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Reflections on lost jobs in America

March 2, 2015

P.1… an alternate universe
according to leading theoretical physicists
you made the choice not to read this posting,
luckily for me your in my universe.

As the sound of the bell slowly faded it was replaced with a sound akin to the whine of a massive jet engine starting. I increased the speed and initiated first the water system then the ink and finally the sheets of paper started on their journey to the delivery pile. Taking a blank sheet of paper and creating an image with water and ink was, to me, like an artist creating a work of art….but then to me this was just another day at the office running my printing press. There were times I did marvel that as each unit layered down its individual color of magenta, cyan, yellow and black it could create art that did not exist on that blank sheet of paper before. As I worked the computer console adjusting the ink and water balance and tweaking the register just a bit I was creating an end result that would equal the density and sharpness of a photograph or the texture and look of a fine work of art. How was I or anyone in my trade to know we were merely dinosaurs waiting for extinction.

Those days are pretty much gone, because there are now 85% fewer high end printers in America than when I ran that half a million dollar printing press. Replaced mostly by the home or office printer, or your corner copy center. The result is another highly skilled occupation gone by the wayside. True it is just a small portion of our nations economy but it is also only the tip of the iceberg. When you consider that Americas biggest loss of skilled jobs was in the manufacturing field and those jobs are now held by people living in China.

Don’t believe me then go to any retail store or big box outlet and look at where what you are buying is manufactured. From cellphone to TV, radio, kitchen appliances, power tools to even our very clothing and shoes are now made in China. China has become the America of the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, with too many jobs and not enough skilled laborers.

Adapt or die… Those that have lost their jobs due to our manufacturing industry exodus overseas have found that adapting can be an obstacle, primarily because there are few equally skilled jobs left. The major job markets are now, in the building and construction trades, healthcare and the largest of them all the service industry which of course pays the least. There are of course a number of highly skilled job openings in the computer, internet and web security industry, but it would mean that one would have to return to school and obtain either a different or first collage degree. Even the construction field has extreme swings in demand for labor based on the fact that many now can no longer afford a home and have contented themselves to renting. So it’s either changing bedpans and watching over old people like myself or the service industry.

There was never anything wrong with working in the service industry be it a clerk at a retail store, a stock room employee for a big box company or waiter or waitress except the paycheck. Back when I ran that printing press, even in a non-union shop like I worked one still made a decent living. I managed to buy a home, raise two children and still have some cash left over for a vacation and a nice car. Now it takes at the very least two service industry jobs to just ‘barely’ float the rent and pay ones bills.

There is no cut and dry solution for the situation that each of ‘us’ here in America has created. Yes indeed we created this exodus of manufacturing jobs ourselves by demanding lower prices and not supporting the few companies that still had the ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ on their label. However I think it is time we took that first small step toward bringing home those jobs. We must seek out and purchase those products that are still made in America whenever we can and we must show the major retailers and manufactures that we are willing to pay more for a product produced at home.

It is a small first step on a very, very long road
but to not take it ensures that a once proud nation
will never be the worlds economic leader again.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2015 9:43 am

    I do try to purchase ‘Made In America’ but I also do most of my shopping on-line and that means it can be extremely difficult to verify the source of origin for many products. So much of what has happened is due to the ongoing attempt to tie the entire world together; this stems from the belief in the validity of the ‘global economy’ back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While a great sounding idea on paper we just lived through one of the real issues of following this path; when there is a major upset in one portion of the world’s economy the rest will soon at worst go the same route or at best hunker down and feel a lot of negative effects.


  2. March 3, 2015 8:49 pm

    yes , a sad situation , my mother who lives in small town Australia always make a point of buying local, even when the same goods are available in a bigger regional centre some 45 mins away at a much cheaper price. In turn, the local shop keepers have always made a point of looking after her (with superior service and at times discounts). I think there is merit in keeping your money local, even if only for a sense of community.


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