The Ati-thesis , Marxism

"By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production.[3] Friedrich Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, argues that state capitalism would be the final stage of capitalism consisting of ownership and management of large-scale production and communication by the bourgeois state.[4]"

Quoted from Wikepedia

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The DECD and the Micro-economy


The next section of the DECD statute is called  Article 2-B: MAINE MICROENTERPRISE INITIATIVE. It appears to be a devise designed to give the appearance of support for the micro economy- in name only - since the redistributed wealth will be granted to a non-profit organization.

In the context of the rest of this statute, including the section on encouraging globalization through the foreign trade zone and another that excludes of the retail sector from benefits distributed by the tax payer funded Department of Community and Economic Development, this section comes across as barely concealed disdain held by the authors of the DECD statute toward the micro economic sector.

Here we have the DECD generously offering to help the micro economy to train their staffs by giving money directly to non-profit organizations. What did the lawmakers who wrote the DECD statute  imagine the micro economy to be ? A collective component of the economy with only a handful of business types to be determined by the state and easily controlled and organized from above?
Does the DECD imagine that it is qualified to determine what is a"a viable plan for providing training and technical assistance to micro-enterprises? Might I point out that proposing that this can be done through a third party non-profit organization says otherwise?

 Does the DECD think that micro economy businesses have generic skills that require no familiarity with the way the individual business functions? 

And finally if the DECD can directly grant money to global capitalists and the special interests in their "targeted sector"- then why can't the DECD grant the money directly to the micro economy business to train their staff themselves, and who would know better how to train a business staff than the business owners themselves?

The micro economy is an expression of the variety and individualism inherent in the human species. A government run economy is best suited to a collectivist society. The encouragement given to global capitalist through the foreign trade zone is apt to be a direct conflict of interest with micro economy businesses creating jobs within Maine communities as is the case with indelible labeling  The State managed economy will tend be on the side of the most concentrated wealth since the state is inclined to paint everything in large brush strokes that make large scale management manageable.

Throughout the DECD statute, job creation worthy of the benefits distributed by the government bureaucracy are described as "quality jobs", which are, in the world view of the lawmakers who wrote the DECD statute,  jobs for the upper echelons of the economy- with "higher than average pay" and  premium benefit packages. All other jobs by default are "NOT- quality jobs in the eyes of the DECD- as if the DECD can achieve "social benefit" and economic revival by directing all material benefits,  dignity and respect to the upper economic classes and ultimately to the global capitalists.

 What ever happened to the American archetype of the immigrant who arrives with nothing but the shirt on his back and creates great wealth? Does he just miraculously jump from the bottom to the top rungs of the economy? Apparently this is the way our overlords think the economy works best.


§13063-J. Definitions

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings. [2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW).]
1. Community-based organization.  "Community-based organization" means a nonprofit organization that has:
A. A viable plan for providing training and technical assistance to micro-enterprises; [2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW).]
B. Broad-based community support; [2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW).]
C. An adequate source of operating capital; and [2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW).]
D. A demonstrated need for funding to provide training and technical assistance to microenterprises. [2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW).]
[ 2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW) .]
2. Fund.  "Fund" means the Maine Microenterprise Initiative Fund established in section 13063-K.
[ 2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW) .]
3. Microenterprise.  "Microenterprise" means a business located in the State that produces goods or provides services and has fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees.
[ 2001, c. 471, Pt. A, §7 (NEW) .]
2001, c. 471, §A7 (NEW).

This section raises questions related to the story I tell at the end of the post, On Being an Anomaly in the Age of The Creative Economy, where in we were invited to network with a non-profit organization which had received a grant to teach how to form little ceramic mud pies out of clay, an organization, which I will here after refer to as the Ceramic Mud Pie Academy.

Was this funding granted to the Ceramic Mud Pie Academy on the basis of this section of the DECD statute?

Was the cluster ceramics industry that grew after my parents pioneered the first ceramics enterprise in the Boothbay Region in the 1950's the basis for "A demonstrated need for funding to provide training and technical assistance to microenterprises."?

If so- Did the non-skill of formulating mud pies out of clay, qualify, in the eyes of the DECD  "experts" as " A viable plan for providing training and technical assistance to micro-enterprises? ?

If the above is true that means that the overlords at the DECD are clueless about the nature of skilled work involved in making ceramics. The fact that my father was taught the craft of slip casting by the world reknown Eva Zeisel and we were taught by him doesn't even make it into the template of the DECD's thinking process.

