Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So much for green jobs

In the news today was an announcement that Solyndra of Fremont, California declared bankruptcy and immediately laid off all 1,100 of their employees. This was the company that President Obama visited and touted as an example of his program creating “green” jobs. The US Energy Dept. provided a loan in March 2009 of $535 million to assist in getting started. Secretary Steven Chu promised the loan would create 4,000 jobs. Their product was solar panels. The President and CEO Brian Harrison stated “Regulatory and policy uncertainty in recent months created significant near term excess supply and price erosion”.
On 8/15 Evergreen Solar Inc and on 8/19 Spectra Watt Inc. filed bankruptcy. In Tucson just one week ago Solon Corp. laid off 60 production workers to send the jobs to China.
In China huge factories are being built or are already in existence to produce competing solar panels and other solar products. These are reported to be highly subsidized by the government.
The only comments I have heard from Republicans is to beat up on the President over granting the loan. When will they understand that private manufacturing jobs cannot compete when their competition is underwritten by a hostile government (China).
All the talk about creating jobs is hogwash. Is there no way to get Congress and the President to understand that jobs will continue to disappear all the while they debate.
Hello, hello, hello, are you up out of bed yet.

Jack B. Walters
August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's not amnesty, and courts will be unburdened

Arizona Daily Star editorial – August 28, 2011- my response below

I would expect nothing less than your support for the program President Obama has put into place. He couldn’t get Congress to approve his “Dream” Act so he accomplishes the same thing by executive order.
Of course the courts are jammed with cases and of course it makes sense to concentrate on criminals but have you ever asked the question of why? The process should be as simple as checking the person’s ID. If not a citizen or legal immigrant that person should be escorted out of the country without delay regardless of when he or she entered this country. The current legislation should be amended to make the system work as it should.
It is a continuing mockery to build fences and hire border patrol agents when those who are able to slip through are now deemed acceptable to stay and now be granted work visas while others wait to enter legally. Of course 9% unemployment is of no concern as Americans are to lazy to take the jobs these people will do, or so you claim.

Jack B. Walters
August 28, 2011

Colonel Roosevelt - a book report

By Edmund Morris

There have been many books written about the life of this remarkable man and his achievements. Not all sing his praise. I have found that most of our greatest leaders have those who find fault with them for one reason or another. It is always annoying to me. No matter what great accomplishments they did, someone always feels the need to bring them down a peg. This book was not like that. It was unique in that it concentrated on a finite period of his life from 1910 until his death in 1919 at the age of 61.
The Republican Party leaders were hoping he would run again for President in 1920 but the accumulation of trauma he had endured during his life finally took him down including being shot in the chest, malaria and leg wounds during his odyssey in the wilderness of Brazil charting an unknown river.
The book begins in the spring of 1909. He had finished his seven years as President turning the reins over to William Howard Taft. He has gone to Africa on a game hunting safari. It describes the many times his life was at risk. Afterwards he embarked on a visit to the countries in North Africa and Europe. He was greeted with the greatest respect wherever he went. While in Paris he uttered the following words which to me personified the type of man he was. He was bitter that some in academia “sneered” at anyone trying to make the real world better. He said;
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.
In my mind that is the perfect epitaph of this great man.
He became disillusioned with President Taft and when he could not win the Republican Primary he started his own party called “Bull Moose”. He won more votes than Taft but with the party split Woodrow Wilson the Democrat candidate became President in 1912. Roosevelt was a progressive and I believe was more Democrat than Republican as he railed against the excessive influence on Congress by the huge Corporations. He was also the strongest and most productive of all Presidents in the preservation of wilderness areas he felt should be preserved for future generations. He believed in graduated income and inheritance taxes on big fortunes, a judiciary accountable to changing social and economic conditions, comprehensive workman’s compensation acts, national laws to regulate the labor of children and women, higher safety and sanitary standards in the workplace, and public scrutiny of all political campaign spending, both before and after elections. He supported women’s right to vote. He tried to establish an understanding that science and religion could co-exist without harming each other. During his years as President he appointed men of color to key positions, most of who were quickly removed under Taft. Wilson’s Administration was also lily white.
At the end of another great speech he said “We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years, and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men”.
As the war in Europe struggled on with losses on all sides in the millions and German U-Boats sinking scores of American vessels, he became angry with his perception of Wilson as weak and indecisive. He spoke out for increased preparedness. The country gradually shifted from isolation to participation. It is clear that without the introduction of Americans the war would have stalemated for many years longer.
Roosevelt was a prolific author of books and articles. He had great knowledge of a number of subjects which to me was extraordinary.
I can recommend reading this book by anyone interested in American history.

