your job to someone who is willing to make less, an if he is going hungry, work harder and longer. That is capitalism, free market economy or whatever you want to call it. It really has nothing to do with any country or region.

As for the other issues of pollution, standard of life, etc., these have no significance to poor people. Hundred of millions can't even read and have never heard of something's called over-population, endangered species, deforestation, pollution, etc. Have you looked at the photos or read stories about the living conditions in late 19th century or early 20th century USA ? Pollution in Pittsburgh in 1930s looked just like that in New Delhi or some other Asian city today. When over 50% of the population is unemployed, and it is hard to feed yourself, and there is no money in the economy or government treasury to implement programs, politically it only make sense to create a job for an unemployed first than worry about pollution. Right now the priorities in the developing negations are to produce more grains, create jobs, develop infrastructure, generate electricity, build roads, supply water (not necessarily clean, and definitely not for lawns), and the list is never ending! before clean air and water become concerns. That is where the revenues are spent. Regulations have no meaning unless these can be implemented using costly means. Believe me, all countries have some regulations or the other to prevent pollution, these are not just implemented, and many times subverted by paying bribes. In spite of all these conditions, most governments at least openly sponsor and morally support any movement, local or international, toward pollution reduction.

Does this solve our problems here, NO ! It is going to continue for another century or so. And the history tells us that USA has always done better in creating jobs than any other nation. It is only during the economic downturns that we notice it and get anxious about it. So it is time we generate a new machine or technology to create new jobs, and then we are going to shoot ourselves in the foot again, right ? You bet ! -- Mandar Sunthankar

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reply by Frank Zemo, Polaris Plating Inc., Paterson, NJ

I appreciate Mandar's summation of the present economic climate. But I think the new ingredient and most troubling is that our Government has actually accelerated the movement off shore with bad policies and hostile attitudes towards anything with Inc. , Co. or Mfg. after the name. It is a revolution and not an evolution and our country can't adapt fast enough in these lightning fast technologically juiced up days.

Foreign competition has been around a long time. I can compete with anyone. But it's hard to compete with foreign companies while simultaneously defending yourself against your own government who has you squarely in its crosshairs and is blasting away. If it can be moved and done off shore without regulations and swept under a rug then it has been, is and will be from now on faster than you can click a mouse button.

And although we may be creating jobs in their wake they are not high paying jobs and won't pay for a government that is getting larger and more powerful by the minute.

Too much damage has been done. No, I'm afraid the Emperor has no clothes.

By the way: I only eat farm raised fresh water fish lately.

Welcome to Camelot. -- Frank Zemo

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reply by Ted Mooney, finishing.com, Brick, NJ

The world always has both doomsayers and Pollyannas. The former feel that like the Pharaohs, Athens, Rome, The Aztecs, and the Spanish Empire, our time will run out, probably before next week. Others feel when things drop another notch we're just closer to the bottom of a beautiful cycle, and that much closer to the rebound.

Me, I see everywhere the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics--that it's a hundred times harder to reverse a slide than to start it, that stable wealthy economies are trap-door functions which crash in a day but take decades of suffering (which the entitlement generation can't imagine) to fix if we get lucky. By the time the majority realizes that it was a problem to decimate our manufacturing base it will be too late to fix it. It's now or never, but I think I'll bet on never :-) -- Ted Mooney

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reply by Todd Osmolski, Charlotte Plating, Inc., Charlotte, NC

With our technology, increased productivity, and millions of willing foreign laborers we will have a lot more time on our hands.How will we use this time? Will we push the boundaries of space, deep sea, medicine, physics, energy, agriculture, etc. etc. Or will we complain, point fingers and turn into the French? This is the payoff of the industrial revolution and Cold War technology. --Todd Osmolski

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reply by Frank Zemo, Polaris Plating Inc., Paterson, NJ

It is difficult in a short note to summarize a 25 year overview of the variety of changes I have seen in the business climate but I am here to say that I have NEVER experienced as rapid an onset of an ice age as what I've seen over the past 4 or 5 years and nothing in my experience or idealistic mind can figure out how we reverse these unusual forces and get back on an upward and outward trajectory to warm things back up. I really don't know. I think it will be up to the next generation to figure it out. I hope they are patient.

