This was originally published at Grandstand Central, where we cover sports from unique angles.
A great American tradition born of the struggle to fill great American ballparks with great American baseball fans is dying. The ballpark giveaway is giving way to greed.
The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments last Wednesday in a dispute over taxes on promotional items purchased by the Cincinnati Reds and offered to fans through promotional ticket packages. Ohio state law exempts companies from paying taxes on items they buy and resell, but the issue is whether promotional items like bobbleheads are being sold as part of a ticket package or given away in an effort to increase ticket sales. Simply put, if the team gives away bobbleheads, they pay tax. If they sell them with the ticket, they do not.
Regardless of whether the Reds’ techniques are legal or not, the attempt to avoid paying $88,000 in state taxes is pretty insensitive given the Reds’ recent history, both on and off the field. The construction of Great American Ball Park cost Hamilton County taxpayers $349 million and deprived federal taxpayers of $142 million in revenue — the third-most costly of any Major League Baseball stadium according to a Brookings Institute study. The Reds share responsibility with the Cincinnati Bengals for burying Ohio’s Hamilton County in debt, resulting in cuts to social services, including the sale of a hospital, and forcing Hamilton County Commissioners to refinance $376 million of stadium bond debt in 2016. Property owners in Hamilton County were promised 30 percent of the revenue raised by the half-cent increase to the sales tax in the form of reduced tax bills, but the county has rarely had the money to pay the stadium debt and offer the full tax rollback.
Meanwhile, the Reds could go from increasing attendance by giving away items for which they once paid tax to profiting from tax-free items while also increasing attendance. And they’re not the only ones.
The Minnesota Twins are also offering more of these promotional ticket packages and fewer giveaways after winning a similar case back in 1998. Like Ohio, “goods and services purchased solely to resell, lease or rent in the regular course of business” are tax exempt in Minnesota. In fact, most states allow businesses to purchase items tax-free as long as those items are to be resold. So this is only the beginning, and already, great American ballparks are turning giveaways into takeaways, likely turning a profit on what was a cheap means of advertising and now is a cheaper means of advertising.
According to a sales representative at Associated Premium Corporation, a preferred vendor of MLB promotional items, a seven-inch bobblehead purchased in bulk exceeding 10,000 units could cost a ballclub between $3 and $5. Markups on promotional ticket packages are considerably higher than that, and in some ballparks, they vary by seat location.
Senior manager of group sales for the Twins, Phil McMullen, informed me that the prices for their promotional ticket packages are based on the price of their group tickets, which explains why the markup for the promotional item appears to vary by seat location when compared to buying a single game ticket alone. The same cannot be said for the Reds.
The June 19 promotional bobblehead in Cincinnati is available at three different price points in three different sections of the ballpark. The promotional ticket package is $25 per “View Level” ticket, $55 for a seat in the “Field Box” section and $80 for an “Infield Box” seat. The price of a ticket to the same game in the “View Level” section is $17. A field box seat is $41, and infield box seats range from $65 to $68. So the same bobblehead costs $8 when purchased with a “View Level” ticket, $14 when purchased with a “Field Box” ticket and between $12 and $15 when purchased with an “Infield Box” ticket. Assuming the “Field Box” price is based on one ticket price, Cincinnati fans purchasing the promotional ticket package will pay three different prices for the exact same product in the same store.
“It’s consistently very close…the difference is negligible,” Reds’ group sales representative Kristen Meyers said of the varying costs for the promotional items. She attempted to explain the difference in price to accommodate fans buying tickets with exact change, but the Twins’ ticket prices are also full-dollar amounts and their cost of the promotional items don’t vary by seat location.
Minimal research revealed that the Twins and Reds aren’t the only Major League Baseball teams selling promotional items at varying prices depending on seat location. On June 23, the Colorado Rockies are selling a promotional ticket package available in five different sections of the ballpark that includes a University of Nebraska hat. Based on the Rockies’ group ticket prices, fans will pay either $8, $11 or $12 for the hat, depending on their seat location. In Milwaukee on July 7, fans will pay four different prices for a bobblehead depending on their seat location.
If MLB teams are going to sell promotional items on a sliding scale to make those items more accessible to lower-income fans, that should be advertised and owned. But forcing fans who pay more for their tickets to also pay more for a promotional item without their knowledge is theft. While buying a promotional ticket package might be preferable to standing in line for hours with no guarantee of scoring a giveaway item, don’t think for a moment you’re taking advantage of a business desperate to sell tickets. Quite the opposite is true, and the degree to which they fleece you varies as much as the prices of the promotional items they claim to sell in order to avoid paying state tax. But if you must have a promotional item offered with one of these promotional ticket packages, you’re likely best off buying the cheapest seats.
Before the National Basketball Association (NBA) season began, almost anyone with any awareness of the NBA’s existence felt they knew which teams would be playing in each of the Conference Finals. Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics would meet LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors would play the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Chris Paul in the Western Conference Finals.
That’s exactly how it turned out, minus Irving, who barring injury, would be suiting up against his former teammate in a Conference Final I’d actually watch. Now, I’ll wait to see if Houston can force a Game 7 against Golden State before tuning into the NBA Conference Finals, and it took me betting on Houston to win it all to even have an interest in that series. Basketball’s predictability is the very reason I prefer the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Giant men wearing armor and wielding weapons in their hands and on their feet skate at immense speeds on an ever-changing playing surface chucking a rubber saucer at speeds even faster than their feet can carry them or baseballs are thrown while their opponents do all they can to get in front of that unpredictable projectile. Hockey is a most unpredictable sport, and that’s what holds my interest. The fact it hardly has any stoppages for commercial breaks, provides coaches with just one timeout, and requires live substitutions are all just big bonuses for the sport with the best postseason -- a postseason that can still be improved.
The NBA is also looking to improve its postseason, thankfully. Commissioner Adam Silver floated the idea of eliminating the conferences for the postseason and simply seeding the top 16 teams based on record. This would result in less chance of a lopsided NBA Finals series. For instance, the series most of us believe to be the actual championship series between Houston and Golden State would actually be played for the championship. Houston and Golden State would be the first- and second-ranked NBA playoff teams, respectively, and would only meet in the NBA Finals under the proposed postseason alteration.
While travel concerns and the fact that the seeding of Eastern Conference teams would be skewed based on them playing half as many games against the more dominant, deeper Western Conference might thwart the NBA’s efforts to improve the postseason. But they shouldn’t. As long as there are no back-to-back games scheduled in the NBA Playoffs, travel shouldn’t be a concern. And the seeding of teams from different conferences could be based on their play against similar opponents. For instance, if an Eastern Conference team finished the regular season with a better record than a Western Conference team but lost both games to that Western Conference team, the Eastern Conference team could be seeded behind the Western Conference team based on its performance in head-to-head matchups.
