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Made In USA – Review Series

May 3rd, 2009 No comments

For the past few months you have inevitably heard the phrase “Buy American”.  This isn’t a new phrase by any means, especially if you have been around me.  It is almost a humorous statement usually followed by a smirk from most people.  It is no mystery to anyone that has been around me long enough to know I get on my soap box when confronted with the question “how do you plan to solve it”.  I’m not totally sure how to end it, in fact I don’t want to end it.  Globalization at its finest created the US – sailors hitting the shores of North America searching for riches.  What I do want to end is the displacement of American’s for manufacturing jobs overseas.  In other words I don’t want an American to be out of work so that a product can be produced in another country.

This post isn’t about history or so much about social awareness of my fellow American’s as it is an introduction to a series of post I am writing about American Made goods I have bought and used over the past few months.

I plan to do a post about each of the products.  I have no time-line for completion or number of post.  As a disclaimer I have not been paid or even requested to do reviews of these products. So far I plan to do a review of:

  • Work Boots
  • T-shirts
  • Jeans
  • Socks
  • Tools

You know the basic guy stuff.  My inspiration comes from a fellow blogger Stephanie at On My Mind.  Stephanie runs a website,dedicated to goods “Still Made in the USA.”  Stephanie’s Why Care page states it well the reasons I care and what my intention of the post to come are about:

According to consumer polls, most Americans don’t know or care where products are made, and if asked will say only that they would buy American-made products if the cost were the same or nearly the same as the imported versions.

With our single-minded pursuit of low prices, we have attained unprecedented levels of material possessions, but what have we given up? The answers are all around us if we would but look. The more I read and listen, the more reasons I find to pay attention to where things are made.

The purpose of StillMadeinUSA.com [in my case the corresponding post] is not to stridently criticize, but to gently persuade. The decision to be an informed consumer must come from within. Below I suggest some reasons why consumers should care about looking for products that are made in the U.S.

Stay tuned for more info and post to come. Don’t forget you can sign up to recive post via e-mail.

American-made steel is cleaner than steel made in China

April 22nd, 2009 1 comment

Happy Earth Day!

Since today is Earth Day I thought I would share in something that is near and dear to my heart, Steel.  As a product of the American Middle Class and third generation of Steel Mill Workers in Birmingham lets just say the post below is a hot topic for me. China’s Pollution Problem

Growing up in a state that has weak environmental laws that barely expand the basic laws the Federal Environmental Agency demands has always been issue for my community.  We have come a long way and still have further to go.  But one country is not doing its share of keeping the environment clean.

American Steel is Cleaner than Chinese Steel

TreeHugger’s John Chamber’s has reported on AAM’s recent study of China’s steel industry.  Chambers notes that steel production in China creates 5 times more sulfer dioxide, 18 times more particulate matter and 3 times more nitrogen oxides per ton of steel than that of production in the United States.

graphic comparing china to us steel production.jpg

Moreover, carbon emissions for each ton made in China are twice that of their American counterparts. The American steel industry has worked hard to cut their environmental footprint. The reduction of greenhouse gases means industry has surpassed Kyoto target by 240%. Plus, the Chinese companies can expect smaller fines for non-compliance of environmental standards for the iron-based resource from their centralized governments. The maximum fine in China is $14,000.00 compared to $450,000.00 in the United States.

Read the report.

Steel isn’t the only thing China is polluting with. You might want to Check out what the Brits are saying about pollution in China too.  Somewhere else too look is the Australian’s chatter on the topic.

A 2007 New York Times Article puts the pollution in Bejing in Perspective:

As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.

But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. read more…

With all the problems China is inflicting on the world, why not buy American Steel?

Maglev Comes to Birmingham

April 17th, 2009 3 comments

High Speed Rail MapMaglev high speed trains are coming to Birmingham.  In a proposal by the Obama Administration high speed trains will connect Atalanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Birmingham in the Gulf Coast Corridor.

According the Federal Railroad Administration the “vision is to transform the nation’s transportation system, by rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while launching new high speed passenger rail services in 100-600 mile corridors that connect U.S. communities. Similar to how interstate highways and U.S. aviation system were developed in 20th century: partnership between public sector and private industry, including strong Federal leadership that provided a national vision”.

The proposal was released yesterday (April 17, 2009) and by no means definite. Funds have been allocated to the tune of $8 Billion initially and $1 Billion annually over the next five years. These funds are considered a down payment on what is surely to require many more Billions of dollars from state and local governments. First round Federal Grants are expected to be awarded by the end of Summer 2009.

Obama’s administration is promising a transparent approach in development and outlines what appears to be a three phase plan to implement based on merit and benefits.

  • First round of applications will focus on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation and other public benefits.
  • Next round to include proposals for comprehensive high-speed programs
    covering entire corridors or sections of corridors.
  • Additional funds will be available for planning to help jump-start corridors not yet ready for construction.

Ten Major Corridors have been Identified.

