Saving US Economy Starts Now: Keep Oreo Cookies in Chicago

The first item I selected at the grocery store last night was a bunch of fresh tulips with a banner “Grown in California”.

As I was preparing dinner, I turned on the ABC Nightly News. David Muir reported from the newly renovated Renaissance Hotel at Times Square that Marriott Hotel brands were all switching their guest room towels from imports to “MADE IN AMERICA” – without adding a penny of cost to Marriott hotel operations.

Consumers Drive Job Creation

My tulip purchase helped to make and maintain a job for a Californian.

Marriott Hotels’ towel decision has created 150 manufacturing jobs in Georgia.

Those manufacturing jobs will create additional opportunities from cotton farmers to the local diner.

Marriott Hotels’ action is not just good for American workers – it’s classic American marketing. They’ve created a differentiator.

A differentiator is anything that will separate Marriott from the competition– i.e. will cause the consumer to pause — give their offering a second look.

Guests will tell their friends how good they felt wrapping themselves in Made-in-America towels at a Marriott property.

That good feeling — backed up with an effective advertising and free media campaign will garner Marriott brands additional customers this vacation season.

The more effective the strategy is for Marriott, the more quickly their competitors will “catch the wave” of Made in America towels.

Every Presidential Candidate Promises Jobs

According to recent polls, the number one issue in the 2016 Presidential Election is THE ECONOMY.

Every candidate is promising to produce jobs – lots of jobs.

But none of them have explained how they are going to do it.

Maybe we should elect David Muir? Unlike all the leading Presidential candidates, he understands that a dynamic economy is a balance of consumption and production!

The American economy grows, generates real new Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when it creates a demand for American made goods instead of imports. pace at which the economy grows is determined by how fast those dollar bills change hands between producers and consumers within the circle of the US economy.

When consumer goods are imported into the United States rather than manufactured in America, the American economy shrinks because dollars exchange hands between consumers in the United States and producers in other countries.

In Short: Importing consumer goods exports American jobs, wages and consumer dollars.

The Result is a Slowing US Economy

Demand makes economies grow.

In the years after the Second World War Mississippi enjoyed a flourishing textile industry. They grew cotton and turned it into textiles and clothing that we all bought.

In the 1980s and 1990s textile manufacturing jobs in Mississippi began a steady migration to China and other “developing” countries – where wages were lower.

The Congressional Research Service estimates that by 2005 three quarters of the nation’s textile and clothing jobs had been off-shored.

In Mississippi, riverboat gambling became the replacement industry. “Service sector” jobs – waiters, maids, and croupiers – command much lower wages than more highly skilled manufacturing jobs.

Less clothing manufacturing meant less demand for Mississippi cotton. Cotton farmers earn less and employ fewer workers to grow, harvest and gin the cotton.

The result: Fewer jobs, lower paying jobs and reduced profits — a reduction in national consumer demand for “Made-in- Mississippi” — weakened the Mississippi economy.

Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the United States – with more than 20 percent of their population living below the poverty line.

In 2016 – Plug the Job Leak

Stop the bleeding!

Between 1998 and 2013 fully one third of the manufacturing jobs in the United States disappeared. This extraordinary job loss is magnified by the fact that the US population grew by twelve percent in the same period – widening the gap between good paying jobs and available workers.

Some of the job losses are due to innovation and obsolesce but most can be traced directly to the export of American jobs.

The pattern is continuing in 2015.

Nabisco announced that it is sending 600 unionized jobs from Chicago to Mexico to save $46 million dollars in “costs”.

Bring Oreo Cookies Back to Chicago

The sisterhood of American moms and grandmothers can stop this outrage by refusing to buy the product.

The most powerful weapon Americans possess against job loss is purchasing power.

Just like the union workers who are being shelved by Nabisco – all of us can “go on strike” – boycott Oreos made in Mexico!

I want my grandkid’s Oreos baked by a profit-sharing baker in Chicago.

