Who’s to Blame for America’s Lack of Jobs?- Final Story 3

In April of 2017, President Trump unveiled his action plan for immigrants coming to America on an H-1B visa. H-1B visas allow immigrants with a specialized skill set, or with advanced degrees to come to America and work in that industry. Trump insists the program is susceptible to abuse since companies are using it to hire foreign workers at a cheaper salary in place of equally skilled Americans. Instead of hiring these workers and paying them a $100,000 salary under the H-1B, American employers are hiring people who aren’t as highly qualified and paying around $60,000. Or, some companies outsource jobs after getting visas for foreign workers, in lieu of American employees. According to him, this is another reason why countries like China are taking advantage of the U.S. Reforming the visa program is also an attempt to bring back jobs to the U.S. As Trump had promised during his campaign.

There are varying views as to the real cause of the job crisis in America, or the unemployment of many Americans. Some may agree with the idea that immigrants are to blame, while are told their under-qualified for certain positions. Christel Washington, 49, has been unemployed for almost 10 years. “I know people with degrees that can’t find jobs. I know people with only a high school education that have good jobs. I don’t believe Americans have more opportunities when it comes to employment. Why? Because Americans are considered to be lazy. People from other countries are looked at as harder or better workers.”

On April 3rd, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services suspended the H-1B program. As of now, about 82% of H-1Bs issued in 2016 are held by immigrants from India and China. But will American unemployment really improve by reforming H-1B? It may help in the tech sector but what about blue collar jobs such as manufacturing? Are immigrants truly taking American jobs as Trump claims? H-1B only covers the specialized and technical sectors, so what about those who do not wish to work in the technological field?

The current unemployment rate has decreased to 4.9%, a number that sounds like it should be a cause for celebration. Some economists attribute the impressive number to the fact that baby boomers are retiring and more students are opting to stay in school longer and pursuing graduate school. A report by the Labor Department shows that 62.7% of adults are currently working or actively seeking employment.
The rate is deceptive because it makes it seem like there are more people finding jobs. Actually, there are more people who have stopped looking for work or have refused to search, therefore they cannot be counted into the labor force participation rate, making the rate of employed Americans seem impressive.

Another obstacle for job growth in America is automation. Many companies have turned to using machines and computers to replace the jobs humans used to perform. They work faster and ultimately cost less than having actual employees. In an interview with Business Insider in March 2016, the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., Andy Puzder, advocates the usage of automation. Puzder, who had been very vocal about his stance against raising the minimum wage, believes the government’s plan to raise the cost of labor actually reduces employment opportunities. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?” His solution? He wants to create a restaurant which relies solely on automation. Customers will never have to interact with a person.

Although a lot of manufacturing jobs have already been taken over by machines, President Trump has promised to create new manufacturing jobs for Americans. He has launched a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, which consists of some of the most successful business leaders in America. The goal is to gain insight on how to achieve his ultimate dream of “Buy American, Hire American.” The President of the Alliance for Manufacturing, Scott Paul, is optimistic about the premise. He insists that the returning jobs will require a high skill set and will need skilled workers to operate the complex machines. In an interview with John Hayward on Breitbart.com, Paul discussed his enthusiasm for bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States. “These are well-paying jobs. This is a ladder of where Americans can achieve the middle-class dream. It is very much a part of our future. Smart nations are betting on manufacturing in their future. It’s going to look a lot different than it did in the 1950s, but it’s important to have it as a centerpiece in the economy,” he said.

Ben Bernanke, an American economist and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, doesn’t think the President’s plan for manufacturing jobs will be successful.
The lack of skilled candidates for white collar, or advanced degree jobs, is an issue that has to be fought at the student level, starting with the education of Americans. “So what we need is a whole raft of things including pre-K intervention, better schooling, internships, stronger college programs, a whole variety of things to get people better trained and give them a chance to make it up into the upper echelon.”

There are plenty of proposals and ideas being introduced by President Trump. A big portion of his votes came from people who wanted to see the employment situation improve and they are willing to wait patiently for the results. “He thinks everything will come easy,” Christel said. “He will learn- they do not.”