Perhaps this is a way for the DECD to encourage the micro economy to reformulate , at least in part , as non-profit organizations in order that those with genuine knowledge can be eligible for grants to teach genuine skills and in the process become part of the quasi network of government. These days there is a big problem with that solution- based on the fact that I write this blog, I would never ever be eligible for non-profit status- which is alright by me on the score that I have never ever wanted our private sector business to be a non-profit organization.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reality VS Truth as Deemed by Legistation

Before I move on with my story, I want to make one point perfectly clear about the insights I have been relaying about TexTech, which came to my attention because Alan Hinsey of MaineBiz Sunday heralded TexTech as the "poster child" of Maine's "creative economy" movement.

When the Maine state legislature rose above the will of the people as expressed in the Maine state constitution to charter, by special ct of legislation, that corporation known as the Finance Authority of Maine, the legislature there in deemed the following to be true:

The authority will serve a public purpose and perform an essential governmental function in the exercise of the powers and duties conferred upon it by this chapter. Any benefits accruing to private individuals or associations, as a result of the activities of the authority, are deemed by the Legislature to be incidental to the public purposes to be achieved by the implementation of this chapter. [1985, c. 344, §5 (AMD).] Special Act of legislation chartering FAME

In fact and in regards to TexTech, having received at least seven wealth transfusions from MTI, the exact opposite is true, The public purpose is defined in the special act of legislation that chartered the non-profit corporation known as the Maine Technology Institute:

2. Purpose.  The institute, through a public and private partnership, shall encourage, promote, stimulate and support research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services in the State's technology-intensive industrial sectors to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and to create new jobs for Maine people. The institute is one element of the State's economic development strategy and will contribute to the long-term development of a statewide research, development and product deployment infrastructure.
[ 1999, c. 401, Pt. AAA, §3 (NEW) .]

The definition of Industrialization at dictionary .com is :

1. ( tr ) to develop industry on an extensive scale in (a country, region, etc) 2. ( intr ) (of a country, region, etc) to undergo the development of industry on an extensive scale

The extensive scale is not in the prototype design activity but in the extensive scale  production activity. The production activity for Textech as stated on their website is located in China and Thailand where the cost of labor is dramatically less that in Maine, wherein  the legislature promises higher than average wages and all the beast benefits.

When we get to the definition of "incidental' as in "Any benefits accruing to private individuals or associations, as a result of the activities of the authority, are deemed by the Legislature to be incidental to the public purposes to be achieved by the implementation of this chapter.", the interpretation of the legislature's decree is nothing short of incredulous:

The definition of Incidental at Merriam

a : being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence <social obligations incidental to the job>
b : minor 1
2: occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation

So we are to believe that the high growth investors with whom our legislature is so cozily in bed in the special act of legislation that chartered the tax payer-subsidized high growth investor's corporation known as The Small Enterprise Growth Fund are unintentionally making a high growth profit for which they demand an "exit strategy" in order to realize!

The other definition of incidental that applies here is found on
Definition: related; minor

Prototype design is clearly related to production but it is minor in scale to production.

Prototype design provides jobs on a limited and minor scale to the amount of jobs provided in production.

The wealth transfusions going to TexTech from The Maine technology Institute benefit the owners of the means of production, or the high growth investor in the same, on a far greater scale than it benefits the Maine people in providing jobs for Mainers. It provides jobs for people in China and Thailand on a much greater scale than it provides jobs to Mainers.

The jobs provided to Maine are incidental to the wealth created for the high growth investor and the owner of the means of production located in China and Thailand. Those jobs are related but minor in scale to the rest. The practicing reality is the opposite of the truth as so deemed in the unconstitutional charter for the Finance Authority of Maine.

But since The Finance Authority of Maine and the Maine Technology Institute and the Small Enterprise Growth Fund were all chartered by special acts of legislation in violation of Article IV, Part Third, Section 14 of the Maine State Constitution- can the legislature be said to be in violation of statutes that are themselves unconstitutional?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Globalization and The Maine Department of Economic And Community Development

TWEET with this short link

Introduction of a Theme:
The Global Investment Community Threatened by The Small Craft Maker.

A while back I had the thought that a factory worker in a low wage labor market could make as much with one sale on Etsy as he or she could working for a month in a factory. My next thought was that political forces in those countries would apply pressure to keep people from opening an Etsy Shop. I now believe that such political pressure exists everywhere as governments become entrenched in economic “globalism”. It may sound fantastic that governments and global capitalists are threatened by small craft enterprises, but the value systems and what benefits each are at odds with those of other. In this video, The Voices of the  Chinese Workers by leslie T Chang - a well dressed, Harvard educated, young Asian woman presents herself as the voice of the Chinese workers. Instead she comes across as a corporate shill advancing the concept that the end justifies the means and dismissing the importance of taking pride in one’s work.

In this blog post I examine the legislation that established The Maine department of Economic and Community Development.

