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Vietnam's Take on Income Inequality

James Rhodes: This company has survived wars and global economic depressions because they pull together. People are more important than profits.
Vietnamese Manufacturing

GARCO 10 factory

As the gap of income equality begins to widen globally, rather than objectively examine the root causes of this problem, conservatives are content to continue to point the accusing finger at Obama and lament what they claim are his economic policies as being the harbinger of instilling “Communism in America.” These, of course, are buzzwords from the national GOP playbook that seem to always divert attention from the truth and refocus attention upon whatever their talking points maybe for that particular time period.

Mitt Romney was touted for his “expert business experience” that would provide a role model for saving the U.S. economy while combating the evils of “socialistic wealth redistribution.” But according to the Wall Street Journal, from 1984-1999, seventeen of the 77 companies Mitt Romney and Bain Capital represented were forced into bankruptcy, generating over $1 billion of profits for Bain and an individual personal gain for Romney of over $250 million.

According to economist Tyler Durden, for the time period of 2002-2012, the average family income in America for the bottom 90% of wage earners fell 10.7% while the top .01% realized an increase of 76.2%. This model of wealth distribution -- the American Plutocracy -- is the sacred cow exempt from moral scrutiny. For those doubting this, ask the question: Who in Washington is not a millionaire?

Chris Greenwood wrote of some of the companies Bain Capital destroyed for the sake of investor profits:

  • The 100-year-old ARMCO Steel cost the American taxpayer $44 million dollars while allowing Bain profits of $36 million; 750 workers lost their jobs in the process.
  • American Pad & Paper garnered Bain $100 million in profits while costing 1,500 workers their jobs at the alter of American greed.
  • Dade Behring provided Bain with $240 million while eliminating 1,700 jobs.
  • Stage Stories contributed $175 million to Bain investors while wiping out 5,000 employee positions.
  • DDi had blood sacrifices of over $116.7 million to Bain at the cost of 3,200 jobs.

According to Urban Politico, it was during this time period Mitt Romney and Bain vulture capitalist had that infamous photo taken where hundred dollar bills were clutched in their hands, stuffed in their pockets, and even held in their mouths. The message was clear to the middle class and working poor.

Vietnamese Manufacturing

Once the Republicans began to take control of state legislatures, their assault on worker’s rights and labor unions began to intensify. Focus was diverted from the tax breaks given to wealthy corporations to casting blame upon the “greedy unions” and “inflated pensions” under their control as if all the ills of the economy were directly responsible by liberal labor policies. Never mentioned were the lavish pensions federal and state politicians receive. The focus and talking points was always on the backs of the working class and collective bargaining.

According to Deborah Baratz of Money Morning, labor was never blessed to the extent of the pensions these guys received and yet there was no public outrage by the same politicians who always seem to find fault with anything union’s do:

  • Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy-retirement package $45 million.
  • Hank McKinnell, Pfizer, $161 million.
  • Thomas Ryan, CVS, $185 million.
  • Louis Gerstner, IBM, $189 million.
  • Fred Hassan, Merck & Company, $189 million.
  • John Kanas, North Fork Bank, $214 million.
  • Bob Nardelli, Home Depot, $223 million.
  • Edward Whitacre, AT&T, $230 million.
  • Lee Raymond, EXXON-MOBILE, $321 million.
  • Jack Welch, GE, $417 million.
  • William McGuire, United Health Group, $600 million.
  • The public servant, Dick Cheney, received a retirement package from Halliburton of over $33.7 million.

In exchange for larger profit margins that solely benefit top management and share holders, American workers for decades have been sold out by outsourcing and relocation of plant operations into foreign locations.

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Recently politicians have given some lip service to this dilemma, but are they really serious? Will U.S. firms abandon their overseas slave plantations and return to the motherland that gave them the opportunity to become rich?

Ironically while Washington discussed this situation, and other issues the Trans Pacific Partnership has recently brought up, Vietnam’s largest clothing manufacturer, GARCO 10, made overtures to expand their operation into the United States-a move that would initially create about 500 new jobs on American soil.

Vietnamese Manufacturing

This is like the TPP in reverse and something I felt would be enthusiastically embraced by both parties. On GARCO 10’s behalf, I contacted Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s office while I was in Washington D.C. I felt she would be a perfect match with her being the only minority woman Democratic representative from Alabama. Her office flatly refused to see me.

I contacted Republican Mike Rogers’ staff and invited them to meet with GARCO 10 representatives while they were in Alabama, something they also ignored. However the reception of Alabama city and state personnel was much more in accordance with Southern hospitality.

Perhaps what concerns Washington is the business model GARCO 10 provides. GARCO 10 has many fourth-generation employees. GARCO 10 is more than a company, it is a family.

GARCO 10 was founded upon, and operates under, the principles of Buddhism. Each employee has value and is treasured, from the janitorial staff to the company board room. GARCO 10, since its founding, at the conclusion of WWII, has provided daycare centers for their employees' children; a company hospital, dental, eye, and acupuncture clinics; prayer and meditation centers; a company store that provides huge employee discounts; their own vocational college; hotel; restaurants, and cafeterias that serve all employees with food and fish that is grown on GARCO 10 farms. This truly is a green operation. Additionally, GARCO 10 has a network of social and volunteer activities that benefit communities where their factories are located as well as supporting various regional and state charities.

Vietnamese Manufacturing

GARCO 10 has 18 factories throughout Vietnam and provides a huge boost to the local economy. These facilities are state of the art and their products are well known worldwide through many famous brands, including Pierre Cardin; Everest; Tommy Hilfiger; Liz Claiborne; Van Husen, among others. GARCO 10 management has decided the time has come for the world to know GARCO 10 by their own brands, and this was the reason for the US visit, to explore the opportunity to establish an American factory to produce the GARCO 10 brand for US distribution.

A major stumbling block is the massive amounts of paperwork the US government requires that averaged about $10,000 per Vietnamese supervisor just to enter the United States -- and Washington claims we want overseas jobs brought to America?

I cannot adequately relate how all departments at GARCO 10 work together, not only as one unit, but one big family. Of course employees work for money and promotional opportunities; but, here, it is radically different, these people, and I mean all of them, love and care about what they do. They love themselves, they love their co-workers, they love their customers, they love the company, and they love their country. This is why I know they will succeed.

This company has survived wars and global economic depressions because they pull together. People are more important than profits. GARCO 10’s economic system is based upon social justice and doing what is morally right-something I encourage foreign business leaders to come here and study. This truly what makes a company great and if employed elsewhere would have far reaching effects upon working families, local and national economies.

jim rhodes

Jim Rhodes