Archive for the ‘Buy American’ Category
By Eric Schaal
Sourcing products from Chinese factories has always been a cost-saving tactic of American companies like Walmart (NYSE:WMT), the largest U.S. retailer. However, as wages, energy costs and overseas demand continue to increase, Walmart is looking to domestic for products to stock its stores.
Walmart will spend $50 billion in the coming decade in an attempt to tap into an American supplier market where fewer disruptions in production occur and energy prices remain low. The company’s willingness to look within suggests the shipping and related costs are weighing on Walmart’s profit margin.
As Duncan Mac Naughton, the company’s chief merchandising and marketing officer, told Time recently, “When we buy overseas, we may buy more than we need to fill the container.” In fact, the overall cost of bringing the item to its store shelves isn’t always attractive to Walmart. The tales of Walmart muscling manufacturers into selling goods cheap — so the savings will make it to consumers — have been told on numerous occasions, yet Walmart will need to change its image in that department to pull off another go at its “Made in America” campaign (they’ve taken to calling it “Made Here”).
The system has worked on a number of occasions, as Walmart contracted for Georgia-based 1888 Mills to supply the retailer with terry towels of superior quality. Seeing how the towels sell will determine how committed Walmart remains to the concept, but its long-term deal with 1888 Mills allowed the company to commit to producing its towels in Georgia. Ironically, the company itself had been relying on overseas outsourcing to meet customer orders.
Walmart acknowledges that keeping manufacturing going in the U.S. will mean that more American shoppers will have money in their pockets — some of which they are likely to spend at a nearby Walmart. To that end, Walmart plans to make prices lower on the new wave of American-made merchandise. Pride and prejudice only matter so much when a customer is faced with 20-30 percent higher price tags in order to “buy American.”
The $50 billion investment, while large, only represents a tiny portion of what Walmart will spend on supply in the coming decade. However, if the returns continue to be favorable, China’s dominance in the manufacturing sector could take a hit. Once Walmart goes, the other big retailers are likely to follow.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely says he has confirmation that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians, and those weapons are likely stockpiles received from Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion 10 years ago.
Vallely has met twice in the region with military commanders for the Free Syrian Army, which he describes as the largest and much more moderate faction among the rebels, which also include elements of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. He also gets regular reports from a Canadian medical team. Vallely told WND that team is certain that a chlorine gas weapon was used in recent strikes.
“From what I received from the Canadian medical team who works out of Aleppo is that is was chlorine and that what you saw were the reactions on those videos that were put out within the last week,” Vallely said. “The chlorine, the choking, the skin, depending on the density of the chlorine will cause skin irritation. If it’s mixed with other types of gases too, then it could have an even more enhanced effect on the human body, not only breathing but on the skin.”
Vallely believes the chemical weapons are clearly the work of the Assad regime and that the regime will try to pin the blame on the rebels. He said this is not the first time that the beleaguered government has turned WMD on its own people and that he has evidence of a similar attack last summer.
Read more: http://conservativebyte.com/2013/03/guess-where-syrias-chemical-weapons-originate/#ixzz2OltZQtg9
WASHINGTON — Even the federal government turns to private shippers rather than the Postal Service when it wants to send packages.
A report from the agency’s inspector general said that since 2001, private companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service consistently had captured 98 percent of the revenue from long-term shipping contracts with the government because the financially troubled Postal Service did not have a sales staff or a strategy to focus on the federal sector until 2009.
The report said the Postal Service lost out on about $34 million in potential revenue over the past two years, a relatively small amount for an agency that reported $65 billion in revenue last year.However, officials at the inspector general’s office said the Postal Service, which had a net loss of $15.9 billion last year, could not afford to pass up opportunities to generate revenue and profit no matter how small.
“Every little bit helps,” said Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office. “The purpose of our audits (is) to help them identify ways to do things better. Every opportunity we identify helps add to their bottom line.”
The report, released on Friday, examined two years of shipping contracts made through the General Services Administration, which buys goods and services for the federal government.
While federal shipping contracts totaled an estimated $336.9 million last year, the Postal Service earned only $4.8 million of that — less than 2 percent of the overall amount, the report found.
The post office’s ability to compete in the federal shipping market is hampered by several factors besides it late entry, the report found, including an inability to guarantee two- to three-day delivery service and to be as flexible in setting prices as its competitors.
