tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 24, 2014 3:05am-5:31am EST
>> i was not aware that there was a multitude of changes. my question is, create and exchange which disallows. wouldn't a simple solution to be to have a single exchange? >> absolutely no question about that. regulators believe that competition is necessary to be efficient. in the name of competition there is proliferation. so yes. the utility, and it could
happen. it could happen. one path this path this episode may take, the new york stock exchange has been trying to buy i.e. ask. i have already -- they all could have been rage. they turned it down because they cannot allow themselves to be sold to the new york stock exchange unless the new york stock exchange gets rid of all the bad stuff that is going on. but if the new york stock exchange came 1070 -- not only will we buy you but get rid of all the high-frequency traders, no longer giving them preferential access, it is easy to imagine exchanges folding and all of the business is going on the new york stock exchange. but without even being in the middle of it, without investment orders passing
through handle. that is the natural solution. >> you touched on this little bit. i guess up until now how successful have you been like i don't know if their are other exchanges. >> well, if you talk to investors who orders are being directed on the exchange, all of a sudden defining the problem that manifests to investors is that they think there is a market. in these 13 stock markets that 10,000 share bid from microsoft and then they go to do it and the market anticipates that does not
happen when they go on to ies. they had been successful. the measure of how successful they have been is basically high-frequency traders do not want to be connected. the size is still small. incredibly successful for a knew exchange. it takes time. they are trading 65 million shares. it is enough so that they are profitable or just about profitable and sustainable, sustainable, but there is a break, and right now it is 70% of the stock market orders are handled by eight things. only one is treating this exchange on the street. the seven are doing what they can to avoid sending orders under the exchange. the pressure is to be thought to bear.
50,000 foot view. hank paulson's. hank paulson should use to run goldman, another former government position is sort of like the fox or the chicken coop. it is a problem the big guys no one will do anything about it. they wind up working for the banks. >> if you had asked me that sort of question i would have thought you were a nutcase. really. another conspiracy guy. it is absolutely true, what you
said. you did not just say it, two days ago a prosecutor from the sec to just retired still up in front of the sec and got applause and so the problem with this institution is everyone of you wants to go get a high-paying job on wall street. you want to be nothing but polite. we have no ability to regulate because they are corrupted by money. [applauding] it is a problem, right? how to use all the? you can, when he first discovered himself being front runner, very clever. the presidents steadily making mistakes.
they probably want to do something about it. and so he goes and describes this. this. he leaves after the conversation. nothing is going to happen. they are never going to do anything, and he goes back to his canadian bank, and they start talking. they do the study and find out in the previous three years more than 200 people have said that is why they do that. you despair because the system seems to be riddled. the industry, this problem in the marketplace in this particular market is microcosm of the larger problem. the industry generates so much money that is is captured, not just the regulatory process but the legislative process. so there is no, i think it
is futile to look to washington for a solution to the problem. however, we live in a country where people worship entrepreneurship, love market-based solutions. what is so clever about what this guy has done is, he has created a solution that does not require much in the way of anything from washington. what they must do is stay out of the way and let him provoke a war between investors, capital, and the people who are abusing the capital, capitol, and i think he will win, and i think he thinks he's going to win. this may be the way forward command if you do this, if he succeeds -- so much is at stake. if he succeeds succeeds and has a huge successful stock exchange and know the people who work for him all of them were young and entrepreneurial, venture capital pours in the do it again and again and again, and then all you
require really at that.is for the regulators or legislatures not to get in the way of successful entrepreneurship and possibly introduce transparency to the marketplace so customers can make informed decisions. it is fixed. there is a path toward a market-based solution. that that is what is at stake because precisely what you said is true. >> if the sec. >> permitted the growth of many competing exchanges because it felt that competition without exchanges was good. why did they not also at the same time allow investors to choose which exchange they wanted. >> the truth is, there is a rule that allows investors to insist on where orders go
the rules are being broken. you read about this. the rules are in place. investors are not exercising their rights. they rights. they have no history of it. they never ask. it is hard for them to find out. it is how it is directed. it is a problem, more of a problem. it was radical. they have never done it before. the banks super furious, but
they are doing it. now it is a matter matter of rules being enforced. >> a final question. after what you just said i can see how you could get turned around. therefore, how would you rank this against something like the libor scandal, scams that j.p. morgan does, they get the big contract. >> the other thing about this story, it is a piece with the spirit of the age of the financial market. everywhere you look markets are getting raped. the foreign exchange is foreign exchange at exchange rigging scandal. commodities trading scandals so heavily manipulated
partly because they can but partly because the historic sources of revenue for wall street have dried up, and style has been cramped. part of it is response to survival instinct in being banks and individual predators in the banks, and this is the same thing playing out in the stock market. and i think that is why it is happening. basically technology has reduced the natural played by wall street historically. one of the things that you do is rigged markets. on that note. [applauding] thank you very much.