The dominance and depth of the NBA’s Western Conference is forcing Silver to find a way to remedy the lack of intrigue in his sport’s predictable playoffs. A lack of competitiveness results in a loss of fans, which is exactly what has happened with elections due to partisan gerrymandering. Because elections have become so uncompetitive, fewer people vote, thinking their vote doesn’t matter, which, of course, is the intent of partisan gerrymandering.
The same is true of American capitalism. “Free” markets work for the consumer when there’s competition. But businesses want markets working for them. It’s why six companies own the majority of media in America or the means to deliver media messages. Hollywood called this “vertical integration” until the Supreme Court eventually forced movie studios to divest their interest in theaters.
But it’s happening again, and on a much more massive scale. Not only do media moguls own the media produced but the means of distribution. Comcast owns the “movies” it makes and the “theaters” that distribute them. The theaters are the cable, internet and mobile data arms of Comcast, so not only are they pulling revenue from ad sales of their shows, but they’re making two trips to the bank on just about every customer by being either one of two or the sole provider of cable, internet or wireless data in that customer’s area.
The increasingly deregulated capitalistic markets reward monopolistic businesses at the expense of the consumer. Mergers are great for big business, but they aren’t good for consumers. Sprint merging with T-Mobile would result in one less competitor in the mobile data and mobile phone markets, and with each fallen competitor the price for those services increases.
If you live in rural America you’re probably familiar with the price gouging that occurs because of a lack of competition, especially in the cable, satellite, internet service and mobile data industries. Verizon actually kicked Eastern Montana customers off their data plans because they used too much data. Many of those customers don’t have access to internet otherwise, so Verizon knows they’ll have to come back, and will pay more to do so.
So I don’t watch the NBA Playoffs for the same reason I despise American capitalism: a lack of competitiveness that results from monopolistic mergers, like Durant going to Golden State. Maybe when my Timberwolves actually win a playoff series I’ll give the NBA Playoffs my divided attention. But even with my Minnesota Wild eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I have and will continue to watch the NHL postseason, because there’s no telling what could happen.
If the tax plan presented by Donald Trump and Republicans is adopted, the average American stands to benefit very little. According to a new report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, four-fifths of American taxpayers can expect their after-tax income to increase .5 percent or less, while the top fifth of earners would see a three percent increase in after-tax income.
The study also found that 80 percent of tax benefits would go to the top one percent of American earners. Households making more than roughly $900,000 a year would save $200,000 on average. The top one percent of American earners can expect a tax cut of 9.8 percent between now and 2027. Repealing the estate tax would cost the federal government $240 billion in tax revenue over the first decade, most of which would stay in the pockets of the super rich.
Big businesses stand to benefit from the Trump tax plan, too, thanks to a decrease of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But businesses that rely on debt to finance their investments, like real estate companies, private equity firms and financial companies, will likely see costs increase, because Trump’s tax plan proposes limiting the deductibility of corporate interest.
Realtors have been especially opposed to the Trump tax plan, because while it preserves the mortgage interest deduction, fewer people would benefit from itemizing their mortgage interest given the plan’s proposed increase to the standard deduction, which is closer to a 15 percent increase than a doubling of the standard deduction. This could make homeownership less attractive and hurt the housing market.
High-tax states like New York and California would be especially affected by Trump’s plan to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, which allows taxpayers who itemize to deduct property, state and local taxes. Congressional Republicans in high-tax states have already expressed their concern, so Trump’s tax plan might not pass without the state and local tax deductions being preserved.
Who is paying for these tax cuts for businesses and the super rich? The Tax Policy Center found that a majority of households earning between $150,000 and $300,000 would pay more in taxes under Trump’s tax plan, as would almost 30 percent of Americans earning between $50,000 and $150,000 annually.
Trump’s tax plan also doesn’t come in under budget. The tax plan would increase the deficit by $2.4 trillion over the first decade, and by $3.2 trillion over 20 years. And while the Royal Bank of Canada thinks Trump’s tax plan will raise gross-domestic product by .5 percent annually, even if that were sustainable over the next 20 years, Trump’s tax plan still increases the federal deficit by $1.252 trillion.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live
Labor Day is a holiday that appeals to a majority of Americans. Most Americans work for a living, and most laborers get Labor Day off from work. The recent holiday made me think of which holidays are recognized and celebrated by the most Americans.
Independence Day is likely the holiday celebrated by the most Americans. Each American recognizes and celebrates the Fourth of July in their own way, even if fireworks aren’t available. Memorial Day is also recognized and celebrated by many Americans because most Americans know someone who’s served in the military, and again, many people get the day off.
Upon a recent visit to the dollar store, though, I was excited to see Thanksgiving decorations being put on display. While Halloween is still nearly two months away, I feel Thanksgiving, like Independence Day, is one of those holidays that’s most recognized and celebrated due to its mass appeal -- something Christmas and Easter can’t offer.
Thanksgiving doesn’t get the respect Christmas and Easter get, but you too can make your family members rethink the relative importance of the holiday. While Christmas and Easter only appeal to Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, regardless of religious preference. Even atheists can enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it’s more important to recognize how thankful we are for the sacrifices of the locals who made America possible than to recognize the birth, murder and rebirth of a man perceived to be the son of God.
As an atheist, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. While the holidays are unavoidably happening around me, I don’t allow myself (or sometimes anyone else) enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I give Christmas presents to my immediate family and closest friends, but I give my family and friends gifts regardless of season or reason. There need not be an occasion to give, and as a socialist, I believe that wholeheartedly.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of socialism. It’s the celebration of a bunch of helpless, lost explorers being saved by locals willing to share. Since Thanksgiving is a socialist holiday, every attendee of my Thanksgiving Extravaganza (A.T.E. for Anthony’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza) is encouraged to bring something -- anything -- to share. Whether you have something old you don’t need that someone else might, or a book you’ve read that you think someone would find helpful or entertaining, you can share it with someone at A.T.E. who needs it more than you. You can also bring food for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, of course.
It’s not just the sharing that I love about Thanksgiving. It’s the days spent cooking. I find cooking and baking very rewarding. Your time in the kitchen is an opportunity to be artistic and improvisational. You try new things and learn a trade that will come in handy the rest of your life. It’s even therapeutic. I spend most of my days off from work in the kitchen, and with football on in the background all day, I can spend 12 hours in a kitchen on Thanksgiving and hardly notice.
Losing football on Thanksgiving would be as detrimental to the holiday as losing Easter eggs on Easter or Christmas trees on Christmas. I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving without football and never want to. Football will be forever linked with my celebration of Thanksgiving because during A.T.E.’s Thanksgiving Tailgate, the kids open Thanksgiving stockings stuffed with stocking stuffers. The stockings are football socks filled with candy and small gifts.
