Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Manufacturing

In the movie Minority Report there is a scene that kind of intrigued me when Tom Cruise enters an automobile factory and car is assembled around him but there is not a single worker in sight. It is totally automated. Now I'm not entirely against reasonable automation and I am certainly not against a business making a profit, which for most businessmen is the whole point, but I can't help but wonder what that population of that city does to earn a living. It seems to me that if the choice is between hiring people to do things for you or paying more taxes so that the government can give your money to them to live on, well it seems to be a no-brainer. Pay them to do something for you so that you at least get something for the money you are going to pass to them one way or the other.

My previous employer peaked at nearly 250 full time employees and during its last couple of years it was around 40 employees. Two years ago my current employer had close to 150 employees working full time and now it has about 45 on the payroll with only about 30 actually working. (And the plant is running at about 10% of its full three-shift capacity.) It's not going to get better anytime soon.

Sending jobs overseas made good short-term sense but was a long term problem. When jobs went overseas people could no longer afford to buy products even if they were cheaper. I see it all as part of the "live for today because there might not be a tomorrow" mindset. You only go around once in life so grab all that you possibly can right now. What can I get today? has replaced long term planning and long term consequences and it's not just corporate America. Organized labor should have known that its labor paradigm could not last forever and should have taken steps to ensure, not just a better living for its rank and file (if that was ever really its concern which I doubt) but taken steps to ensure that their employers would be able to sustain it for the future. The I want it now, to hell with tomorrow mindset was as firmly entrenched in the workers as it was in the management and Wall Street. Well tomorrow has arrived and Hell seems to be right behind it.

People mock the Protestant Work Ethic of everyone should work productively, even the very rich and the very poor. It included the idea that people should make more than just money, but that they should be involved in the production of things to fulfill their needs and desires of themselves and their community, or they should fulfill a needed role. It was the Protestant Work Ethic, along with open land and personal freedom, that caused America to rise to the heights it did and the work ethic is needed to restore it. Sadly we have lost it. We have too many people who live on the unreciprocated labor of others including the idle rich and the never-employed welfare class, whom I consider morally equivalent, at least in economic terms. Well at least the idle rich might create jobs, or at least they should.

It's not going to get better anytime soon. Our industrial base is spinning around the drain at the moment and we may simply have to start all over.

What would I do? I would create incentives for factories to manufacture here and to employ American workers. Create incentives for the rich and near-rich to create jobs and the problems will begin to fade as the workers begin to work and feel secure. If they don't work everyone suffers, including the businessman and the taxman, as they are now finding out.

11 Comments:

Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

There is no true consolation, but this: pretty much all the other Western countries are in the same boat. Even China is experiencing a production, hiring and factory crunch, as demand for clothing, toys and electronics is down worldwide.

BZ

2:24 PM  
Blogger I.H.S. said...

Shoprat, you are right. It's going to take us getting back to that once coveted, 'WORK ETHIC'.

Blessings.

3:12 PM  
Blogger dmarks said...

A perversion of the good honest work ethic is the idea that lounging about on strike on picket lines is good, and those who endure the harassment and cross picket lines to work are evil "scabs".

People loafing about and begging have not furthered things along very much. Hoover Dam was not built by strikers. The troops at D-Day did not loaf about on the transports demanding more rations before they stormed the beaches.

6:15 PM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Our manufacturing sector has dropped to about 11% of GDP..China's is 30%. More than worrisome....

7:19 PM  
Blogger Average American said...

I look around and I don't see any companies thriving. Even in bad times there is usually someone benefitting. That doesn't seem to be happening this time.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

EXCEPT, AA: those with money and possessed of excellent credit ratings are beginning to scour up foreclosed properties at bargain basement prices in Fornicalia.

BZ

9:24 AM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

Sending jobs overseas made good short-term sense but was a long term problem.

----------------------
For whom? Kapital?

4:48 PM  
Blogger Deranged Leftwing Baker said...

We have too many people who live on the unreciprocated labor of others

Didn't Karl Marx say something like that? You're not becoming a socialist, are you? Much of your posting sounds like you are.

I have an investment portfolio and 401-k that I hope to see recover someday. And at that time, I will live on the labor of others. I will have provided capital, though, and expect a return on it. That is capitalism.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Deranged Leftwing Baker said...

Sending jobs overseas made good short-term sense but was a long term problem. When jobs went overseas people could no longer afford to buy products even if they were cheaper.

The CEOs who are making the decision to send those jobs overseas couldn't care less about the long-term. They are making literally 100s of millions of dollars. As a right winger, I assume you would howl if there was any restriction placed on their right to send those jobs overseas. I assume you are against any regulation of that.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Z said...

I'm with you on WORK ETHIC, Shoprat...and creating huge incentives to employ American.

We should also start a movement to BUY American. If we could just find SOMETHING without MADE IN CHINA underneath it.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Deranged Leftwing Baker said...

A "movement" to buy American is going to accomplish nothing. As much as you guys don't like government, one of the functions of government is to help control the flow of import via tariffs and so on.

Can I ask what you are going to do for products that aren't even produced in this country? The US doesn't make TVs, so I won't have a TV?

8:19 AM  

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