Asian Community Lashes Out Against Hollywood Whitewash

There is an age old tradition taking place in films. It’s a practice that has been accepted and until recently, has never been openly questioned. Although Chinese Americans have been featured in American movies since the 1920s, actors had to face the regrettable practice of white washing. White washing is the practice of using Caucasians to play the roles of minorities.

Recently, the Asian American community has begun to speak out about their representation in Hollywood, in every type of genre. Even in the case of Asian cartoons, characters have been changed to Caucasian for their live action adaptations, as seen in the more recent feature Ghost in the Shell, which is based on the popular Japanese anime of the same name. The casting of actress Scarlett Johanssen as Major Motoko Kusanagi caused an uproar amongst Asian Americans in the industry and fans alike.
“I feel like it’s an unspoken given that the characters are Japanese, well because they’re created in Japan and their first language is Japanese before getting dubbed in America,” said Crystal Lam, 21, an aspiring film student. “In some cases (animes that have a more realistic storyline), Caucasian characters are portrayed with blonde hair and blue eyes.” Lam believes this makes it fairly easy for the characters to be recognized for the race they are so movie executives cannot make the excuse that the character’s race is unclear. The usage of whites for roles clearly written as Asian is just an effect of living in America where whites are the majority.

Another film that has been blasted for its overt whitewashing is The Great Eall, starring Matt Damon. Although it is a Chinese-American production and has a Chinese director, Matt Damon is the only actor billed and is the dominant face for the American poster, which implies that the studio may be relying on his face to sell the story even though the film stars two other Chinese-language cinema stars Andy Lau and Zhang Hanyu.

Initially, roles for Asian Americans in Hollywood weren’t plentiful, with available roles that only perpetu ated stereotypes in lieu of defying them. Or, there was the arguably more offensive option of having actors perform in yellowface, i.e. Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The first Asian American actors such as Bruce Lee and Anna May Wong encountered caricatures of Asians throughout the industry. This was evident especially in A list movies prompting both actors to leave Hollywood and pursue better projects. Anna May Wong’s early career consisted of stereotypical supporting roles and in 1935, she saw the lead role in S. Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth (which called for an Asian woman) go to German-born actress Louise Rainer.

What is the reason behind this common practice? Movie executives could argue that they need the big name stars to bring in the revenue, but members of the Asian community want the industry to realize that they can bring in profits as the lead in films and television. The Asian American community is not taking the situation lying down. There are organizations dedicated to holding network and film executives accountable for their portrayal of Asian
Americans. One such organization is the Media action network for Asian Americans, a non profit group created in 1992 by Guy Aoki. The group even meets with the four major networks to discuss their programming and the portrayal of Asians in their shows. MANAA has made SOME progress. “When I was cochair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition,” Aoki explained, ” I told them they’d been good at placing AAs (Asian Americans) in ensemble casts but the true test of diversity was not being afraid to put AAs, Latinos, etc. as the star of their show (1st name in the cast, not alphabetically). So in the Fall of 2011 I gave them 3 years to do just that with an Asian American.” And the networks rose to the challenge. The following fall, Fox debuted The Mindy Project, starring Mindy Kaling. For Fall 2014, CBS gave us Stalker starring Maggie Q & ABC was ready to debut Fresh off the Boat in mid-season. John Cho co-starred as a romantic interest in Selfie too. Only NBC didn’t come through.”

Another tactic to increase a more realistic and positive view of Asians and gain exposure is to create valuable work by using outlets such as YouTube instead of looking to major networks. Created by Philip Wang, Ted Fu, and Wesley Chan, Wong Fu Productions hopes to break stereotypes through their films. Their channel has over 2.5 million subscribers and over 384 million views. “We don’t all do martial arts and have accents. We have stories that most people can relate to as human beings…The same way African Americans can now be accepted into the mainstream without second guess, that’s what we hope will someday be the casefor APAs.”

In addition to these organizations, plenty of individuals have spoken up about their experiences in the industry and calling out filmmakers and directors who continue to whitewash characters. Actors such as Constance Wu, John Cho, and Margaret Cho continue to speak out, whether through social media and viral social media campaigns. Whitewashing may still be an issue, but it will no longer be ignored and accepted.

