Do I hate the American worker? Or is it just my wallet?

by pittcaleb Email    42892 views


I needed a new pair of shoes this past weekend, so off to Sears it was, where I know they carry my favorite shoe - New Balance. Not only do I find their shoes comfortable and well built, I also know they're the last American Manufacturer of sneakers and one of the very few shoe companies left in this country at all. The pair of New Balance 845's I currently wear are proudly "Made in the USA" even if showing a bit of wear.


When I got to my local Sears on Saturday, my eyes were immediately drawn to a pair of brand new New Balance 608's sporting a very cool Patriotic American Flag logo behind the "608" emblazoned on the tongue. The price was good, $80 on sale for $70 and the box proudly boasted "Support the American Worker." I tried them on, put them back in the box and it's on the next department for us.

On our way out however, I saw another pair of New Balance shoes for only $40. I didn't remember what the ones I had picked out cost me, so I double-checked. Ouch. What's the difference. Maybe I got a running shoe and this is a walking shoe or cross trainer. Hmmm, let's check the "model" number New Balance assigns to each shoe:

Hmmm, the model number is the same, 608. This one has a "v2" signifier, although normally, those extra numbers & letters mean something better, not worse. I mean it's a shoe, the 608 should fit like a 608, period. It should be the same stuff, top to bottom, otherwise it would have a different number, right? What on earth could make this shoe 45% cheaper than the All American one I already had under my arm?

Ahhhh... The American Shoe was going to cost me $33 more because it was NOT made by some 12 year old child in Indonesia rather, an American Worker. I get it now. Ouch... Now I am faced with a moral dilemma. Do I support the American Worker, and by extension America and American Superiority & the American Economy, or do I support my own family, saving money for college, putting healthy meals on the table and putting away for my retirement? Well, there's a third thing in play here - is New Balance producing an inferior product in Indonesia? Would they really put their big N logo on the side of a shoe that is of poor build quality? I don't think so.

Thus the question is merely where is this $33 difference going? 7% of that is tax, I'll admit I added that into the money, so Gov. Christie is taking $2.13 off the top. That leaves a $31 difference. Department stores mark their products up quite a bit, but this was already on sale, so let's say there's a 25% margin on the shoe, Sears takes $7.75 off the $31 leaving $23.25. Transportation has got to run a few bucks per shoe, let's call is $2.25, so we have $21.00 remaining. The corporate types have to cover their costs, R&D, sales, marketing and profit. Let's presume this is half the money going back to the company - $10.50 for New Balance and $10.50 for the workers.

Of that $10.50 that is earmarked for the workers, above and beyond what the poor kid in Indonesia made that is. If they were taxed on this money, they'd lose at least 25% between state & federal taxes, so the take home from the $10.50 would be $7.88. So I want to make a bold pledge right here. The first person who reads this blog post, who can prove to me that they work for New Balance Shoes as a Sneaker Assembly Person, I will gladly send you $7.88 as unseen wages for the pair of shoes I bought from Sears last weekend. And if someone does step forward, with proof of employment, I will send the remaining $25.12 to an Indonesian charity of your choice.

And my question to New Balance - What the hell? If you're trying to make a point, I think you've succeeded. The American Consumer says they want to support the American Worker, however when presented with the opportunity to save 45%, we'll screw 'em and buy cheap. Mission accomplished.

Am I a bad person for buying the cheap shoe? I guess that depends on if you're an executive or designer at New Balance or a line worker there. Or the person who makes the $33 widget I bought with my saved money... Could New Balance manufacture all their shoes in the states and the price be somewhere in the middle where everyone is happy? Could the "Average American" afford to "Buy American" these days or would they then be unable to put food on their table? All good questions, for which I have no good answers... Strange decision I was forced to make this weekend, one I won't soon forget...

Disingenuousness

by pittcaleb Email    5863 views

I abandoned this blog almost a year ago, but retain it for writing longer "notes." This one has been stirring in me for some time, please give it some of your time. - C2

This post really has to parts, if part 1 starts to bore you, please don't skip the rest, just jump down to the second section where I deal with Christians & Disasters...

 

Political Disingenuousness

 

I spent a lot of time in the car on my recent 2,600 mile road trip. 54 hours and 20 minutes to be exact. I had the "opportunity" to listen a wee bit of talk radio along the way. As a Libertarian, I believe in limited (or no) government with a very strict scope of operations. Thus I tend to align with the "right wing conservative" talking heads out there when they discuss the current state of our deficit, debt, taxation and stimulus packages.

Now I enjoy a good political debate, but what I want is honesty. I don't like it when a trivial point is made into the Apocalypse or a major one trivialized. I want honesty and genuineness.

What I heard on my 2-week road-trip was a lot of people saying, and I quote, "Us American's are merely asking the Federal government to do what we are forced to do every month - balance the budget!" They go on to say that they have to pay their bills and live withing their own means and that there's no reason the federal government shouldn't do the same. Let me tell you, I agree with the conclusion, but not the precursor.