thank you fordowning us here tonight. we'll hear from both beth macy and john bassett who have both graciously agreed to stay for questions and sign books after the talk. note cards have been placed in every seat, at lease the first 200 before we filled in the rest of the room. ushers will collect the questions in baskets at the
break just before the q & a starts. at this point, i'd like to welcome john bassett iii to st. john's. [applause] >> looking forward to hearing from you tonight, sir. i'd also particularly like to welcome any folks who are here from henry county, bassett, and galax, i think you all share the spotlight in this as well. i could tell you about all of the amazing awards that beth macy has won for her writing, hello, anymoran fellow. but the real mark of her gift as a journalist shines in a simple question: how many of you remember a specific beth macy story? by a show of hands, how many of you remember young selena, who
made it to harvard with the whole community of the library patrons cheering her on. [applause] >> or beth's award-winning stories about the somali refugees that were coming to live in our community, where the children were going do bus stops where 12 languages were spoken. or her series.teen mothers. or how families were navigating care giving for elderly loved ones 0, are maybe what comes to mind is one of her food columns that, now covered in grease staines, instruct you maybe how to make -- this is from 2005. y'all remember friends of bill? i bet here with us tonight we have lot of ibb, interviewed by
beth. and we were lucky because we knew that our story would be in good hands. beth has lived in roanoke since 1989, when she met her moved husband, and has two children, rod and max. she works for the roanoke times telling stories about us that have helped us know each other bert than we know ourselves. you know that journalists are supposed to be objective. but beth credits fellow journalist, mary bishop, who i think is here tonight -- [applause] >> beth credits her with telling her it's okay to care about at the people you're interviewing and care about their story. this isn't a religion book but is rife with stories that resonate in this church setting.
stories about doing the right thing regardless of cost. stories about real human beings, and their all too human frailties. and when they did and didn't treat each other with grace and humility, yes, this book is about what is related to whom and big industry and 1930's trade tariffs, but most of all, this book is about what it means to live in communities. so, please, join me in welcoming beth macy. [applause] >> wow. i'm already tearing up. that's not good for you. so, i'm going to read three passage and read a little from the beginning and then i'm going to read a little from the end, and then i'm going to read a little from the middle, which is
weird, but it's a good entree to introducing you to john. i'm going to start with chapter one, the tip-off. there's a prologue that precedes it, and it's about the kind of watershed moment in 2007 when john and his son, wyatt went to china to find out who was making this cheap chest of drawers that war threatening to bring history down. he was thinking about filing what would become the world's largest antidumping petition, and so that comes before this part, and this where is i'm telling you how i found the story. and it sort of laying out all the threads of the book, i was driven initially by the question of, what happened to all those people who lost their jobs. half of the work force was displayed, almost 20,000 people. where did they go? what happened to them? and the second driving question
was really, was there another way? was there another way it could have been done? and so a friend of mine, who was visiting last week, who helped me with the book, andrea tzer, lives in washington, dc, and she said your book is wonderful. she said, you found this amazing story that goes all the way to china and back. and the guy is still alive. [laughter] >> you know how lucky you are? living history. so, i'm going to read. once in a reporter's career if one is very lucky, a person like john bassett iii comes along. jb iii is inspirational, brash, sawdust covered good old boy from rural virginia, larger than life rule breaker who for more than a decade has stood almost single handedly about the outflow of furniture jobs from america. quote, he's an asshole.
i made sure that was okay to say in church. more than one come pet said that. when they heard i was writing a book about him. in the course of hearing his many lectures and listening him to evade my questions by telling the same stores over and over, there were times when i agreed. i first heard about him in virginia about half an our from my home in roanoke, while eating break fast with my neighbor, joel shepherd, he owns a stepment that began thriving at the same time the import boom hit. right now as i type i'm sitting in a recliner my husband and i still fight over because it's most comfortable seat in our home. i remember rocking it back and
forth. despite what might have heard about made in china furnish, a group of wees wrestlers could sit on this without braking it. i invited joel to breakfast to pick his brain. i was working on a story on the effect oses offshoring. jarred's photos were gritty and moving. church services and tattoo artists, a textile plant, conveyor belt in a food pantry, disdisabled minister named leonard whiling away the time in his kitchen in the afternoon. the people of the county were refreshingly open about what happened to them, and jarred long wondered why our paper didn't do nor to document the effects of globalization in our corner of the world.
not too many other media outlets had opportunity any better, cargoing to a survey the gravest economic crisis since the great depression was largely being covered from the top down, primarily from the perspective of big business and the obama administration. the percentage of economy stories that featured real, ordinary people and displaced workers, just two percent. if the people of henry county wanted their stories to be heard, jarred and i would have to help. it would be upper writers and photographers like to us paint the picture of what happened when one after another, first tex till and 2014 factories closed and set up shop in mexico, china, and vietnam, and the workers were paid a photographic. 20,000 people lost their jobs. the early '60s martinsville was virginia's manufacturing power host, nobody for being home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere necessary the country.