  • California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
  • Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
  • South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
  • Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
  • Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleavland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
  • Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
  • Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
  • Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
  • Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)

Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, Providence, Boston) to compete for funds for improvements to the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service, and for establishment and upgrades to passenger rail services in other parts of the country.

The proposed high speed rail system is intended for immediate economic relief creating new jobs, specifically in the construction and manufacturing sector.  Proposals have also been made that this system will be a green system.  A date for breaking ground on the project was not proposed in the announcement.  Planning and funding application time line goes through February of 2009.  So the immediate impact on Middle-class workers isn’t likely until years to come.

From the Federal Railroad Administration on the Gulf Coast Corridor:

Gulf Coast High Speed Train Corridor
Major Cities: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian, Birmingham, Atlanta

Overview: The designated Gulf Coast Corridor would use New Orleans as its hub, with three spokes reaching (1) Houston, (2) Mobile, and (3) Birmingham and Atlanta. At Atlanta, the Gulf Coast Corridor would connect with the Southeast Corridor to Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, and Northeast Corridor points. At present, no corridor-type intercity rail service operates in this corridor, although Louisiana has been working with Amtrak and the Kansas City Southern to initiate a commuter service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The FRA has made study grants to the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission (SHSRC, formerly known as the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission), which comprises appointees of the three member states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama).

Status: Current activity includes a Baton Rouge to New Orleans conceptual engineering study and a New Orleans gateway rail improvement project.

For Further Reading on the High Speed Rail system from the Federal Railroad Administration:

Other News articles:

Where has Chris Estes Gone?

February 24th, 2009 1 comment
Imaged adapted from TandTINC.com

Imaged adapted from TandTINC.com

For those of you that have been following me know the last year or so have been tough.  So I’m going to take a break and explain it all to you and give you the update on my status.

As many of you know I lost a job in Washington DC then moved to take a job in New York City.  For various reasons that job lasted until the mortgage crisis hits its high and the banks didn’t need contract labor.  So I once again packed my bags to move home to Birmingham because I decided to start my own Business stemming from my work with SEO by Chris and start a business of my own called Birmingham SEO. During the few months after my move back to Birmingham I need to get my health in check.  I had all kinds of physical and emotional problems that required some overnight stays for testing and observation.  Most of these so called “Problems”  were all related to stress and being overworked.  Some might just call it “exhaustion”.  So about the middle of June all is well and I’m ready to get back at it full time. Plus we all know money doesn’t grow on trees it comes from somewhere.

Image Adapted from library.thinkquest.org

Image Adapted from library.thinkquest.org

During June I built my business plan and implemented the web portion.  In the process I picked up a couple sites of my own that I would use to supplement my consulting income.  The websites did show real potential. But all the while not producing money.  So into July I took a short term contract as a political consultant for the Humane Society Legislative Fund while trying bring in some revenue and potential clients down the road.  The revenue part worked well but the clients were hitting a slow.  I would make calls and look through the want ad’s for people needing services.  The state of the economy was starting to really hurt my target business and they did not or could not afford services.  So in turn business hit bottom.  I put a lot of time in building up my sites that have turned out to be only a supplement and produce about enough for a Mc Meal a day.  Since we all know money doesn’t grow on trees I have decided to get back into the regular employment market to make ends meet while I wait for my customer base to come back around.

I am currently in the process of talking to several employers but they are either almost too scared to hire or want someone with many qualifications and years of experience.  The current employment situation is a company’s dream.  They get a much better pool of applications to choose from.  I got turned down for a job that the only posted job requirement was “Pass a Drug Test” and “Graduate High School.”  The person they hired had a Masters Degree and Spoke 3 languages.  If I was the hiring manager that person would have been my choice too.

Logo from IBEW.org

Logo from IBEW.org

Adapted from WoodFramers.com

Adapted from WoodFramers.com

So I am going back to my roots and what I know.  I’m a third generation union worker with an electrician brother.  Blue Collar work runs through my veins.  I have fought it and tried to change it – you just can’t change who you are.  So the most promising leads for employment is with craft unions in Birmingham.  Accepting  one of these jobs will still enable me to pursue and grow my business.  Weather it be with the Carpenters or the Electricians I hope to find the fix to my economic woes.

So really the state of the economy has effected me.  I’m not bad off like some places.  I am very fortunate and do see that if the economy doesn’t rebound and correct itself I could quickly be with the others.  My business plans are on hold for the moment.  Not really on hold – I’m waiting for the market to rebound and allow me to get back to work.

Wish me luck and wish America Luck.  Times are tough for many people. My contribution is buying American.  It may be more expensive but is a better product almost always.  Plus it helps out your neighbor.  If you neighbor is working then that means things are going to be ok.  If we get Americans back to work our Economic Crisis will be over.  Its really simple.  if people are spending money then that means there making money.  So help me do my part and make it yours.  Buy American.  Real Patriots buy American.

Image adopted from Wikinomics.com

Image adopted from Wikinomics.com