Friday, May 1, 2015

Morning Musing

This morning, when I was trying to pretend that I was still asleep, my mind wandered back to times past. For some strange reason I started thinking about the shipyard in Providence. Back during WWII, it was called the Kaiser Shipyard. There, they pumped out Liberty Ships by the dozen. These, very basic freighters, were needed to get war materiel over to Europe in the face of German U-boat wolf packs. 

I would have liked to see the shipyard in operation but we did not move to Rhode Island until the war was three years over and the shipyard was closed. In the ensuing years businesses came and went. A drive-in movie. A service facility for the ill-fated turbo train. A terminal for Japanese autos. I haven't had occasion to go there in years. So I don't know what is there now. I suspect it is very little.

Back in those post WWII days, Rhode Island was an industrial powerhouse. Brown and Sharpe, Nicholson File, Speidel, Coro, Entwistle, Gorham Silver, C.I. Hayes, a long list of the most respected names in manufacturing. And there were also many lesser known manufacturers. They have one thing in common. They are gone. Some gone completely. Some operating someplace else.

Those companies provided jobs. Good paying jobs that unskilled workers could be trained to do to support families. They had opportunities to build on those skills. My own father was an barely educated farm boy from Maine. He hied himself down to Lowell and worked as a machine operator in the mills. He learned to be a fixer (repair man) and was promoted to overseer. He eventually became superintendent of one of the company's mills. 

Those people that would be taking those jobs today are forced to mow lawns, flip burgers, clean bathrooms, or other even less palatable jobs. All of the factory jobs are now in Mexico, China, Malaysia, and other places where the air is dirty and the labor cheap.

I feel that with good industrial jobs, places like Baltimore and Philadelphia would thrive. But that horse was driven out of the barn by a combination of corporate greed and political ineptness. Soon all of the coal mines will be closed and more low skill good paying jobs will disappear.

America needs to find a balance between a perfect environment and abject disregard. We will still need fossil fuels for some time. We ignore that at our peril. McJobs will not support an economy. We need new innovative business plans. The power that we have allowed politicians to take must be throttled back. We can rebuild America. 

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