“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, September 10, 2010

Do As I Say.....Not As I Do: Bono Meets The Fashion Biz

This is just too precious.

The headline on an article in today's Wall Street Journal reads Out of Africa, Into Asia, with the subheadline "A brand started by Bono and his wife to boost African manufacturing now produces mainly in China."

Here are the lead sentences in the half-page Journal piece,

"Five years ago, U2 front man Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, founded fashion brand Edun with the lofty mission of revitalizing apparel manufacturing in sub-Saharan Africa.

But when Edun designer Sharon Wauchob unveils her new vision for the label Saturday, most of the clothes on the runway- some featuring African touches like beads from Kenya- will be produced in China.

It's a big about-face for Edun, which launched to great fanfare but quickly ran into problems with soucring and delivery. Shipments from Africa arrived late, and retailers complained about the clothes' design and fit, leading to poor sales."

I guess even the wealthy liberalati eventually succumb to economic reality when it's their own money at risk.

Hewson is described as admitting,

"that she and her husband, known for his advocacy of debt relief in addition to his music, were naive about what it takes to build a fashion brand.

"We focused too much on the mission in the beginning. It's the clothes, it's the product. It's a fashion company. That needs to be first and foremost," Ms. Hewson says. "The aesthetic we always knew would be important...but we didn't realize how difficult it was going to be to achieve quality." "

You have to laugh at this precious arrogance.

Hewson and Bono apparently thought that his fame and their money would simply cause barriers to fall, existing problems to vanish, and sales of their mission-based company to magically blossom.

Mind you, the initial problems weren't even about margin, i.e., Bono and Hewson making filthy lucre, or not making it, on healthy sales of quality merchandise.

No, the couple and their managers found that African-sourced product just wouldn't sell. Period.

The article contains too many funny passages to quote them all. Suffice to say, you can't make up stuff this good.

Bono and Hewson invested $20MM into Edun, then sold 49% of the firm to LVMH Moet Hennessy for only $7.8MM. How's that for good business sense so far?

But the firm now has a new CEO, Janice Sullivan, formerly president at Liz Claiborne's DKNY Jeans unit. She relates a priceless story involving a planned fashion show,

"I felt like a schoolmarm," says Ms. Sullivan. "I sounded like his math teacher saying, 'OK now, Bono, let's just regroup here. We are having a fashion show. Show is the second word. Fashion is the first word." Ultimately, they compromised: the show is taking place in a semi-outdoor space in Chelsea."

The article concludes with this line,

" "So you can see how this brand, in the wrong hands, could go haywire." says Ms. Sullivan."

No doubt implying if the majority owners were the managers, Edun would be an endless financial sinkhole.


Fact is, Ms. Hewson's reported belief, along with her husband, in making the concept work, the African-sourcing just isn't. Despite her insistence that the brand will return to more African fashion over time, we'd all be forgiven for waiting to see it to believe it.

One very much suspects that other companies without Bono's money and fame aren't doing this concept because it simply isn't economically feasible.

You don't see Ms. Sullivan denying that, or rushing back to Africa, do you?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Happened To Incenting Initiative In America?

The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger supplied a precious quote from Wonderboy's Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"Anyone who thinks we can move this economy forward with a few doing well at the top, hoping it'll trickle down to working folks running faster and faster just to keep up- they just haven't studied our history."


Maybe it's Wonderboy who needs to "study our history."

Absent from the president's view of economics is- capital.

It's not being wealthy, per se, that brings more wealth. It's using that wealth as capital to take more risks and earn more wealth.

That's not a bad thing- that's how our economy moves forward. Without investment of private capital, jobs don't get created and economic growth falters. Sure, many small savers may, in the aggregate, create capital to be lent by banks. Or perhaps invested as equity by a mutual fund. And, if so, then those people, by definition, have surplus capital and are wealthy, in that respect.

A society of all-poor people can't form capital to invest in projects which, over time, increase economic activity, living standards, and overall wealth.

Wonderboy is at war with anyone and anything that has capital to invest. That's a bad omen for the US economy's future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What The Republicans Don't Get

I saw House Republican Leader John Boehner on Larry Kudlow's CNBC program last night. Evidently a very personal, public fight has developed between Wonderboy and Boehner, with the former visiting Ohio sites to stump for more stimulus.

I wish Boehner weren't so presumptuous. Last night, he was speaking as if he would be the next Speaker of the House, ticking off the things that would occur, including rules changes. As is the popular thing to say, he, too, like Frisco Nan, promised that his House would be the most transparent, responsive, blah blah blah in history.

Don't make promises you can't keep, John.

Look that the mess involving Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters et. al. Does anyone really believe Boehner won't still behave like a hack, protecting his friends, submarining inconvenient ethics investigations, and generally trying to bully the newly-elected House members who would prospectively provide the GOP majority that might elect Boehner as the next Speaker?

Boehner is still tarred with the GOP House antics of 6 and 4 years ago. He has that surreal tan that so many others also notice and rarely fail to mention. And the apparently endless rounds of golf.

If the Republicans elect Boehner as Speaker, should they retake the House, I think it's going to be a short and ugly ride until they either lose it again in just 2 years, or suffer a revolt that deposes Boehner and his leadership team.

Seeing Boehner behaving like he will simply be crowned Speaker is disgusting to me. It demonstrates that Boehner, as presumptive Speaker for the GOP, and his party, is little different than Frisco Nan, and hers, when it comes to wanting power before working for the people who elected the House members.

If there were ever an instance to show people that the power game in Congress is rigged, it surely is Boehner counting votes of new members not yet elected, and simply taking on the role of Speaker in Waiting.

That's not what the many independents, one of which I consider myself, who will decide the outcome of many of the 435 races, as well as the 30+ Senate races, want to see and hear from Congress right now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wonderboy's Latest Tax & Spend Approach

I find it incredibly cynical of Wonderboy to suddenly come around to believing in tax cuts as Congressional elections loom only eight weeks away.

The guy who lambasted the Bush tax cuts is now finding religion, amidst continuing economic gloom and voter discontent, is finally weighing in with something. To be honest, having been hiking out of range of the media, I don't know the details.

But it's enough to learn that he's changed his stripes on this issue.

Then there's his stumping for more infrastructure spending. Of course, that's what he claimed the first nearly trillion-dollar spending bill was going to accomplish. But it never came close.

So now you have to ask yourself, if the first infrastructure bill went awry, why give the same crew another shot at wasting your tax dollars.

Dollars borrowed from the Chinese, to be repaid with interest.

Hopefully, voters will realize all this as the next two months pass, and deliver a stinging defeat of Wonderboy's party in Congress for the new session.