Jack B. Walters
August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Private Sector Jobs

There can be no doubt that private sector jobs are disappearing in America at an accelerated pace. My main concern has to do with manufacturing but the service sector is also being diminished. When President Obama and Congress finally return from their vacations the ideas will be filling the newspapers and talk shows on a daily basis. Ideas usually proposed are; extend unemployment benefits, provide tax breaks for hiring employees, give billions to the States to assist them in resolving their respective shortfalls, continue under funding of Social Security by the 2% already in effect (further weakening the fund and shortening the time when funds will run out), infrastructure, etc. None of these will address the main point of creating private sector jobs. All of these will be a drain on our depleted treasury. Only private jobs will put money back into the treasury because the business and its employees will all be paying taxes. Not only that, but most manufacturing companies create other jobs in the community to support their mission. Taxes will accumulate from them as well.
It must be understood that business in order to be free must be allowed to pursue their endeavor as they see fit. They are duty bound to do all in their power to make a profit for their owners, whether stock holders or privately held. A company that is not successful goes out of business. It is as simple as that. If you do not believe in the free enterprise system then, of course, what I have just written does not make sense. Under Communism or Socialism, the government owns all property and makes the decisions on what should be produced. There are offshoots of these systems that have proven to be successful such as China which is a hybrid combining the power of the Communist State with allowing private enterprise to function on a small scale and subsidizing larger manufacturing who are competing with true free enterprise from America and elsewhere. There will come a time when this system will collapse. No country can continue to subsidize manufacturing. The problem for Americans is waiting for that to occur. In the meantime community after community in America loses more manufacturing jobs with nothing of value to replace the good paying jobs that have been lost.
Here is what I believe needs to be done. Evaluate all the reasons why manufacturing of products wanted in America are sent overseas. Certainly with all the high powered brains in Washington, this should be easy to accomplish. I want to be clear that I am talking about products to be sold in America. Manufacturing goods for other countries use are better if located in the respective country for all kinds of good reasons.
So let’s start. A study could be made of those companies that have moved their manufacturing or are in the process of doing so. I am sure the management would be willing to share the decision making process. Out of these interviews should produce a basis to start? High taxes are certainly a major reason. It is my understanding that America has the highest business tax rates in the world. Government restrictions and regulations are another. I read that some effort is being extended towards alleviating this burden while at the same time the clock is ticking on increasing regulations from the health care system approved two years ago. Certainly we need oversight of our food supply, drinking water and the air we breathe but I can tell you from my own personal experience that government regulations are a burden and detract from the primary mission of making a profit. China, in particular, does not burden their industry. Frivolous law suits are a continuing drain on profit. No large company would deliberately make unsafe products. Their goal is to entice repeat customers because of price, quality and service. Manufacturers are treated as if they were evil by intent. This is outrageous.
Skilled, industrious employees are a must. We are all aware that our educational system is failing our young people. Other countries are doing a superior job. If an employer cannot hire people capable of doing their assigned task then he must go to where he can find them. Right now China and India are leaving us far behind. I don’t even know if trade unions exist today, those places where young people can learn to be electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters, welders, machine shop operators, and tool and die craftsmen. Thirty years ago we had them but as industry has faded away the need for these skills has diminished to where I doubt that a new start up company could hire these type individuals. I retired from what I like to refer to as a mature plant. What I meant by that, is that new people were being hired while at the same time older workers were retiring. We had all levels of skill working. We are losing the work ethic. Millions have been receiving financial assistance while not leaving there homes, whether welfare or unemployment. Each is as bad as the other. Once the work cycle has been broken there is generated a lack of interest in returning as long as the combined income for the family is sufficient to support the family.
The sum of what I am trying to say is that all factors being weighed by manufactures should be placed in the open and then formulate legislation that would mitigate the strength of these arguments. The recovery process might be long and perilous since factories already sent overseas would not readily return due to the high cost of relocating and the uncertainty of what the next Administration and Congress might do to reverse course once again as they have done repeatedly over the decades. An immediate result could be stopping the outflow so that more jobs are not lost. Over time, at least some factories would return those that are not labor intensive. After all it is extremely expensive to ship finished goods across the ocean. I know they have perfected shipping but irregardless that is an expense. Then there is an increased assurance of higher quality products as a result of our stringent standards.
My last comment has to do with the weak kneed approach to China not only by the Obama Administration but during Bush’s eight years in office. We continue to play the role of patsy allowing China to break every rule in the book from stealing our manufacturing secrets, to blackmailing manufacturers who do relocate to follow their edicts, to manipulating the value of their currency, to using child and prisoners in the work force, for lack of concern for safety and quality. Vice President Biden has just ended a “good will” visit to China. I can assure you that no pressure was brought to bear to keep more factories from closing and relocating to China. We hear words from time to time, particularly from those attempting to stay in office but regardless of fine words they just don’t have the gumption to change the disastrous outflow of good paying jobs. It is up to us, the people to force them to do the job we send them to Washington to accomplish. I hope you will be one of those persons.

