Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Why Outsourcing of Jobs Is Really Good For Us
According to this article , we've all been worrying way too much about American jobs being shipped overseas. Even InstaPundit has concerns about this issue.

It seems that there is particularly good news for American workers. Freed from the drudgery of routine tasks, they could then step on up to higher-level jobs that better utilize their skills and open up new opportunities. You know--like the former 25-year lathe operator who now sits hunched over a computer at the local career center learning to be a word processor.

According to the author, if we can get more foreign professionals back to the United States, they will spend more money at American business places, which will further boost the economy, thus benefiting displaced American workers.

Will there be fries with that?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
" First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, December 25, 2003
At Christmas
On this beautiful Christmas day, let us all nurture hope for the safety of our sons and daughters as they serve their country.

Let us also hope that our leaders will selflessly guide them with honor, integrity, and compassion. For their dedication and sacrifice, our soldiers deserve no less.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Will the Real State-Run Media Please Step Forward?
Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News program this evening alluded once again to the idea that National Public Radio and Public Television are state-run.

We must ask ourselves, however, that if they are influenced by our current government, wouldn't their messages be different?

There is little question about whose side Fox is on. In addition, I have never known of Rupert Murdoch resorting to a telethon or bake sale to stay in business.

You decide.

Friday, December 19, 2003
Huffy Pedals It’s Way to the Global Marketplace
Most of us would probably not consider $11 an hour to be an excessively high wage for factory workers who assemble bicycles. In fact, for most jobs in America that involve skill and dexterity, an ability to work for long periods of time at repetitive tasks, and an alertness to problems in processes and material quality, we would not consider that amount to be an unreasonably high wage.

That is what Senator Byron Dorgan says was the average hourly wage for factory workers who assembled Huffy bicycles at a plant in Ohio. According to him, they are now assembled overseas at a labor cost of between 25 and 41 cents per hour. I agree with the Senator that those jobs are probably gone for good.

If American workers were willing to accept low enough wages to compete with such overseas labor rates, they probably could earn somewhat more than the foreign rates, since manufacturers would save on the costs of shipping the bicycles to the United States (of course,for those that are sold here). Such a rate would still probably end up well below current minimum wage.

The next time you go shopping for a new Huffy bicycle, take note of the fact that they are as expensive as they were before, and perhaps more. There is no real break for the consumer, either, from the savings enabled by rock-bottom wages. We might conclude that all of that extra profit is a welcome sight for Huffy officials and stockholders, although they insist that they are struggling to survive financially.

Oh yes—don’t bother looking for the familiar United States flag decal that always adorned the front of the Huffy bike frame. It is now a stylized globe.

Read Senator Dorgan’s speech on the Senate floor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
A Letter to the Editor
While reading the comments to a post by South Knox Bubba, I came across a reference to a letter to the editor in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

I haven't decided yet who I think is most worthy of the Democratic nomination, so this is not my endorsement of Howard Dean. However, I do think that in her letter the writer nails the issue with elegant simplicity. Here is the text:

Lots of benefits to Dean presidency
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) may be correct when he states that if Howard Dean were president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

However, he fails to mention some other important probabilities: If Dean were president, hundreds of brave U.S. troops would still be alive and thousands would still be healthy; Saddam would not be developing weapons of mass destruction because U.N. inspectors would be monitoring him; America would be billions of dollars wealthier, and our country would not be approaching a $1 trillion deficit; we would have maintained our moral authority and prestige in the world; tax cuts would have been targeted toward people who really need them; millions of Americans would still be working and their overtime pay would not be in jeopardy; since all our resources would have been targeted toward capturing Osama bin Laden, we would most likely have him in custody by now.

I don't know about everyone else, but I for one would give up Saddam for all of that.


Monday, December 15, 2003
Arabs Decry Saddam's Immigration Policy
I came across this article today in Al Hayat. The writer sheds some light on how Saddam's capture is viewed by many in the Arab world. It is interesting to note that, in their view, his greatest transgression has been that of opening the door to Western interference in their social and political affairs.

Whether or not I agree with opinions I read in the foreign press, I make an effort to understand how they see things. I encourage others to do so as well.

By way of contrast, I recently saw a promo for Fox News which advised the viewer to (1)pick up the TV remote, (2)tune the TV to Fox News, (3)turn the remote over and remove the batteries, and (4)step away from the remote.

It's cute and harmless to any broadly thinking person. The advice would be just as poor if it were any other network.

Friday, December 12, 2003
The Era of the $10,000 a Year Executive?
If the Bush administration has its way, many skilled American workers will discover that they are “professionals” for the first time in their careers. The effort to modify overtime law, spearheaded by Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, is the most ambitious plan yet to squeeze more out of American workers. I suppose you could technically call it a tax cut if you earn less money to pay taxes on.

