This has been bugging me for a while, but an event
today has pushed me over the edge. There was once a time in which
fashion houses had their designs advertise for them. “Ohh, what are you
wearing, it’s sooo nice!” Before long, the reason people wore certain
clothes was because of he designers. The important thing was to be seen
wearing someone’s desins. Well, now it has morphed into simply
advertising what designers you like. How many Tommy Hilfiger tshirts
have you seen? Add to that all the Armani exchange, Donna Karen, Calvin
Klein, etc. and it is mind boggling. Not only are people advertising
for these companies, they are being charged to do it! OK, I can see
where they are coming from (not that I understand it), they are
identifying with a brand and what it represents even if they can’t
afford to wear the actual fashions. Ok, I think that wearing a brand is
questionable, but I guess it’s a marker of some sort of culture that
I’m not a part of.
    OK, here’s the thing that made me go crazy. I saw a
guy (who else) wearing a Heinz tshirt. Yes, the ketsup and steak sauce
company. It was a bright red shirt with the familiar Heintz logo on it.
What kind of culture is he tapping into? What is he trying to connect
with? Why on earth would you become a bilboard for Heintz? I really
can’t take it…


7 replies on “Tshirts..”

Heinz Shirts…

C’mon now Isaac. Ease up. If the market supports it, it must be A-OK. It was probably made by low paid workers in India… but thats OK too and quite beside the point.

I don’t know what this says about me but I actually own a Heinz ketchup T-Shirt. I’ll go get it right now so I can acurately describe it…
Ah, here it is. Its green and has the word PITTSBURGH on the front, only the “I” in Pittsburgh is really a Heinz bottle. I bought it in Pittsburgh because I spent a few months there and really enjoyed it. A truly clean and beautiful city thanks to capitalism’s relentless race to the bottom. You see, it was cheaper to produce steel in South America than to pay workers a decent wage in Pittsburgh… and of course, those savings came direcly back to you and I through a wider array of cheaper and better products…

but i digress.

Devoid of heavy industry and jobs, Pittsburgh now boasts perfectly clean and breathable air, much like the rest of the rust belt in the North East.

You know its funny you should mention the Heinz shirt. I was half toying with the idea of taking it to the Salvation Army today. It’s a little small on me and it makes me look fat. Maybe I’ll give it to a ketchup officianado.


Now that you mention it…

I’m going to ignore most of your post cause I can’t really tell if you’re joking or not, but I can’t pass up the whole “relentless race to the bottom” thing. This phrase drives me nuts, I hear it quite a bit and it doesn’t make any sense on any level. There is the implication that we were at a higher place before and that we’re worse off now. I’m not just talking about you and me, I’m talking about everyone in this country. It’s as though people actually miss the old Pittsburg, Cleveland, Gary, and Allentowns of the world. Is anyone actually going to argue that those cities are worse now than they were back in the 70s? It isn’t just here either, it’s world wide. Would you rather live in the India of 1975 or the India of today? How about the Philipines, Thailand, or Honduras? China is the most extreme example of change and improvement. Hmmm, I sense another addition to my web site coming up… Oh BTW I can tell you from hard experience that it isn’t the shirt that makes you look fat:-)

Re: Now that you mention it…

I was joking of course. 😉 Sorry if it sounded otherwise. I have always thought the “race to the bottom” phrase spoke more to wages/buying power, standard of living, corporate ethics, and accountability. All four of which are in freefall as I see it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not desire a return to the bad old days of rampant pollution, political corruption and influence peddling… those days it seems are here to stay. Rather, I was suggesting that in some ‘alternate universe’ there was once the idea that corporations should do more than just serve their shareholders and feed the ravenous bottom line. It seems that such notions have become quaint, even laughable in light of CEO salaries that dwarf average workers salaries by a factor of 300 or 400 to 1. Please checkout the following article if you think that sounds crazy.

It seems to me that the “The System” as it exists in this country today has what a programmer might call a memory leak. More and more resources are being diverted from the “OS” the worker, or the economy if you will, the source of demand, to a piece of bady written code which we will call Daddy Warbucks, the owner, CEO etc. What happens when the OS (workers) don’t have enough memory (buying power/cash)to execute instructions (consume goods/services)? The system crashes in both cases.

Fortunately for Daddy Warbucks, there still are large sources of increasingly poor people who by neccesity are willing to work for lower and lower wages in order that goods be produced cheaper and cheaper for the Walmarts of the world whose clientelle happen to be those very same workers whose standard of living has been falling ever since there steel job migrated to a poorer part of the world. Without intervention, sooner or later, the bottom will be reached.

Thats how I understand the phrase “race to the bottom”.

Come to think of it, alot of my shirts are making me look fat. 😉


Income disparity

Hmm, be careful that you don’t confuse standard of living with income disparity. I don’t see any connection between the two in the article you cited. In fact, since it seems that a lot of the payment was due to stock options, I’m not really sure what the problem is. Don’t get me wrong, I hate seeing people getting paid millions of dollars while running a company into the ground, but I’ll never begrudge someone making a sweetheart of a deal between themselves and thier bosses. I hear the same complaint about baseball players, that they don’t “deserve” to be paid that much. The CEOs and baseball players are only doing what any of us would do. If someone offered you a job that paid a base of 10 million dollars a year, would you take it? If your employer said to you that the average pay for your position is 1 million dollars and that you are well qualified for that position but since that wasn’t “fair” to the other workers they would offer you 35,000, would you take the job? Not if you could get 1 million from some place else. The fact of the matter is that CEOs and “regular” workers do not have the same job, so why are their salleries being compared? Does anyone complain that teachers get paid far more than the janitors at the same school?

As frustrating as you may find income disparity, it is going to, and has always happened. The more important question is how is the “average” worker doing. I don’t see any evidence that their standard of living has gone down. My gut feeling is that it has gone up overall. What you see in freefall I see as either the same (corporate “culture” and accountability) or has gotten better (quality of jobs, standard of living). There certainly isn’t any question what has happened in the developing economies, our so called compitition. Their standard of living has gone up dramatically. There is still a huge disparity between tham and the US and I think that that is more important than the disparity between the income brackets in the US.


The steel industry

BTW, what cost steel workers their jobs was not so much cheaper labor as it was automation. The union representation that the steel mills were required to deal with made it impossible for them to revamp the mills and make them competative. The vast majority of the workers who lost their jobs were literally no longer needed. The mills in Japan and Taiwan buried the American mills mostly on the basis of effeciancy.

While it may seem that automation costs people jobs, it is actually a requirement of progress. Automation keeps the production of the goods the same (if not better) and frees the displaced workers to pursue other types of jobs. Think about it, in 1900, 41 percent of the workforce was employed on farms. 41 percent! ( Who now is really sorry that they aren’t working on a farm? The same holds true for steel workers, assembly workers, clothes washers, etc. Some people say that people’s standard of living goes down when this happens, i don’t see it. Did the farm workers in 1900 have ahigher standard of living than we do now? Obviously not. Did the steel workers in 1965 have a better standard of living than the people working in Pittsburg today? Not a chance. Things get better over time as long as the markets are allowed to transform. This includes the labor market.



Yes you are right, but here’s the thing. Hershey’s is putting out T-shirts. Who wouldn’t want to identify with cholate? It’s a good thing and likely to improve the world we live in. mom

Re: fashion

Well duh, who wouldn’t identify with chocolate. That’s completely different…:-) What was Randy saying about his shirt making him look fat?:-)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.