by 2009, a philadelphia of the town's labor force was unemployed and men of to the millionaires had fled. henry county was the capital of long-term unemployment with virginia's highest rates for nine of the past 11 years. an empty bassett furnish plant burned to the ground. police arrested a henry county man who had been trying to salvage the factory's copper casings to sell in the black matter but instead sparked an electrical fire. his burns were visible in his police mug shot. i've heard many similar stories of desperate moves of unemployment that leds to crime rosters. a stranger approaches a woman outside a cvs pharmacy and offeredderred her if she would sign for the prescription for pseudoephedrine which is used to making me neglect. most people were scraping by in
legal ways, baby-sitting. a man told me what people used to do for work by their fifth figurements. women who had important all day making sweatshirts had pumped backs. men who were lumbermen had missing fingers. they were the last resort to come stan in line and get a box of old food. but joel explained there was this man who managed to buck the trend. he was from the family who had once run the largest furniture operation in world, bassett. he name was john bassett iii and, yes, that bassett family this the name indescribed on the back of so many headboards and dressers. the name on the suit behind door number three in let's make a teal. the story of how he fought against the tides of globalization was full of legal cunning, political intrigue, and
judging from what joel today me about bassett's asia competitors, some serious cowboy grit. as joel explained, imitating the patriarch's booming voice and chutzpah, the expletive i-cons w. going to tell hum how to make furniture there was an even juicier story. he was no longer living in bassett, virginia. he was booted out by a doom nearing relative. three decades later the family squabble had tongues wagging, following a -- john bassett tipping the ambulance driver 100 bucks no not to tell anybody he had his battered brother-in-law hauled away like something out of dynasty. but was any of it true?
and was at the same timely in-fighting? >> it -- was it the family infighting had to do with john bassett giving the finger to the lure of easy money overseas. plenty, it would turn out. i'll skip ahead to the end of that chapter so when i read the end it will make more sense. the moment i hard there was a company owner who had actually taken on big business and the people's republic of china i knew i had to fine out who john bassett was. he kept his small factory going managed to turn into it the largest wood bedroom factory in america. i go got on the highway to meet the southern patriarch, then 74, at his furniture company. i mapped out his family tree. already called around get the real scoop about his long simmering family feud. i already interviewed several textile furniture workers workeo
were lafd off not long after tie kwanees managerred showed up to take pictures of the virginia assembly line so they could copy them when the got home. one woman described her mom hobbling home from work, her knees shot from decades of standing on concrete floors and wondering, what were all them little people doing at work today? i already knew that jb iii, as i began to refer to him, was fromming his middle aged sons to take over. both return after business school to help save the family company. i heard he cut their salaries rather than lay off line workers and he personally stopped pulling a pay check in the leanest years. one rainy afternoon -- i was told about globalization took 75% bite out of his business. thomas and his father work down the road from bassett at stanley furnish and his father down another road at fieldcrest,
sprawling textile plant start by marshal fields and now the site of a weekly community food bank. in the lady's room at the cafe, meet and three diner frequented by retirees, a framed photograph proudly displays what put this town on the map, stack of fieldcrest towels. no longer made in bassett, as rain plinked into metal buckets set done to protect the suits and -- with his determination, john bassett probably could have kept some of the bassett furnish factories going if he could have kept the country. have interviewed scores of people who have said essentially the same thing. he knew all about jb iii covert mission to chine and he had his open version of the evil busch yarn, the temperature of our
he -- the company he had been reared to run, but would any of the bassetts open up to me? when he revealed what like to be the family black sheep with a dresser sized chip on his shoulder, would he tell me the real story how he fought the chinese itch he wouldn't, would the people who you up under the thumb of the company who ran the company town be bold enough to spill the beans. quote, you don't realize what kind of spied webb you have going, said man who worked for years under john bassett's brother-in-law, bob spillman. war and peace will seem like a ten cent novel compared to your spied web. lucky for you the scorpion is already dead. john does set comes from an imposing family of multimillionaires whose an sirred sign the magna carta and had an unspoken code, always keep the family secrets where the belong in the closet. what secrets would he tell me, the daughter of a former factory
worker. i relate batter to a woman, 55-year-old displaced furnish worker who gave me her elderly mother's phone number as a contact because her own phone was about to be turned of, and then mary read who described trying to raise her 14-year-old daughter alone, working the only job she could find as a 30 hour a week receptionist with no benefits. when she told me that, recalled receiving full financial aid for college because my mom, widowed by that time, made just $8,000 a year, test driving cars for a honda subcontractor. when mary recounted running into the former ceo at a party she was helping cater, what she said to him literally made he gasp. quote, if the company were to open back up today and the only way to complete would be to crawl on my belly like a snake issue would do it. john bassett's group was
chauffeured to vacation homes and prep schools. fortunately for me he was an underdog, too whether he was ready to admit it or not. with the luck at all he would help me explain the piece of piece of american prostitute mom the forests to boardrooms, hand saws and planing tools, smartphones and skype, from the oak logs that salled from virginia to asia and returned months later in the form of dressers and beds. so that's the setup, and then i go back to bassett, virginia in 1902. his grandfather starting the business and his birth and 1937. he was born during the epic flood that he didn't even -- i don't think -- he hadn't told me about it but i was doing research and i said, did you know you were bosh during this epic flood? he's like, yeah, i heard that. i go, there are all kinds of just really great -- just things
i hear about that i know are stories but he didn't necessarily realize were, like, great yarns when i realized this epic flood. was a precursor to his dramatic exit from the town, and even the story i heard about from a guy in a furniture store elm he was justifying for his company. he didn't realize it was story. and i had to interview him and his son and a translator over and over again to, what was that like? what was the temperature like? what did it look like it? it was a key moment would build the whole book around and come back it to near the end. this is hilarious. last week, his son, doug, and i were talking on the phone. doug is the president -- yes. doug is the real sweet one of the three. him and wyatt, and doug, and as doug says, you don't like doug, there's no one any family you'll like. i really like doug today.