  • Base-line unemployment stands at 9% while it was only 4.5% just a few short years ago.
  • Homes are being foreclosed upon at staggering rates - 1.3 million in 2007, over 3.0 million in 2008, almost 4 million in 2009, 3.8 million in 2010!
  • There were 1.7 million Bankruptcy filings in the year ending March 2011, 1.6 in 2010, 1.2 in 2009 and 900 in 2008.
  • The average American family has nearly $16,000 in credit card debt.

To go on the air and seay "We're forced to pay our bills, the Government should too" is simply disingenuousnss. The argument can, and should, be made using facts, not by making failed comparison. If all we ask is that our government spend money like *we* do, then we're doing a mighty fine job.

The average NET WORTH of a minority family in this country is only $6,000 (black & hispanic). This computer system I'm using is worth that much, second hand! To say to the government do as I do is disingenuousnss 'cause if it did, they'd be getting up their eyeballs in debt, filing for bankruptcy and leaning on another government to bail them out. That's how we roll... Be it (necessary) food stamps, unemployment, FEMA aid, Farm Subsidies or TARP.

Should the government change the way they do things? Yes! Can we go around asking them to merely "balance the books like we have to do?" No! Because as a country, we DON'T balance the books. I do, and I'd love to know who's holding on to my $16,000 in credit card debt!

 

Christian Disingenuousnss

 

The East Coast recently got walloped by Hurricane Irene. I was quite fortunate, our damage was cleaned up with a kitchen towel (ruined, cost $1.98) and a RedBox late fee ($3.98, since refunded). I have nothing to complain about.

Now let me state that I we are a church-going family. My wife and I are both active in ministry and support our church both financially and with our time. We minister both inside and outside of the church walls.

Some have said to me, "You are so blessed" or "God protected you and your house" during the storm. I've heard it on TV said that "God blessed us by protecting our house." Now let me go on record as saying I believe in God's protection and dare want it lifted from my family! I believe God can keep bad things from happening to you, make your clothes or vehicles last longer, not need repair - you get the gist. I am "that kind" of Christian.

However, when my house is bone dry and my Christian friend, who I know serves the Lord, loves the Lord and is Faithful to the Lord has a flooded basement a block away - did God decide "Screw them, I'm going to protect the Cohen's today and let the Smith's (substitute name) house flood?" Did the Smith's somehow fall into sin in the days before the hurricane and thus lose God's protection upon their house? Or is their house simply built in a place where if it rains hard and the power is lost (mine wasn't) their sump can't keep up and their basement floods? Did God allow the tree to fall and destroy a house simply because that person wasn't being as faithful as the other? I can only compare two known Christians for the sake of this insane argument mind you.

I find it disingenuousness for me to tell my Christian friend, or any friend for that matter, "I feel so blessed that God saved our house from flooding." That puts myself up on a pedestal as being a better person than them if their basement flooded.

There's a JBQ question that reads, "What is the meaning of the story of Job?" The answer on the card states, "That not all misfortune that comes to a Christian is punishment for Sin." My the transitive property, I argue also the opposite. "Not all good things that happen to a Christian are reward for faithfulness."

My wife had a mountain biking accident once. Pretty ugly actually, but she has a great story to tell now. A Pastors Wife told us while she was in the hospital that this must have been punishment for sin. It changed our relationship forever. Yes, sin & sickness entered the world together, but if this correlation is accurate, prayer time at church I suppose is the listing of people who aren't "good" Christians then, right?

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming, I'm starting to read stories of those who felt God's guiding hand as they escaped the catastrophe. Some deal with massive doses of survivors guilt. I can not fathom being in the towers that day. No words. I also can not fathom surviving that and continuing to lead a normal life afterward.

I caution those who make comments of how God blessed them, or saved them or directed them to consider how they phrase their remarks such that the opposite can not be inferred. Yes, God can help guide you out of a collapsing building. I do not disagree whatsoever and I pray for Him to guide me through the calamities I find myself in. However, to say it in such a way to presumes those who dies God didn't care so much about is, well, being disingenuous.

I struggle with the religious overtones 9/11 has come to represent. That if this is a God-thing, how said God could have allowed 3,000 people to die that day. That if God choose to save person X, why he didn't save person Y on the same floor who attended the same church and tithed the same amount.

However, if, through the sin of the world, this was an act of utter malice towards an innocent people in an act of war - well, stuff happens, and we deal with it once it does. Some people survived that shouldn't have, some didn't that should. Hero's were born and lives were lost. I am sure God's hand guided many to safety that day, even kept some from going into the office at all. But bad things happen in this world. Sometimes good people pull through. Sometimes they don't. Why does the drunk survive the accident, but the 24 year old co-ed who just got engaged not? These are things we'll never understand. It's on my list of questions to ask God when I get to Heaven. I'll let you know the answer when I get there. And I won't be disingenuous with my answer.