I’ll pay a little more for bedding manufactured by a profit-sharing seamstress in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

It is a mystery to me that Presidential candidates don’t point to the relationship between “buy American” and “growing” American jobs?

Someone get Hillary and Donald a plate of Chicago baked Oreos!

Fair Pay Act

What You Need To Know about the Fair Pay Act

Just last Saturday, we had dinner at a BJ Brewery location. It’s a family-style restaurant where I usually tip 15 percent. I had had a bad day and was less gracious than I should have been over a couple of mistakes the waitress made. She, on the other hand, was more than gracious in response. I left a 20% tip – she had earned it.

Imagine that on the way out of the restaurant the waiter who had served us two weeks ago confronted me. “You gave her a 20 percent tip but only gave me a 15 percent tip two weeks ago. You owe me an additional 5 percent tip“.

I would be outraged by his brazenness leaving me no alternative. Never tip.

Pay Check Privacy under Attack

If the Fair Pay Act before the US Senate Commerce Committee were to become law, confrontations just like my imaginary tale could become a daily staple of the American work place. The Senate bill would make it illegal for an employee to refuse to disclose their salary/hourly wage to any other employee who asks for the information.

Further, there’s no specific language to insure the employee who is asking has a reasonable basis to believe that they are being treated unfairly. Failure to comply could lead to legal consequences for both the confronted employee and the employer.

The confronter can sue if the confronted claims privacy. The confronter can sue if the confronted acknowledges that he/she earns more money.

Sounds like a full employment act for under-employed lawyers.

It Is Fair to Pay For Performance

In business the issue of fair pay, within the context of equal pay, is a constant challenge. It’s a balancing act – between rewarding key performers and still motivating the larger work force.

We call it pay for performance and no matter how many objective criteria are established, it’s a gut call. Making a gut call depends on the reviewer’s skill plus the assurance of privacy needed to be open, honest and constructive with the employee.

Last Saturday, I just calculated the waitress’s tip and left it. It’s much harder to sit across the desk from someone you work with regularly and explain they are not going to get the raise they expected or they are going to get a promotion they didn’t expect but deserve more than a colleague – and why that is so.

Imagine Public Performance Reviews

Can you imagine conducting that review in an auditorium full of the employee’s peers? Neither can I – but that is the net effect the Fair Pay Act would have.

Performance reviews would take on the characteristics of a trial. The reviewer would become the defendant, the employee the prosecutor, the co-workers the jury judging the fairness of the argument and outcome.

The appeals process would be endless. The money in the merit pay pool would be diverted to pay for an army of lawyers.

Employers Left With Bad Choices

Employers would be left with two bad alternatives – eliminate all incentive pay and performance reward systems or relocate jobs outside the United States.

Eliminating incentive pay and performance rewards creates disincentives for employees. There is peer pressure to resist innovation, creativity, increased productivity and demonstrated ingenuity. That was the pay philosophy at General Motors – prior to the 2009 bankruptcy.

The easiest jobs to relocate are the best jobs – for example, technology, banking, pharmaceutical research, and advanced manufacturing. The jobs we need to build a sustainable 21st American Century.

What If Congress Gave the Economy a Kick in the Pants, Instead?

The best way to insure fair pay is to expand the economy.

The government has a legitimate leadership interest in building and maintaining the national physical infrastructure. These activities – properly funded – will generate engineering, construction jobs and support jobs to boost the economy this year and into the future.

We know exactly where these jobs are. Our national transportation system isn’t globally competitive. Our national utility grid is unacceptably fragile. Our major seaports must be modernized to compete globally to dock 21st century super-cargo and super-tanker ships.

But where will the money come from?

WHAT IF the Senate chartered an independent, private sector US Infrastructure Bank to fund modernization of our public infrastructure?

When the economy generates more jobs than qualified applicants to fill them, pay for performance is not just fair but required to compete for workers! Isn’t that the real objective after all?

Photo Credit: Howie Levine/RAC

  • It is up to YOU

    Get Involved

    In the coming weeks, will do what our Presidential Candidates and other politicians are not - throw out some positive and plausible ideas to "right the ship of state".