so doug goes -- we were talking about something else and doug goings, man, that guy was really hard. like, yeah, it's in my book, he negotiation then i got a character out of a movie. i said, yeah, we're hoping it is. [applause] >> so, got to remember i've been over the story with him like 30 times, i'd interviewedot and john and the translator from taiwan who lived in high point and that was a great happy circumstance. she is a woman so remembers the details better. but i hadn't interviewed doug, who had been -- all downloaded on doug when he got home. i said, doug, what are you trying to tell me? he goes, the guy was really cold. and i said, what do you mean? the way he sat there on the
chaise lounge, chain smoking. i was like, he was on a chaise lounge, smoking and you didn't tell me? was he wearing a tutu and you didn't tell me because i didn't ask in i said, wayne you to hit your dad. so, when i wrote my book proposal it came with a chapter outline for 27 chapters, and the 27th chapter was going to be about this great moment in 2012 i was actually able to witness first hand. he had won his antidumping petition in 2005, and again in 2010, and resulted in millions being pumped back into american manufacturers, many of whom did other things with the money, but john actually put it back into his factory, which is what the law was intended for, and so it was this great kind of hero's story, and where he says to me at the en, peering over sawdust
covered glasses, well, if you never went cheap with the woman down the street you don't have to come drag-assing back. so he had never gone to china and imported so now he was in a place to grow and keep his business. that was the great triumphant moment in the book, and i knew that was going to be the end, and then one day i spent a lot of time in bassett, and i hung out in the historic center for weeks at a time, and really fell in love with these people. and one of the things i noticed as i drove into bassett, the first factory defirst abandoned factory was called bassett superior lines. for years -- it made low-end furniture cheap. one month made 1.2 million in profits. and the community in bassett is proud of brass set superior lines which they call spear line
or speed line and even have a hardword they use to describe what the furniture went really quickly down the conveyor belt, chuck-a-luck, chuck-a-luck. so then one day i saw it was abandon spend then a friend called and said it was on fire. so displaced workers came from all over the county to watch it burn as if going to a funeral. and talked about how like a funeral for everybody you knew. that was poignant. and then they started to tear it down, and the very last scene, which i'm about to read from, -- i'll just read it. just know that when this happened, i knew that this was how the book had to end. i found myself driving back and crying, and i knew that what he had done was an outlier in the industry and in business, and just in general, what had
happened in bassett was the story of what happened in so many southern mill towns. not just southern -- just tennis shoes to textiles to everything, and i knew it had to end with the people back there. so, -- i shouldn't read the whole thing, won't read the whole thing. during one of my last trips to bassett i finally went on a tour with balances set historical center librarian, whose family landed in town shortly after mr. jb, the company's founder, got historic. her grandfather was the one who made all the lyings in town blink when he flipped the switch on his power hog of a boiler. more than anything i interviewed for this book, pat want node get the story exactly right to honor the works as well as the pioneer owneres. it's history, she said, every time i banged up against an uncomfortable truth. if you dig it up and it's true, it's your job to tell it. pat was 70 years old and ran the center as a volunteer, even though she officially retired a
year before. volunteers tabling chocolate most days, and whenever anyone makes the trip to danville to stop they stop the mid-town market, shown store known authorize chicken salad. the howe did the chicken sal sal salad appear? it was pat's daughter who wrote the history of mary hunter, mr. jb's maid and the namesake of mary hunter elementary school when she was in the february grade. she was the founder -- john's grandfather, jb bassett, and his wife, pocahontas, mary hunter was their long-time sir van in the family home. and an marie interviewed gracey way, mary hunter's seesor as the family maid for the project. gracey was skill gardening her little patch of lane. she liked to place the walker
her grandchildren insisted she used inside her wheelbarrow. then wheel the contraption to her vegetable plot. that way if the kids made a surprise visit she could grab and it pretend to have been using it. john bassett caught gracie doing that once shortly before her death. she never failed to stop by gracey's house to hug her and he never failed to leave without handing her, quote, a little piece of money, hayes called it. he said, when guy to the pearly gates and st. peter asks me who do you know? i'll mention face gracey because she'll nut a good word for me. a place blake bassett is a tough place to pin down. a hoyt of bashed wire and blue heron, crumbling breck behemoths and tiny trailers which astonishingly somehow still stand. it takes patience to pinpoint