As I write, the IRS scandal is playing our in the national news. It is a story about the politicization of non-profit organizations and their function in redistribution of wealth by governments in the service of special interests, in the case of the IRS, the special interest is the re-election of Barack Obama, whom many believe won the election and did so through grass roots organization, such organizations being formed and financed as non-profit organizations. Using the power of the IRS to prevent the other side from organizing and financing on equal terms, would clearly give the Obama campaign an electoral advantage.

While the original intent of non-profits was to serve society in way that couldn’t be served, in theory, by for profit enterprises, today non-profits have become largely instrumental in redistributing wealth to the wealthy and entitlements to the general public. There still exist nonprofit organizations consistent with the original intent of serving goals, which are not profit driven. This is attributable to the character of the individuals involved in those organizations, but the character of the people can and does change over time. The thought of the IRS applying a political agenda to obtaining the status of a non-profit to organizations which genuinely serves public needs is truly frightening and all the more reason why the IRS should never be permitted to manage ObamaCare. In the current scandal the IRS put the applications process on hold for nonprofit organizations formed to advance causes of those that oppose the Obama agenda, including ObamaCare which will require a dramatic increase in the number of IRS employees.

Non-profit organizations are being utilized by Maine State Inc, for the purpose of accumulating and redistributing capital, and none more blatantly so than The Maine Technology Institute, chartered in violation of Article IV, part Third, Section 14 of the Maine State Constitution, which prohibits the legislature from chartering corporations with an exception only for municipal purposes and no exception for non-profit corporations. According to it’s 1999 annual report, the Maine Technology Institute. is “ a private, non-profit (501(c)3) organization. It receives a direct appropriation from the Legislature through the Department of Economic and Community Development. MTI is designed to collect capital from both non-profit sources and the general taxpayer and to concentrate that capital in a fund which will be redistributed by the state to private entities as well as to the states own advanced manufacturing center at the University of Maine.

§13056-C. Maine Economic Development Evaluation Fund
1. Fund established.  The Maine Economic Development Evaluation Fund, referred to in this section as "the fund," is established as a nonlapsing Other Special Revenue Funds account administered by the department for the purposes of funding the comprehensive economic development evaluation required pursuant to section 13056-A. [ 2007, c. 434, §3 (NEW) .]

2. Fund sources.  The fund receives money deposited by the Treasurer of State pursuant to this section and any other gift, grant or other source of revenue deposited for funding the comprehensive economic development evaluation required pursuant to section 13056-A. [ 2007, c. 434, §3 (NEW) .]

3. Payments to fund.  Notwithstanding section 1585 or any other provision of law, the department shall assess agencies or private entities that receive General Fund appropriations or general obligation bonds for economic development an amount for contribution to the fund that is not to exceed 0.8% of General Fund appropriations received by or general obligation bonds issued to an agency or entity for economic development efforts. Private entities that receive funds from general obligation bonds for economic development efforts shall pay to the Treasurer of State in the fiscal year in which the general obligation bond was issued an assessment amount determined by the department that is not to exceed 0.8% of the proceeds from the bond issue in any fiscal year, which payment must be made from available resources other than bond proceeds. Only those programs that receive $250,000 or more in economic development appropriations in any fiscal year or those entities that receive funds from a general obligation bond issue of $250,000 or more for economic development efforts in any fiscal year, as identified and certified by the department and the Office of Fiscal and Program Review, may be assessed pursuant to this subsection. The department shall provide to each agency or private entity an annual budget for the fund and a detailed account of each institution's required assessment. Total payments made pursuant to this section may not exceed $200,000 in any fiscal year. [ 2011, c. 563, §3 (AMD) .]
SECTION HISTORY 2007, c. 434, §3 (NEW). 2009, c. 337, §2 (AMD). 2011, c. 563, §3 (AMD

The money so accumulated is then redistributed to privately owned “high tech” companies such as TexTech, which, according to Alan Hinsey of MaineBiz Sunday, has received transfers of wealth from MTI on seven different occasions.

A Global Company

Tex Tech is truly a global company, manufacturing over 7,000 products. Our flagship Maine manufacturing facility covers 200,000 sq. ft. and is home to our Technical and Research & Development centers. In addition, we operate manufacturing facilities in Thailand and China and are dedicated to our growing business in Asia.