Because of federal law, “the Postal Service cannot sell products below cost and make up the loss with other products or services to penetrate a market, attract new customers or match competitors’ prices,” the report found.
Postal officials, who did not address why the agency entered the federal shipping market years after their private competitors, said they were addressing the problems raised in the report. But the findings underscored the challenges the agency faces as it tries to find new ways to increase revenue to offset a long-term decline in mail volume.
Obama’s limo BREAKS DOWN in Israel: President’s $1.5m ‘Beast’ is towed away as he arrives for historic first visit – after his driver puts GAS in the engine instead of diesel
US President Barack Obama makes his first trip to Israel of his presidency
Obama’s limo- dubbed The Beast- broke after the driver put gas in the engine instead of diesel
All eyes on Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two leaders are known to have a rocky relationship
Israelis are already infuriated by the trip as it comes just days before Passover and Obama’s security protocols shut down much of Jerusalem
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Israel this morning had an embarrassing setback when his armored limo broke down on the way to the airport.
The custom General Motors Cadillac limo was relegated to a pick up truck after the driver accidentally put gas in the engine instead of diesel.
Mr Obama arrived in Tel Aviv Wednesday afternoon local time, and earlier that morning, the limo that was designated to his hotel was unable to move after the driver made the silly mistake.
Local news reports allege that it was the President’s limo that was shipped over specially from Washington that broke down so he was forced to use the second vehicle that they brought over from the U.S.
The downed ‘Beast’: President Obama’s armored limo broke down in Tel Aviv this morning as it was headed to the airport after the driver mistakenly put gas in the engine instead of diesel
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2296295/Obamas-limo-BREAKS-DOWN-Israel-Presidents-1-5m-Beast-towed-away-arrives-historic-visit–driver-puts-GAS-engine-instead-diesel.html#ixzz2O79W561F
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by Alex Burwasser
What is American Exceptionalism? Is it some flawed concept based on naiveté, hubris, or a misplaced sense of patriotism? Or does it have factual basis that all Americans need to understand?
This issue received prominence not long ago when Barack was asked whether or not he believed in American Exceptionalism. As those readers who remember this encounter will recall, he was clearly uncomfortable with the question and evaded it by saying that he believes in American Exceptionalism in the same fashion that Britons believe in British Exceptionalism or that Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism.
I had to laugh at this revealing exchange. Given Barack’s wild and reckless spending and incompetent leadership, this country is facing the prospects of a big dose of “Greek Exceptionalism” where, like Greece, we are on the cusp of permanently high unemployment, exploding debt, long term economic decline, and social unrest.
Barack has plenty of company, however, as most Leftists are uncomfortable with the concept of American Exceptionalism. Many Leftists I speak with say it does not exist. I then respond with this question: “Do you believe it is unexceptional for a nation having only 4% of the world’s landmass and 5% of the world’s population to produce 25% of world GDP?”
This question invariably catches Leftists off-guard. After considering this for a moment or two, Leftists will often retort that this has happened only because America has exploited the rest of the world and stepped on the necks of “people of color.” In other words, our success was achieved illegitimately.
My response to this absurd claim is as follows: “When I first listened to Radio Moscow and other communist propaganda shortwave stations in 1963, this was exactly the rhetoric I heard. When I listened to these stations in 1973, nothing had changed. Ditto 1983. In 1993, after the fall of the communist bloc, this rhetoric had disappeared. Is it possible that these former communists learned a hard lesson that you modern Leftists have somehow missed?”
So back to our original question – what is American Exceptionalism and what has been responsible for it? Is it caused by something in the air we breathe, or in the food we eat and the water we drink? Did it come about as a result of the luck of the draw, or because our number just happened to come up?
Obviously not. Actually, the answer is far less subtle. All nations that became great by means other than violence and conquest and remained great over time did so because they granted their citizens liberties. This concept was pioneered mostly by Western civilizations. Greece and Rome became great by prioritizing individual liberties and democratic values. Britain became great in the same fashion, beginning with the Magna Carta.
Although these liberties were very modest by today’s standards, their enormity was stunning for those times and gave those nations great advantages over nations with less freedom.
Interestingly, these nations lost their greatness when the abandoned their original values and embraced statism by persuading their citizens that they could trade off their liberties for security (i.e., socialism). This was the essence of the Roman “bread and circuses.”
