Public Advocacy: what’s new in congress and the state of American Manufacturing

November 25, 2012

1. Bill Moyers / (Citizens United. ) Interviewed Trevor Potter on the influence of. the SUPER PACS. Be forewarned, the American people will continue to suffer if we don’t change the laws. If you want full time representation in government, we need full time Public officials. On 11/12/12 Colbert clarified, with Potter, that he could in fact keep the money from his Super PAC . Under the rules, you can hide the money and use it for yourself or any one else. There is no transparency, no tax on the money, if you’ve got a ” GOOD LAWYER”. Nominate competent people TO THE FEDERAL ELECTION BOARD, please.

2. NY Times. To paraphrase the Sunday Times oped, We nominated a competent person to the Senate in Massachusetts. it would be outrageous to keep ELIZABETH WARREN off the BANKING COMMISSION. The TIMES. is concerned that several Republican Senators are lining up to block her nomination. She’s already proven her qualifications. And her help in maintaining and providing a working Dodd Frank bill is invaluable. Nobody understands the Volker Rule better! She could tackle the shadow banking system for the PUBLIC’S BENEFIT. FINALLY, A TRUE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PEOPLE TO DO THE PEOPLE’s BUSINESS.

3. Catch 22. I read in the Times; Hi Tech manufacturing is looking for skilled workers, but they’ re only paying $10.00/hour. When I worked at Ford in the 70’s , the average worker earned $40.00/ hour plus benefits. Now, Those who can work as skilled workers would rather work at McDonald’s for a min of $14.00/ hour. The educated labor shortage? They’re choosing between available skilled work at lower pay or choosing McDonalds? If manufacturing is serious about workers and production, start training high school juniors, at least you’ll have 2 years of inexpensive labor before raising rates. DON’T forget, workers who make less can’t spend.

4. LOL. I was in the Berkshires yesterday and walked into one of my favorite dress shops in Lenox. All of my American “art wear ” came from this shop; Staley Gretzinger, A knitwear company from the Hudson Valley, Max Mara and now from China. Besides Eileen Fisher, who manufactures in NY , I’ m no longer aware of many American Manufacturers of clothing, design, etc. The major Universities have Lab Incubators, anyone want to join with me to create products for the” new American” market in America?

Thoughts: Israel and Gaza Truce, Trip to Montreal & Look for a party…..

November 22, 2012

1.When I returned home from a trip to Montreal, I watched CNN with Immense pleasure as they confirmed that President Obama and our secretary of State Hiliary Clinton, jumped in and helped broker the Truce, between Gaza and Israel. IT’s now up to the people to choose life and living over hatred and death, but given the opportunity, it is hoped they will choose peace, development and growth.

2. I also thought about the folly of ” the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I never understood this concept, it never made sense to me and now I know why? If you become friends with some one’s enemy you now have a block of hatred confronting the others. You have increased the power and cycle of hate. Toward what end? THERE IS NO GOOD OUTCOME, ONLY WAR. MORAL: CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY. When we preserve life, we can all celebrate.

3. A Montreal Story, with a message? On a recent trip to Montreal, we dined at a wonderful restaurant , Cafe Ferreira. However, being an unknown, I was seated with my daughter and grand daughter toward the end of the restaurant facing a waiter and prep station. I was momentarily dismayed, first to be placed in “Siberia”, second to be placed in this busy intersection, until my daughter suggested the third way. She was happy to change places with me. So simple, yet so satisfying. I was intensely happy to turn my back on the activities and turn my attention toward my daughter. I am expressing the joy that accompanies a change in perspective and the joy of looking and talking to your child and loving every minute.

4. LOL Also, IN MONTREAL , as three generations of women rediscovered each other and new friends, I discovered the “Health tax”. Canadiens pay a Sales Tax plus an additional tax on items, which goes directly to fund the National Health Care system.. No one seems to object. It is a fact of life. You pay a combined tax of 13% at Restaurants and you are helping to provide health care for yourself and your neighbors. Another simple solution. Overall, Montreal was a great place to visit! Oh! Did I mention it is a safe place to walk as well?

The cost of doing business/ Public advocacy

November 19, 2012

1.The price of cheap goods. FT 11/17/12 Ikea used forced German labour, from 1960 – 1990. The Swedish furniture maker used German political and other prison labor to produce it’s furniture. The Ernst & Young report notes that at least 66 companies with 117 factories in East Germany supplied the labor for production. Some prisoners worked directly from prison. This issue came to the attention of the media , was investigated, and the Chairman has apologized. This is not an isolated case. The real question remains, as a socially responsible employer, how can you compete with prison labor?