 MTI is redistributing tax payer money and non-profit contributions to a Maine company that has its manufacturing facilities located in China and Thailand. The justifying rhetoric put forth by the legislature and repeated in Maine’s media is that MTI is creating high tech jobs in Maine but TexTech clearly states that the Maine manufacturing facilities are for developing prototypes rather than product manufacturing. TexTech's production  is located in the global low wage markets, notorious for worker exploitation. So much for "social benefit ". The story that the Maine legislature and the Maine media is telling the people of Maine is a whopper. When you consider that the funding is being channeled through a government chartered non-profit corporation, it makes a mockery of the concept that nonprofits do not serve the profit motive. There is no reason for a Maine company to move manufacturing over seas other than the profit motive. We know this well in the ceramic industry where in most major companies and many smaller ones as well outsource their production to the same low wage global labor market.

These are the first two paragraphs of the special act of Legislation that chartered the Maine Technology Institute

§15302. Maine Technology Institute

1. Establishment.  The Maine Technology Institute, as established in section 12004-G, subsection 33-D, is a nonprofit corporation with public and charitable purposes. The duties, activities and operations of the institute are within the provisions of the federal Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)(3).
[ 1999, c. 401, Pt. AAA, §3 (NEW) .]
2. Purpose.  The institute, through a public and private partnership, shall encourage, promote, stimulate and support research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services in the State's technology-intensive industrial sectors to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and to create new jobs for Maine people. The institute is one element of the State's economic development strategy and will contribute to the long-term development of a statewide research, development and product deployment infrastructure.
[ 1999, c. 401, Pt. AAA, §3 (NEW) .]
Research and development is not "industrial activity" -- it is product development and design- not the same thing . Industrial activity occurs during production.In the case of Textech, having received seven wealth transfusions from MTI at the time of the Alan Hinsey interview, their "industrial activity" ( manufacturing ) takes place in China and Thialand as stated on their website.

The DECD is also controls municipal development through the redistribution of the capital resources in its “fund”

§13056-D. Communities for Maine's Future Program

1. Program established; administration.  The Communities for Maine's Future Program, referred to in this section as "the program," is established within the department to assist and encourage communities to revitalize and to promote community development and enhance projects. The department shall administer the program to provide funding for the rehabilitation, revitalization and enhancement of downtowns and village centers and main streets in the State. All funds received for this program must be deposited into the Communities for Maine's Future Fund established in subsection 7.

[ 2009, c. 414, Pt. G, §1 (NEW); 2009, c. 414, Pt. G, §5 (AFF) .]
2. Review panel.  The Community for Maine's Future Review Panel, referred to in this section as "the panel," is established to evaluate proposals and determine funding under the program. The panel consists of:

§13062. Office of Business Development

The Director of the Office of Business Development shall administer the office in accordance with the policies of the commissioner and the provisions of this chapter, emphasizing a program of targeted business development designed to attract particular types of businesses that have potential for Maine and businesses that are considered to be compatible with Maine's environment and interests. The office shall actively seek and encourage firms to expand or locate in Maine. The office is responsible for the implementation of programs designed

In other words the DECD will advantage special interests sectors of the economy that serve the designs of Maine State Enterprises. The redistributed wealth will go to those special interests selected by the government. The rest of the economy will be taxed to finance the governments’ chosen special interests.

Since Maine State Inc has it’s eye on getting its fair share of monopoly money fresh off the the Federal Reserve presses, the strings are being pulled by the federal government just as the state in turn pulls the strings at the municipal level with its power to  redistribute wealth accumulated in the state's multifarious funds.

 1. Business investment.  Business investment shall be encouraged consistent with this subsection.
C. The director, with the approval of the commissioner, may make grants for market development from appropriations for that purpose to any municipality or group of municipalities which have received a grant of authority from the Federal Government to establish a foreign trade zone. [1987, c. 534, Pt. A, §§17, 19 (NEW).]

D. Application for foreign trade zones shall be according to this paragraph.
(1) The director, with the approval of the commissioner, on behalf of the State, may make applications to the Foreign Trade Zone Board and establish foreign trade zones that are to be located on state-owned, leased or otherwise controlled property. A municipality, group of municipalities or a public or private corporation may, with the approval of the department, make applications to the Foreign Trade Zone Board and establish foreign trade zones at other locations. Foreign trade zones shall be established in or adjacent to any ports of entry in the State, where personal property in transit shall be exempt from the stock-in-trade tax and such other taxes and customs as are normally levied in a port of entry.
 (2) Any development or activity with a foreign trade zone established in the State is subject to the laws which the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Department of Marine Resources and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are responsible for administering, as well as any other law which protects the environment.
 (3) For the purpose of this subsection, "personal property in transit" through the areas established under this paragraph means goods, wares and merchandise either moving in interstate or international commerce through these zones or consigned to a warehouse, public or private, within these zones, whether specified when transportation begins or afterward. This property shall not be deprived of exemption because, while in the warehouse, the property is assembled, bound, joined, processed, disassembled, divided, cut, broken in bulk, relabeled or repackaged. The exemption granted shall be liberally construed to effect the purposes of this subsection. The warehouse in which these goods, wares or merchandise are stored shall not be owned, in whole or in part, by either the consignee or consignor. This paragraph does not apply to agricultural products. [1989, c. 781, (AMD); 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §5 (REV).]
[ 1999, c. 272, §1 (AMD); 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §5 (REV) .]

