Article 43


Saturday, May 20, 2006

An International Job Solution

Here’s something noteworthy - a member of Yahoo’s RESCUE FLORIDA JOBS mail list posted THIS BLURB after reading the article reprinted below.

Please check out the front page of the business section of the St. Petersburg Times today, the 20th of May. 

I applied to this company more than once and never heard from them. Now I know why.

Here’s the article:

For the past two years, Florida’s unemployment rate has been on a downward slide and now stands well below the 4 percent mark considered to be full employment. That’s good news for job seekers, but tough on employers determined to grow. Here is how one Tampa Bay area company has dealt with the problem.

By KRIS HUNDLEY, Times Staff Writer
Saint Petersburg Times
May 20, 2006

The Issue

SUPERIOR UNIFORM GROUP in Seminole had entry-level customer service openings but nobody applying for the JOBS, which pay $10 to $11 an hour. “When you get to the 3 percent unemployment level, people aren’t running around looking for jobs,’’ said Michael Benstock, chief executive of the uniform manufacturer. “And with all you’re reading about home prices and insurance increases on the west coast of Florida, I don’t think the market for entry-level workers is going to get better soon.’’

The Solution

Superior, which has been sourcing apparel from manufacturing plants in EL SALVADOR for two decades, used a Salvadoran staff leasing company to hire 15 customer service reps who are trained and supervised by Superior employees. The company also added five production planners and six quality-assurance managers to work with its contract manufacturers. The leased workers’ pay and benefits are one-third to one-half the total cost of a similar position in Seminole. “We didn’t want to get into the rigmarole of establishing ourselves as a Salvadoran corporation,’’ said Benstock, explaining why Superior opted to use staff leasing. Completely outsourcing the positions to a professional call-center operator also wasn’t an option. “Now there’s such a demand for outsourcing that if you can’t place 100 seats, they don’t want to talk to you,’’ Benstock said.

The Outcome

Nearly all the Salvadorans now working for Superior Uniform have at least two years of college, extensive computer training and the ability to read English. They handle back-office account functions and respond to customers by e-mail, but so far all phone communication with clients is handled by staffers in Seminole. “If I post a notice in our break room in El Salvador that we have one opening, I have to hire crowd control the next day,’’ Benstock said. “I could post a notice here for 50 openings and be lucky to get one person come through the door.’’

The Challenges

Superior is moving its customer service staff from the outlying suburb of Apopa to the capital city of San Salvador to ensure a better broadband connection. The company’s workers have adapted to a U.S. holiday schedule that doesn’t recognize many Salvadoran holidays; on the flip side, they work only five days a week, while most Salvadoran employers have a six-day-a-week schedule. The country’s infrastructure has improved over the past few years, and the political climate is relatively stable. “Nothing has really blindsided us,’’ said Benstock. “But if we hadn’t spent so many years in El Salvador producing (apparel), I couldn’t be made a believer.’’

The Reaction

Superior’s customers are largely unaware of the company’s Salvadoran operation. By shifting more back-office functions to Salvadoran workers, customer service workers in Seminole have time for more interaction with the customer. “We made a determination we were not going to eliminate jobs here because they have way too much experience,’’ Benstock said. “In some ways, the customer service jobs (in Seminole) have become more interesting than in the past.’’

The Future

Superior expects to double its customer service staff in El Salvador by year’s end. Encouraged by its success with entry-level positions, the company has started hiring higher-skilled market forecasters in El Salvador. These positions, which require a four-year degree, pay $12,000 to $18,000 in El Salvador, compared with $45,000 to $70,000 in the United States. “The response has been excellent,’’ Benstock said of the forecasters hired in San Salvador. “My people here in Seminole are excellent, too; we just can’t get enough of them.’’


Posted by Elvis on 05/20/06 •
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More Tax Cuts Planned For The Rich

Wealthiest Americans will receive most of the benefits from the planned tax cuts.
By Lee Price
Economic Policy Institute
May 17, 2006

Congress is debating taxes on wealth this spring, specifically whether to cut taxes on capital gains, dividends, and estates.  Recently published Federal Reserve data on the distribution of wealth make it clear that most of the benefits from such tax cuts will go to a very narrow slice of the population, the wealthiest of America’s wealthy.

America’s 112 million families had combined wealth of $50.3 trillion in 2004.  When those families are ranked by the size of their wealth, however, the top 1%2 alone held $16.8 trillion in wealth, more than a third of the United States’ total wealth and more than the $16.8 trillion held by 90% of U.S. families.  The top 1% had average wealth of $15 million per family in contrast to the $22,800 average wealth of the least wealthy 50% of families or the $313,500 in wealth for families ranked between 50% and 90%.

Homes accounted for more than a third of American families’ assets.  Primary residences are the asset with the least-skewed ownership, with the top 1% owning primary homes worth $1.9 trillion and the bottom 90% owning $11.8 trillion.  That is not the case, however, when it comes to ownership of second homes, a far greater source of wealth for the top 1% ($1.1 trillion) than the bottom 90% ($0.02 trillion).