the soul of a kuhn, and pat roth and months after months and rare after larry men see the effects of globalization on her hometown. down to the street lights that illuminates the center at night. ever since bassett if you were stopped providing the town's communal lighting residents have solicited donations to pay for it at a cost of 720 per pole per year. some businesses gave up and had their lights removed from the poles. when i finally got around to asking bat for a tour of bassett i had already seen it from a disparate set of passenger seats. i had been taken round continued in a mercedes diesel and my subaru with junior thomas behind the wheel. he still prefers driving over riding. another chauffeur. i stood atop my car as -- keep me from falling with my camera. all to recreate the ghost town version of a downtown bassett
post card from then 1930s. it was may, 2013, and pat had something she wanted me to see near her house. as she drive we pass evidence her alma mater, john b. bassett high, she was class of '60. now a records storage facility, and the gym is opened to senior citizens two morning a week, and also food and clothing banks. we passed the low company homes, some now rent it out to visiting trout fishermen or nascar fans. the winner of martinsville still leaves with a coveted regional sim bell, a ridgeway grandfather clock. the clocks are no longer made in ridgeway. they're made in china like everything else. halfway to our destination pat drove to an african-american cemetery behind a black church, next to a recycling center that was once mary hunter elementary. i had wantedded to see mary
hunter's grave once. i found plenty of -- no mary hunter, alas. row sell la johnson had not quite been three years old when she died in 1920. gone but not forgotten, read her sheed, lying on its back, covered in sticks. seeing the grave of reverend moore, thought of the solace so many reconstruction era furnish workers must have taken in their churches and the promise of the afterlife. the reverend's parents had grown up enslaved on henry county plantations. he was a -- by 1920 he was a 56-year-old furnish worker living in horse -- who ministered on the side and lived in a rent farmhouse with a wife and six kid. i got goose bums when i realized i had probably already seen his photo in the picture of the first bassett furniture fact trip. likely one of the lighter
skinned blackmen in the back row. his headstone was unenculpberred and dignified with the holey billion in the top. at the bottom in a half can you sis font it said, earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. it was glorious may day and pat and i watched men and their waders fishing in the middle of the something i river. we found our destination across from pat's house on a ridge overlooking the town. hari ferguson was about to get on his back home he was factory undertake are now. hired after the hazmat suit wearers and demolition lines left bassett superior lines. it was hari's job to put what was left of it underground. the concrete and bricks had already been hauled her by truck, some 40,000 tons so a land own door use it at fill for the ravine behind his house. the rough end of the superior's rough end would be to extend the wealthy man's lawn. quote, if you told people in bassett ten years ago that i'd be up ear today burying this
plant, they'd would have said you're a complete fool, hari said. grass seed be sown. they warp sure what would happen with the lawns. the company was already allowing town volunteers to hold a weekly farmer's market the train tee o'and the grass would host the historic festival. -- heritage festival. perhaps the line behind superior was the proximate manipulate would tie into into the county's growing system of trails. make we can mate it's cool destination some day and use it to tell our little story, rob said, reminding me of w. of the harvest foundation's mantras, you can't move the river to chynna. would two weeks late are i found myselfs drifting toward the smith. there'd been a drenching rain and upriver the dam was in power making mode. i floated on a side creek for 30
second before my boat hit the smith and the gentle paddle turned into white water rafting instead. my guide was jim franklin, 673, float fisherman who had run the bassett particle meant for 34 years. he named the factories. and pointed out where he permanently hauled some of the concrete and brick from bassett superior, placing the chunks just so on the river bank to stave off erosion. when the river wasn't rushing and demanding our full concentration he told me stories under a canopy of sycamores and scrub trees that teemed with wildlife. a great blue her tracked our moves, swooping ahead every newspapers before land along new surveillance perch. the air temperature was 64 but the water its usual just 42, which is why people fish in the smith but rarely swim and why the trout find it ideal.
