So you'll excuse them for not finding time to tell you about the latest bold move by America's favorite billionaire, Warren Buffett. As Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader reported last week:
Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year. [...]
State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, confirmed the plant manager called him Thursday afternoon with the news.
"Terrible sad day for people in Russell County," Hoover said. There was no warning of the plant closing, he said. Layoffs will begin in June.
The company, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is "part of the company's ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain" and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster. The company said it is moving the plant's textile operations to Honduras to save money.
Naturally the company -- or, rather, Warren Buffett -- needs to save money. I mean, this lousy economy hits everyone, poor and rich alike. Warren Buffett can't be immune, right?
Oh, wait. Let's take a gander at the stock market news as of today (April 10, 2014):
Shares in [Buffett's] investment company Berkshire Hathaway went up 1.7% from yesterday's opening whistle at 12:15 pm to this morning at 9:36 am. That slight change was enough to bump Buffett's net worth up $1.05 billion to $64 billion.
|Warren and Jay-Z debate the merits of|
raising the minimum wage for their
waitress. The waitress loses.
Hey now! Amazing what a 1.7% bump can do for a fellow. No doubt Buffett's Armand de Brignac Champagne-swilling buddy Jay-Z would approve of such a bold move. Jay-Z did his own share of thinning the herd back in the day when he was dealing smack in what is poetically referred to as the inner city. Still, what's 600 people in a country of 317-million?
"We have about 2,000 manufacturing jobs in Russell County, and this is going to be about a third of them," [said Russell County Judge-Executive Gary Robertson]. "It's going to be devastating to our local economy. Everybody's going to be involved. We in the county will lose revenues. ... We've got a lot of local banks where people who work there have house payments and car payments. It's going to affect everybody in our county and in counties around us."
Payments, shmayments! Warren can't let a measly 600 hard-working Americans get in the way of aligning his global chain, am I right?
In 1998, the company closed its 812-worker plant in Campbellsville, devastating the economy of the south-central Kentucky town; the company offered jobs at the Jamestown factory to 100 of the laid-off workers in Campbellsville.
OK, so maybe it's a little more than 600 workers who were kicked to the curb over time. But look! Only 712 of those Campbellsville people had to go on the dole. And a quick study of Google Maps tells us there's only about 40 minutes distance between the two towns. That's your average subway commute in New York. (I know, there isn't a subway in Kentucky. But here's a good excuse to build one!) Now, 1998 was 16 years ago, so who the heck knows how many of those 100 transferred workers were still there anyway. I bet they retired to their second homes in Bora-Bora. You can do that when your salary is in the low five figures, can't you?
Still, how do we know that Honduran workers will come any cheaper than Americans? If Haiti is a barometer, I think we already know:
Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.
Twenty-two cents an hour is quite enough for those ungrateful Haitians, thank you -- even the US embassy agreed! I'm sure our embassy in Honduras will be on the same page.
It's good to know that the Supreme Court was right when it decided that the super-rich aren't a corrupting influence in politics.
Take a bow, Warren Buffett -- you're putting your $64-billion to good use. Next time you're sharing margaritas with your cousin Jimmy, have one on me. You've earned it the old-fashioned way.