Venezuelan Supreme Court Taking Power

In the press briefing on Friday, March 31, there was an announcement about the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s decision to take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly. What’s interesting about this decision is the underlying implication of corruption in the government of Venezuela.

The Supreme Court is mainly composed of supporters of Nicolas Maduro, the current President. The Assembly is mainly composed of the opposition to the President. The National Assembly was also stripped of their immunity as well. This could possibly spiral into a dictator-type government without the actual name because the opposing “powers” will not really have power at all.

The decision was overturned on April 1, but initially it caused concern. The High Comissioner for Human Rights felt that this move would be detrimental to human rights because it goes against the idea of democracy since there wouldn’t be any real checks and balances.

In addition to the political drama, Venezuela is already under a lot of stress because the country has been under economic and social crisis since Maduro has come into power. There has been violence,inflation, and a shortage of goods, causing protests that continue to this day.



Pitch for 2nd China story

For my next story, I was thinking of going in a more light hearted direction and concentrate on a lifestyle/culture piece. When I was exploring the Committee for U.S-China relation’s website, I saw they were giving a talk about the role of China in Hollywood last month. I thought it would be fun to attend that conversation, but it was too late. I still think this would be an interesting subject to explore.

A very interesting aspect that had come to my attention lately is the “whitewashing” in Hollywood of movie roles. This means the act of taking a role that is meant for a non-white person (mostly when doing biopics) and putting a Caucasian in their place. This recently occurred with the movie “The Great Wall” starring Matt Damon and in the movie, “Ghost in the Shell,” a fictional piece starring Scarlett Johannson. I think the latter is based on a Japanese series, but it has occurred with plenty of Chinese characters and stories as well.

I’m thinking of interviewing the program director of Cinema Studies at City College because the description of the program explains how the students study film and the different aspects of how it is made. I think it would be interesting to hear his opinion and I’m hoping he will be able to connect me to a student of Chinese descent to get his/her’s take on white washing in Hollywood.

Trading with China: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

During the presidential election, Donald Trump made disparaging comments concerning China, blaming the country for the global warming “hoax” and for pitfalls in American business.
Being #2 in the global economy, China is considered one of our most important economical allies but also one of our biggest competitors. The United States is China’s number one export market and China is third for the U.S. Would it be possible for these two countries to maintain a cordial business relationship with America under the leadership of President Trump?

At present, both countries are undergoing a major change in leadership. Under President Trump, the United States’ economic policies are sure to change. Trump has already appointed Peter Navarro as lead to the National Trade Council and has signed an executive order to get rid of the Trans-Pacific Partnership created by Obama. On the other hand, Beijing is shifting leadership as well since five of their Politburo leaders will be reaching the retirement age, leaving President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to remain.

Trump has already expressed discontent with China’s practices during the election, stating that China purposely keeps their currency artificially low, labeling the country as a “currency manipulator.” In January 2017, he tweeted “China has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the U.S. in totally one sided trade…”. Slapping The country with this label could give Trump an excuse to impose a higher tax (a proposed 45%) on Chinese imports but some economists, such as Lee Branstetter of Carnegie University, think this may be a bad decision.  He compares Trump’s proposed tariff to the tariffs supported by Republicans at the start of the Great Depression.  What followed was an increase in American tariffs that resulted in a global trade war.

The current status of trade between China and the U.S. is indeed an unbalanced one, with the U.S. at a disadvantage. The Nita States has an import tax of 2-3% while China’s is 3-9%. To put it simply, U.S. exports to China were only $116 billion in 2016 while imports from China were at $463 billion, putting the total deficit at $347 billion. Americans buy Chinese manufactured goods because the prices are so low.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the U.S. and China’s past trade relations have been rocky. The United States filed 23 complaints with the WTO against China overall and 14 during the Obama administration alone. The most recent accusation being the distortion of prices of crops by China making it difficult for American farmers to compete in global markets. This means that China’s “market price support” program causes an overproduction of wheat, corn, and rice. This undercuts the American market for exporting those crops and results in a loss of revenue for American farmers. President Obama claimed that this program breaks the rules set forth by the WTO.

