December 5, 2016

Bring Levi's production back to America

Trump has made it a hallmark of his rise to power that America needs to start manufacturing again if it wants to become wealthy again (and not just for the 1%).

So far he's made examples out of companies that make machines -- cars, air conditioners, iPhones -- since the workers get paid better in those industries. They add more value assembling cars than they would assembling burgers because consumers are not willing to pay much for someone else to assemble a burger for them -- but a car? Who would know where to begin, even assuming you had all of the raw materials and equipment at hand?

By bringing back jobs that add a lot of value to their employers' operation, Trump is lifting up the working and middle class without having to raise the minimum wage. Most manufacturing jobs already pay at least $15 an hour, which the Bernie people want to be the new minimum wage. Aside from not having to force employers to pay more than it's worth to hire someone, the workers enjoy the dignity of having a decent-paying constructive job rather than a handout.

But even in our manufacturing heyday, making machines was not the entirety of what we made, especially for female workers. There were whole industries that mass-produced what women used to make in their own homes, such as clothing and linens of various kinds. Although they don't add as much value as workers making air conditioners, seamstresses still save consumers a big headache by assembling their clothes for them.

Clothing wears away faster than an air conditioner or a car, so what the clothing manufacturers miss in profit margin per item they make up in sales volume.

Whenever he feels like the timing is right, Trump should pick an iconic clothing company that has off-shored its production. The carrot is the much lower corporate tax rate and reduction of pointless regulations. The stick is a big fat 35% tariff if they insist on ruining American workers' livelihoods while selling them cheap crap from the third world.

I nominate Levi's as the next target. Founded way back in 1853, they used to have 63 factories in America as recently as the early 1980s, employing between 15 and 20 THOUSAND workers, and they closed their last factories less than 15 years ago. The final nail in the coffin is so recent that there are even contemporary articles about it on the internet (covered by Forbes, CBS, and NBC).

Everybody recognizes Levi's, everybody has a pair, so it wouldn't require a campaign just to familiarize the public with who the target is. Nor what the problem is -- everyone understand that "made in Mexico / India / etc." is crap in clothing, while "made in Italy / England / etc." means high quality. The difference is that Levi's isn't a luxury brand, so we wouldn't be paying extra for its connotations like we would for an Italian designer pair of jeans.

Trump is a genius at identifying brand ambassadors, and would not have to personally take on the project so much. Have someone more relatable to the target audience be the face of the arguments and policy changes. Former beauty pageant contestants with a conscience and business sense? Maybe Ivanka herself?

It's not an ancient tradition set in stone that jeans have to be made by slaves in the third world so that the corporate stockholders continue to make profits like they did in their heyday, forever. Sometimes they're going to make more, sometimes less -- and that doesn't give them the right to fire the entire American workforce.

What kind of sick society would promote those norms with blood relatives or spouses or churches? "Welp, you've been dragging me down from 100% maximum for a few quarters now... you understand that I've got to ditch you. Maybe when/if you're back at your peak levels, you can return. Otherwise you can get re-trained to fit into a relationship with some other brother / husband / congregation."

The new approach of government must be stewardship over America's industries as resources that the American people depend on for their livelihoods, not helping corporate boards make off with as much money as humanly possible, and the devil if it ruins everyone else's lives.

And remember this earlier post: when manufacturing returns, the higher labor costs will not automatically go toward higher prices for consumers. They can just as well get eaten by the stockholders in the form of lower profit margins per item. Companies that stubbornly insist on raising prices to maintain profit margins will get out-competed by their rivals who decide to be the first mover in biting the bullet. So they'll still be profitable and rich, just not richer than God -- perfectly fine.

On top of prices that are roughly the same as before, we're going to get a much better product, and we're going to improve the lives of tens of thousands of workers just in the Levi's company alone. Better yet, these will be workers who would have a hard time getting good-paying jobs in other manufacturing sectors like car production -- namely working-class women.