I grew up during the race to the moon and watching Jacques Cousteau and saw those opportunities squandered as well but I just don't think the answer is in outer space or at the bottom of the ocean because you can't push many boundaries these days when there are so many powerful forces pushing back against you. Too risky. Too expensive. Too late. Too bad for the average guy.

And, a soldier who has fought bravely and radios back that he is now out of ammo,taking friendly and enemy fire and finds himself cut off from any hope of re-enforcements is not a complainer or finger pointer and most definitely NOT French: just realistic.

I really really want to see how we get out of this one.

Meantime, we're going to have PLENTY of time on our hands for awhile I'm afraid. --Frank Zemo

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reply by Ted Mooney, finishing.com, Brick, NJ

Todd, if we don't like the direction something is going, we don't behead our representatives anymore or boil the populace of an adjoining town in oil, we work to motivate public opinion towards change for the better. It is not possible to do so with no one perceiving it as "complaining". -- Ted Mooney

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No Return of the King
by Frank Zemo, Polaris Plating Inc., Paterson, NJ

The other day I ,and 5 or 6 other cars, waited at the drive up window of my bank for 25 minutes behind a woman who casually conducted her business, checked her make-up and sipped her bottled water.

When it was my turn I pulled up to the window, put my EXPRESS deposit in the tube, sent it on its way and pulled out figuring I would be the hero of the people behind me.

The next time I went to the bank I was chastised by the teller who said I must WAIT for my receipt even though I was using an "express" deposit envelope.

It was bank "policy".

The NEXT time I went I was chastised yet again for hand writing my checking account number instead of using a printed one from the bank. (I had run out.)

This was "policy" also.

I could change banks but I think the next bank will have policies of their own and I'll just be new fodder for their policy canons.

When I was younger I had a picture of Don Quixote on my office wall and knew I could actually tilt a windmill or two if I made a passionate and persuasive enough argument. As time went by and no windmills fell but more freedoms disappeared I felt that one day soon I would be among the band of common men who, having also been oppressed and frustrated would rise up and en-masse storm the bastille of society and straighten things out after all.

But now, these days, I just want to get through on 1 day without somebody exercising their policy upon me or without standing in the crosshairs of 25 years of political correctness and social engineering.

Treebeard lamented: Nobody cares for the woods anymore.

Nobody cares for us anymore. -- Frank R. Zemo

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reply by Tom Pullizzi, Levittown, PA

As a teacher in charter school in downtown Trenton, NJ, I live, for eight hours a day, in a place where jobs are much more important than pollution. 90% of the population lives below the poverty level (by U.S. standards, of course).

Where going to the moon and Mars mean nothing. Immediate gratification with fast food, drugs, a new sports jersey or sneakers, or cell phone, or minutes for that phone, or finger nail paint, or a new braid, or a CD player, is the only thing to which one may aspire. I wish I knew the answer, but Mandar's words ring the truest to me, in a way that I would never have believed when I was living 24/7 in the middle class in America.

As to an answer, I see from being involved with grant funding for the school, that hundreds of billions of dollars/year (perhaps trillions?) are still being wasted in entitlements. Some money will always go to a good cause, but so very much of it goes to the best grant writers, who are usually the ones who have the most money anyhow, or they would not have the resources to have people sit around and write grants. My school has 255 students, getting internet access through 2 AOL accounts. I go to meetings about getting grant money for technology, and sit next to people who work for schools that have 10 computers in a classroom for 25 students, fully networked with a server and the internet. So there is a gulf between the haves and have nots, which is only getting wider.