We do Thanksgiving baskets at A.T.E., too. They’re like Easter baskets but, again, themed Thanksgiving. You might find an Easter biscuit shaped like a turkey or a plastic Easter egg filled with coupons for services to be rendered. There is no exchange of cash at A.T.E., but there is a gift exchange. Each attendee is asked to bring a gift or gifts valued at no more than $16.21 (the year of the first Thanksgiving) to be given to the person or persons in attendance for whom they’re most thankful.
There is no Black Friday shopping that occurs at my celebration of Thanksgiving, either. The only money spent during A.T.E. goes to the locals who saved white lives only to be forced from their homes in return. A.T.E. concludes with a journey to the nearest Indian casino, so attendees can show how thankful they are for the locals saving their ancestors’ lives by losing some of what their ancestors stole back to the locals.
Here’s my itinerary for A.T.E. You can use it as a model for your own Thanksgiving celebration. Next year, I hope to have a fireworks display to make my Thanksgiving rival any American holiday.
9:30 AM to 11 AM: Thanksgiving Tailgate/Thanksgiving Stockings and Baskets
A traditional football tailgate with a traditional tailgate breakfast -- burgers, brats, beers and a Bloody Mary bar. This will also be when we open Thanksgiving stockings and Thanksgiving baskets.
11 AM to 3 PM: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
We’ll watch the Vikings destroy the Lions on the big screen.
3 PM to 6 PM: Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys
We’ll watch the Cowboys destroy the Chargers, which shouldn’t take long.
6 PM to 7 PM: Thanksgiving Dinner
Your typical Thanksgiving dinner, with vegetarian options as well, and enough pumpkin pie to feed us for weeks.
7 PM to 7:30 PM: Thanksgiving Gift Exchange
We’ll give our gifts to those for whom we’re most thankful.
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: New York Giants @ Washington Racial Slurs
We’ll watch the Giants destroy the Racial Slurs while rooting for the Racial Slurs, because it’s Thanksgiving. This will also be the time designated for tryptophan naps and games.
9:30 PM - ???: Voyage to the Native(’s) Land
We’ll go to the casino, where we have rooms reserved. If you’d like to reserve a room for yourself and your party, you can do so by letting your host know.
Now that Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare are all but dead, GOP Congress-men and -women will be working to preserve their jobs by accomplishing something -- anything. Now it seems the Republican budget proposals will get in the way of their next big project -- tax reform. But there is a lifeboat out there for Republicans, if they’re willing to accept a hand from a Democrat.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) reintroduced S. 3529, otherwise known as the Progressive Consumption Tax Act (PCTA), back in December. And while the bill wouldn’t do what many Republicans would like and get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, it would re-purpose and shrink the IRS and make tax collection a lot easier. It would also make it so most people would no longer owe individual income taxes, and it would reduce the corporate income tax rate to one of the lowest among industrialized nations.
“How?” you ask. Well, revenue once created by income taxes would be replaced by revenue created through a consumption tax, which is a tax on goods and services consumed rather than a tax on income. It’s a lot like a sales tax, except Cardin has proposed what’s called a value added tax.
A value added tax is collected from each producer involved in the production chain of a product rather than the end consumer. So if a manufacturer buys $40-worth of product from other manufacturers earlier in the production chain, puts its own labor and materials into it and sells it for $100, the value added by that manufacturer is $60.
Why a value added tax? It’s more likely to be paid. Compliance is believed to be better when the tax is collected at all stages of production rather than the final stage, when the product is purchased by a consumer from a retailer. Both a retail tax and value added tax would produce identical revenue if compliance is perfect, and collecting at all stages of production would help ensure that is the case.
Cardin’s proposed a 10-percent, flat tax because it simplifies taxation, facilitates compliance and enforcement, and doesn’t allow for distortions based on product type. The few exemptions to the consumption tax are financial services, “which are difficult to handle within a VAT and are often exempted, residential rents, and sales of existing residential housing.” So you won’t pay taxes for your accountant or broker, rent or mortgage, or the sale of your home.
According to the independent and nonprofit Tax Foundation’s Taxes and Growth Model (TAG), the plan would raise the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) 4.4 percent, increase the stock of capital used in production by 15.2 percent, and create 1.1 million jobs. It would also increase after-tax income for rich and poor, so every American would have more money with which to stimulate the economy. In fact, real after-tax hourly wages would increase 6.5 percent.
That all sounds great, right? But will it pay the bills? In short, yes. Cardin’s plan is designed to raise at least as much revenue as the current income tax system does, and the rate can be altered, but the revenue created can never be more than 10 percent of GDP. That doesn’t mean the percentage can’t increase, but the U.S. tax revenue as a percent of GDP was 26.4 percent in 2015. Cardin’s plan would refund taxpayers any revenue over 10 percent of GDP.
Do you see how Cardin’s plan creates more revenue despite a lower percentage of GDP? Tax revenue, whether a consumption tax or income tax, is linked to economic growth. The more economic growth, the more tax revenue. Increasing the U.S. GDP 4.4 percent is no small feat. As of 2015 numbers that’s almost $800 billion, which would cover the entirety of the Republicans’ proposed military budget and then some ($621.5 billion).
Why should Congress enact a consumption tax? Well, much like healthcare, the United States is behind a lot of developed countries when it comes to taxation. About 150 countries have a consumption tax, most of which were established decades ago.
The consumption tax would also allow the U.S. to tax imports and subsidize exports without violating current World Trade Organization rules (WTO), which Donald Trump would love, even though economic theory indicates a border adjustment tax would end up trade neutral. But that’s what House Republicans want, even though, “Economists can show that the House Republican plan has the same effect as abolishing the corporate tax altogether, introducing a VAT, and then cutting payroll taxes.”
That makes the Republicans’ border adjustment tax nothing more than a political ploy that plays to its base, but that’s what Republicans need -- a political ploy that plays to its base. That and an accomplishment like tax reform. It ain’t gonna be healthcare or a budget anytime soon. So work together, Congress, and we can all get what we want.
Enacting a consumption tax is about as bipartisan as it gets. Republicans get to help corporations. Democrats get to help the poor, and Republican Congress-men and -women might get to keep their jobs. But apparently it’s a nonstarter for most Republicans -- unless you tell them otherwise. You can use Countable to keep your Congress-men and -women accountable to you. I urge you to contact them and tell them you want a progressive consumption tax. It will save every American money, and allows Americans to save and invest.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live
Now that we know Donald Trump's budget would increase the deficit and do little to improve the economy according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, you can expect fixed costs like energy and transportation to cut into the average American’s income even more so than in the past. In fact, the Trump administration made a $3.7 trillion mistake in its budget, which is far larger than the $776 billion and and $303 billion mistakes the Obama administration made with its budgets.