Why I don't like Daytona

by pittcaleb Email    15511 views

A blog post for information too long for Facebook or Twitter:

I have never liked Daytona, I'll be honest, I watch it merely for "the big one" wishing to see tons of mangled metal and hurt feelings that will create some drama in the increasingly bland NASCAR for the weeks and months to come. I like that the 'new' cars are so much safer, as I now feel less guilty rooting for this carnage.

The reason I don't like Daytona is that literally anyone can win the race. Michael Waltrip won in 2001, need I say any more? Trevor Bayne won it this year. It may be 5 years before you hear his name called out in a Cup victory lane again. I love him, I truly do, but he won by being lucky to stay out of wrecks and be at the front with 10 to go. Put me in the seat at that point in the race and I might win too.

But here's the proof: Mathematically, the top 15 in Daytona has an average finish of 8. Those 15 drivers had an average finish of 20th in Phoenix last weekend. On average, the top finishers at Daytona came in 12 places worse than they did at Daytona. Need I say more?

Worse drops in performance - Bayne, Smith, Edwards, Ragan all dropping over 20 positions from week 1. 4 more drivers finished 10 slots worse than the 500. Only 3 drivers improved on their Week One showings - Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger & Tony Stewart. Kurt Busch only fell a few spots, and has 2 top 10 finishes.

Finishing well, and winning, Daytona is more about luck than anything else. Skill is required, but any driver at this level has it. Nothing, save a blown engine or two by a top builder, can be gleened from the season opener, nothing. I'm psyched for Bayne and the Wood Brothers and the winnings will help them, and this sport, tremendously. But to think Baybe, Gilliland, Elliott or either of the Labonte's is ready to challenge for the Sprint Cup or even make the chase is a fallacy.

Phoenix was an interesting race, between two drivers and one who wrecked (Gordon, Busch & Edwards). NASCAR, ratings aside, still has problems with the level of competition. I look forward to the Sunday this summer when I *don't* watch the race in FFW on my TiVo and enjoy the racing for what it used to be.

For everything, there is a season...

by pittcaleb Email    9136 views

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

The first post in this blog is dated 1/15/05, nearly six years ago. Since then, I have written 854 entries - more than a post every 3 days, including the large time I have been off this past year. Amazing if you think about it.

But that's not all, if you use the Internet Archive machine and go to my old web site, you can see that I was "blogging" before Blog was even a word. Based on the archive, it appears I have been "blogging" since at least 5-13-1999! Yeah, think about that - I've been posting random musing of my life for 11.5 years!

It's time for a change. I've written this post in my head a dozen times over the past couple of years, but now it's time for it to be published. Two of the blogs I used to read regularly have gone silent in the past 12 months and I believe it's time for Hail2Pitt to find a new meaning too.

Here's my problem - if you read the items I have posted over the years, you know I don't just throw up a link & sentence and hit submit. Everything I do I want to provide my personal commentary - I'm not a news gathering site, I'm a commentary site, with my slant on news, technology & religion.

Therein lies my problem - if you know me, I operate in verbose mode all the time. Terse is not a part of my vocabulary. This hearkens back to Zorg for all you old-timers.

I have a list of probably 50 hyperlinks, news items, web sites, etc. that I want to blog about - I am not lacking for things to post. What I am lacking is time and desire to post them properly - in a fashion I believe is acceptable to my readership.

What better way to terse'ize ones life than to Tweet? So that's my new idea - I've been on Twitter for quite some time and use it to post random thoughts that at least a hundred people, probably 50 of them real folks I know, find interesting. That's going to be my new outlet. I am never at a loss for things to say or talk about, so my new outlet will be Twitter. There I can easily toss up a link and brief comment and be done - no guilt at a lacking commentary, no guilt at leaving my readers bored - just toss it up and let the brevity be the beauty.

This blog will remain for archival purposes. Interestingly, I still get 500-1000 *browser* hits per day on this site with next to no new content in a year. Go figure. The home page will change over the next months I am sure to something interesting and for me to play with, who knows what life it may take on. Check back some time, I'm sure you'll find it interesting.

So here's how to reach me:
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/PittCaleb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PittCaleb
Four Square: http://foursquare.com/user/95696

Heck, on most any social network site or message board, just look for PittCaleb. It's my PSN ID too if you're looking to play some Gran Turismo 5 with me... Note, if I don't actually know you, I won't accept any friend requests, so don't bother - but please follow the Twitter account, that's public and open to everyone. Plus, if I don't have "followers" how will I know if I'm not just talking to an empty room?

Expanding Baseball's Playoffs

by pittcaleb Email    4219 views

I am a purest in every sense of the word when it comes to baseball. There is so much of today's game, rules & playoff format that I do not like.

That said, the recent move by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball to start the expansion of the playoffs to 10 teams I find funny from a Pittsburgh Pirates fan point-of-view.

Playoff expansion in all sporting leagues is traditionally designed to have more teams participate and more teams "in the race" for a playoff slot "down the stretch." Adding 2 more teams to the post-season may add 4 more teams fans being interested in the August & September games.

That said, even if they expanded the playoffs to 28 teams, the Pirates would sit out the annual October festivities.

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