my full immersion baptism in the something i came right after we rounded the bend, near the old stanley furniture factory and found a giant tree limb blocking most of the passage. jim paddled expertly through a narrow channel on the left. i made the critical mistake of hesitating which put me parallel to the log before the current slammed me against it. the underwater plunge was as bone-chilling as abrupt. after being transported for a moment i emerged coughing. we rode out the rest of the rapidded together, him inside the boat and me out with my arm hooked over the bow. you're fine now, you're fine. before long i wasn't fine. my feet were new mexico and fear of hypothermia sent me scrambling for the mud where bank which was cloaked in poison i'vey. jim continued downstream, hundredless to stop his canoe. i'll meet you up the road, she shouted. scratched and shivering i eye
mentalled from woods ten minutes later near a strip mall, behind a family dollar store. my ray bans were in the river, along with my dignity. and enwhy appeared, the woman take ought the store trash was startled. i looked mad like some for meth head who stomached out off a newspaper mug shot. she shook her head. i'm not going to ask, she said, unhelpfully. and hustled back inside. pat ross picked me up at the cvs store next door with blankets and we track edwin jim who had guys searching for me. they lassoed the kayak before it floated too far downstream and jim even rescue mid reporter re note book from the river bank, the scrawl inside still legible. the people of bassett wanted their stories told. [applause]
>> never listened to me talk that long before. i know it's killing him. so, this is john bassett. the factory man, and i'm going to read you a really fun section. a lot of 60 this was not fun to right. learning about international trade act, the tariff act of 19 30. i went to indonesia to interview replacement workers there now, and it was a lot of -- for feature writer at the roanoke times -- that's what i consider myself, feature writer -- a lot of been that was dry to me and i tried to write the book that i would want to read, so i tried to bring the people in as much as possible, i tell readers i'm
the daughter of ative placed factory worker, putting all my cards out on the table, and so a lot of it was just hard, like it was interviewing lawyers and trying to understand stuff that wasn't familiar to me and reading "the economist" every week was hard, and i didn't read it every week. but this part was really fun to write, because after hundreds of phone calls and -- you're probably going, she's exaggerating, like, he hasn't called her 100 times. he has called me probably 700 times. he has called the times just today. [laughter] >> so this is fun to write, and when i wrote it i was like, yeah, i nailed it. this my introduction to john. this is in the 1990s -- >> '80s. >> he has just broken out on his own, left balances set furniture, and now he is running the struggling company and
decided to strike out on his own with a factory in sumpter, south carolina. just going to be him. launching a factory from scratch makes it the lonely i.s. team of john bass set's career me. mt. erie he had the dog and up ebb level managers on call, and sumpter he had to be everything. the banks weren't loaning me another dime and i invested millions so i could easily go broke if this didn't fly. this wasn't some hypothetical case. my feet were in the stirrups. garrett's wife, martha -- garrett was the superintendent or head of the plant sumpter, right under john -- predicted -- his wife predicted william would be a money making venture, and true enough within 60 days of producing its first piece the company was profitable. martha predicted just as every a
spouse grew to understand was no none at the industry who worked harder or longer hours. they kw it from the telephone ring. he calls on christmas morning. make sure the drykin is turn on so we don't ruin the stack of wood. calls at 1:30 a.m. they cabinet room forman giving us trouble? he's got to go. he calls on your vacation, and if you dare object, he reasons if i'm calling you, then i'm working, too. he calls on saturday when you're mowing the lawn, and i you can't get to the phone in time he'll accuse you later of having screened your calls. at precisely 9:15 every new year's day he calls the previous year's top sales person and asks, what have you sold for me yet this year? [laughter] >> he calls occasionally to share a dirty joke. nothing too bawdy, just something a frat guy would tell elm calls from the toilets in
one of his homes. calls from his car though he still superintendent sure what button to press if you call him back. calls from his bed at new york hospital for special surgery, still slurring from anesthesia after foot surgery, thought of one more thing to tell me. the story of apollo 13, the way the astronauts and men in houston worked day and night to fix the botched equipment so no one would die. refused to accept failure, and prevailed because of hard work. he is practically in tears when he calls after learning that more people at stanley furnish witness soon lose their jobs. he prefaces the conversation with, this is off the record, this is off of everything, this is just us girls. [laughter] >> he called and called and called. never identifies himself. never has to. with that deep baritone drawl and they entitled sense of timing.
he called garrett so often in the early days of getting the plant running, usual litsch at 5:30 in the mortgage and again at 10:30 at night that derritt's wife finally grabbed the phone, are you trying to cut garrett out of all of his sex life? john bassett laughed so murder -- laughed so hard he gave garrett the night off. his style is not open for discussion. don't call gentiles on easter weekend or jews on yom kippur. whenever he feels the need to tell a dirty joke or describe an idea, he calls. so, ladies and gentlemen, john bassett 3 republic. -- john bassett iii. [applause]
when we came out she said she would be through in nine minutes. [laughter] >> when you read the book -- she wrote a beautiful book. she really did. this girl write. [applause] >> last sunday after church i was at my club, and i was getting ready to play golf, and we were on the practice tee, and one of my good friends, member of the same club, has a home in new york city and a vacation home where we have ours, in north carolina. and he turned to me and he said,
i'm jealous. i said, what do you mean? he said, i'm jealous, i called kathy last night, and she was in new york, and it was 9:00, and i said, what are you doing? and she said, arty, i'm in bed with john bassett. [laughter] >> you going to read the book and you going to find out what we did and how we did it. so i'm not going to really touch on that unless you would like to ask me questions in the question and answer period. i want to take my nine minutes -- [laughter] -- and give you a little insight of why we did it and why i did it. i grew up as john bassett, from
bassett, virginia, the home of the bassett furniture industries. i don't know many people that can say that. and it was somewhat of an unusual position to be as a young man. i had wonderful parents, wonderful parents, and they believed in teaching you what your responsibilities were. and i can hear my mother today saying, yes, you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but, son, you are no better than anybody else, and don't you ever forget that. she said, you have a responsibility to the people of this community. and we expect you to live up to it. they would also tell me the story about the parable in the bible about the pallets or one
pallets or whatever, and i could hear my father now saying, son, you were not born to bury your talents. you were born to use your talents. so, those type of lessons stuck with me. back in those day, if i was a baptist, i'm now episcopalian, by the way,. [applause] >> the episcopalians have more fun. [applause] >> so, why did we do what we did? in 1902, when my grandfather started the bassett industries, he started in the furniture business because, number one, there was timber right there in henry county that never had been cut before. so we had the lumber.