The E-rate fund, which is money for schools for phones and internet, was originally a government agency that was formed to get telephones to farms in rural areas. So government agencies never close when their work is done, they just morph into something else, and the spending goes on and on. I am more and more inclined to vote for the person who wants to reduce the size of government. If this were possible, then more money could be available for technological innovation, which is the engine which drives productivity, a high standard of living, and job creation. Hoping that the government will be able to solve the problem just doesn't do it for me anymore. -- Tom Pullizzi

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Where are we going and why does this basket have handles?
by
Tino Volpe, Wrentham, Ma.

I've been reading all the responses and have to say this is a most thought provoking discussion. My own personal feeling is that the world is going through a drastic reorganization such as never before seen due to the explosion of technology with communications such as the internet leading the way. The global marketplace is the future and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it except prepare for it. It will be a different world order in the next 25 years but what that order will be is hard to predict right now since no one knows where this technology race is headed. I'm 44 years old and when I entered college in 1977 PC's weren't even heard of. I entered college with a slide rule for gods sake. I laugh to think what has changed in those years and sometimes fear what lays ahead for my kids. There are moments when I miss the days when all we had to chose from was 13 channels on the TV and what you watched was driven solely by your reception quality. We will all survive (hopefully) and probably all be working too, but maybe in ways we can't imagine right now.

As for the original discussion that started all this, all I can say is put yourself in the other guy's seat. If when you were starting out, green and ignorant, someone magically handed you a tool that could seek out and capture information for you to get you on your feet and give you an advantage, would you use it to its fullest advantage. Complaining about our problems is the easy part. Doing something about it is the hardest part. After 20 years in the work force in this country what I see is that the majority of workers here, be they immigrants or Americans (although Americans make up the majority) come to work not to work but just to collect a paycheck. That is part of the problem. We have somehow lost our hunger to achieve, to strive, to do better, to be innovative. Maybe its because life has become too complicated to concentrate on anything anymore. Maybe we're too lazy from eating too much fast food and sugar. Where the hell are we going as a society. I don't know but I know what I see on a day to day basis. If you don't believe me, how was your last experience going shopping at some big chain store staffed by disinterested, tattooed, body pierced teenagers whose last item on their priority list is serving you, the customer. -- Tino Volpe

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Knowledge flow from US, Outsourcing and Job losses

by Prabhu Ram - India

Dear All

I was so impressed the way Mr. Ted answered the previous questions regarding job losses in US.

His thinking was global and means to say that THE GREATEST OF KINDNESS IS NOT STRAINED AND IT BLESSES HIM THAT GIVES AND HIM THAT TAKES. (A quote from a poem).

Like this, our knowledge has to be shared for the betterment of all. The so called Third World countries are actually hard working and they have contributed immensely to the growth of US and such countries.

The Cradle of civilisation was Asia and whatever culture or the civilisation the world now has owes to them. At that time nobody in Asia thought in this aspect.

The US and other European countries grew because of the hard work of slaves. Lot of Evergreen forests were destroyed for Coffee cultivation, timber, rubber in these countries.

Due to rapid industrialisation,the eco system has suffered a jolt and now only we have come to terms with reality.These things were well known by these Asians long before.

You know what the British has done to India

You know what calculations,the US has made in conquering Iraq-Only Oil.

So nobody in the US need to worry about knowledge flow to other countries who are themselves knowledgeable.

Once again many thanks for the services of finishing.com and other globally thinking Americans.

Regards
Prabhu ram

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Thanks, Mr. Ram. I and others might challenge your views on civilization & colonization, and British & American occupations, but there are so many other forums for geopolitical discussion that I'd prefer to not spend this column space on it. As for sharing information, in our imperfect world none of us can afford to share everything we know, but all of us can afford to share something. -- Ted Mooney

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What goes round comes home
by
Asif Nurie - India

There are a number of US owned and Chinese run Automatic Plating machines plating Zinc or Nickel in China for US Corporations who are glad their bottomlines are directly benefiting from the productivity , and are overjoyed there is no US EPA compliance matter to nag the company.

Capitalism has always relied on getting a little more for a little less.

