Category Archives: Consumerism

Why I Don’t Write About AIG Anymore

So someone asked as to why I am not writing updates about AIG anymore.  The simple answer is, my work is done.  The whole point was to draw attention to AIG, before the financial crisis.  I knew it was rotten and now, so does everyone else.  So I don’t have to write about AIG anymore, the word is out, my work is done and I am pleased to see people are paying more attention to the likes of AIG.

You should not trust this company, be cautious and be careful when dealing with them.  They work for you, not the otherway around.

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Economics, Globalization, Government

Vitamin C Not Made in China, Updated

Ok, so some people want an update on the Vitamin C post.  It’s a bit dated, so this will help update the list.  For those of you who do not know, China produces the bulk of vitamin C in the world.  They got that way by the government of China subsidizing the production cost of vitamin C, allowing them to undercut everyone else on the market until they drove everyone else out of the market.  For your information, that’s a violation of the WTO of which they are a member of and are not suppose to do such unfair trade practices. 

 

This is in an update, so go read the old post and the comments and then read this one.  Don’t expect a long list since almost ALL vitamin C sold in the US, comes from China.  In all honesty, get your vitamin C from natural sources!  The Chinese in a Wall Street Journal article defended their practices of price fixing, they don’t want to play fair and they have proven to not care about your health. 

 

My best advice, advocate at the local, state and federal level for country of origin labeling for all products sold in the US.  Then you will know what you are getting and can make a real informed choice.

 

Here’s what I have found:

 

Vitamin C foundation 

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Food, Globalization, International Trade

Oil Subsidies

Something most people don’t focus on when it comes to our high gas prices, is the role of fuel subsidies. I’m not talking about in the US but in China and India. These countries, along with many oil producing countries, subsidies the price of oil. This creates an artificially higher demand than actual supply would naturally allow if they were to float these commodities naturally as is done in most modern countries.

The simple solution is to have these countries stop and allow the price to settle in at a natural supply and demand point. Oil I am sure would fall as most Chinese and Indian’s, and Russians or Venezuelans, cannot afford to pay $4 a gallon and would fall out of the oil market all together. This would mean the artificially high demand would go away.

The problem is, these countries will not do this without some substantial pressure from the outside and I do not think the will by Europe and the US is there to create such pressures. Beyond that, the other options do very little to curb this artificial demand. You can impose surcharges on imported goods or some other measure but they would do very little in the long run.

The only way to move away from this is to create more choice in fuel options. When you have competition, quality improves. If I were in charge of the government, I would be giving tax breaks and funding every alternative fuel source I can find. This will create more options and choices and as more people move away from oil to these other options, the demand on oil will go down and the need for it will as well. Those still dependent on it will find that prices will go down. Seems like a good solution, too bad no one in Washington can think up something so simple.

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Filed under Alternative Fuel, Business, Consumerism, Energy, Gas, Globalization, Renewable

The Price of Goods is Up, Thanks to Globalization

Here’s one of those little facts the free traders and globalizationist forgot to mention. Last week, Wal Mart said that its cost for shipping goods to the US had doubled and if oil goes to $200, it will double again.

So last year, it cost about $3,000 to ship a container from China to the US. Today it is about $6,000 – $8,000 and if it oil goes to $200 a barrel it will be estimated to cost $15,000. Of course Wal Mart or anyone else is not going to eat that cost; they will pass it on to you the consumer.

So, lets say a container has 1,000 products that have a cost of $30 before shipping. So last year, the shipping cost was $3 per item. Today it is $6-8 per item, if oil goes to $200, it will be $15 per item. So something that might have cost $33 by the time it hit the shores of the US, now costs $37 and could cost $45, a $12 difference just in the shipping cost alone and that doesn’t include the cost to get it from the port in the US to your local store, that’s an additional cost as well! Now times that, by 80% of the products in Wal Mart or Target and you can just imagine how much bigger your bill is compared to two years ago. Add to it your cost to drive there and your ability to buy goods has gone down.

Then if you really want to have some fun, factor in the weaker dollar that makes everything more expensive that is not sourced from the US. So overall, you pay more for the very same thing, yet get no added value for that extra money you just paid. The globalization people never mentioned this when telling people how great globalization is, because they knew you wouldn’t support such a system if you knew.

There is a way to combat this, a four step buying guide that is very simple to follow. First, source locally as much as possible. Buy from farmer’s markets or local Community Supported Agriculture. Go for local as much as possible and demand those producers source locally as much as possible. This helps to minimize the swings in global commodity pricing as well as gas prices because the transportation factor is less.

Next, go national; again, demand the seller sources locally as much as possible. Where I live garlic doesn’t grow so well, but they do grow garlic in California, so that’s where I buy from. I will pay more but I will not have to pay the extra $3-15 for it to be shipped from China. If that doesn’t work, source from responsible companies that practice on the global scale. Good luck finding them, most do not open themselves up enough to really see how they get their goods to you. Last, buy from retailers that are more focused on supporting the local community than with some global agenda.

Yeah, I can hear it now; people will say that is protectionism. No, it is responsible shopping. When goods from afar cost more and use up our vital resource, that is not being responsible. It is better to buy local, save our gas, spend less on oil and have more money to go further. That’s sensible shopping.

If you don’t want to be impacted by the rise in global energy prices, you need to adjust and force businesses to adjust by spending your money in different ways, being conscious of how you get your resources and how they get theirs. Demand transparency, believe me, most will not want to be transparent because they know you will not do business with them if they are. They got us into this mess so they don’t want you knowing that. But if you prefer paying an extra $20 with no added value, do nothing, it will come. If you like to have your money go further, simple changes can make a huge difference.