An examination of other types of assets reveals why cutting taxes on capital gains, dividends, and inheritances favor such a small share of the population.  Those three forms of income and wealth are largely associated with three kinds of assets:  stock in publicly traded companies, ownership of closely held businesses, and nonresidential real estate.  The top 1% of families owned 37% of all stocks, 62% of all closely held businesses, and 47% of nonresidential real estate.  Percentages for the bottom 90% were 21%, 10%, and 24%, respectively.

When it comes to the three types of assets most affected by taxes on capital gains, dividends, and estatesthe very cuts being debated in Congressחthe top 1% had 2.8 times as much wealth as the bottom 90%$10.9 versus $3.9 trillion.  The average combined value of those three kinds of assets was about $10 million for each family in the top 1%, but less than $40,000 for the bottom 90% of families.  The average family in the top 1% has about 250 times as much to gain from tax cuts on those assets as a family in the bottom 90%.  Enactment of such skewed tax cuts will further exacerbate the already sizable WEALTH GAP.


Posted by Elvis on 05/17/06 •
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Starting Over When Bush Is Gone

By Mike Whitney
Information Clearing House
May 16, 2006

Big Brother Bush has finally descended into the hell of public scorn and degradation. The once-mighty George 2, the War President, who towered over the global landscape after 9-11, has slumped into disrepute with the popularity-meter resting on empty.

Oh dear. Just 29% approval.

Theres no place to hide now. 6 years of demagoguery and deception have smashed the Orwellian facade and fueled the public rage. The country is on tender-hooks; one paltry incident away from a citizen revolt and massive political upheaval.

Dont believe it? The fury of the masses is silently brewing just below the surface. The specter of violence is quite real.

BushҒs popularity is now somewhere below Nixons and just above venereal disease; the perfect spot for a draft-dodging poseur whose bravado cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Bush managed to surpass Nixon by claiming a 71% disapproval rating; a triumph that Hitler would have admired. Still, given the 3 years left on his tenure as president, thereҒs room for improvement in that category as well.

As if things couldnt get any worse for the Decider”, Karl Rove has just been indicted on charges of perjury.

How will the bad news affect Bush’s fragile psyche?

Will he finally crack and bolt himself inside the Capital bell-tower; grimacing and spitting at the passers by? Or will he simply wear a path in the Oval Office rug pacing back and forth like a caged hyena?

Rove is the one indispensable star in the Bush firmament. Its Rove who stitched together the Bush persona; carefully blending religious zeal with ReaganԒs rustic chumminess. Rove is the force behind our Betsy-McCall president. Hes the guy who dresses him up to lark about in military jumpsuit or to play a working class hero in flannel shirt and chainsaw. ItҒs Rove who perfected the pallid-faced hologram that appears whenever one turns on the TV. He chiseled Bush out of wormwood producing a character that looks to have the full range of human emotions with the exception of compassion. Without Rove, junior would still be snoozing peacefully on a barstool in Abilene rather than raining down hellfire on peaceful Muslim countries.

Now, the shadow-president is going down; clapped in leg-irons and frog-marched to the Washington hoosegow. Dont expect Karen Hughes to fill the big shoes Karl Rove leaves behind..

The Bush Reich is steadily slipping towards disaster. Defeat is circling overhead like great birds of prey. As Bush’s popularity craters and key players are carted off to prison the empire of corruption, bowed-over by the accumulated weight of its war crimes, draws ever-closer to doomsday. Bushs breathing has grown heavier and more raspy, his delivery more labored and hesitant, his demeanor more tentative and agitated. The ground has been cut out from under Bush and his cadres. In a few months they’ll be looking over their shoulders with each step as they pass silently into their bunkers.

The inescapable force of public contempt has fallen on the White House like a darkening storm-cloud. The neocon master-plan is unraveling like a spool of yarn skittering across the kitchen floor.

Bush has insinuated corruption into every molecule of the body politic. The torture and violence have removed any claim of legitimacy or moral authority. The social contract has been hacked into small bits and left to feed the crows. The government is now entirely powered by hubris and brute force, the sustenance of tyranny.

The American dream has ripened into a menacing delirium, teeming with torture, violence, and murder. We have become everything we profess to hate.

Perhaps, its time to pull up the foundation blocks and give the scaffolding a good shove. Bring down the whole fetid contraption; political, media, congressional and corporate. Rattle the cages and send the denizens of the think-tanks and the right-wing foundations scampering into the streets for cover.

Let the whole rotten contrivance crash to earth in a heap; there’s not one part of it thats worth saving.

We’ll start fresh when Bush is gone.


Posted by Elvis on 05/17/06 •
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Monday, May 15, 2006

US Spying On ABC

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a documentstating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Our reports on the CIA’s secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.

The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.


Outside The Beltway

Posted by Elvis on 05/15/06 •
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Crash Of Big-Government Conservatism

Recent polls show support for Republicans is still declining, and President Bush’s approval ratings are the lowest for any president other than Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter in the past fifty years. The New York Times SUMMED IT UP well recently:

Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush’s handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans.