Capitalism also has relied on educating the less priveleged for long term benefits, and so on.

Education means working hard to stay ahead, maintaining the lead.

This issue is with jobs drifting overseas and with technology going abroad.

This Sir is the way of the world.

Every improvement is shared eventually, no matter how well it is protected.

So if jobs go abroad and technology goes world wide, it benefits growth abroad and the dollar comes home in the form of exports the technology generated.

Every call center employee aspires to buy a pair of Ray Bans. That is a job he gets from a US corporation offloading work, and this puts money in the hands of a young aspirant.

It is well proven and economists accept that world trade can only grow when things are more open. So let the open mindedness continue for all round good. --Asif Nurie

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Our own fault
by
Scott Williams, St. Charles, VA

All you folks may want to stop and remember, unless you are a full blooded indian, your ancestors are from another country. As for jobs going overseas, I tried to buy some welding rod from an american company they would not sell a small amount. They would only sell large volumes. An overseas company sold the same type rod in the quantity I wanted at 1/2 the price.So if you want to keep it here then you have to compete not fuss. And I mean the huge, large, medium,and small companies have to work together. There is a very small population where I live and work. I do what I do because I enjoy it, so I need 1 rod sell me 1, if I need a million sell me a million. If I need help help me, if you need help I will help you, etc, etc. That is the only way to keep things moving in the right direction. And for the record I was born here in the U.S. and am part indian. So I am an American both ways. All the stuff above is interesting, but it is our own fault for being greedy. -- Scott Williams

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Reply by Ted Mooney

Even if you are a full blooded indian, your ancestors are from another country, Scott; and the tribes which were standing on the land when the Europeans arrived conquered and killed other tribes to get there. One reason that very small bands of conquistadors were able to succeed in colonizing was that the natives enthusiastically helped them because it was their path of escape from the endless cannibal raids of the Caribs and the oppression and bloodlust of the Aztecs -- all of which has nothing to do with the issue though.

Your point about small volume orders is well taken.

Several people here are talking about the destructive harassment of domestic manufacturers by government regulators. Although greedy is a subjective term, what did you do that was greedy and made this harassment your fault? I don't think I did anything greedy that made it mine. -- Ted Mooney

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Outsourcing, at least my fridge was cheap!
by
Richard Guise, UK

The following link is an interesting article on the outsourcing debate from a USA perspective (I don't know whether it is broadly similar to the situation here in the UK but it certainly feels like it is); www.freetrade.org/pubs/briefs/tbp-019.pdf.

Though speaking from experience (losing work to offshore manufacturing) looking from national perspectives doesn't help us guys in the trenches who are experiencing losses because of global outsourcing strategies. As we all now work in "sunset industries", the cynic in me looks forward to the day when welfare will support me and my workforce from the taxes generated by all the new jobs created in the "sunrise" industries, and I can live a life of leisure.

I guess its an ugly truism that a lot of the basic metal finishing on high volume regularly scheduled parts has become a commodity item, if it already wasn't, it may be that historically our competitors for those thousands of zinc plated pressings were within a 50 mile radius, now there is almost no limit to the distance corporations will travel to source goods.

On balance this may be good for the economies of both countries involved in the transaction, I don't know, it's no wonder economics has been called "the dismal science", all that I can comprehend is the effect these things are having on my own local working environment.

An interesting statistic I read recently, the available unemployed labour pool in the rural chinese population is larger than the total available labour force in the USA.

I used to say to my customers when they compared prices with competing prices that you get what you pay for, till a particularly sharp one told me no, you pay for what you get. -- Richard Guise

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by Asif Nurie, New Delhi, India

Gentlemen

I just read a news article that outsourcing 120000 US jobs enabled US companies save and create 90000 highly qualified openings in the US out of the saving generated from outsourcing.

So this just goes to show there is no end to innovations that work.