America’s rise to greatness is grounded in the same roots as those nations that preceded us. Our rise was more spectacular than that of our predecessors, however, because we more fully-embraced these Western civilization concepts and multiplied their effectiveness through a political system that better emphasized limited government and rule of law.
We were also very fortunate in having the benefit of the wisdom and efforts of our Founding Fathers. Although much maligned by the Left (they were white, they were males, and some were even slave holders) and had some very human flaws, they had the rare experience of living both under tyranny immediately before and in liberty immediately following the American Revolution in a short period of time. As a result of this defining experience and their collective brilliance and wisdom, they had a collective understanding of the relationship between the government and the governed in a free society that has never been matched.
The unparalleled success of this country was thus achieved by a very enlightened and carefully thought out paradigm of balance between individual liberty and rule of law as codified in the Constitution. Individual liberty is always the key ingredient for a successful society.
Free people work harder, take more risks, are more innovative, are more generous, and are more self-fulfilled than those who live under tyranny. To put this in plainer language, slave labor can never compete with free labor.
This freedom must be balanced, however, by transparent rule of law under limited government. Otherwise, “might makes right” and anarchy results. Anarchy is far worse than even the most repressive form of government.
As conservatives, we understand that freedom has two essential and inseparable components, one being political liberties and the other being economic liberties. Statists, on the other hand, believe that political liberties can survive even if economic liberties are curtailed through over-taxation, over-regulation, wealth redistribution, and all the other economic infringements necessary to build the welfare state. This, of course, is untrue – without economic liberties, the power of the state becomes too expansive with the inevitable result that political liberties also become curtailed.
I argue that this country began to run off the track when this balance began shifting in favor of excessive and more corrupt rule of law (i.e., bigger and more intrusive government) at the expense of individual liberty. More specifically, political leaders have encouraged Americans to demand more government services, which in turn can be provided only by expanding government at the expense of individual liberty. This process has been facilitated by expansive and creative “interpretations” of the Constitution that are clearly exercises in double-speak. The truth is that unlike most modern-day politicians, the Founding Fathers were true statesmen who wrote the Constitution in a manner to clarify rather than obfuscate the relevant issues. The Constitution is written in plain English, not Mandarin, and it requires very little “interpretation” (other than by those who dislike its provisions and want to subvert them).
In general, great nations decline and fall as a consequence of abandoning those core values that made them great. Unfortunately, American Exceptionalism is neither unconditional or permanent. It will exist only as long as we embrace our core values.
The statists have been very successful over the past 100 years in persuading many Americans that we can trade off our liberties for increased security. Unfortunately, history is not at all subtle about the trajectory of this path – people who give up liberty for security ultimately end up having neither, and also suffer economic decline and lower standards of living as a result. Anyone with historical perspective will understand that the existing welfare state is nothing more than the modern version of the old Roman “bread and circuses.”
Our political leaders have repudiated the ideals of the American Revolution. It is now evident that in the fullness of time and the benefit of hindsight, rather than shedding the yoke of tyranny we have instead simply traded masters – rather than the states being colonies of the Crown in London, they have instead become colonies of the statists in Washington.
When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he assumed a degree of command over the federal government that few U.S. presidents have enjoyed. His party had just enlarged its already-large majority in the House of Representatives, and gained a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The president enjoyed tremendous popularity following his historic victory.
During his campaign, then-Sen. Obama argued that what had stopped us from meeting our nation’s greatest challenges had been “the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.”
To solve this problem, he pledged to help us “rediscover our bonds to each other and get out of this constant, petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.”
The last three and a half years of divisive politics and broken promises have been disappointing.
The Obama administration did not cause the crisis we faced in January 2009. Bad policies from both parties in Washington and irresponsible behavior on Wall Street fueled the build-up of uncreditworthy mortgage liabilities in the financial sector, resulting in overwhelming debt levels and then a wave of panics, bankruptcies and foreclosures. The global financial system stood on the brink of collapse.
Yet, instead of keeping his campaign promises, advancing centrist policies to win the support of both parties, and addressing our real challenges, President Obama pursued an ideological agenda that made matters worse.
His administration and Congress sought to transform a free-enterprise society into a government-centered society. That meant a vastly expanded role for the federal government, higher spending to support that role, with higher taxes and debt to pay for his entitlement programs.