They say that their intent is to provide more clarification about who should or should not be designated as a professional or management employee and, therefore, exempt from overtime pay. Under the proposed rules, a worker would only have to satisfy very minimal requirements to be classified as professional or managerial. I can see it now—John Doe, Vice-President of Grocery Bagging.

Clarification? From an administration that seems able to understand far more complex concepts such as pre-emptive war and nation-building—not to mention really abstract stuff like a jobless economic recovery?

Hearings were held this week in Washington by the Democratic Policy Committee, headed by Senator Byron Dorgan, on the proposed changes to the Federal Rules for Overtime Pay. Among those testifying were a nurse and a police officer who routinely work long hours of overtime, and would, under the new rules, earn only straight-time wages for their extra work. This would affect many firefighters, too. Could our respect for these groups be back to where it was on September 10, 2001?

Also, a civilian technician who testified works for the Navy testing equipment aboard ships during sea trials. He would also be denied overtime, even though he is required to work long hours each day, away from home for days or weeks at a time. He also works part-time for Home Depot, whose policy, he says, strictly limits overtime—they use part-time help to deal with that issue. Under the new rules, in his opinion, the company would dismiss many part-time workers and schedule its full-time workers for longer hours at straight-time pay.

Granted that these witnesses were well-chosen, but it is hard for me to believe that the opposing side could find witnesses who would testify in favor of longer hours for themselves at straight-time pay.

It seems that the proposal, although, previously voted down by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, has been resuscitated and slipped back into the Omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government in business. Apparently the hope was that no one would read the fine print. This bill could pay off big-time for business owners and could help to accelerate the race to the bottom for cheap labor. Eventually, they might even be able to bring the jobs back from overseas.

No one should be surprised that Ms. Chao is pushing for the changes. She is the consummate good soldier for the administration, along with her husband, Senator Mitch McConnel (R-KY). Both of them have ties to China that are long-standing and solid. Take a look at this unusually critical article by Michelle Malkin, who is not known for being hard on Republicans and their cohorts. Perhaps the Democrats aren’t the only ones who have fed at the trough.

Could this effort to reign in the labor costs of skilled workers (who may get less sympathy from the public because of fairly good wages) be the camel’s nose under the tent? Once they are in the bag, it should not be difficult to get the rest of the camel inside by moving on to lower wage workers and those covered by union contracts when their agreements are renegotiated? I often worry that, through such tactics, American workers are gradually being downgraded to the status of their poorly paid foreign counterparts.

Whose Secretary of Labor is she, anyway?

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Neoconservative Defined
Recently I came across a Washington Post article from earlier this year by Dan Morgan which I believe contains an excellent definition for the political term, "Neoconservative".

Concise and complete, it reads: "...members of an amorphous political group that has its origins in the defection of left-wing Democrats to the GOP during the Cold War. Neoconservatives tend to favor the use of U.S. power to spread American political values, pre-empt hostile nations' ability to threaten the United States with weapons of mass destruction, and rebuild nations in America's image."

It is no accident that the most prominent, outspoken, and visible members of this group tend to be in their fifties, although there is a large following in the generation coming along behind them. They, like I, grew up during the years of international tension and national anxiety surrounding the ongoing contest of brinkmanship between the United States and the Soviet Union. I never really appreciated how fearful a time it was until it was over and I could look back upon it.

Essentially, for us, the ideas of God and country, motherhood and apple pie, the American dream of working hard and being rewarded by success-- all were woven into our view of the world. We were right, they were wrong, and the only way to save humanity, both socially, politically, and spiritually, was to resist, put down, and ultimately supplant everything that did not represent the American way. Today we are reaping the harvest of seeds that were sown during that era and the levers of power are finally in their hands.

Some of us, however, have managed to move beyond the literal dogma and seek to accept and understand the diversity and multicultural character of today's world, beginning with our own society. We appreciate the need to cooperate with other nations and peoples in every way possible to advance the well-being of everyone, while realistically preserving a capacity for self-defense.

The article also quotes Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute: "You cannot be for a system of limited government at home and for maintaining military garrisons all over the world." When a nation sets its course toward empire, it will of necessity need to grow the size and capacity of resources to manage it. Consequently, we are now seeing the polar opposite of what traditional conservativism stood for in its insistence on limited government.

Something to think about.

Monday, December 08, 2003
It’s Enough to Make a Preacher Cuss
Senator John Kerry shook things up a bit this week with a comment he made in his interview with Rolling Stone magazine. For those unaware of his iniquity, he used a semantically efficient, unsavory word to describe his assessment of Mr. Bush’s bungling of our foreign and domestic affairs. Read the interview for context and perspective.