Outsourcing is certainly an innovation that pays, eventually in the long run.Pays twice over in fact.-- Asif Nurie

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yet again by Ted Mooney

My best wishes to the call center workers, Mr. Nurie; I honestly hope they get their Ray Bans. I don't want protectionism.

But like Mr. Zemo, I do want U.S. politicians to stop harassing American manufacturers; and to stop destroying American manufacturing to the favor of foreign manufacturers, through their continuing effort to subsidize their Fortune 500 buddies.

Item: I ordered a battery & power supply from Apple. The shipments came direct to me from warehouses in India. So my packages, and millions like them, now have to be individually inspected by American customs. Further, our post offices are spending unimaginable fortunes for botulism detectors. Are India and Apple paying for this? Of course not. Instead this brand new class of costs imposed by shipping direct from India to millions of individual American households is passed on to the taxpayers including the American small manufacturers.

Item: As we continue to spend billions of dollars implementing new anti-terrorism methods to deal with container ships laden with foreign manufactured goods, April 15th came. And yet again less than half of the Fortune 500--the principal beneficiaries of a global economy--paid even one single dollar in taxes. Who then will bear the cost of the improvements? Again, American taxpayers including our small manufacturers, forced again to subsidize both their foreign competition and the Freeload 500.

Item: Our government spends tax money on "dumping" claims against foreign countries and companies, and we levy fines. Much of the collected fine money goes to the "damaged party". How much of it do you think eludes the coffers of the non-tax-paying Freeload 500 and trickles down to the actual damaged parties in tax-paying plating shops? I don't think one single dollar has ever successfully run that gantlet.

Item: Sneaker manufacturers move from one third world country to the next whenever wages break the 40 cent mark, leaving behind workers with no jobs and no skills but sneaker making. So counterfeits inevitably start springing up from the countries they abandoned, and then they demand that the U.S. government stamp out the counterfeits. Who pays for these countless U.S. agents to be deployed both abroad and to tiny flea markets across America? Certainly not the Freeload 500 manufacturer who profits from causing the problem again and again and again, but U.S. taxpayers including our small manufacturers.

Rarely has the image of being forced to dig your own grave been more poignant than it is to small American manufacturers today. But not to worry, they're probably digging enough for all of us :-) -- Ted Mooney

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Cynical
by Matthew Jones, Creston Iowa

I completely agree with Ted and his above statement. But my question is how do we gain access towards putting the burden of taxes to where it should be? Being that large corporations have the money to pay off politicians and small businesses barely have enough to run their own business, I have to wonder.

As far as EPA regulations go, I believe they are a good thing (a pain in the rear sometimes but good). By good I mean environmentally but I wish there was a way to get every country on the same playing field as far as regulations go. The thing is corruption in politics will always be an issue, that and countries that would possibly be implementing these new regulations may have the feeling of jobs being lost, which would most likely be the issue (giving them few reasons to implement these regulations).

It's after thinking about issues like these that makes me cynical towards the future not only for America but Earth in general. -- Matthew Jones

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Chinese Currency Manipulation Equals Lost American Jobs
James Totter, CEF <jimtotter@yahoo.com> Tallahassee, FL

One reason jobs have migrated to China is the fact that the Chinese yuan (currency) has been pegged to the dollar at the same rate since 1994. This has resulted in very cheap imports from China, and very expensive exports into China. This artificial currency manipulation is a violation of treaties that China is a signatory to, yet nothing is being done about it.

Qne bill introduced during the 108th Congress, S. 1586, which would have imposed a 27.5% tariff on Chinese goods imported directly or indirectly into the United States. This bill apparently died in the Senate Committee on Finance. There was also a similar bill introduced in the House, H.R. 3058; both bills died in committee. If you're interested, this sort of thing can be researched at thomas.loc.gov.