While the bulk of Trump’s proposed cuts in energy are research programs at the Energy Department ($3.1 billion, an 18 percent cut in budget) seeking ways to decrease carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants and more efficient batteries for electric cars, programs that actually help Americans save money on energy will also be eliminated.
The Energy Star program, with which you’re likely familiar, costs about $50 million annually, but will be cut from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget despite the EPA estimating that the program helped American consumers and businesses save $34 billion in energy costs and prevent more than 300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That little blue label won’t be there to tell you whether the appliance you’re looking to buy meets the EPA’s standards because those standards no longer exist.
The same goes for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which funds energy audits of homes inhabited by low-income Americans and the installation of energy efficient additions like attic insulation and plastic over windows. Those workers are doing a lot more than installing plastic over windows, though. They also address health and safety issues by fixing broken windows, replacing faulty water heaters, repairing holes in roofs as well as installing other protective measures.
WAP cost $193 million in 2015, and the it estimates that for every dollar invested in the program, it returns $1.65 in energy-related benefits. In the past 31 years, 6.2 million low-income families have taken advantage of the program, which also produces “non-energy” benefits of an additional $1.07 per dollar invested. By lowering energy bills on average of $413 per year, low-income Americans have more income with which to stimulate the economy. But not anymore, which is likely why the CBO doesn’t see any improvement to the economy in Trump’s budget.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) received $280 million in 2015, and its budget will also be cut entirely. ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment, so cutting it would put more strain on technology businesses, resulting in higher costs for consumers.
The loan program that has made fuel-efficient vehicles more affordable, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, would also be cut. Luckily, according to its website, the program has $16 billion in loan authority remaining, despite loaning Ford Motor Company $5.9 billion in 2009. The scrapping of the program will also make it harder for the average American to afford fuel-efficient vehicles.
Finally, Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks through the issue of loans. Those loans will no longer be made available.
So that’s what’s happening to the U.S. energy budget. No more investing in American energy unless it comes in the form of decayed dinosaurs. But with fossil fuel exploration and drilling increasing, the price of fuel should go down, right? Well, the real price of gasoline and diesel fuel is already below nominal prices, which means they’re likely to increase to at least the nominal price.
Then there’s the U.S. transportation budget, or lack thereof. While shifting air traffic control to a nonprofit organization would transfer thousands of workers off the government payroll, it could impact smaller airports providing cheaper flights, which means more expensive rates for you. The elimination of $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports will hurt rural Americans especially.
Also being eliminated is funding for many new transit projects and support for long-distance Amtrak trains, which, of course, would make Americans more car-dependent, and by design, more fossil-fuel dependent. Worst yet, the roads Americans will be forced to drive won’t be getting any better. The Republicans’ budget would cut $499 million from the TIGER grant program despite skyrocketing demand. The Department of Transportation received 585 eligible applications from all 50 States, and several U.S. territories, tribal communities, cities, and towns throughout the United States, collectively requesting over $9.3 billion in funding in 2016.
So how do we as Americans manage to get to and from the places we need or want to go with energy costs, both in the form of electricity and fuel, and transportation costs, both in the form of planes and trains, increasing? Well, here are 5 ways to save money despite budget cuts to energy and transportation.
If your roundtrip is under 10 miles, you need not drive. Get out the bicycle, put on the padded underwear and a helmet and take your share of the roads. I recommend wearing padded underwear if you intend to cycle for an hour or more. It generally only takes an hour to go 10 miles on a bike, and with a caddie and saddlebags, you can carry a towel and fresh clothes to change into once you arrive at your destination. Do not wear a backpack! You’ll regret it the moment you get a mile from home.
Not all of us live close enough to the places we frequent to do so on bicycle. But there are other people taking a similar trip. Mobile devices with unlimited data have made social circles a whole lot bigger than the water cooler at the office. Just because no one in your office goes by your house on their way to work doesn’t mean you can’t carpool.
Carpooling apps are becoming more popular in metro areas, with New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. already being served by Via. But growth of carpool communities is dependent on us as Americans to make them viable options. Apps like Duet and Waze need demand to be useful, and if we’re all set on wasting money and killing the Earth by driving our cars to work everyday, they might never be available in your area. So sign up to either drive or ride with all the carpool apps and share them with your friends on social media so we can grow the carpooling communities and all save on transportation.
In the future, your self-driving car will simply go out and drive people to work while you’re at work or asleep. Until then, we’ll have to take the wheel, both figuratively and literally.
More and more Americans are working from home these days, as employers look to cut costs like rent and energy, and employees look to cut transportation costs. If you do most of your work on a computer or over the phone like me, you can probably negotiate a work-from-home agreement with your boss. You might not be able to work from home everyday, but a few days per week will still save you money on transportation costs. And there’s nothing really like working in bed to the sounds of Rick James on vinyl.
This isn’t going to be feasible for the average American, but for the first time ever, a car doesn’t have to be a liability anymore. Buying an electric vehicle is an investment that will pay for itself. The payback period depends on the car, of course, but it could be as little as eight years for a Kia Soul EV and as many as 30 or more years for the mysterious Tesla Model 3. And if the average American drives 13,474 miles annually, a Model 3 owner will have paid for her car in 30 years. That’s seven years before Model 3 owners will have to worry about investing in replacement batteries given the 484,669-mile projection for the batteries’ ability to retain at least 80 percent of their capacity.
Regardless of where you live, there’s likely an opportunity for you to harness solar or wind to create energy and lower your energy bill. And until Republicans pass a budget, there are still tax incentives and rebates available to you for installing solar arrays and wind turbines. You might as well take advantage of them while you still can, as both technologies have become more affordable to install. Solar installations have dropped nine percent in a year, and wind turbines have dropped more than 60 percent in price since 2009.
The energy companies are doing their best to deter customers from installing renewable energy sources, though. Many are charging flat fees just for hooking up a solar array or wind turbine, and then they’re taking the extra energy you don’t need, but that you provide, and selling it to others. That’s why you should consult an electrician and find things you can run directly from your renewable energy sources if your energy provider is looking to take advantage of you.
Maybe your solar panels charge a battery or generator that runs the lights and electricity in your newly built shop or garage. You can always rewire your solar array or wind turbine into the grid, so don’t give in to paying those flat fees to use your own energy. If we discovered farting in a can could run lights for an hour, the energy companies would find a way to suck the fart out of that can and make you pay rent on the can. Don’t let them get your farts.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live, The Easy Organic Gardener, The Magic Garden, The Paul Parent Garden Club Show, USA Prepares, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Home Talk
"Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.” - George Carlin
Go anyplace people congregate besides a church, and you’ll find more people swearing and swearing more often than ever before. A lot of people in those churches will swear once they’re outside those sacred walls, too. In a bar, you can overhear a conversation where every other word is a swear word, and I mean that quite literally. Go into a library and the people talking on the phone or chatting online are swearing. I’ve experienced both in the last few weeks.