2.In the aftermath of Sandy, are we leaving the small business owner out of the FEMA Rapid Repair loop? While FEMA certified GC’s are soliciting bids from disaster residents, they are free to choose their sub contractors for additional work required. THEREFORE; the small business contractor,having no connections, forced to wait at least 2 weeks for FEMA CERTIFICATION, may be left with no new network for work. Are”big GC’s ” going to reward their own or will there be a roster of additional small contractors to choose?

3.NY Times oped/ The next round of Derivatives Regulation. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission is finally taking on the regulation of derivatives. Making derivatives transparent, makes the market safer for all. 4 years is long enough, the Commission should not think of more delay, since we can’t afford another fiscal crisis.

4. LOL Bill Moyers PBS interviews Naomi Klein who is working with Bill McKibben on climate change. Interesting, she’s advocating an independent movement, to pressure corporations and institutional endowments to recognize “climate change” and divest their portfolios of corporations contributing to Carbon emissions. (A Similar strategy was used to abolish apartheid. ) This new advocacy platform ; DO THE MATH! Is being launched and encourages students and concerned investors to become involved. If our planet is destroyed, little else will matter.

Metro focus stories and a personal note on Contributions

November 16, 2012

1. On Metro Focus, A Forbes contributor reports on the power grid failure which is 50 years old . Peter Kelly Detweiler/ independent energy consultant / Constellation Energy stated that a Micro grid and smart grid are recommended to coordinate generators and first responders. Duplication and redundancy of equipment would be required for an adequate response. Though, Back up systems are ok in the short run along with expenditures on labor , there is a real need for procedures linking people and managing the potential disaster.

2. When you think rebuild, think redundancy and vulnerability. In New Jersey a sub station that is out of service has now inconvenienced approximately 45,000 riders. Critical Path Links with the World Trade Station from New Jersey have been broken. Executives are still pondering the solutions while they rebuild in the short term. At Columbia University, a Climate Commission , has been convened. Rodney Hamilton , of Columbia, reported their plans for rebuilding were due by the 1 st of the year.

3. What about the kids? The Child Mind Institute is concerned about kids having trauma. PTSD can occur for kids and adults alike. A link for a children ‘s coloring book , may be accessed by emailing me ( jsilver-150@ for kids and parents to work on together. Further, It is recommended that Parents be calm. They are the role models, therefore, try to maintain a routine and if you have power, turn off the TV . Stop the 24/7 , images of disaster ; they are not helpful.

4. In NY many Jewish Communities are partnering with other Synagogues in effected areas answering the needs of the Community. This is meant to be an ongoing initiative, starting in November and continuing through the years, we want to physically help communities where aid is needed and become part of the dialog for change. My synagogue, The Stephan Wise Free Synagogue is collecting soup and cleaning products to be delivered to The Russian community in Coney Island and a Massapequa Community on Long Island. So many of us will be united through this super storm, it can only lead to positive change.

Be prepared to try something new, though difficult, we are adaptable!

November 14, 2012

1. Jeffrey Sachs On Adapting to a stormy world. How do we prepare for the next crisis in weather? Generators on top of facilities instead of under ground. Bury wires under ground. Beware of the use of sea walls. Great cities on the coast, he suggests, should be tackling the cause of climate change as well as the necessity of rebuilding. Finally, we need to shift to a low carbon energy system. Think collectively on this problem, we can ‘t supply coal to other countries and continue our usage of fossil fuels without acknowledging the damage we’re creating to our planet.

2. NYTimes Sunday Business section: How to bridge the hiring Gap, by Robert Goldfarb. Not surprising, there is a gap between THE CEO’ s willingness to accept recent graduates for jobs while, the graduates believe they are capable . I don’t personally understand CEO reluctance. Having worked in many multi national corps, I had the hiring responsibility for Sr and junior management positions. As a VP at Bankers Trust, I hired 7 young people , all college graduates; bright, personable and willing to tackle any assignment. I never doubted for a minute that they would perform well . Needless to say, they adapted, learned new skills and contributed their talents to the Bank, making it a procedurally better environment. So, GIVE THE KIDS A CHANCE. IF THEY HAVE INTELLIGENCE, THEY’ll PERFORM.

