Writing the rules for 21st century trade


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My top priority as President is making sure more hardworking Americans have a chance to get ahead. That’s why we have to make sure the United States — and not countries like China — is the one writing this century’s rules for the world’s economy.

Trade has an important role to play in supporting good-paying, middle-class jobs in the United States. Unfortunately, past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype. That’s why I’ve made it clear that I won’t sign any agreement that doesn’t put American workers first.

But we also should recognize that 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders. Exports support more than 11 million jobs — and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. Failing to seize new opportunities would be devastating not just for our businesses, but for our workers too.

That’s why my Administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership — so we can benefit from trade that is not just free, but also fair.

Watch this video my team put together, and then share it with anyone who needs to know exactly what’s at stake.

We have the chance to open up more markets to goods and services backed by three proud words: Made in America. For the sake of our businesses, and American workers, it’s an opportunity we need to take.

But beyond greater access to the world’s fastest-growing region, the agreement will establish enforceable commitments to protect labor, environmental, and other crucial standards that Americans hold dear.

Right now, China wants to write the rules for commerce in Asia. If it succeeds, our competitors would be free to ignore basic environmental and labor standards, giving them an unfair advantage over American workers.

We can’t let that happen. We should write the rules, and level the playing field for our middle class. The first step is for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.

Watch the video, and then pass it along.

After years of shipping jobs overseas, our manufacturing sector is creating jobs at a pace not seen since the 1990s. Rather than outsourcing, more companies are insourcing and bringing jobs back home. Today, more than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re looking at bringing jobs back from China.

Let’s give them one more reason to get it done, by giving me the tools I need to grow our economy, boost exports for our businesses, and give more hardworking middle-class families a chance to get ahead.

Thanks,

President Barack Obama

King Vs Burwell Courting Chaos – SCOTUS will hear arguments


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this is a repost

Conservatives Continue To Use The Court To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act

The amicus briefs were due for King v. Burwell¸ the Supreme Court case which threatens to cause a meltdown in the health care system. If the Supreme Court rules against the law, tax credits for health insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in approximately three dozen states would be eliminated. This case, as we have written in the past, is a thinly veiled attempt by ideologically-motivated conservatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite the overwhelming evidence that the law is working.

Simply put, conservatives have no ground to stand on in making their argument—the text of the law is simply at odds with the plaintiffs’ view. Their case is so shaky, in fact, that many prominent conservatives who are fighting against the law have previously undercut their own arguments:

Recently, the challengers in this case have turned to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to substantiate their case because during debates on the law he insisted that states should take the lead on establishing exchanges. But Sen. Nelson, now retired, set the record straight saying: “I always believed that tax credits should be available in all 50 states regardless of who built the exchange, and the final law also reflects that belief as well.”

Much more than a political victory rests on the decision of this case. Stripping premium tax credits from all eligible individuals enrolled in a federal marketplace would have dire consequences. Here are just a few examples:

  • The non-partisan Urban Institute estimates that 8 million people would lose health coverage.
  • Health insurance companies and hospitals have said stopping subsidies in 34 states “would create severely dysfunctional insurance markets,” and “[i]t would leave consumers in those States with a more unstable market and far higher costs than if the ACA had not been enacted.”
  • Public health experts estimate that 9,800 preventable deaths will occur each year if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act.

BOTTOM LINE: King v. Burwell is an ideologically-charged case whose real-world implications are much more serious than political gain. Many conservatives arguing against the law have undercut their argument in the past, showing the weakness of their own case. Conservatives should stop playing politics with the livelihood of the American people. The well-being and financial stability of millions of Americans is much more important that partisan politics.

Support Fair Trade


Current logo of Ten Thousand Villages.
Current logo of Ten Thousand Villages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

just another rant …

The first time I heard the term” Fair Trade”, I was still living at home.  I have to admit that I did not understand nor relate to the conversation but i knew it was having an impact on someone in my family.  While I may not have understood it then, I could hear the passion in my mom’s voice; she was adamant about laborers and wages, yes, it is tough to compete but we must support those who labour, are environmentally and socially aware while making products people can buy sell and use that do no harm.