This post was originally published at FoulPlaybyPlay.com, a community of foul-mouthed, sports broadcasters providing commercial-free, uncensored play-by-play during select games.
According to a 2006 Associated Press poll, nearly three-quarters of Americans questioned -- 74 percent -- said they encounter profanity in public frequently or occasionally. Two-thirds said they think people swear more than they did 20 years ago, and 64 percent said they say fuck, ranging from several times a day (8 percent) to a few times a year (15 percent). People who swear are not in the minority. We are the majority.
But we don’t swear all that often. Just one in 200 words uttered are swear words, so it’s not like we’ve become completely vulgar. But why do we swear? Researchers at Keele University in Staffordshire led by Richard Stephens found that cursing is most often associated with angry attitudes and emotions toward certain subjects and is used as an emotional coping mechanism. Cursing allowed the study's participants to feel a sense of empowerment. Not only does it empower you mentally, but physically as well. Swearing can improve your performance of physical tasks and also reduces pain, unless you swear everyday.
So swearing is a coping mechanism that empowers. People who struggle with shyness might feel better behind sunglasses. The lonely get pets. People who stub their toe or watch their favorite baseball team blow a five-run lead and lose in extra innings swear. And it’s not due to a lack of vocabulary or intelligence, either.
Psychologists at Marist College found that those with the best handle on vocabulary also had the best handle on profanity. Those who struggled with vocabulary also struggled with profanity, so the smarter you are the more profanity potential you have.
A 2016 book by Benjamin K. Bergen investigates the linguistic history, psychology and science of swearing. It’s appropriately called What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. What it reveals about the history and anatomy of swearing is in-fucking-credible.
Why and how do words become swear words? Bergen found that the majority of American English swear words have “closed syllables,” meaning the words end in a consonant, as in “fuck.” Most are also just one syllable and start with a consonant, like “fuck” and “tits.” “Profane English monosyllables are significantly more likely to end with a stop consonant, like t or k, than other English words” (47). So English speakers naturally find words consisting of one syllable and a stop consonant to be less pleasing to the ear. If a word sounds displeasing, it’s more likely to have a meaning that’s displeasing. A word like “cunt” sounds bad regardless of meaning.
Explaining what makes a curse word isn’t dependent simply on its sound, though. It’s the meaning of words that matters. Many curse words are associated with genitalia, like “cunt” or “cock,” the use of genitalia, like “fuck” and “cocksucker,” or the process of excreting fluids, like “piss” and “shit.” So we’ve created these mostly monosyllabic, stop-consonant words that sound displeasing to associate with things that make for displeasing conversation. Most people don’t like to talk about pissing and shitting, and some don’t like to talk about fucking, although all these taboo topics have received ample attention from comedians and comedies.
There’s nothing funny about a lot of curse words, though. For me, the most unfortunate finding of Bergen’s many studies and experiments was discovering that slurs directed at a specific community, ethnicity or race weren’t found by Americans to be most offensive. While “nigger” was far and away the most offensive word, and “fag” was third, “cocksucker” fourth, and “chink” fifth, words like “homo,” “lesbo,” “queer,” “spic,” “kike,” and “gook” settled in the middle.
Americans actually found “bitch” to be more offensive than “retard” and “dyke.” “Whore,” “pussy” and “slut” were found to be more offensive to Americans than “homo” and “lesbo.” “Asshole” and “prick” were found to be more offensive than “queer,” “spic,” “kike” and “gook.” And the word gay used with the intent of being offensive to homosexuals ranked fifth to last in offensiveness, right behind “dumb,” “sodomize” and “moron.”
What the fuck, America? Where’s the fucking empathy? Put yourself in the shoes of a homosexual and tell me you find “cunt” more offensive than “fag” or “cocksucker.” Australians throw “cunt” around like it’s “shit.” And there’s no way “bitch” is more offensive than “homo,” “lesbo” or “queer” unless you’re a misogynistic pig who thinks questioning manhood is worse than questioning sexual identity or preference. Apparently Americans do feel that way, though, which is probably why we don’t have a female President and a misogynist instead.
Swearing is also geographically dependent, though. Where you live determines what you say. Jack Grieve has researched what swear words are most popular in America and where, resulting in a collection of heat maps displaying the most commonly used swear words. The southeast United States is apparently the hotbed for swearing in America. Coastal Americans use “fuck” more often than Midwesterners, and swear more in general.
People in Great Britain swear differently than Americans and find different words offensive, too. For instance, Brits found “cunt,” “motherfucker” and “fuck” to be most offensive, with “nigger” coming in fourth, which is even more disturbing. Half of Brits surveyed didn’t consider “Jew” to be swearing, but “Paki,” a slur for people of South Asian descent, was found to be the sixth most severe swear word. So Americans can take some consolation in knowing they found an actually offensive word most offensive.
When it comes to the “heavy seven” as George Carlin calls them -- shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits -- I think all should be allowed except “cocksucker” because it denigrates homosexual males. Instead of censoring words that hurt no one, we should censor words that actually hurt some.
Words like nigger, chink, retard, dyke, homo, lesbo, cocksucker, queer, spic, kike, gook, wop, redskin, and any other racial or ethnic slur, and words dedicated to denigrating the disabled or the sexual identities of others have no place in public conversation or in mass media. “Shit,” “piss,” “fuck,” “cunt,” “motherfucker” and “tits” hurt no one -- not even children. “There’s no evidence that exposure to profanity harms children, and...there are better ways to deal with profanity than to suppress it,” according to Bergen. But when it comes to the use of harmful language, I’m for censorship.
There’s nothing that hurts my ears more than the ever-increasing use of “gay” and “fag” by young people, or the use of “nigger” and “spic” by those who’ve never come in contact with members of either race they’re denigrating. I’d rather they say “fuck” and “cunt.”
When I hear the word "faggot" I cringe, and I fucking swear a lot. But that's because "faggot" was repurposed to hurt a specific group of people. When I hear "fuck," I hardly give it any attention. Sometimes I even smile, depending on its use.
Fuck is my favorite word. In fact, profane words are the most versatile. Most can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb, verb, interjection, and conjunction (prepositions are iffy). For instance, “Fuck (interjection)! I squashed my nuts on the fucking (adjective) fuck (noun) so fucking (adverb) hard. I won't fuck (verb) for days, fuck (conjunction) maybe weeks.” You can’t do that with “fag,” although young people are trying.