His party’s congressional leaders squandered hundreds of billions of dollars aimed to jump-start the economy and keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. Unemployment rose above 10 percent and has remained above 8 percent for more than 40 straight months.
Instead of focusing on getting the economy back on track, the president and the last Congress enacted a government-driven health care program. They spent 16 months pursuing this disastrous law, ramming it through on a party-line vote despite warning after warning that Americans rejected his misguided plan.
Rather than address Wall Street’s financial accountability issue, the president and his Congress continued to funnel billions of dollars to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and enacted the Dodd-Frank law giving protection and preferential treatment to big banks and more power to regulators who failed in the last crisis.
In 2005, Sen. Obama and other Democratic members stopped the Senate from considering legislation that would have empowered a regulator to crack down on these ‘Government-Sponsored Enterprises,’ and control their buildup of risky assets. That legislation might have eased or prevented the home mortgage meltdown that led to the financial panic three years later. Instead, Fannie and Freddie’s executives were enriched, the taxpayer got stuck with a bill of more than $300 billion to bail them out, while millions of Americans lost their homes in ensuing financial crisis.
The crony capitalist approach is a failure: economic growth and job creation remain anemic. Unprecedented numbers of Americans have stopped looking for work. Real GDP crept up just 1.7 percent in 2011, and 1.9 percent in the 1st quarter of 2012 — well below private-sector forecasts for this year, the 3 percent historical trend rate of U.S. growth, and a fraction of the pace in a typical recovery.
The government’s fiscal position has sharply deteriorated during President Obama’s term. In three and a half years, debt held by the public grew by about $4.5 trillion — a 70 percent increase. Instead of the promised 50 percent reduction, this year’s deficit is expected to come in at $1.2 trillion. This failure may be the President’s most consequential broken promise. Our debt is projected to spiral out of control in the years ahead. This is paralyzing economic growth. Investors, businesses and families fear that the coming debt crisis portends a diminished American future.
Americans aspire to control our own destiny and remain free from foreign powers who would impose limits on our dreams for ourselves and our children. If our generation fails to meet this challenge, America will surrender her independence to an army of foreign creditors who already own roughly half of our public debt. The policies in place today guarantee that outcome, unless we change course soon.
The budget passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year drew the pattern for a new president and Congress to follow beginning in 2013. It is a plan to lift the debt and free the nation from the constraints of ever-expanding government.
This budget will promote economic growth and opportunity immediately, with bold and fundamental reforms to the tax code and a credible, principled plan to stop the debt crisis from occurring.
President Obama’s government-centered policies embody corporate welfare, taking from hard-working Americans to support politically connected companies and privileged special interests. Our budget proposes to end corporate welfare.
Our budget will strengthen welfare programs for those who truly need support.
Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most. Relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead the effort to assist those in need simply does not work. As a result of a government-centered approach to the war on poverty, one in six Americans is now in poverty – the highest rate in a generation.
Our budget draws on the historic proven welfare reforms of the 1990s, empowering state and local governments, communities, and individuals who are closest to those in need. We also promote opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job training programs that help those who have fallen on hard times in an era of economic and technological change.
Our budget lifts the debt, fosters economic growth, and ensures that government keeps the promises it is making to Americans. Instead of letting critical health and retirement programs go bankrupt, our budget saves and strengthens them to fulfill their mission in the 21st Century.
A debate about the future of Medicare is overdue. Unfortunately President Obama frightens seniors with false charges about our plan, while staying silent about how he has already changed Medicare forever. His health care law put a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of cutting Medicare.
Senior citizens should be greatly concerned about Democrats’ efforts to stop true Medicare reform, because this will result in painful benefit cuts for current recipients. Our budget makes no changes for those in or near retirement and keeps the protections that have made Medicare a guaranteed promise for seniors over the years.
To save Medicare for future generations, we propose to put 50 million seniors, not 15 unaccountable bureaucrats, in charge of their personal health care decisions.
President Obama will push us further in the wrong direction on taxes. He is committed to taking more from the paychecks of hard-working Americans – not to pay down the debt, but to chase ever-higher government spending.
Only with the right leadership in place can we move forward with ideas that renew the American promise of leaving our children a stronger nation than the one our parents left us.
I remain confident in the wisdom of the American people to choose a brighter path. With a decisive victory this November, we can get back to work, rebuild our country, and meet our generation’s defining challenge by ensuring greater opportunities for generations to come.