    Ideas you can ask candidates about during the Fall Campaign.

Raise the Wage

Increasing Minimum Wage Won’t Fix USA Economy

Back in the day, my first job was working in Petaluma’s only movie theatre. There was only one screen. I got paid to stand in the back of the theatre and see all my favorite movies, except on nights when I worked the ticket booth.

My least favorite station was working the candy counter. Before the movie and at intermission it was intense – adding up the price of the order and making correct change – all in my head. Cash registers were just that – they registered cash.

It was a good job for a 16 year old high school junior. It gave me my first taste of accountability to a boss and a little bit of financial independence from my parents. I don’t remember how much I was paid, but I can’t imagine it was more than the minimum wage at the time.

When I go the movies, today, the box office clerks, ushers and candy counter workers all too often have grey hair. It makes me sad to see people in the prime of their lives working at a minimum wage job.

Minimum Wage Earner Is Not Middle Class

It worries me to think that even if Congress raises the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour two of these middle aged workers – both working full-time and combining their incomes would just barely make it into the so-called American middle class. Middle class income is estimated to begin at about $40,000.

San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, already has a city-wide minimum wage of $10/hour – a little over $20,000 a year/full-time and few of these jobs are full-time. Average rent here for a one bedroom apartment is more than $1000/month – leaving these people at the brink of homelessness.

What about their future? They will earn barely $600 a month in Social Security. After a life-time of work, they will be dependent on Medicaid and Food Stamps.

That’s not the America I grew up in. That’s not the American future I imagine.

Raising The Minimum Wage is Economic Triage

Increasing the minimum wage does bring some temporary help for low wage workers, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problem.

The American middle class is shrinking faster than the polar ice caps.

The question is are we going to concede defeat or are we going to ignite a 21st century American economy that provides stability and prosperity for everyone willing to work for it.

This is not a government OR a private sector responsibility.

This is a NATIONAL Emergency

In the wake of tornadoes or forest fires or flood – we see Americans spontaneously reaching out to help their neighbors. They don’t wait for government to come and tell them what to do.

Even before the danger passes neighbors grab shovels and dig through the rubble to save lives and property. Home Depot and the Red Cross deliver relief supplies while government officials are still looking for the requisition forms.

The national economic crisis is no different. Every American must make national economic recovery their personal responsibility!

Economic Recovery Starts With Me

It starts with your wallet. Every time you make the decision to BUY AMERICAN you contribute to creating good paying American jobs.

It continues at the ballot box. Before voting to re-elect your representative to Congress or the Senate look and listen – are they leading the fight for real economic reform?

It culminates when Americans invite our private sector to step forward and lead from the middle.

Major Economic Surgery

There’s a lot of talk but not enough action to harness America’s innovation economy.

Innovation does not just happen. It occurs when a great idea meets a thoughtful, detailed implementation plan – well executed.

What if Warren Buffet and Bill Gates established a private/public think-tank chartered to develop a road-map to transform the American economy?

What if the think tank recruited a team comprised of past and present state governors, business, political, academic and social leaders and the four living former US Presidents – to examine every facet of American life and its impact on the economy.

Building Public Support for Economic Transformation

Economic transformation can’t happen without broad public support. The think tank must build a national consensus around a bold National-21st – Century Economic-Roadmap – timelines, milestones, KPIs and assigned responsibilities.

What if the think tank recruited David Muir and his ABC Made-in-America team to demonstrate how the economy works?

What if team members conducted – a beer teach-in on the economy – as a regularly scheduled reality TV show?

A strong and prosperous Second American Century Roadmap can’t be built on the minimum wage. It can be built on the self-sufficiency of average Americans who never fail to rise to meet any challenge or threat they understand.

Photo Credit: The White House

  • It is up to YOU

    Get Involved

    In the coming weeks, will do what our Presidential Candidates and other politicians are not - throw out some positive and plausible ideas to "right the ship of state".

    Ideas you can ask candidates about during the Fall Campaign.