Wikipedia on Foreign Trade Zones
A foreign-trade zone (FTZ) in the United States is a geographical area, in (or adjacent to) a United States Port of Entry, where commercial merchandise, both domestic and foreign receives the same Customs treatment it would if it were outside the commerce of the United States. Merchandise of every description may be held in the Zone without being subject to Customs duties and other ad valorem taxes >>>>>Wikipedia on Foreign Trade Zones

 So a business that manufactures in a low price global labor market and has the  product assembled in the USA in a foreign trade zone, can possibly promote the product as made in America while being exempt from custom taxes. If it is a business in Maine’s "targeted sector" –it can also receive investment capital from the taxpayers and non-profit gift giving via the MTI conduit. The warehouse has to be located on state  state-owned, leased or otherwise controlled property.

I am merely speculating at this point that The Loring Development and the MRRA are qualified as foreign trade zones- with the property owned by the state (similar to China's new private ownership laws which excludes private ownership of land.) If so, its establishes great opportunities for tax exempt business ( through access to various state sponsored programs that dole out grants to the “targeted sector”) in which manufacturing is done in low priced labor markets and even financed by Maine state tax payers.

Update-Confirmed that the MRRA is a foreign trade zone

§13083-Q. Designation as port of entry, international airport, foreign trade zone and free port area

If the foreign made imports are labeled as such with paper labels that can be removed once they are in this country to reveal American sounding names underneath the paper labels, it might explain why my letter from Wendy Rosen urging Mainers to contact Olympia Snowe about an indelible labeling bill was rejected from The Creative Economy List Serve run by The Maine Arts Commission. What benefits the small craftier producing a product in Maine, does not benefit the high growth investor taking advantage of the global labor market. SEE This Post For More On The Rejected Letter

Special Interest Favoritism for Some - Taxation Without Representation For Others

The Maine Department of Economic And Community Development is in charge of redistributing wealth to "targeted businesses" to create "quality Jobs". I have yet to run across an explicit definition of "quality job" in statute definitions but in other places it has been indicated that Maine State Inc seeks to create jobs with higher than average pay and all the best benefits . It is reasonable to assume that such materialistic qualifications are what is intended when the legislature uses the term "quality job". See
"Qualified employees" below!

In defining a special interest sector as represented by the term "targeted businesses", it is also important to define who will be excluded from that special interest sector, which, in this case will be the beneficiary of wealth redistributed by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.  as well as ax payer funded services provided by said department. The excluded sector is defined quite explicitly as the Retail Sector, which is  generally a main stay of small towns through our Maine:

§13063-C. Job Retention Program

2. Definitions.  As used in this section the following terms have the following meanings.

A. "Certified retained business" means any for-profit business in this State other than a public utility as defined by Title 35-A, section 102 that retains 100 or more qualified employees in this State and that meets all of the following criteria to the satisfaction of the commissioner:

(1) The business is not engaged in retail operations; or, if it is engaged in retail operations, less than 50% of its total annual revenues from state-based operations are derived from sales taxable in this State or the business can demonstrate to the commissioner by a preponderance of the evidence that any increased sales will not include sales tax revenues derived from a transferring or shifting of retail sales from other businesses in this State; and
(2) The commissioner determines that the business is a successor to a business that would have ceased operations in this State but for the acquisition of that business after September 1, 1996 by the applicant by any means and the applicant demonstrates to the commissioner its intention to continue to operate and employ qualified employees in the State.
For purposes of this paragraph, "retail operations" means sales of consumer goods for household use to consumers who personally visit the business location to purchase the goods. [1997, c. 393, Pt. A, §13 (RPR).]
B. "Qualified employees" means full-time employees who are employed by a certified retained business, for whom a retirement program subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 United States Code, Sections 101 to 1461, as amended, and group health insurance are provided, and whose income, calculated on a calendar year basis, is greater than the average annual per capita income in the labor market area in which the qualified employee is employed. Qualified employees must be residents of this State. [1997, c. 393, Pt. A, §13 (RPR).] 
This is just more fuel for the theory that the Maine economic development bureaucracy exists to further globalization and sees the micro -economic sector as an obstacle to its mission. Right here in the supposed  Department of Economic and  Community Development., globalization is encouraged through the Foreign Trade Zone while Maine Street is being discouraged by taxation without representation.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Being An Anomaly In The Age of The Creative Economy


Introduction: The Cultural Context

Every organization and every business is its own culture. Andersen Stoneware is a cultural environment that places a distinct and unique value on the process of making things. The Creative Economy is a culture that places value on designing (innovating) things. Andersen Stoneware designs what it makes and so Andersen Stoneware also values innovation.

