By Flatus, a Trail Mix Contributor
My trip to Cleveland was revelatory. Not for the fact that many, many people loved and respected my Aunt Eleanor, I already knew that. The revelation was that the upside economy is finally hitting the grassroots. Let me tell you how I know.
When traveling up I-77 I always expect delays going through Charlotte early in the morning; that’s the way it is. The surprise was in leaving town.
Five miles north of the city they were digging up the substantial median between the north and south bound lanes. In the space being stripped of trees and excess soil were dozens of new pieces of construction equipment. Bulldozers, scrapers, back-hoes, maintenance trucks, you name-it. Each piece was working to beat the band.
The most significant thing about the construction equipment was that most of what I observed was made by Caterpillar. Korean and Japanese machines were also-rans. Did (I didn’t) say that the length of the construction area approached ten miles in length. My guesstimate is that there was at least 200 machines total involved and probably closer to 350.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the ratio of people to machine isn’t 3:1. So, new jobs in that ten-mile stretch equals about 1,000 on the ground. Then we must add in all the manufacturing jobs as well. And later we must add gravel and sand and concrete and new landscaping. Such a deal!
Did it stop there? Of course not. In West Virginia I saw dozens of semi-loads of virgin timbers cut to length for fabrication projects. That was in addition to hundreds of pallets of planks made for the housing market. Each piece of wood was grown in farmed-timber areas; it is renewable. And the products made from it are labor intensive. It sounds to me like a no-brainer for people who are expelled from the mines.
Well, enough for now. If this is interesting to others, there is still Virginia and Ohio that I drove through. Suffice to say, I was vastly encouraged by what I saw.