Jack B. Walters
August 27, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We have met the enemy and he is us

I try in vain to search for an issue, any issue that is supported by the majority of Americans. We continue to argue and fight among ourselves while the rest of the world continues to pass us by. My latest example is the report that was printed in today’s Arizona Daily Star, from McClatchy Newspapers in regard to sit-ins in Washington against the construction of a pipeline which could deliver up to 1.3 million barrels of crude per day from our good neighbor to the North, Canada.
There are concerns about aquifers, crop land and property rights. I guess these protesters would rather continue getting oil from the Middle Eastern countries that use the gains to support terrorist organizations or build skyscrapers high into the atmosphere rather than promote the general welfare.
This has nothing to do with global warming. A barrel of oil is still only a barrel of oil no matter who provides it. Some time hopefully we and the rest of the civilized world will wean ourselves off of using oil but until that happy day, doesn’t it make sense to get it from our neighbor
While I am at it, we have proven reserves on the North Slope of Alaska equivalent to Saudi Arabia. We could be self sufficient and bring our troops home from those god forsaken countries, fighting wars that cannot be won no matter how long we stay or how many more lives are lost.
These protestors are doing a disservice for our country.

Jack B. Walters
August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scoop of the Century - A plea to the Arizona Daily Star Editor to do his job

What is wrong with your editorial staff? On August 16, 2011, I wrote a letter to the editor entitled “Solon Corp. cuts 60 manufacturing jobs in Tucson”. It was not deemed worthy to publish.
Day after day we read and listen to the President, members of Congress, candidates for President, the talk show hosts and columnists talking about jobs, jobs, and jobs. That word is the new buzzword being used to galvanize our people into voting for this or that candidate, or support one of the two major parries. Never or almost never do any of them talk specifics?
You search for all kinds of stories to put into print. The Solon decision should be assigned to your best investigative reporter, who then should drive out to the factory, take pictures, interview management and employees, contact top management which in this case is located in another country. Find out all the facts and then write a series of articles to shine light on what is happening all over the country. Soon, if nothing is done the only jobs left will be minimum wage jobs at McDonalds.
I spent my working life in manufacturing. It is a dog eat dog business. Every day you devote yourself and staff to find better ways of producing by lowering costs or increasing quality, or any of the many things needed to be competitive. In my day our community and our country were a part of that process. No more, only the bottom line.
Think about the process that resulted in the decision to take all the equipment off the floor, crate it, ship it and re-install thousands of miles away, then turn around and send the product back to Arizona for installation.
Think about the 60 employees who were making a reasonable wage, supporting their families, paying taxes, buying goods and services in our local economy. Now they will be added to the list of unemployed searching for jobs that no longer exist in America.
Vice President Biden is in China as I write this. I can assure you that nothing of importance will come out of his visit. I will also remind you that during the eight years of Bush the hemorrhage of jobs to China accelerated. China treats us like fools. They steal our jobs using every trick in the book including manipulating their currency to their advantage. All we do is ask for their kind indulgence. It is way past time to say enough and take tough, immediate action against China and the other countries taking our jobs and stand up for Americans and try to restore the American dream of a good life for our families.
How about it, won’t you do your job?
Jack B. Walters August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Army suicides - Arizona Daily Star - 8/13/2011

