Thursday, September 23, 2010

Air pollution and lost American jobs: Something that everyone can agree on and should be concerned about.

According to a story printed in the British newspaper The Guardian on April 9, 2009 there are 90,000 giant cargo ships crossing our oceans every year, not 90,000 crossings but 90,000 ships. The ship owners are not burdened by having to buy highly processed fuel like our domestic trucking industry does. In fact, according to The Guardian, they burn the dirtiest "bunker fuel" with 2000 times the sulfur and other pollutants as the diesel fuel our trucks burn on America’s highways. It gets much worse, while these ships burn through tons of dirty fuel to move they are spewing out pollutants at huge rates. The Guardian claims secret shipping sources show that due to the dirty fuel used and energy required the pollution from the 15 largest ships equates to the pollution created annually by all the cars in the world. There are 760 million cars in the world today. Even if they are off by a 100 times the real rate, that is still a shocking figure considering there are 90,000 of these big cargo ships in operation today. It turns out these ships are the real source of pollution today and a completely unfair advantage for foreign manufacturers.

This interesting fact was brought to my attention by Todd Lipscomb, the Founder of, a company that specializes in selling merchandise that is only Made in the USA. And that by itself is worth mentioning.
The story in The Guardian, Health risks of shipping pollution have been 'underestimated', says one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars.

Now here is another interesting fact, according to the web site of the AFL/CIO Union
“More than 70 per cent of the products sold at Wal-Mart are made in China, according to the China Business Weekly.”   

“Those low-cost goods at Wal-Mart ultimately come at a high price: lost jobs, lower wages and unsupportable U.S. trade deficits.”

“Wal-Mart is the single largest importer of foreign-produced goods in the United States, and the majority of its private-label clothing is manufactured in at least 48 countries around the world—and almost none in the United States.”

“Wal-Mart’s biggest trading partner is China. The world’s largest retailer admits it bought some $18 billion in merchandise in 2004, from China, nearly 10 percent of all Chinese goods sold in this country that year. Through August 2005, the United States was running a $126 billion trade deficit with China.”
Wal-Mart has added another hidden cost to consumers as well. Their low wages and minimal benefits to its employees cause a significant number of them to qualify for Food Stamps and other supplements paid for by the rest of us taxpayers.  And as the AFL/CIO story brings out:
By supporting foreign-made goods on such a massive scale, the company that trumpets its All-American image is creating incentives for corporations to destroy good jobs in the United States.

    * As the world’s largest company with sales of $288 billion in 2004, Wal-Mart exerts a strong downward pressure on wages, and not only for its own workers. Its sheer size and buying power gives it the ability to influence wage rates of its competitors and suppliers, including manufacturing and construction companies.
    * Wal-Mart pressures its suppliers through a policy that says the price Wal-Mart will pay and will charge shoppers must drop each year for basic products that don't change. To survive in the face of the retail giant’s pricing demands, suppliers have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.

By purchasing such a large amount of goods produced in China, Wal-Mart indirectly supports continued workers’ rights abuses by Chinese authorities.

    * A Washington Post report showed how Wal-Mart pits suppliers against one another and squeezes them for the lowest price. As a result, the report says factories respond with longer hours or lower pay. And the workers have no options because China forbids independent trade unions.
So while we all sit back and enjoy the low cost merchandise imported from China, not just by Wal-Mart, the hidden costs of air pollution from those giant cargo ships and the extra taxes we pay to supplement low wage workers continue to get worse every day. That should be something everyone can agree on and should be concerned about. Talking about concern, many manufacturers in China take more shortcuts in producing their products because there is no quality control like we have in America. The end result is contaminated pet food laced with melamine and gypsum wall board emitting toxic gasses. As the Britannica web site pointed out in an aericle written by  Andrea Toback  on May 23, 2007:
As investigations continue into the deliberate contamination of protein additives for pet food by Chinese manufacturers, it is clear that what we’re seeing is not an isolated problem caused by a few dishonest individuals but a systemic crisis where thousands of products for human and animal consumption are routinely sent to the US from China that are tainted by bacterial contamination, banned pesticides and poisons, or that contain fake ingredients.

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