3. On 60 minutes, According to David McCullough, the historian, we are not teaching history to our children and grandchildren and we should. It’s not too late. In the ” old days” we had the luxury of sitting down to dinner with the family and we all discussed the days events and listened to our parent’s stories. The oral rite, is a respected tradition along with reading. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to basics, become well educated , then teach and specialize. A “good” education can take you anywhere.

4. LOL NJ News 11/13/12. Hurricane vs Flood. No matter the designation, people have been the losers. Mayor Bloomberg is not Waiting for Federal Government help, he’ s releasing $500,000,000 for emergency repairs of schools and hospitals. As Washington debates, the fiscal cliff , it’s already adversely affecting all of us on the East Coast. Sandy has helped us slide faster then predicted .

Metro Focus : Our human story to be continued

November 10, 2012

1. Metro Focus on PBS displayed astounding videos on the impact of Sandy; Devastation in the Rockaways, the Jersey Shore and Nassau’s Long Beach. Call it what you want, climate change or not, but don’t think too long. . Our environment is changing and change has come to our Society. We should be thinking about our response to a different future , the sooner the better. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing these catastrophes while we should be planning for a better future. This was THE PERFECT STORM , let’s take advantage of this catastrophe and start thinking and re- thinking infrastructure: trains, power grid….

2. Next a video by NY U students, showcased The Smith Houses, no heat or water, the elderly and the poor are stuck inside, under served and almost forgotten. The National Guard is helping the people. The City is trying, but as the wealthier streets receive power the poor are left behind. Isn’t there a way to get help from the unemployed population? integrate them with the Unions, if that would speed the process. Surely not everyone has to be highly skilled to help?

3. The NY Times 11/10/12. Report outlines Climate Change Perils, strains for US Military and Intelligence agencies are predicted. A study by Mr Steinbruner the Director of the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Maryland shows that the pouring of Carbon Dioxide and other gasses into the atmosphere will have dramatic effects on our environment. Ironically the study was to be released the day Sandy arrived, however, loss of power prevented the paper’s release.

4. LOL After reading about the loss of life and vital societal systems due to Sandy, it is more important then ever to start thinking seriously about protecting our fragile infrastructure. I’ve listened to the bitter partisan anger on both sides of the aisle and I can’t state severely enough, ” get over it”. Read about NYU Langone Hospital , look at the devastation of our rail roads, note the lack of supply lines for gasoline. The list of services interrupted is astonishing. This is no time to mourn the loss of a particular Party , it is a time for all of us to come together as a community and address the problems we’ve created. Wishing you all the best, stay warm and stay dry.

Let’s hear it for the Home Team.

November 9, 2012

1. NYTimes 11/9/12. An innovator vs a follower. Craftsman tools, a respected and up till now coveted maker of tools, has switched from selling an American made and designed product, The Bionic Wrench, to making it’s own rip- off in China. Approximately, 31 Americans are losing their jobs, as Dan Brown, the inventor prepares to take Sears to Court and fight for his patent rights. Sears has suspended all orders of Dan’s wrench and has replaced them with the Craftsman duplicate. The Battle lines have been drawn, do we want American products? Or do we want to limit American innovation and participation in our market places?

2. Americorp is alive and well. Last week at least 40 young people from as far away as Washington State arrived in Brooklyn, with the intent to help with the clean up. Instead,they are helping 250 people survive in BrooklynTech High School. They’ve had no training for this job,but a little on site guidance has been invaluable, as they help special needs adults and elderly survive their move to this shelter from Nursing Homes. For those who are unemployed or looking to make a commitment to our Country, try AmeriCorps? Thanks, just a suggestion.

3. FT 11/8/12 San Francisco Tech Groups winTax poll victory. On Tues, the tech industry benefited from a passed corporate tax reform. Now companies will pay taxes on their sales, instead of the number employees on their payrolls. Makes sense to me? You pay taxes on revenue, not on your potential? I believe the VC ‘s , the law will encourage job creation.

4. LOL. FT 11/9/12 Insurers set to pay the price for Sandy’s downgrade from Hurricane. Finally, ordinary people will be able to benefit at the cost of their insurers. Had the storm been declared a hurricane home owners would be responsible for a greater proportion of their rebuilding costs. Since the insurance companies will challenge this determination, a class action suit may be required. My thought, why should individuals fight this one? Everyone is suffering and needs relief as quickly as possible. After all, why have insurance, if you can’t collect? Once this disaster recedes, it might be time to start work on massive rebuilding with climate change on all of our minds.

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