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Energy, Gas, Globalization, International Trade

The Price of Gas, Europe and the US

I hear a lot of people say we should not complain about the price of gas in the US because in Europe they pay twice as much for gas. I find this argument to be a bit misleading and used to create a false argument for why Americans should pay even more for gas.

Yes the price at the pump is higher in Europe, but the cost of gas itself is not. There are two issues involved, the price of gas and the tax on gas. In the US we have 11% federal, in Europe (France, Germany, Netherlands) you are looking at about 60% for gas taxes. So if the base rate on a gallon of gas is $3.35, the price at the pump in the US is going to be $3.72. In Europe you are looking at about $5.36 for the same gas. The difference is in the taxes.

There is not a price for Europe and price for the US, we all buy our oil on the same global market, so no, Europeans are not actually paying more for gas, they are paying more in taxes. Huge difference in how you look at the fundamentals. Of course there are other factors like local taxes, regulations on emissions, transportation costs, etc…

One thing people don’t realize is the fuel efficiency in Europe is much higher thanks to the lower emission standards on diesel. Yes, that’s right; the Europeans have less stringent standards than the US. Lets take the Honda Fit, which is a diesel version in Europe, it is far more fuel efficient than it’s gas driven American cousin. Same car, a just different engine. So yes, the European is paying more per gallon of gas, but is driving further on that same gallon. If it was not for the higher standards on emissions in the US, the American driver could probably also be driving just as far and being as fuel efficient.

So when people claim Europeans are paying more for gas, remember, they are paying the same, they are just paying more for the taxes on gas and that is what makes the difference in price, not the gas itself.

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Filed under Business, Consumerism, Economics, Energy, Europe, Gas, Life, The World, US

American Bitter

So it has been a while since I posted.  I know, I’ve been sick with this nasty cold and before that working for the man 10 plus hour days.  One of the things that caught my attention was Obama’s comment about American’s being bitter.  Well hell ya!  Bitter is just getting warmed up, he and everyone in Washington should be thanking God that’s all we are is bitter otherwise we would have a repeat of the revolution and lets face it, the guns do more damage these days and the tea would be from China.

 

I think this picture does a great job of showing why Americans are feeling bitter.  This is not a country of the people for the people.  It is a country for the corporate and Wall Street elite.  While homeowners go under, Wall Street gets bail outs.  We are told that home owners were not responsible when purchasing new homes at high prices.  Yeah, I will agree with that.  But so were the banks who gave out the loans that are now getting bail outs.  Why are they allowed to benefit from their stupidity while the home owner is made to suffer? 

 

Banks get lower rates but that doesn’t get passed down to consumers.  Our dollar is falling to make good cheaper to export, yet of course that means oil goes up, gold goes up and other basics go up.  So a few companies benefit while we all suffer. 

 

We are consuming less oil as a nation, in fact we haven’t increased our oil consumption in the past 5 years yet oil prices have doubled.  We are told to use less, we are!  We are told to use more fuel efficient cars, hey, why don’t you make more than 1!  If it isn’t 50 miles a gallon then it doesn’t pass the fuel efficient test in my book. 

 

Food prices are up, not because we are eating more but because we allow speculators to run rampant on the commodities market but no one wants to stop it because how else will the hedge fund managers make any money, so the rest of us get to pay $5 a gallon for milk.

 

Bitter, yeah, most people have a right to be, our leadership (which by the way I put Obama on that list since he is in the Senate) have failed we the people and we the people have a right to bitter and cling to anything we want that actually is working.  Got a problem with that Obama, then you should not be president.

 

 

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Filed under Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Energy, Government, Life, Politics

IMF says $100 Oil is OK

The IMF once again shows how out of touch with everyday people they really are.  $100 oil is not ok for the global economy; we saw it at $80 and even $60.  If you go to some developing nations, you will find many cars that run on non oil based fuels.  Why?  They can’t afford to buy oil.  And this is before oil hit $100, this was back when oil was at $80.  So already a large portion of the world is priced out of the market.  The US consumer can’t last another 5 years of such prices.  When gas eats up $70 a week that adds up!  That means less goes into the real economy the true engine that drives the global economy.

 

Too many analysts have forgotten what really makes the world go around.  Oil doesn’t, oil is a piece of it, but when oil prices are out of alignment as it is now, the real engine starts to shut down.  Consumers can’t consume because they don’t have money.  And things that rely on oil get priced higher and higher.  And unlike the developing nations, for some reason, the will to create real viable alternatives just doesn’t seem to be present in the US or Western Europe.  Why?  I really don’t know, how can small island nations transition to biofuel and natural gas to power cars and we can’t with all our technology, already have real working solutions on the road being used by everyday people; just like those developing nations have now?  It’s shocking and shameful we as the technology leaders do not have working solutions and better engines on the road.  We have the technology, I guess we just lack the will.

 

The IMF is just way out touch on this one, it’s going to spell trouble if they and Wall Street don’t put down the sparkling water and realize it is Main Street USA, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Japan, etc… that is the driver of this world.  It’s time we move away from oil, there are plenty of ideas out there to do this; we should be putting our money into those ideas.  From a practical point of view, it only makes sense; the current system makes less and less sense everyday.

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Filed under Alternative Fuel, Business, Consumerism, Energy, Europe, Globalization, Government, International Trade, Renewable, The World