There’s no guarantee that Trump’s proposal of higher tariffs will help the United States.  In addition to possibly triggering a trade war, it is the belief of many economists that American consumers will be the ones who ultimately will suffer. Retail prices for imported goods and their domestic substitutes would increase. This means costs for these goods could also rise. Production of such products can also be delayed, especially amongst bigger companies.

In an article by The Economist in February 2017, The Peterson Institute for International Economics does not believe a tariff would be positive for the United States. Their assessment finds that American private sector employment would decline by more than 4% by 2019, which would hurt American families living on modest incomes if Trump were to follow through with his threats. (The Economist, Nov. 2016, Daily Chart: A Trump Trade Agenda ).

Relations between the United States and China are not entirely negative.  According to Joseph Weed, Director of Communications of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, there is a rapid growth in Chinese direct investment in the United States. “This is a function of Chinese investment in existing U.S. companies, as well as the creation of ‘greenfield’ or new businesses; in both cases, this represents Chinese owned companies operating in the U.S. And providing jobs to American workers and business suppliers. In just a few years, this investment has grown to support more than 100,000 American jobs.”

“While there are issues of concern between the two countries, diplomatic relations continue to represent a productive working relationship. Both sides have areas of dissatisfaction but strong economic ties and areas of shared concern continue to encourage both sides to work together within the framework of the global community.”

China/U.S. Business Pitch

During the presidential election, Donald Trump made disparaging comments concerning China, blaming the country for the global warming “hoax” and for pitfalls in American business.
Being #2 in the global economy, China is considered one of our most important economical allies but also one of our biggest competitors. I am interested to find out the effect of Trump’s statements on Chinese immigrants. I also want to delve into the validity of Trump’s opinions in regards to China in regard to business affairs. How true are these statements? What is the current U.S./China situation?
Recently, China banned coal imports from North Korea, which some consider to be a bold move considering their more lenient approach to north Korea in the past. China has not been a force in creating sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program, namely their missile testing. In the first debate, Trump said that China needs to handle North Korea since they are the more powerful country and “solve that problem for us.”
I have already emailed the national Committee on U.S. China Relations and requested to sit in on one of their upcoming conversations. They have multiple talks focusing on different issues within China that span from Hollywood’s commercial toes to China and its affect on the production of major films to more serious subjects such as China’s developmental paths and what it will mean for the rest of the world. I haven’t received an answer yet, but there is a phone number available on the website so I will reach out to see what I need to do in order to get in and talk to a few people. I’m sure I can find good sources if I go to one of their talks.


Vice News is seeking to become a major player in reporting international news. Its goal seems to be to bring global news to a young audience, simultaneously being “cool” while bringing important and serious material to light. Initially, Vice was strictly an internet news outlet. Recently, the organization has branched out to cable television with its own channel featuring a slew of lifestyle and cultural programming in addition to a 30-minute newscast on HBO. Co founder Shane Smith once stated he wanted Vice to be “ESPN, MTV, and CNN all rolled into one.”
The goal of Vice is to continue reaching their core audience of millennials but to incorporate more serious, “hard” news stories. Their most notable work is their documentary about ISIS, where they had a journalist ride along with the organization for the summer. This gained major attention from bigger news organizations, and even caused speculation as to whether Vice could be prosecuted for their “connection” with ISIS, even for the sake of journalism.

Chinese community

I’ve been considering the Asian community as the focus of my beat, specifically the Chinese. I’m curious to delve into the opinions of members of this community concerning the direction the U.S. government is going in under the Trump administration. I think it would be interesting to hear thoughts on the blockage of refugees, the Muslim ban, and the Mexican wall from a group of people who aren’t directly affected by the changes. Of course, there’s the opinion of young Americans, but I think most people know this perspective because it is constantly discussed in the media and through social media. So it would be great to get the view from another country’s perspective. I can also do a story about how the Chinese feel about being maligned by Trump during his campaign and eventually write a story covering the possible change in business relations between the U.S. and China. I think there’s potential for multiple stories about China. It would even be great to cover a bit on the culture and beliefs since these things affect a person’s outlook on the world as well.