— George Jetson
By Blue Bronc, a Trail Mix Contributor
What is the future of countries which have moved beyond the industrial age and into the information age? A world where increasing population is looked at as abnormal as there is no need for millions of unskilled or trade skilled workers? Lands where dangerous and dirty jobs are not performed by humans, but by highly specialized machines, or robots? Like it or not we are already in that world.
Growing up in Detroit a constant joke was “he is going to end up in the paint room” when someone who dropped out of high school future was talked about. We all knew that the paint room was where auto bodies were painted on the assembly lines. It was unhealthy and known to cause serious brain damage from the fumes of the paint. It was were those who were unskilled were hired, and the paint rooms had plenty of turnover as most failed there and ended up dying young.
The paint rooms are now the home of extremely high technology paints and job specific robots. People are not needed there anymore. The cost of health care is cut to almost nothing as there are no more brain damaged former paint room employees. The products are almost uniformly perfect, paint flaws are a rare exception now. And, robots do not strike. Okay, United Auto Workers rarely strike anymore either.
How about on the farm? American farms are wonderfully productive. Tremendous output. One farmer driving a huge tractor does the work of dozens. Farms are huge corporate endeavors. Harvest requires more truck drivers to haul the corn or hay or soybeans than driving the combines. The exceptions are the tender crops, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries. Those are picked by hand, but the research is always trying to find a machine to replace the immigrants who toil right now.
Retail? Your computer does not complain that you are looking at too many shirts. In store, the so called “brick and mortar” locations, cut costs with reduced inventories, try finding half sizes in shoes, and fewer staff, checkout is one register at a door, not in every department. The competition is high and can be mean. Specialty stores are fun to walk through, but you know the price is always better online. Do you purchase something just to help the store owner stay in business?
Chinese steel is how America is built now. There are a few steel producers in the U.S. still making the hard stuff. But, they produce mostly high tech steel for special use. Coal is dirty, making steel is dirty and dangerous. I do remember back when the steel the Chinese made was terrible. Products frequently broke, and then the Chinese imported American steel makers and the output increased in quality. There are still many articles of low quality, but those are considered use and dispose of anyway.
I used to think bulky and heavy household goods could not be profitable if made outside the U.S. Toilets for instance. The products are made of clay, fired and glazed. Cheap. No need for skilled labor with high wages. Then I saw products from Chile or Argentina cheaper than American made. Unless they were being dumped in the U.S., dumping means selling cheaper than cost with the difference made up by the government, something else was going on as I expected those countries to have higher labor costs than China.
Electronics might have the parts made in the U.S. and the final product assembled outside of the U.S. Although an assembly line is used, it is not staffed by robots, but by humans. One of the stories floating around last year was an entrepreneur who was going to make a new electronics assembly plant in an eastern state (Ohio maybe), he had hesitation because there was no “skilled” labor available. Please forgive me for rolling my eyes. Training might take several months, my electronics training was enhanced by camera repair training, working with very tiny and extremely delicate parts, declining to train his work force was a laugher.
So, where are we in 2017 America? A land of thinkers? A land of doers? A place where education is rote and dictated by Congress. No one works here?
Not exactly. Factory output is high. Auto plants are pouring out cars and trucks too. American ports are expanding, both for imports and exports. What has changed is the drop out of high school and get a middle class job at the auto plant or work on a farm. Today’s auto and truck mechanics are more than wrench wranglers. They need to use high tech tools on high tech machines. They use logic in troubleshooting in ways their fathers and grandfathers never did. Of course there is the down fall of relying on machines and computers to do work. Someone walks in with an old marine alternator and asks the counter clerk to test it. The counter clerk has no clue what to do because the part is not in the computer database and the failsafe, foolproof tester cannot be made to work without the database. That is due to the dumbing of sales. No more middle class auto clerks, lowest wages and no need to know anything about vehicles because the computer knows it all. (I digress)
America is not failing. America is great. A lot of low input people bought the Republican lies and now we have a con artist ready to take over the reins.
Take back America is what we Dems talked about in 2007. It is time to dust that slogan off and start yelling it again.
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