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Letters to the Editor

April 03, 2009

Clothes from Africa: What does it mean?



To the editor:

Bought a pair of pants from a mid-range clothing/department store recently and later noticed the tag, "Made in Swaziland."

I've experienced the cycle - from department store 4-cent "notions counters" of the 1950s, filled with "Made in Japan" tin and plastic toys, small household items, early ball-point pens, etc., the South's rise to become what's left of America's manufacturing center, China and Korea's export juggernauts, and more recently Mexico, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and even Vietnam.

Yet I still was surprised to find "Swaziland," a small Southeast African nation, on my pants!

Multi-national corporations, their allegiance to the almighty dollar rather than country, follow the cheapest labor, so perhaps it's natural that Africa is the next frontier.

I've since noticed major brand shirts "Made in Madagascar," another African nation.

(For those tempted to invoke the Obama race card, the pants purchase occurred last year, before he became the Democratic nominee).

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And I don't care if my clothes are made in Africa, any more than I care if they're made in Canada, Mexico, China, Bangladesh or wherever.

But I do care that we've lost those jobs and better ones in many, many fields, along with the technological innovation capabilities that invariably go along with being the guys who make things!

When I was young, my mother worked in the "sewing factories" of northeastern Pennsylvania to help make ends meet, and even got a small retirement pension from the ILGWU - International Ladies' Garment Workers Union - something my father didn't have.

With that, they survived retirement. Today, those options are gone.

I don't know what, if anything, can or even should, be done about it.

But we need to take the implications of these changes into account as we consider how to lay the groundwork of a decent "standard of living" for our children and grandchildren.

Paul Politis
Greencastle, Pa.




Widmyer: I called for a hearing, not a tax hike



To the editor:

The Herald-Mail's coverage of the Jefferson County (W.Va.) budget process included a quote from a fellow commissioner who said that I supported a tax hike to raise $800,000. This is not true.

I supported holding a public hearing on this option. This year's budget is cut to the bone.

It includes budget cuts to all public services, including police, fire, ambulance, libraries, parks and the health department.

I supported a public hearing to find out if taxpayers would be willing to support a tax increase to restore some or all of these cuts. The vote to hold a public hearing failed, 3-2.

Setting a budget is the single most important task facing the Jefferson County Commission. I believe the public should be involved in setting priorities and commenting on funding options.

The public did not have a chance to do that this year. This is not right and I will continue to seek ways to allow the public more voice in how their tax dollars are spent.

Lyn Widmyer
Jefferson County Commissioner
Charles Town, W.Va.

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