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Time to reinvigorate American manufacturing
Written by John Steel   
Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:19

The other day, I noticed that my new New Balance running shoes were made in the United States. I was thrilled.

I knew that some American, who shops, pays taxes, is part of a community, and probably raises a family here made those shoes. I knew that his or her community benefited from the presence of a factory, and that the tumble down benefit radiated outward. And I knew that someone's father, or mother, or friend was leading a better life because of the wages from making those shoes.

You don't have to have an advanced economics degree to know why all of that is good for the U.S. economy. And you don't have to be a psychologist to know why all of that is just plain good for everyone.

Sadly, the "Made in the USA" label has all but disappeared. Even New Balance, the only athletic shoe manufacturer still making shoes in the United States, only produces about 25 percent of its shoes here. Indeed, we don't make much in this country anymore. That is a devastating loss to all of us.

How can we turn this around? How can we rebuild the manufacturing sector, create the high-paying and stable jobs needed to restore pride and a comfortable standard of living to our workforce, and get the country back on its economic feet?

 
Even television can be outsourced
Written by John Feffer   
Thursday, 04 November 2010 14:22

The unemployment rate remains near double digits and many Americans have simply stopped looking for work. Yet somehow an NBC sitcom about U.S. jobs going overseas is becoming a hit.

The show, called Outsourced, revolves around an American manager running a call center in India. It's great to see a prime-time show take place somewhere other than the United States. After all, if you get all of your information about the world from network television, you might not even be able to locate Canada on a map (oh, yeah, that place just to the right of Northern Exposure).

The premise of Outsourced is that Todd, the American manager, is saddled with a B team of call center employees--quirky but loveable underdogs who are just struggling to get by. In other words, an American television audience is being asked to sympathize with a group of Indian workers who have jobs that Americans have recently lost. That any Americans want to watch--its average of 6.3 million viewers a week makes the show one of the top new network offerings so far this season--is remarkable.

The truth is that we're divided. There's a gulf between cosmopolitans who benefit from globalization and blue-collar workers whose wages have gone steadily downhill because of foreign competition. Some people appreciate the 24-hour customer service line, regardless of the accent of the person on the other end. Others are strictly "Buy American."

 
Leading the way to a smarter future
Written by Janet Redman   
Thursday, 30 September 2010 14:12

Moments of crisis offer two options: You can respond out of fear by hunkering down, arming yourself, and planning to shoot anyone that comes near your end-of-days outpost. Or you can embrace a smarter option by banding together and taking creative action toward a positive transition.

As our nation grapples with chronic unemployment and the growing negative effects of climate change, the good news is that the transition approach is taking off in more and more places. People living in cities and heartland towns are starting to work together, to make their communities more resilient to economic and environmental uncertainty by moving to end their oil addiction.

There's a growing network of neighborhoods, cities, and states exchanging methods for weathering economic, energy, and climate shocks--and creating a better quality of life in the process.

Much of the transition movement is about "re-skilling," or gaining expertise in areas that help families and communities meet more of their own needs. For example in Anderson, O., locally organized workshops teach everything from how to raise chickens in your backyard to composting.

 
A jobs strategy both parties can agree on
Written by Douglas E. Schoen   
Thursday, 02 September 2010 14:42

We're nearly three years into the recession -- and our economy still shows few signs of life. The Department of Labor just announced that the country shed 131,000 jobs in July. Unemployment now stands at 9.5 percent.

It's not surprising that Democrats and Republicans agree that something must be done -- soon -- to stem the loss of jobs. Neither side, though, has offered a creative or comprehensive jobs strategy to turn the economy around. There is one strategy that could create jobs and generate support from both sides of the aisle: Biotech Innovation.

"Over the long run, few issues are as important to a nation's long-term economic security and global standing as being a leader in moving life sciences forward," says Lawrence Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council.

He's right. Innovation in biotechnology is the engine that could get our economy back on track. Yet neither party has forcefully championed this idea, even though it's one of the few ideas that would elicit bipartisan support.

Enacting policies that will help this industry thrive is a painless way to create the jobs Americans desperately need. It's also a strategy on which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can cooperate.

Biotechnology is racing along while the rest of the economy sputters. During the first year of the current recession, private-sector employment decreased by 0.7 percent. Employment in the biosciences, however, increased by 1.4 percent.

It's not just PhDs who are finding jobs in the industry. Research, testing, and medicals labs employed 2.1 percent more people in that time. The medical devices and equipment sector increased its workforce by 2.4 percent. The area of agricultural feedstock and chemicals did even better -- employment increased there by 4.6 percent from 2007 to 2008.

 
Voice mail service for the needy available
Written by Janine Migden-Ostrander, Consumers' Counsel   
Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:51

With jobs being eliminated and people losing their homes to foreclosure, many consumers need resources and relief. Sadly, some consumers find themselves without a permanent place to live or a way to be contacted by family, potential employers, landlords, emergency shelters or social service agencies. Not having a telephone number to put on employment and housing applications may be a tremendous obstacle to getting a job or maintaining housing. Also, messages left by family members, friends and others may not always be relayed.

For the past year, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) has partnered with Leader Technologies and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks to offer a free service, Leader Voice Mail, for individuals without access to telephone service in the 419 area code. Leader Technologies is a private corporation that donated its equipment and technical expertise to support the voice mail program. 

 
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