we had a wonderful labor supply that they needed manufacturing jobs. they were sharecroppers, farmers or whatever, but we needed some place to -- they needed someplace to find steady work, and then the railroad had just -- the north and western railroad had just gone through what became bassett, virginia, and that enabled them in 1902 to make a product and ship it through the whole united states. if you -- back in those days you had a wagon and a mule to pull the wagon. how were you going to get this product except maybe 30 honor miles, and you would never build a furnish industry that way. the railroads gave them the access to the american economy. and they used it. they were hard-working, dedicated. we had wonderful people working for us.
i have a telegram on my -- in my archives that i received from my father, and my -- it was three telegraphs actually. back in those days they had the marketing in grand rapids, michigan, and the first telegram he was up there trying to sell or selling furnish, and the secretary of the company sent a telegram and said, your factory is on fire. then an hour later, he received a telegram and said, the fire is out of control. from the secretary of the company. and then an hour after that he received a telegram and it said, everything we have is burnt to the ground. come home. and it was signed, mrs. j.d. bassett, sr. and that happened three times to him. burned to the ground three times and rebuilt every time. and you have to admire that type
of spirit. so, when my grandfather started the business in 1902, i can assure you he had no idea what globalization was. and when you had retailers that were in large cities like atlanta, they started retail because they were going to start a furniture factory in the middle of atlanta. that's where the customers were. so, they did what was logical back in those days, and my grandfather did what was logical. so now we going to fast forward until the 1980s or early 1990s with globalization. and our company and our association supported nafta. we supported gat which turned into the world trade organization, which we now refer to as the w.t.o., and we were told that it would actually increase jobs in the united states. we would be making products that we would ship to the rising
middle class in china or asia and other places. well, that obviously did not come to pass. we were told that we were going to have to have more modern and efficient factories, which we agreed to do. but they would level the playing field. everybody would be playing by the same set of rules so we said, okay; "they" being the federal government. that's not what happened. globalization did lower the price to the american consumer. you have benefited from the globalization, i have benefited. the retailers, many of them benefit from globalization because the savings they had, some of those savings they didn't pass along to us, they actually put it in their profits, and there was nothing wrong with that. i'm not saying i would do any differently. but the retailers were able to buy from sources overseas as
well as local. it devastated manufacturing. how many factories closed? 63,000 factories closed. over 300,000 furniture workers lost their jobs. now, those are the statistics that we were looking at. and you have to ask yourself, all right, what am i going to do? what are we going to do with this company? and how are we going to prosper or even survive with this going on? so it was interesting, and so we -- what we all did initially is we went to china, and the chinese said, look, let us make this product, and we will sell it to you and then you can sell it to your dealers, and you
don't have to have all those people, don't have to worry about government regulations, don't have to worry about hospitalization and retirement and everything else that you deal with if you have a large labor force. didn't take me long to figure out, as soon as, number one, a lot of their furniture factories, furniture companies, were sending their engineers over there to teach them how to make furniture. people tell me how quickly they learned to make furniture. you can learn it pretty quick when the teachers came from somewhere else and taught you how to do it. secondly was, once we told them where the customers were and where to ship the product, they knew where the customers were, and almost -- didn't take me long at all to see, this isn't going to work. huh-uh. you are going down a path that is going to be a path to your demise. so, i pulled out. today we make 100% of our
products in the united states. our products are made here. [applause] >> but how are we going to survive? and, frankly, i felt that we owed an obligation to the people who worked for us. i really did. our family over the last 100 or so years had done very, very well. really have. i mean, it paid for a lot of college tuitions and wonderful homes and vacations and et cetera. but we would have never have done it without the people who worked in the factories, and this was our time to look after them. so, when we learned about the antidumping petition, and the antidumping -- dumping is when you sell something and n your
done -- excuse me -- you sell it in another country cheecher than you sell in cower -- your country or sale product that is under your cost and selling it under your cost so you can drive those other people out of business. and then you get all the business. and it's recognized by w.t.o. all 159 countries who are in the w.t.o. recognizes dumping as illegal trade. and there are laws on the book from 1930s in the united states that says, dumping is illegal. some of the laws have been revised, but it's been on the books since 1930. it's the law. we didn't know about the law. the federal government never told us. we had to pay a lawyer $75,000 to explain to us what our rights were. now, you remember when they
first came out with the new money, the new -- i think they started with the 20-dollar bill, and the picture of jackson is on the 20-dollar bill. and they put colors in and did other things because they wanted to make it harder to counterfeit. well, the united states government spent $33 million to advertise the new 20-dollar bill. true. and i was testifying in congress, and i was detroit -- criticizing them because you never tell american manufacturers what their rights are. and i can assure you, i have two sons and a daughter and a wife. i said, there is nobody my family that doesn't know how to spend $20.