That will have all sorts of positive knock-on effects, such as women not depending so much on the government to provide for them, and not being as in thrall to the neoliberal Democrat coalition that tosses them a few handouts while shipping their good-paying jobs to Mexico, India, or China.

Those workers fired in the final San Antonio plant were mostly Hispanic, judging from the name of their protest group (Fuerza Unida), and they were angry that their jobs were getting shipped to Costa Rica. They didn't care that their job thieves were "fellow Hispanics," even assuming Mexican Texans identified with Costa Ricans. It's like Cesar Chavez's Hispanic farm union workers wanting to send the illegals back over the Rio Grande, so they couldn't undercut their wages in America.

Bringing back all these good-paying jobs for working-class women that don't require a high level of skill and training will bring even more minorities into the Trump coalition, without having to pander to identity politics or provide handouts. We don't need 100% of them to defect, just enough to break what's left of the blue wall in certain states. Then it's back to GOP dominance like we haven't seen since the original Progressive Era.

19 comments:

  1. I remember when I stopped wearing Levi's, the fit of which I've never been able to match. It was when they hit $40 a pair, which I think was around '01. I also noticed at that time that they weren't as durable as before. Since then I've been wearing
    Wranglers from Wal-Mart. L-S is also one of the most PC outfits around, totally "converged," as Vox would say.

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  2. The Establishment is going to have to work overtime to spin this as a negative.

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  3. It does not work to impose tariffs on US companies that offshore their production UNLESS you also put equivalent tariffs on non-US companies shipping goods into the US.

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  4. "L-S is also one of the most PC outfits around, totally "converged," as Vox would say."

    All the better to make them the target, just like Trump calling out Apple for over a year about making their product here.

    "What does San Francisco have against the American people anyway?" :trollface:

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  5. DF, Gee I thought the America-first policy would tax American companies while giving foreign companies tax-free entry into our market...

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  6. That's the way Mr Trump has usually explained it: If you move jobs out of the US, we're going to tax you!....maybe he means the non-US companies as well, but that's not getting airtime.

    I haven't looked at it in depth, but I suspect that in garment manufacturing it would take considerably more than a 35% tariff to overcome higher US labor costs.

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    1. Textiles are already being insourced on a small to medium scale. Paying 15-18/hr to women and shipping within the US is panning out for a lot of small producers who can't absorb the constant outsourcing corrections (much more expensive with textiles). There were some articles about it a few years ago. Fast fashion has been in slow collapse and if Trump can deliver killing blows, so much the better. And no, those Made in America clothes don't cost 35% more, about 15% more.

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  7. It takes whatever it takes, quit worrying.

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  8. http://theuptake.org/live-video-post/wisconsin-recount-day-3-waukesha-county/

    Teutons at work. Ya'll in the Sunbelt and Bos-Wash , this is what American government used to look like all over the place. No wonder California takes forever to count the votes.

    BTW, Trump has actually gained votes in quite a few places.

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  9. Trump will also have to make the unions tow the line somehow, as they are a big part of the reason so many manufacturing jobs have left the US.

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  10. Wrong. There was plenty of manufacturing in the South, where there were no unions. That's all gone, too.

    Specifically at Levi's, they never had one unionized worker (see the Forbes link). The idea was to promote good social values among management, so that the workers wouldn't have any grievances to unionize over. Apparently it worked.

    But that didn't keep the factories open, and 15-20 thousand never-unionized jobs were sent outside the country.

    Then the argument goes, "Well, we can't have either unions or socially responsible management that would enact the same policies as unions would if they existed." I.e., if only American workers would accept the pay and conditions of Mexican, Indian, and Chinese ant-people, it would be perfectly OK for manufacturers to hire here.

    But Americans are NOT ant-people.

    So, the "high cost" of hiring Americans means that those businesses will be less profitable hiring here than hiring in the third world. In other words, it'll be like it was before the '80s and '90s, when those businesses made plenty of profit and continued running companies that had existed for over 100 years in the case of Levi's.