Once we grow tired of profane words it’s pretty easy to create new ones. Bergen created a bunch of words and asked Americans which sounded most offensive. These people didn’t know whether these words were from another language or if they existed at all, but it’s no surprise that monosyllabic, stop-consonant words were considered most offensive. Someday “vleak” could be a swear word. Hopefully, though, it will have been created to describe something rather than degrade someone. Then it would have value.
“Fag” has no value to me as a writer, while “fuck” has been used by writers of all mediums (except children’s books). “Fag” has no value because of its intent. Its entire reason for being is to offend, much like “nigger,” “chink,” “retard,” “dyke,” “homo,” “lesbo,” “cocksucker,” “queer,” “spic,” “kike,” “gook,” “wop” and “redskin.” Could you imagine if your entire reason for being on Earth was to offend others? Would you find that useful?
While a lot of swear words have become “fillers,” like “um” and “uh.” When a word is on the tip of your tongue, and you’re struggling to spit it out, it’s perfectly naturally that the struggle would result in swearing. People recovering from brain trauma sometimes lose their vocabulary, except when it comes to swearing. That’s because those swear words are stored in a different part of the brain, so people can convey their frustration. It’s a natural reaction, like dropping a hot plate that’s burning your hand. Swearing is a coping mechanism after all, and uttering that “fuck” could actually make you feel better about yourself, calm your nerves and help you discover that word that briefly escaped you.
Slurs have no place as “fillers.” No one searching for a word says “faggot” to fill the void in conversation unless they have Tourette’s syndrome. There’s always intent behind a slur, and that intent is never useful, which is why the increasing use of slurs is not only displeasing but dangerous.
Since swearing is likely never going away, how should Americans handle swear words? When is it okay to swear? What words are okay to say and when? Well, as a writer, I can only tell you to consider your audience. While writing this piece I considered using a headline that had swear words in it to be as forthcoming as possible with my intentions. But through my work on an uncensored, live podcast, I’ve learned a few things.
The title of the live podcast is Fuck Dick and Bert. It’s meant to be an alternative to the Minnesota Twins’ play-by-play and color commentators Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. Not a lot of thought went into the show initially. It was just a way for my friends and me to feel important and productive during Twins’ games and to bitch about the Twins and Dick and Bert’s broadcast. Then came an idea. What if we could provide every fan an alternative audio broadcast of every sporting event that’s not only uncensored but commercial-free? That’s when I started investigating the marketability of uncensored, commercial-free play-by-play.
I took to the forums where Twins fans congregate and asked what people thought of the idea. We hadn’t marketed the show to them directly in the past, so no one was aware. One member had even attempted something similar weeks prior. The responses were mixed. Some thought it was a great idea and the same number of people hated it, but there was one response that stuck with me.
One member said they wouldn’t tune in simply because of the name of the show. The word “fuck” was apparently offensive to him. Despite me telling him I rarely swore during the broadcast and that my intention was to provide helpful life advice and entertaining anecdotes alongside the play-by-play, he said nothing would change his mind except a name change. I hardly slept that night, mulling over alternatives to the name that conveyed everything about the show that our target market needed to know.
Anyone in our target market would see “Fuck Dick and Bert” and know: 1) it’s uncensored, 2) it’s Twins-related because Dick and Bert are the longtime Fox Sports North broadcasters, and 3) it doesn’t like Dick and Bert and is probably nothing like Dick and Bert’s broadcasts.
But if one person won’t tune in because they perceive the show to be “in bad taste” due to the use of profanity in the title, that’s one too many. And while advertising a show with profanity in the title is difficult given Facebook’s advertising policies, there’s no point going forward with a show that’s going to turn off an entire group of people because of one word.
So you can consider your audience and treat them as you’d like to be treated, but the Golden Rule doesn’t allow you to know what offends people. Maybe the word “fuck” doesn't offend you but offends them. Maybe they use “fag” and you find that offensive. Are we to censor ourselves for the sake of others? You can try. I do it all the time, but that's when I'm around people I know, so I know what offends them going into conversation.
The only actions you can take with people you’ve just met is nicely ask if they’d stop using the swear words you find offensive. “Could you try not to use that word, please? I find it very offensive.” Try not to be too picky. You can’t expect people to change in the first few minutes they’re in your presence. You are not Jesus Christ, and they are no saint. Don’t be surprised if that offensive word slips through that person’s lips again, because habits are hard to break, but hopefully they apologize. If they refuse or are unable to accommodate you, find a different conversation.
I went about this all wrong the first time around, but I was in a bad mood that day. A young North Dakotan in a rural bar asked me if I was a faggot because I had come from my ex-girlfriend’s funeral and was dressed in slacks and a collared shirt. I was immediately offended, not because I’m gay, but because I despise the word. I was also in the mood to fight after seeing a lifelong friend buried at 24 years old. This young man could have said it in conversation with one of his friends and I probably still would have interjected. I attempted to explain the definition of the word (it’s a bunch of sticks or twigs bundled together as fuel). He thought I was being a smartass, which I was. But what I really wanted to do was say, “Yeah, I’m gay. Wanna make something of it?” and then knock him out in front of a bunch of homophobes. That’s the type of reaction the word “faggot” deserves from everyone. And that goes for all slurs.
As a white male surrounded by brown people and homosexuals, I wouldn't dare utter "nigger,” "spic" or “faggot” in their presence because I don’t use those words privately. I know those words were created to degrade an entire group of people, and I find them useless and displeasing to the ear.
Growing up in Eastern Montana, I've heard Americans who have little to no association with people of other races using slurs far too often, and that's why I wrote this piece. Americans shouldn't be more offended by "fuck" than "fag," but they are. I see America moving away from words like "fuck," “cunt” and “motherfucker,” and towards words like “nigger,” "fag," and “gay.” That growing use of slurs worries me, especially with gentrification forcing minorities out of the cities and into rural areas where people haven't had contact with people unlike themselves. It's a recipe for violence, so I hope Americans realize which words are truly harmful and avoid using them in conversation and online. I hope they’d embrace George Carlin’s “heavy seven” before a new seven ends up hurting more people. I hope it's not too late.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio
American farmers have been voting against their own interests for quite some time. Despite Republican President Calvin Coolidge vetoing farm relief way back in the 1920s, the majority of farmers and ranchers have continued to vote Republican because they think Republicans support the American farmer, when in fact, Republicans really just support themselves.
Ten Republican lawmakers have taken $6.7 million in taxpayer money in the form of farm subsidies dating back to the 1990s. The annual payout for farm subsidies was just $20 billion as of 2015. The annual budget for corporate welfare was $100 billion in 2012, and the annual expense of actual welfare in the same year, which is under Republican attack again, was $212 billion. So corporations get five times the welfare than farmers and ranchers that feed us and half as much as those in need. Only in America.