I wonder if the hundreds of soldiers committing suicide has anything to do with the orders they must follow in these Arab countries of not responding until sure of the target for sake of offending the natives. They are trained for combat not house to house searches. The strain of wondering who is friend or foe and the ever present buried bombs plus the heavy load of weapons and protective gear they must carry has to be demoralizing.
My solution, bring them home, all of them.

Jack B. Walters
August 13, 2011

Solon Corp. cuts 60 manufacturing jobs in Tucson

Green energy was supposed to create jobs for Americans. This announcement from Solon shows it was all a charade. Our President is off campaigning in his fancy new bus while Congress takes a respite from their arduous efforts. I will tell you this would not happen on my watch. Assuming there will be a reduction in defense spending there will be other workers put on the street. We cannot continue the charade that we are a great country with all workers drawing unemployment benefits out of money we don’t have.
Our taxation of business is the highest in the world. Is it any wonder manufacturers move to China to increase their profit? The only way to turn this around is to lower the cost of doing business in America. When Senator McCain suggested lowering from 35% to 25% the audience groaned. I seldom agree with him but in this case he was right. I don’t know if 25% would reverse the outflow but certainly there are some intelligent people left in positions of power in Washington who could figure it out.
Am I upset with the management of Solon, you bet, but I am more upset with Obama and Congress for not creating a climate conducive for the growth of manufacturing jobs in America.

Jack B. Walters
August 16, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 2, 2011 - A Date That Will Live In Infamy

On this date the Congress finished their arduous work and President Obama signed the legislation adding an additional $2.2 Trillion to the National Debt limit. Conveniently it should keep us solvent until after the elections in 2012, so neither the President nor members of Congress will have to debate this subject during the election process. There is a pledge (worthless in my opinion) to find $2 Trillion in reductions over the next decade. A committee is to be established of 16 members of Congress equally divided between the Republicans and Democrats. It is to be created before the end of this year. No one it seems is anxious to volunteer to serve including our own fearless Senator Kyle. He stated in jest that his bladder could not stand the many hours of sitting to come up with ideas.
This is such an important subject that the exhausted members of Congress immediately adjourned until after Labor Day to recover from the ordeal. President Obama on the other hand immediately got on Air Force I for a campaign stop in Chicago. Regrettably he had to make a huge sacrifice by staying in Washington to deal with the “crisis”. He missed ten fund raising events during that time. It is really a shame that he had to give up the activity he enjoys the most i.e. campaigning and raising money.
There was a time during my lifetime when governing was so important that full attention and total effort was expended to deal with the important issues of the day but no more. This is just a game for these people. They spend most of their time raising money for their re-election, always saying the right words that we want to hear but keep on playing the giveaway game to their benefactors. The Republicans favor the wealthy with tax breaks far in excess of what normal people pay and rewarding Corporations for sending our manufacturing and service jobs overseas. The Democrats keep giving money by any means possible to their base constituency to assure their loyalty at the ballot box.
There are so many obvious steps that could and should be taken right now, not a month from now. I won’t bore you with my thoughts but trust me I have ideas. Instead of going on vacation they should be searching for immediate things to do to stop the hemorrhage. I will share one thought. Without increased tax revenue there is no hope of balancing the budget. The way I would do it is to eliminate the give away for sending jobs overseas and lower the cost of doing business in America. Millions of workers earning paychecks would start increasing the cash flow to the treasury without increasing rates. This is so obvious that my head hurts thinking about it. How does your head feel?

Jack B. Walters
August 4, 2011