    That is what matters -- maintaining the economic ecosystem, not maximizing profits to stockholders while impoverishing workers.

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  11. Dealing with unions is a moot point anyway for manufacturing -- as those jobs have been sent outside the country, the unions representing those workers have collapsed.

    Most "unions" today are for government service workers.

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  12. Albionic American12/5/16, 9:37 PM

    Corporations don't exist in nature, any way; they require legal and political construction, and they can only operate by obeying the law. If the Trump Administration changes the laws so that manufacturing corporations either have to keep factories in this country, or else bring absconded factories back, then that becomes the regime the corporations will have to work under to stay in business.


    BTW, Agnostic, what do you make of libertarian beliefs about money? I don't see the alleged horror of creating fiat money from "thin air." My driver's license came from "thin air" as well - driver's licenses no more exist in nature than corporations - yet this sort of document works pragmatically for the purposes of driving and identification. In fact all documents of the state come from "thin air," including the U.S. Constitution that many American libertarians claim to revere.

    I guess it depends on which gang produces something from "thin air."

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  13. cuckservative dot text http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/texas-republican-elector-says-he-wont-cast-ballot-for-trump/ar-AAlaYBO?li=BBnb7Kz

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  14. He may be a more familiar kind of traitor -- "Suprun" appears in a book on Jewish Family Names, so he or his ancestors could be Jewish converts to Christianity (esp. if he's from Texas).

    Generally the Slavs are big-league supporters of Trump, with arch-traitor Kasich being the exception the proves the rule.

    I can't wait to keep writing and saying "306" just to troll these retards into "fact-checking" tangents.

    Edit: Suprun also has clear gay-face.

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  15. Yeah Sisneros was more obvious, though I know some fiercely loyal "Hispanics." American conservatism is more gay than homosexuality at this point (as evidenced by frequent scandals and being defeated by homos time after time) draining the swamp is a major understatement of what is needed, something like one of the electrocution therapy procedures Pence supposedly advocates for queers would be more appropriate.

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  16. Well, well. About 1/3 of Wayne County's (Detroit) precincts have voting discrepancies. Evidently the number of ballots and listed voters/votes weren't reconciled correctly, with no explanation given.

    Some officials are blaming old machines and incompetent workers. Thing is, state law renders these precincts ineligible for a recount. But their original totals are allowed to stand. In other words, there's a convenient cover-up method in place for precincts proven to have botched their duty. Either by accident or on purpose, voters and/or officials could've run the same ballot through the scanner multiple times with no corrections made. Hell, even if someone was caught doing this, it would still be up to a poll worker to correct the overvote. Christ, do you trust inner city blacks to do anything right, even if they mean well?

    America's overall shape has been hammered by one diversity measure after another. In the 60's, 70's, and 80's civil rights and liberal do-gooders led to an invasion of blacks into the public workforce (perhaps to just get them off the streets if nothing else). Since the early 90's, in most big cities and much of the Sunbelt, the darkening of pop. demos means that we don't really even need legislation anymore to ensure workforce diversity in these areas.

    Anglo and Germanic people do large scale civics and industry best. The more people we draw from areas furthest from NW Europe, the more we can look forward to the basic functions of high civilization breaking down.

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  17. decent article on how puzder actually looks like a promising pick. maybe sessions and him will succeed in making sure they ALL GO BACK

    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/12/08/why-donald-trump-and-american-workers-need-andrew-puzder-as-secretary-of-labor/

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  18. The pants I own that are made in third-world countries still require a lot of unpaid American labor- specfically mine, when I have to constantly sew, patch, and otherwise repair the stupid things as they fall apart. They're not even that cheap, either. If it helps prop up the wages of my fellow Americans, I'd certainly pay 15% more for a pair of pants that doesn't fall apart after a month of wear.

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