But now, as Donald Trump looks to cut, cut, cut from farm subsidies, food stamps and Medicaid in order to increase defense spending and free up money for his border wall, farmers will have reason to consider other candidates at the polls in 2018 and beyond. Trump has proposed slashing the United States Department of Agriculture discretionary budget by $4.7 billion -- or 21 percent -- by cutting funding for rural clean water initiatives and rural business services, reducing some USDA statistical services and cutting county-level staff. This will not go over well with the rural voters who elected him.
Trump is already in hot water with farmers for his attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA has been good to the American farmer, boosting U.S. farm exports. Renegotiating NAFTA can only have an adverse effect on the American farmer. Even if nothing related to agriculture changes in NAFTA, our neighbors will be less inclined to do business with us since we’re whining about losing production jobs to cheaper labor elsewhere. Here’s an idea: better prepare your population for the global economy and invest in education so America doesn’t need or even want those production jobs.
The Republican Party is like an unfaithful wife to the American farmer and rancher. They lie to the face of the American farmer and rancher and then go and cheat on their husband with a corporate executive. But the American farmer and rancher has no recourse because the American farmer and rancher is a loyal Conservative -- until now, perhaps.
The proposed budget would cut payments like crop insurance, which pays farmers for loss of crops due to natural disasters, conservation assistance, which helps preserve the land and water, and rural development programs. This should piss off plenty of farmers and ranchers.
Trump won eight of the 10 states that received the most federal money in farm subsidies, according to the Environmental Working Group. Even in the two states Trump lost to Hillary Clinton -- Illinois and Minnesota -- he was popular in the rural areas of those states. That might not be the case come 2020.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live, The Easy Organic Gardener, American Survival Radio, American Family Farmer, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, USA Prepares, Building America
Unless you live in a nudist colony, you’ll likely need clothes to make it in America. If you’ve been following along with our “Made in America” series, you’ll know that we’ve already covered American-made forms of transportation, including shoes, home decor and appliances made in the U.S.A., the all-American home, home-grown food and energy, and even American-made vices like alcohol and tobacco. We haven’t forgotten about clothing, which is one of the hardest things to find with “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag. Chances are slim what you’re wearing now has “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag.
Clothing keeps us warm, dry and covered, but if Americans made all the clothing purchased in the world, no one would be able to afford it. That’s why it’s so common to find clothes made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and, of course, China.
The American clothing market is the largest in the world, totalling $359 billion in 2016, which is why it’s so important to keep those dollars here in America. Employment has nearly doubled in apparel manufacturing, textiles and clothing since 1990, because with more people comes more clothes. But just 1.8 million Americans are employed in the fashion industry, with 79 percent of them working for apparel retailers mostly selling imported products. Just 232,000 are employed to manufacture textiles for apparel and other fashion items (purses, handbags, backpacks, etc.).
In order to change the growing trend of outsourcing fashion and clothing manufacturing, more Americans need to buy more American clothes, and there’s plenty of places to start.
American-made men’s underwear is pretty easy to find. Brad Bennett at the Well Spent blog put together a nice list of American options. Keep in mind that just because a company has an American-sounding name, like Duluth Trading Company (mostly made in Vietnam, but they do have a “USA Made” section) or American Eagle (made in China, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam, with some made in America) doesn’t mean it’s products are all-American. Do your research. The only thing that touches American skin should be American-made.
There are plenty of options for American-made women’s underwear, too, including lingerie. HerRoom and HisRoom allows you to search multiple companies’ catalogs for American-made products. For a complete list of American-made underwear companies visit here.
During the spring, winter and autumn months, there’s no more important stitch of clothing than dry socks. I don’t wear socks for most of the summer unless it rains, but when it comes to keeping my feet warm and dry, I’m a wool man. Wool is the absolute best fabric ever, but the U.S. doesn’t produce much of it. If more people bought more wool, though, maybe it would make a comeback in America.
As I stated earlier, Duluth Trading Company makes some of its products in the U.S.A., and the most common item on their “USA Made” page is socks. If there’s a place that knows cold, it’s Minnesota, but if you’re looking for the best socks on the planet, I’d suggest Darn Tough socks. I recommend them because I have a friend from Vermont, where Darn Tough socks are made, who maintains trails in Glacier National Park, and he swears by them. If there’s an environment that requires darn tough socks, it’s Vermont. It’s the seventh coldest state in America and can be one of the wettest in the spring. Plus, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life, so if you manage to put a hole in them, you can return them for another pair. You’ll never buy socks again.
If you’re looking for more fashionable options for men and women, Fox River is the oldest performance sock brand out there. What started as a sock company for lumberjacks 116 years ago is now an all-purpose, sock supplier. They sent out a pair of their Peak Series Lightweight Multisport ankle socks for me to try, and except for them being a little long in the sole, they very comfortable for both the office and the bicycle commute. The "helix fit" as they call it provides volumetric compression around the foot between the ankle and toes. The mesh ventilation zones allow your feet to breathe, and the EverWear Durability Shield on the back of the sock above the heel is a neat feature that should prevent holes in the area that rubs against your shoe. For women’s socks visit here, and if you’re seeking hosiery, tights or leggings, No Nonsense provides an ample supply of American-made products for women. If you’re a man in need of dress socks, look no further than Dapper Classics, which also produces American-made shirts and ties for the office.
There is a plethora of men’s pants and shirts, women’s dresses and blouses, children’s clothes and even maternity wear made in America. The easiest thing you can do to find American-made options from your favorite retailers is enter “Made in the USA” in their catalog’s search bar. Most online stores like Nordstrom, Lulu’s and Orvis, understand the importance of catering to patriotic purchasers and have a dedicated page for American-made products. If you’re into sportswear, and specifically throwback baseball uniforms and caps, Ebbets Field Flannels is one of my new favorite American stores. There you can buy jerseys you didn't know existed.
USA Love List put together a great list of American-made outerwear for women recently, and if you’re a leather man, Schott NYC has everything from jackets, belts and boots made in America. Woolrich also provides a page of outdoorsy, clothing products made in the U.S.A. If you’re more into designer trends, The Good Trade put together a list of 15 American-made clothing brands that will turn heads, and GQ has a list of American clothing brands just for men. The most complete Made in America men’s wear list is likely this one by Gear Patrol. Here’s a recent list of more than 100 brands that produce 100 percent of their clothing in America.
So now you have no reason to purchase clothing that isn’t made in America other than cost, but wages in areas where clothes are made are increasing, while American wages remain stagnant, which means American-made clothing will at least be more competitive with imported clothing in the future. So don’t be the typical cheap American when it comes to clothing. I guarantee if you buy the brands listed above, you’ll get more life out of your clothing and more satisfaction for creating American jobs, too.
Next up in our “Made in America” series we’ll look at the best brands for recreation equipment, including guns and ammo, ATVs, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and the like.
