Man shares his wealth of ideas



In the 1976 movie Network, anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, famously bellowed, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."

Today, rather than stick his head out a window and scream, he might have created a Web site instead, like Mike Vallerie, a businessman in Baltimore, just did.

Vallerie, who owns a trailer rental and storage business in South Baltimore, has, by his estimate and to little avail, written more than a hundred letters to members of Congress and to newspaper editors, who typically want him to trim his loquaciousness to 800 words or less. A little fed up that he can't get sufficient airing for his ideas and not interested in running for office, he did what virtually anyone could do these days.

He launched his own personal treatise on how to hasten the economic recovery at

"Even if you have a good idea," he said, "there's no way to get it out."

Well, he found a way. He used a "cut and paste" template to create a fairly basic Web site. He shot several 21/2-minute movies on a home video camera, apparently in his dining room by the look of the breakfront in the background.

He comes off as passionate but soft-spoken, not as wild-eyed or disheveled as Finch's Howard Beale. The best, most earnest moments are of him talking into the camera as a small businessman who's grappling with worker compensation premiums or frustrated that "work ethic" is a trait that seems wanting among young prospective employees for jobs that can pay $16 to $21 an hour.

Among Vallerie's ideas: If the U.S. only brought back 5 percent of the manufacturing jobs that have moved overseas due to cheaper labor, millions of people would be put back to work. By his reckoning, if you placed a minimal tariff on 95 percent of the toasters made cheaply overseas, it would offset the higher labor cost of manufacturing the other 5 percent here. Replicate that across various industries and it would be significant, he contends.

"I suspect that if we brought 5 percent of essential manufacturing (manufacturing of technological components, electronics and necessities, rather than items in categories such as toys) back into the United States, we would not have enough people to fill those jobs," he writes.

He seems sincere enough to acknowledge when he has no idea for a solution: "How do we adjust for the varying cost of U.S. Labor? Labor in the Northeast cost more than labor in the South or the Southwest! (I haven't figured this one out yet!)"

His solutions may be outshined by the take-the-bull-by-the-horns boldness he displayed in creating the site to put his ideas out there. He's buying FM radio ads this week to promote the site.

The economy has put a big dent in his trailer leasing business. He says he has as many accounts as he did two years ago and still has eight employees, but only 60 percent of his trailers are leased compared with 90 percent two years ago.

"We haven't laid anybody off yet," he said. "When everybody's turning in their trailers, there's plenty of work to do."

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