Fair Trade by definition: Although not universally accepted definition of fair trade exists… definition of fair trade developed by FINE, as a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers –especially in the South. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.

The company or industries I remember most talked about while living at home was Ten Thousand Villages’, which is a non-profit organization. They have always encouraged artisans to employ production methods that are environmentally sustainable or recycled and natural materials whenever possible. The thing that was impressive as a kid was that Ten Thousand Villages offered products from all over the world are diverse and true treasures from places we probably would never go while helping disadvantaged artisans at the same time. I loved the small gifts, goodies and handmade toys but I was too young to appreciate the home decor at the time but believe me I have bought and enjoyed scarves, baskets and gadgets from Ten Thousand Villages over the years.  I remember the coffee not only smelled different it was very exotic, which is part of why I love some fair trade coffees. Ten Thousand Villages, a Fair Trade company has been a leader in the quest to help the disadvantaged, respect for our environment by using sustainable products in all their forms. I have to say that growing up knowing that most of the people who benefited from Ten Thousand Villages premise were people of colour was major to my family and as the 90’s started to love retro.  The “everything old is new again” industry and its revenue has and still is doing far better than those who probably are really supporting and working in the Free Trade world. I believe Free Trade needs to be reformed on all levels, which means reducing tariffs quotas and upping regulatory policies according to supply&demand including size of the company.

Free trade by definition: is a policy in international markets in which governments do not restrict imports or exports. Free trade is exemplified by the European Union / European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which have established open markets. Most nations are today members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) multilateral trade agreements. However, most governments still impose some protectionist policies that are intended to support local employment, such as applying tariffs to imports or subsidies to exports. Governments may also restrict free trade to limit exports of natural resources. Other barriers that may hinder trade include import quotas, taxes, and non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory legislation.

While in college, I discovered The Body Shop, a Fair Trade company trying to bring environmental and sustainable product awareness to young women. The products cost more than the big box stores but the quality was and still is better. I know that my family felt good about supporting free trade companies that help folks earn reasonable wages, is environmentally aware; where sustainable products are readily available. I have beyond sensitive skin; suffice it to say they became a part of my life over the last few years.

I believe in the free enterprise system, but what we have heard lately, suggests corruption is on the rise. We need to have as much transparency in the Free Trade industry as possible.  The old attitude of “I will help you if you help me” is definitely an issue with countries and this problem continues today when the art of politics and money gets in the way causing the seller, buyer and workers to become collateral damage.

Since 2008, Ten Thousand Villages has been named one of World’s Most Ethical Companies annually by the Ethisphere Institute.   www.Ethisphere.com

Support Fair Trade… the information below is from their website

www.tenthousandvillages.com

Ten Thousand Villages

is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serve ware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), about us the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries. Ten Thousand Villages accomplishes this by establishing a sustainable market for handmade products in North America, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

Founded in 1946, the company has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler’s car to a network of more than 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products. The company encourages artisan partners to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources and recycled materials to ensure each product offered has been crafted responsibly. Ten Thousand Villages is a partner of Mennonite Central Committee.

Ten Thousand Villages is an independent nonprofit, charitable organization (501(c)3, with an independent, nine member board of directors. All sales revenue generated by Ten Thousand Villages and any surplus earned by operations is retained within Ten Thousand Villages. Surpluses are used to increase purchases from artisans and to finance the growth of Ten Thousand Villages retail network.

Our Vision

One day all artisans in the developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality.

Our Mission

Ten Thousand Villages’ mission is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term fair trading relationships.

Our Name

The inspiration for our name—Ten Thousand Villages—came from a Mahatma Gandhi quote: “…India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.” To us, each village in the world represents a unique, distinctive people…offering extraordinary products born of their rich cultures and traditions.

Our Logo

Our logo represents the values we want to invest in the name Ten Thousand Villages. The continuous line of rooftops reminds us we are all linked together as we live on this earth. The light in the doors and windows reminds us of homes of people with whom we work in many villages. The warm red color and hand-etched edge represent the materials and methods used to make the quality handicrafts we sell. Multiply the village idea by ten thousand and it represents the world we are working to build. We invite you to join us in making this vision a reality.