Arguably, the Creative Economy is  a response to the loss of manufacturing (making things) in the United States and the rise of manufacturing in what was once called third world nations. As such the ideology of the Creative Economy movement glorifies designers over makers as it separates the act of designing from the act of making (also  repairing and maintaining which are qualified as "lesser skilled work " according to the "creative economy" system of measurement) (example) In the marketing of the Creative Economy, those that design, do not make, while those that make things do so because they lack higher skills and creative capabilities. According to this world view it is low skilled jobs that are exported to low wage labor markets. * The Creative Economy ideology has created a master class with an alleged superior set of skills and methods of evolving new ideas. In the era of the American Creative Economy movement, Andersen Stoneware exists as a cultural anomaly, which may well be a precursor of things to come to those who pay attention to the changes afoot in the global context. This is Andersen Studio’s story, told in a way that it has never been told before, in the context of a transforming world. And so it is also the story of the world told from our perspective of interacting within it.

Andersen Stoneware was established in the era of the plastics revolution with a founding philosophy dedicated to creating an American hand made product affordable to the middle classes. Andersen Stoneware was founded in 1952 as Ceramics by Andersen during the golden age of America’s middle class . At the time of our founding, the distribution of wealth in the United States took the form of a bell curve with the largest concentration of wealth dispersed among the largest number of people.

Contemporary America is joined at the hip to China and other manufacturing nations. As China grew its manufacturing, American manufacturing declined and as this transformation occurred Communist China led the way in creating a ravine of separation between the working classes and the bureaucracy and/or ownership classes. In both contemporary China and the USA the gap between the rich and the poor is growing as a global investors class exploits the low-wage labor market. A large portion of that market is located in China- a country once dominated by the “workers party”. In 1980’s The Chinese Constitution was amended to allow private ownership of property excepting the ownership of land. As Chinese private enterprise developed, the size of the privately owned business sector equaled or surpassed the dept ridden state owned enterprises. Uproar occurred in 2002 when the People’s Republic of China allowed private capitalists into the Communist Party.

Unconscionable Capitalism

In the twenty first century, the Chinese Communist Party has merged with private capitalism in a reverse process of the transformation occurring in Maine during the same time period. The Maine State Constitution has been superseded by statutory laws, which have entrenched a dominent network of state capitalism, operating with a funds accumulated from taxpayers and gifts from private sources which together comprise a concentrated capital power which merges government, private and non-profit sectors as one continuous system. At the onset of the 21st century, the conflation of public and private sectors emerged as a de facto political party, identifying itself in the popular terms of the moment as “the creative class”, the next generation of owners of the means of production, be those means located in Maine or in China or any other part of the globe

"Over the ensuing decades, particularly in the 1990s when massive investment poured into China, the families of CCP bureaucrats utilised political power and links with foreign capital to transform themselves into a new property-owning capitalist elite. CCP-connected entrepreneurs, executives, outsourcing contractors, import and export traders and professionals have emerged as the junior partners of major transnational corporations in ruthlessly exploiting the working class."

World Socialst Website -Chinese regime amends constitution to protect private ownership- 2004


In China there exists a huge divide between the rich and the poor with only a sliver of a middle class between them and America is not far behind China’s lead.

China ranks #53 worst worldwide in terms of income inequality, with a Gini index (measuring wealth inequality) of 41.5. In comparison, the U.S. ranks #40 worst with a Gini index of 40.[ CIA World Factbook, accessed March 2011 ]

Factsabout China: RICH, POOR & INEQUALITY

Although Communism was born in response to exploitative working conditions of 19th century factories, the conditions for the contemporary worker in China remains notoriously poor, discouraging unions, and wages so low that China has become one of the most competitive manufacturing nations on the globe. Sparse environmental regulations have resulted in making China of the most polluted nations on Planet Earth.

The Chinese Symbol of the Yin-Yang

Everything Is Everything

Once China was home to a sophisticated culture of art and philosophy producing finely crafted and beautifully designed ceramics along side the philosophical master works such as the Tao de Ching, a philosophy which I have come to know through the western version of the I Ching translated by Carl Jung. The I Ching is part of an esoteric tradition in which the maker and creator are complementary parts of an inseparable whole - a cultural tradition harmonious with that upon which Andersen Stoneware was built, which in modern day jargon of the business world might be called in-sourcing.