So you’ve built the all-American home, furnished it with American-made appliances and furniture, filled the fridge with food made in the U.S.A. and use American energy sources to run your appliances, lights and heat. But America is vast, and you want to see it all.
If you tried to travel 2,680 miles in any direction in almost any country, you’d end up in an ocean. But not in America. The U.S.A. is known for its diversity, both demographically and geographically. That geographic diversity wouldn’t be possible if America wasn’t the third largest nation. That vastness requires transportation solutions in order for Americans to see their nation.
When you’re not going far, you can walk in American-made shoes. I would recommend Keen for all-purpose shoes. I’ve been wearing a pair I got at an REI garage sale for about five years. Red Wing and Wolverine make the best boots money can buy. My dad has worn Red Wing boots to work for over 40 years and has a pair of Wolverine galoshes for wet days. Schnee’s in Bozeman, Montana, makes the best hiking boots I’ve seen. There aren’t many options for sneakers made in America, but SOM Footwear is one, and some of the previously mentioned companies have expanded their catalog to include a few pairs of everyday shoes. If you prefer to bear your feet and walk like Jesus, Okabashi makes 100-percent recyclable sandals and flip-flops right here in the U.S.A.
You really can bike from one edge of America to the other. People do it every summer for about $5,000. It’s understandable if that’s not your idea of fun, but I urge every American to bike to work or the store when they can. It will save you money, and it’s great for Americans and America, especially if you do it on an American-made bicycle.
I haven’t owned a bicycle made in the U.S.A. since I was a kid because Huffy has since moved its factories to China. Even great bikes like Surly have their components made in Taiwan and are only constructed in Minnesota. But since I can’t recommend an American-made bicycle, Inside Hook has provided a recent list of the top five bicycles made in America. Firefly is the only one on the list I recognize.
I take public transportation as often as I can because it’s better for the environment and employs nearly 400,000 Americans, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Think about this: every person on a bus or train is generally one less car on the road. It’s the easiest way to decrease car traffic and emissions, so we can continue to breathe clean air.
Public transportation is also incredibly convenient. I have a bus stop just down the street from my house, and I can ride one bus all the way from the Mall of America to Target Field in less than an hour for less than $2. I can even load up my bike and ride to and from the bus. I even get to read while riding a bus or train, so I’m using that extra time more constructively. But 45 percent of people don’t have access to public transportation because it’s not available where they live, which is why we own so many automobiles. (If you’d like to remedy the lack of public transportation access in America, visit Voices for Public Transit.)
The American automobile industry is a driving force of America. The automobile industry is the seventh largest in the world according to Forbes, and half of the Dow Jones Industrial Index companies rely on automobiles to create revenue. The automobile industry contributes nearly a trillion dollars to the American economy each year and is responsible for 7.25 million American jobs, according to AutoAlliance.org. But many Americans perceive American cars to be inferior to foreign cars. They’re wrong.
I’m not one to use personal experience to make an argument often, but if you don’t think General Motors makes a quality car, say that to my face when I’m behind the wheel of my 1957 Chevy 210. Toyota exported its first car, the Toyopet Crown, to America in 1957. A CNN Money slideshow informs that “Toyota soon recognized that the Toyopet really didn't warrant being taken seriously, whatever it was called. It was underpowered, uncomfortable, lacking in even basic amenities, and it cost more than better offerings from European competitors.”
From the Crown Wikipedia page: “As a publicity stunt to demonstrate the car's reliability, Toyota staged a campaign common to American automakers: a coast-to-coast endurance run from Los Angeles to New York. The Toyopet was barely able to limp into Las Vegas before the project had to be called off.”
It doesn’t matter what decade, American automakers have made higher quality cars than their foreign competition. This list of former Motor Trend Car of the Year award winners proves it, with American automakers taking down 55 awards to the rest of the world’s nine. General Motors led the pack with 26 awards, Chrysler and Ford each scored 14, AMC added two and Tesla picked up one. Leading the rest of the world was Volkswagen with a whopping three awards, Toyota and Nissan had two, Honda and the French car company Citroen had one each. That’s right: AMC has the same number Motor Trend Car of the Year awards as Toyota and Nissan, and twice as many as Honda.
Again, if you don’t think American automakers make quality cars, consider my 2004 Ford Taurus with over 202,000 miles, no body rust, no interior damage and no major issues. I’ve replaced the starter and AC pump. That’s it. Compare that to my dad’s 2007 Mazda with 120,000 miles and body pieces falling off due to cheap, plastic clips holding it together. Consider my father’s 2005 Ford F-150 with over 180,000 miles. He just put significant money into it for the first time, replacing the front end when his four-wheel drive went out during one of the snowiest winters Eastern Montana has seen in decades.
So now that your perceived quality of American automobiles is no longer misinformed, let’s explain why it’s so important for Americans to buy American automobiles. Too many Americans think buying American-made cars doesn’t matter for America because foreign automakers are hiring Americans to construct their cars in America, too. They’re wrong.
According to Roger Simmermaker’s How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism, “When you buy an American-made Chevy, you not only support more American workers, you also support American investors, owners, and stockholders. When you buy an American-made Toyota, you may help your Uncle Bob if he’s on Toyota’s payroll, but you’re hurting Uncle Sam since American companies pay about three times as many taxes to the U.S. Treasury as do foreign-owned companies.” That doesn’t even include the insane amount of tax breaks foreign automakers have gotten to open production facilities in the U.S.A.
From Forbes: “Alabama offered Mercedes-Benz more than $250 million worth of tax breaks, training and land, and South Carolina won BMW’s only U.S. plant with state incentives worth more than $130 million, according to a 2008 report by the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business. The gifts to Kia that helped win the plant for Georgia total more than $258 million.”
Most importantly, American automakers employ more Americans -- nearly three times more than foreign automakers as of 2012. The jobs putting the cars together aren’t the only ones that matter, though. Plenty of materials go into making a car, so the more materials used that are made in America, the more American jobs are created. Simmermaker cites a 2002 Business Week story that states “each auto-assembly created by an American company also creates 6.9 other American jobs, where each auto-assembly job created by a foreign company creates only 5.5 other American jobs.”
While there isn’t a car entirely made in America, the Tesla Model 3 is likely to become the most American car on the road, with 95 percent of its parts made in the U.S.A. You can find out how much of each 2013 car was made from materials made in the U.S.A. by visiting here. No surprise, General Motors tops the list, with Ford and Chrysler filling out the top 10. Toyota has the only foreign car in the top 10, and Chrysler is now Italian-owned.
So I hope the next time you’re buying a car, whether new or used, you buy American, because you’re supporting American jobs when you do.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Drop Your Energy Bill, Auto World, Auto World AM