so, we led the antithank you. ing petition. and i was the chairman of it. still am. going to retire pretty soon. from that -- from 2002 to 2014, hopefully this will be me last year. but it was the largest antidumping petition every brought against a country of china, and i think it still is. and it absolutely split our industry in two. because before a lot of companies said -- told the employee, we can't do anything about this. but now they had a way they could join us, and we could ask a government to investigate. now, were they going to join us? they already started importing a lot from overseas, especially china. or were they not going to join
us? and then what are you going to tell your employees? the retailers became very upset. and we were boycotted, and we still are in some regards. some have come back. but they refuse to buy our products. because we were leading the antidumping petition. and it was, as i told somebody not long ago, i was over at the high point market, and people would look at you, other dealers, with total disdain, and then i'd come back to the a factory in the people wanted to hug you. i've never had that kind of juxtaposed that kind of reaction. but we prevailed. and there were duties placed on chinese furniture. so, that is what we did.
we took the money that we received and we bought more machinery. there is no machine in the world that makes what we make that we don't own. we will spend any amount of money to stay competitive and efficient. i think we have to. we don't want a handout. we want to earn our way. but we invest in equipment. but here's the real secret to what we did. we organized the people who work for us. and we said, we are here for you. we're not going abandon you. this is the way we're going to have to do it, and when i start talking to them, i always start the same way. i said, i'm going to give you the good news and give you the bad news. but the one thing i will never do is lie to you. i'm going to tell you the truth. and we need your help.
and the attitude in the whole organization changed. americans are very efficient workers. but they need leadership. and somebody's got to get in there and say, follow me. and i knew we had crossed the rubicon when one day i was walking through the finishing room, the line stopped, and everybody in the finish room started walking toward me. and i said, uh-oh. we got a problem. i mean, do we have a sexual harassment here? what we got going on? but i noticeled they did not have a frown on their face. you could tell they were not belligerent. they were very respectful and they all crowded around me and
the lady named helen came up. she was a spokesman, and i loved her. and she said, john, we have something to tell you. said, all right, what is it? they said, we see what you're going through and we see what you're trying to accomplish for us. and we want you to know, tell us what you want us to too and we will give you everything you ask for. now, when you have that kind of spirit in an organization, it's amazing what you can accomplish. so i hoddle the women, and shook all the men's hands, and then i said i have m my first request. they said, what is it? i said, get your butts back on the job. ...
because people understand it. if you become a football coach of the university of virginia or alabama or lsu or one of the big college teams, you are expected to win. and the story that i tell with high school football coaches. if you are in the locker room getting ready to pay -- played a conference tibia's. in the of pundits in this sport writers as if you are the 14.underdog. if you play the game and lose by 10 points the nba -- nba will say we cover the
spread. [laughter] tell me how many football coaches will keep the job only losing by 10 points? in america we have to start thinking of ourselves as winners. america has to turn around this competition. i had a captive and from a lieutenant in germany who said it is time to take names and kick ass. [laughter] it is time that we do that and that exactly what we intend to do. the fight goes on for us because still a lot of retailers will buy our products. we have to make our way every day. and if you go over there you will see our stuff.
[applause] they have made in america gallery. lot of retailers to. so we're still fighting the battle. and it has been a long time. it is in doing this we're beginning to get some traction. that is the beautiful part. because it tells you the story of what happened. and i am not opposed to globalization and they're wonderful things about globalization but i do want a level playing field and once americans to turn around and roll up their sleeves and go to work. [applause]
>> thank you. at this point the escher's will walk around on the outside of the aisle to collect questions in the basket. don't be shy. pass them around. while they are walking around i will start off with a few questions. how do you know, when you hear a good story? >> it is the next test of the hair stands up on the back of my neck. doesn't make me laugh or cry or think? this story has it all because it is a frightening character that is still alive. i said one year-ago don't
die. don't close your factory. [laughter] he has done really good. [laughter] in this is the great story because for what happened to all those people that was the biggest hop's in the national media what happened allover the united states. in with the slow change that happened over the last 15 years. it is the book that allowed me to think big. >> how did you decide you could trust us with your story? [laughter] >> you said i trust her?
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