This decline is fundamentally not a matter of PR or press bias but of policy and the philosophy behind it. Bush and the Republican Congress have had a difficult time selling themselves to the public because their policies have not been appealing. They have adhered to a philosophy, big-government conservatism, that has finally alienated nearly everyone. The War on Terror delayed the effects of this alienation for several years, but ultimately the Bush administration’s errors and Congress’s addiction to big spending—which was based on this big-government conservative philosophy—alienated both those outside the party, first, and then a great proportion of Republicans themselves.

Big-government conservatism has a few main aims: to preserve the welfare state while mitigating its ill effects, to preserve the present American culture while mitigating its bad effects, to preserve the present international order while mitigating its bad effects, and to preserve the present system of national politics while mitigating its ill effects.

The economic premise of big government conservatism is that the welfare state benefits from free markets and is not in dire conflict with them. Their social premise relies on the same utilitarian calculus as that of their opponents on the Left, but the big government conservatives hold that although antinomianism is not good for people, nothing can really be done about it except to try to ease government restrictions on religion. The international affairs premise is that liberal democracy is the best thing for all nations and imposition of it on other nations is the solution when they become threats to U.S. interests.

The Democrats and the Left in general, by contrast, say that the system of free markets and human welfare are in inevitable conflict, and the latter must always be the higher priority. They believe in expanding the sexual revolution. They believe that the moral problem with America is not antinomianism but the intractable intolerance of monotheists. And they believe that the real problem with the international order is that war is inevitable when people don’t see residents of other nations as being of equal importance as oneself and one’s family, neighborhood, and nation. Other nations, they say, are basically rational and hence always amenable to good-faith negotiations, meaning ones in which the United States is willing to make big concessions when necessary for an agreement to be reached.

The Democrats have a definite philosophy that creates a vivid picture of a good world, and that is appealing in itself. The Republicans’ present philosophy is simply a watered-down version of the Democrats’. For a party in power, that is disastrous, as it lets the opposition set the agenda and measure success.

The solution for the Republicans, then, must be philosophical at heart, and that philosophy must drive the party’s policy prescriptions. Their only real answer is to embrace classical liberalism. This includes in particular embracing its crucial components of individual rights, personal responsibility, the belief that human life in general and every human life in particular has meaning, and respect for the reality of nationality.

This vision of classical liberalism derives from Edmund Burke and Adam Smith and their contemporaries, and incorporates the insights of subsequent great thinkers such as Booker T. Washington, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Thomas Sowell. It is a vision of a true opportunity society, open to all who agree to play by the rules, and one in which the rules are sovereign.

Such a vision provides a comprehensible, consistent, and sensible view of the world and the nation. In this worldview, the nation is a society of free individuals brought together by a common heritage, living under laws that free people to achieve the best that they can and that prevent them from unfairly exploiting one another, a society that respects the need for personal morality regardless of one’s religious background. Classical liberalism provides a way to find clear answers in all policy matters by asking the following question: Which policy approach will create the greatest amount of both individual liberty and social order?

Such a vision is by no means a theocracy; it is in fact based largely on utilitarian concerns. However, it also includes a respect for religion because the latter is part of mankind’s perpetual search for truth and meaning and because religious faith can encourage personal morality and social charity and give great comfort and purpose to individuals in times both good and bad. In its great and abiding respect for the good things religion brings, however, classical liberalism never allows the two kingdoms (in Martin Luther’s great distinction), the City of God and the City of Man, to be conflated or confused with each other.

Classical liberalism holds that the Christian religion is good for society because it encourages the intellectual foundations for an orderly society of free individuals. Whether a particular religion’s claims are true or not is a matter for the Church to decide, as Luther pointed out, not the state; and whether a particular policy or political philosophy is good is a matter to be decided by an empirical calculus, as Luther likewise noted, not religious laws developed for a very different group of people six thousand years ago.

About religion, classical liberalism says: Encouragement of religion, yes; imposition of religious-based laws, no.

This philosophy is much more likely to appeal to disaffected Republicans and others on the Right than the watered-down postmodernism now offered by the Grand Old Party. Classical liberalism is the philosophy that Ronald Reagan eloquently represented, and the party of Reagan could rely on that history to provide quick credibility to an effort to renew a commitment to his approach to government. But rhetoric won’t be enough. A Bush veto of the bloated, pork-laden spending bill recently passed by the Senate would go a long way toward restoring the GOP’s credibility as the party of Reagan, especially if it is followed by a better bill and an intense congressional debate over spending. The policy approach for the rest of the summer and thereafter should likewise be based on the Reaganesque, classical liberal principles outlined here.

The one positive element for Republicans at this point is that they are learning today, almost six months before the coming elections, that their philosophy has run its course. There is time for them to change. Whether they will in fact do so is another question entirely, but one thing is certain. They have nothing to lose, and they have something big to gain: retention of their hold on Congress and state legislatures and executive mansions.

S. T. Karnick is an Associate Fellow of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research and Editor of THE REFORM CLUB blog.


Posted by Elvis on 05/15/06 •
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Today's Diversion

Constitutional governments and aristocracies are commonly overthrown owing to some deviation from justice …...the rich, if the constitution gives them power, are apt to be insolent and avaricious.… In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of small expenses in time eats up a fortune. - Aristotle


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