The I Ching is based on complementary opposites such as creative and receptive, male and female, superior and inferior, within a framework in which the whole is revealed through the interaction of opposites rather than segmented as echelons within a class structure. The creative is synonymous with the masculine and superior while the receptive is feminine and inferior but superior and inferior, male and female, creative and receptive, do not have the same connotations as those words signify within a class-structured context. Jung conceptualized the complementary opposites of the I Ching as the anima and animus – opposing but complementary forces of the human psyche- which is an indivisible whole as visualized by the famous iconic symbol of the Tau de Ching  - a state of Oneness in which the dark and the light taken separately imply its completion through the other.

In the esoteric model, the masculine is the creative seed, which impregnates the feminine, which does the work of nurturing the seed into the manifest world. The process of creating and that of bringing the form into manifestation within the material world (making) are mutually dependent upon each other. There is no finite line of demarcation where the one begins and the other ends, as each is needed to bring the whole into being.

The ideology of the Creative Economy is one of separations, divisions and special interests. As I tell this story I intend to reveal that the Creative Economy is worthy of the common street language interpretation where in bad is good, good is bad and the creative is the destructive and the destructive creative. The Creative Economy destroys, dismisses and refuses to recognize the existence of everything in its path that does not serve its chosen special interests. As the creative economy posits material wealth as the measure of all “social benefit”, current events defy their standard of measure in the emergence of well-educated terrorists materialistically living the American dream but inexplicably motivated by forces immeasurable by materialism.

Our Story: The Local Reality

Pre-screening Requests for Applications For Public Funding

At some time in the early days of the Baldacci administration I thought about applying for an apprenticeship grant for mold making in the Traditional Arts category offered by the Maine Arts Commission. I called by phone to request an application where upon I was told by the director of the Traditional Arts Program at the Maine Arts Commission that I would have to make the case that ceramics is a traditional art. I was taken aback by this request since ceramics is commonly recognized as one of civilizations oldest art forms. In substance the request might seem reasonable but if so, one would expect to find the question on the application and not as a response to the request for the application. This communicated a message of its own and since I didn’t have a firm commitment from one interested in learning the mold making process, it discouraged spending further time on that pursuit.

Andersen Studio has been innovating new designs for the market since 1952. This is a wax model of a new bird sculpture that I am currently developing. The next step is to create the original mold, at which point a few pieces can be cast so that I can develop the decoration of the piece while the master and production molds are being created.
Later when the creative economy list-serve had become discussion forums on the Maine Arts Commission web site, I explored the Traditional Arts Forum where I found that the ability to start a topic was delegated exclusively to the Director of the Traditional Arts Program, who had created only one topic. I requested a description of the qualifications for traditional arts and the Director went through a list which included passing down the tradition from one family generation to the next. I said that our ceramic business met all the qualifications to which the Director said that I was off topic- this in a conversation in which there was one other person in addition to myself and the Director. This exchange re-enforced my instinctual conclusion that I would be wasting my time to fill out the application.

This interaction is consistent with the general rapport that exists between myself as a representative of Andersen Stoneware and the Maine Art Commission and Maine Crafts Association. There are many stories I could relay but the following demonstrates the “leveraging” methodology generally practiced and promoted by Maine State Inc. In the interview with Alan Hinsey by ChannelSix (to which I linked in my previous post), Alan Hinsey states that Textech had received seven wealth transfusions (“grants”) from the Maine Technology Institute and so “leveraged” additional capital in the form of a federal defense contract. I wonder why a company that has three manufacturing facilities, one in Maine, one in China, and one in Thailand, needs tax payer subsidization in order to obtain a national defense contract from the federal government but such details are never explained- the key phrase is always that the redistributed wealth “leveraged” more capital- and that means money making more money- not to be confused with new wealth created through work and productivity- but rather a creative manipulation of wealth redistribution. Once the leveraging has occurred, the capitalization may create new wealth for those whom are the beneficiaries of redistribution but it decreases the value of money held by the general public as the funds coming from the federal government are merely printed on presses, not wealth created through increased productivity. The printed paper money decreases value of all wealth across the land, as the federal government distributes freshly printed new capital in a thinly hidden method of transferring the ownership of the means of production to the members of the party – in this case the party is the so-called creative class. As commonly practiced by Maine State Inc, the end game of leveraging is to obtain federal money, and they use this end to encourage the public to approve “economic development” bonds by a public vote.

When Capitalism becomes the Alpha and Omega.