This has raised eyebrows all around. The White House has demanded an apology. The folks over at state-run TV have had a field day. And, on Sunday morning, I came across a television preacher who was lashing Senator Kerry with a verbal cat-o-nine-tails, as many of our religious leaders are inclined to do these days in their practice of pulpit politics. Some of them would have us think that Jesus is a card-carrying Republican.

While it was unwise of Mr. Kerry to slip the little epithet into his response to a question, he still has a long way to go on the transgression scale (as far as we know) compared with what so many of our esteemed conservatives have shown that they will tolerate in their own public figures. Be sure that the little slip will have a long life in the campaign that lies ahead. No doubt it will surface in the general election as an example of Democratic degeneracy.

I sympathize with the Senator’s frustration, and I might have been less restrained than he was—but then I am not running for office.

At any rate, in the months and years ahead, we all will have to live with the special-interest, short-sighted governance perpetrated by this administration, including its efforts to dismantle social programs that won't be appreciated until they are gone, and its greedily imcompetent adventurism in the Middle East.

Senator Kerry was right-- we just need a cleaner word for it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Cheap Help Wanted (No Terrorists, Please)
Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security, of the Department of Homeland Security, was a guest on CSPAN this morning. He discussed the measures that have been put in place to protect us from those who would enter our country to do us harm. Two main topics emerged during the conversation with the host and the call-in participants. One was the idea of increased administrative control of foreign visitors to determine their origins, their whereabouts, and their activities while here. After completing even more paperwork, such individuals could possibly blend into the population, never to be seen again. As we have seen with the World Trade Center attack, it only takes a few people to pull off such an incident.

The other topic was the use of biometric measurements to verifiy that the visitors are who they say they are. One doesn’t need a lot of imagination to see where this could go.

By the end of the program segment I felt that our defense against external terrorist threats has hardly been improved and that, at best, we are throwing handfuls of money at shadows on the wall. I did feel, as I often do when this subject is brought up, that in the end the only ones seriously impacted by the procedures and controls are the American citizens themselves. It is scary. We could be only one more attack away from having to account for our identities and movements in order to make the sieve small enough to catch the bad guys.

So far, since the New York attack, the terrorists have targeted facilities and individuals outside the U.S. That fact seems to reassure many of us that the War on Terror is rolling along just fine, in spite of some serious bumps along the road. It appears that our efforts are effective in not only containing them to, but attracting them to foreign soil. The more we deceive ourselves, the more control we cede to those who would harm us, thus setting us up for later disappointment.

Most of our citizens who have an opinion fall into two polarized groups: one that praises such efforts as harsh, but necessary , and the other that sees them as a waste of resources—a smoke-and-mirror show. There aren’t many people in the middle. The first group contends that the policies are clearly effective, since there have been no terrorist attacks in the United States since they were put in place, and that we are effectively fighting terrorists on the other side of the world. The second group generally holds that the absence of attacks indicates that the terrorists are rationing their resources and that they have accomplished a goal to set us against ourselves. Those who take this view believe that the problems have arisen out of misguided, arrogant, and selfish foreign policy, and that an effective solution can only come from diplomatic rather than military means. I agree.

To some extent the terrorists have succeeded in putting us at each others’ throats. For the first time in my life, there is a loud call for blind allegiance to the administration in power, where dissent is equated with disloyalty and some individuals or groups presume to have a greater entitlement to opinion than others. It wasn't this bad during the Cold War.

I never imagined I would see such rampant fear threading its way through our society. There exists an underlying cowardice in many of us that talks tough and sheds other peoples’ blood, yet will give up much of our freedom in order to stroll through the local mall with a perception of reassurance.

At one point, Mr. Hutchinson was asked about the huge influx of illegal aliens from Mexico. Interestingly, he and the callers who were sympathetic to his view don’t seem to be terribly alarmed by the problem, even though it could be an ideal route into the U.S. for those intent on mayhem. It is disturbing that, for all their bravado and fear mongering, many of our political and business leaders are willing to go lightly on this matter, favoring concessions that seem to be at odds with security-centered immigration policy.

It is not surprising that those who propose easing up on restrictions and control are most often those who profit from cheap migrant labor, and who, for some reason, cannot seem to attract American workers for the wages they pay. Adding a dimension of morality, they go on to praise the hard work and sacrifice of the illegals and remind us of how much they have contributed to the prosperity of our country. In the spirit of the American dream, they are escaping from substandard and repressive living conditions to seek a better life for themselves and their families north of the border.

Since we do not routinely see Canadians risking a perilous smim across the border seeking a better life in Michigan, it seems that our efforts might be better directed to helping Mexico improve the quality of life for its citizens. It would go a long way toward improving our own security interests.

If the Mexican government is not responsive, then maybe it we should consider invasion, regime change, and liberation. Then the rebuilding could begin.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Phrase of the Day
New definition: Forest Thinning Program (reduces fuel for uncontrolled forest fires)
Old definition: Logging


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