I urge you to write to your Congressional representation to see that these bills are reintroduced in the 109th Congress. It has become apparent to me that the Peoples Republic of China will not address this issue in a meaningful way without sanctions, and their lack of action has cost the country over 2 million manufacturing jobs along with a serious decline of the United State's ability to produce strategic materials at need. -- James Totter

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RE: Chinese currency manipulations
Todd Osmolski <charplat@conninc.com>, Charlotte, North Carolina

People in China were rounded up this month (Jan. 05) and beaten for mourning the death of the Chinese Democracy movement leader Zhao who has been under house arrest for the past 20 years or so. In the USA our Democracy movement and media had bigger fish to fry and Chinese goods to buy. The currency manipulation and our blind eye towards China will not end anytime soon. -- Todd Osmolski

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China reaping same benefits Japan did in 1980's
Jim Treglio <jtreglio@molecularmetallurgy.com>, El Cajon, CA

This is a very similar situation that we faced in the 1980's with respect to Japan. In 1987, when I first went to Japan, the dollar was worth about 240 yen. Reagan did nothing to force the Japanese to properly value the yen, so we had this huge trade imbalance, and the Japanese bought up most of Hawaii. There was some movement under Bush I, but the real turn came during the Clinton administration. Clinton forced the Japanese to properly value their currency, and the yen rose to under 100 per dollar. He also opened up the Japanese market to U.S. goods, and stopped them from dumping by putting a tariff on luxury cars from Japan until they stopped -- which they did. It should be added that most of the U.S. trade representatives under Reagan wound up working for Japanese companies.

The Chinese seem to have influence in the current administration similar to what the Japanese had in the Reagan administration, otherwise the two bills would not have been killed in committee. -- Jim Treglio

Shannon P. Kelty
Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

Although there have been many very good points made, in discussing this topic, Mandar's words ring the truest to me. Often, as Americans we need to remember to listen to unbiased sources of informations. Ethnocentrism is a very strong force for Americans. Although very much an American now, Mandar reminds us of our own history. We seem to forget our own actions during America's industrial revolution, relating to pollution and working conditions. Many Americans and American politicians want to spread "democracy" around the world. Along with democratic-styled societies, comes free trade and the concept of capitalism and COMPETITION. We cannot stop this even if we wanted to. With the speed of travel and exchange of information, we will be far better off learning how to utilize an increasingly modern world, than to complain about it. Additionally, Americans often have a tremendous "entitlement" attitude, from a single worker, up to an American based company. I have direct experience with American-born workers who have limited knowledge or experience of the world outside of our borders AND citizens who immigrated, risking life and limb to have a chance at a better life. We still have expectations of ever increasing wages in an increasingly difficult market. In many cases, the same American born worker will complain about our government allowing jobs to move overseas and will also demand wages higher than a market will sustain. Demands are often made, right up to the point that a plant is closed down, because it just can't compete.

Ted Mooney
finishing.com, Brick, NJ

Shannon, will you admit that millions of Chinese workers live in slavery, confined incomunicado in barracks, working for rice? The revelations from the Apple iPod factory of a few months ago and similar cases are a human rights scandal.

Your argument would seem to demand that American workers "compete" by also being reduced to slavery and rice. But do logic and realism actually so dictate? No!

Why is the market "increasingly difficult"?! What exactly does that mean in an age where so much hard work has gone towards automation, efficiency, productivity improvements, and instant communication? Are we so bamboozled by our politicians that we now expect advances in science to lower the standard of living rather than raise it?

To whatever extent that our miracles of progress have been perverted towards reducing the standard of living, it is inescapably due to deficiencies in politics, not science. Much of it is as simple as saying, no, we will not import the fruits of slave labor into this country for the aggrandisement of the CEOs and upper management of the Fortune 500, and so that they and government employees can get their sating of toys at well under realistic prices while the middle class tanks and our nation's basic ability to clothe and defend itself is squandered for a night on the town.

The principal problem is not competition, it's the age-old problem: if you turn your back, the government grabs all the money and benefits for themselves and their rich friends while pointing their finger at someone else. Our backs are turned and we've been conditioned into accepting that poverty will be coming and we should blame it on the Chinese. We no longer even imagine making the choice of benefitting from our new science :-)


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