Leveraging was clearly a factor in an event to which I was invited to by a local non-profit organization, which had received a matching grant from Governor Baldacci for a project that involved teaching how to make ceramic mud pies of exactly the sort that your average three year old would fashion out of clay. I can’t recall the amount of the grant but it was successfully matched- to my point of view, clearly because the governor was sponsoring it and so that signaled to the foundations and philanthropists that it was a worthy cause. It is inconceivable that either the governor or the matching contributors considered what was being taught, which in my view was absolutely nothing as there is neither skill nor esthetics involved in fashioning a crude mud pie out of clay. The motivation was clearly leveraging- using the matching grant to move more capital into the state. The money is the end game. The teaching skills involved in making things that purportedly justify the grant are merely incidental to the fundamental purpose of leveraging money to get more money. This is an instance in which the skills involved in making of things are not considered as a significant end in its self- in other words the act of making things is devalued to the point where they are nothing more than the pawn in the game.

When I made the decision to attend this event I ignored my gut instinct, which noted the two different messages on the invitation- one message to celebrate the organization’s event and the other an invitation to network.

Over the years my father has voiced the thought that all the ceramic business and organizations on the Boothbay Peninsula should form a network. The invitation was addressed to my father confirming that it was sent to us based on knowledge of who Andersen Stoneware is in the field of ceramics rather than data procured by a general mailing list that I might have joined.

One of the first ideas that the introductory speaker espoused was to encourage all in attendance to sponsor in ceramics teaching workshops at their locations. I spoke up and said that we already teach ceramic skills on the job and so what would be the point for us in conducting an additional ceramic workshop in our own space? The speaker said that Andersen is already well known so we didn’t need the publicity that a workshop would bring, seeming irritated by my question.

Next a young woman who appeared to be no older than twenty was introduced. She was the recipient of one of the teaching grants distributed individually in the amount of $500.00. She reported that she had conducted the workshop but it was not clear where she had conducted it and who had paid the overhead costs of the workshop, which would include the costs of space and electricity in addition to materials. It was also unclear if the students were being charged for the classes. However when it came to selling the products made in the workshop- little ceramic mud pies- the young woman had arrived at a marketing concept - she publicized and charged for an event and then gave the ceramic bowls away as an event prize enabling her to generate $500.00 in revenue, which she then contributed to a charity (a food bank) as was a requirement of the program (social benefit).

I was growing increasingly aghast at what I was witnessing and so when a discussion commenced about how much could be charged for the ceramic mud pies, I spoke up. I still had not managed to mentally transit from the way that I imagined things should be- i.e. -teaching skills that can help others to create an income for themselves- to the reality that was – teaching an unskilled craft in order to give money to a charity to provide food for low income people- and so I spoke from the perspective of what one would have to consider when pricing a product for the private economy market. I mentioned all the overhead expenses and I also mentioned that one has to be able to compete with low priced products being imported from nations with extremely low labor and production costs. I could see in the eyes of the audience that there was a general interest in what I was speaking about but when I finished, an older woman stood up, calling me by my name, she told me that they did not want to hear what I had to say, they were there to listen to the twenty year old novice. And at that point I left the Mad Hatters Party, having clearly worn out my welcome as well as my own patience.

This is just another story among many that exemplifies the attitude that the Creative Economy takes to people like us- small micro economy enterprises that are not seen as advancing their own agenda. Andersen Stoneware pioneered the ceramics slip-casting industry on the Boothbay Peninsula over sixty years ago, creating a “cluster industry” as an off-shoot, but our knowledge and experience was dismissed in favor of a twenty year old novice teaching the non-skills of making clay mud pies all to serve the social benefit of funding food banks for the less fortunate in the society in which the policies of the “creative class” has advanced and continues to advance as they uphold a company with manufacturing facilities in China and Thailand as their own poster child.


Video by Leslie T Chang on Ted Conversations
Conversation started by Myself in response to the above

* In this international comparison of math and science skills among 15 year olds, China takes first place in math skills - the United States is placed at 25th -China also ranks above the USA in reading and science skills

**  This post examining the special act of legislation by which the Small Enterprise Growth Fund was charted reveals that it is set up to allow government employees to profit from their positions via the fund by exempting the SEGF from a general law that prohibits the same. Exemptions from general laws constitute an additional violation against Article Iv Part Third Section 14 of the Maine State Constitution, which states that "all corporations however formed are subject to general laws". The SEGF is subsidized by the Maine Taxpayer in a manner that functions as a non-profit investment, while the private investors in the are "high growth" investors, who invest on a profit making basis. The SEGF submits its annual report exclusively to the state legislature

Facts about China: RICH, POOR & INEQUALITY

America’s vanishing middle class: Gap between rich and poor widens

Chinese regime amends constitution to protect private ownership

Wages in China

China promises rise in minimum wage to close income gap


Part One 

Part Two 

 Part Three