Saturday, February 11, 2012

What About the Left Side?

Some of you may remember the IQ graph I use to sum up a concern about the future of our country.

I am happy to report that at least one other person in the media “gets it”. First, credit where credit is due. I heard about it on Talk of the Nation.

The Future Of America's Manufacturing Jobs

”And with every one of these major transformations, there were - there was a lot of creative destruction, there was a lot of old ways of making a living disappearing - we don't have blacksmiths and buggy repairmen anymore.

But there was something that came along that provided even more opportunity to the - to everybody, including the low-skilled. And that part is not happening now.”

That is Adam Davidson talking about the fact that we have nothing for “low-skilled” people to do in this country. To put it succinctly, everybody wants the workers on the right side of that IQ chart. But what about the people on the left side? What do they do for a living?

Mr. Davidson has written an article that at least touches on that subject in The Atlantic. And, wouldn’t you know it, it is set in my old stomping grounds.

Making It in America

”I had come to Greenville to better understand what, exactly, is happening to manufacturing in the United States, and what the future holds for people like Maddie—people who still make physical things for a living and, more broadly, people (as many as 40 million adults in the U.S.) who lack higher education, but are striving for a middle-class life. ”

Some of you may remember that half of my family came out of the textile mills in Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina and the other half off of a farm in South Georgia. I take the issue of upward mobility to heart. So I may be a little more interested in Mr. Davidson’s article than you but the whole country ought to be interested in this part;

”Those with the right ability and circumstances will, most likely, make the right adjustments, get the right skills, and eventually thrive. But I fear that those who are challenged now will only fall further behind. ”

Or, as he says in the Talk of the Nation interview;

”But it's just at this moment, it is - nobody knows, I've yet to find anybody who can tell me what is coming next for the low-skilled manufacturing worker that really can provide upward mobility, a long-term, you know, career-long economic opportunity.”

I almost agree with Mr. Davidson. Because I give this a lot of thought. The closest town to where I live right now (like much of the South) is suffering because this problem is so hard to solve. The textile mills left and the “unskilled” don’t have any jobs. I say I “almost” agree with him because there is one guy out there that does have an idea.

Farmer in Chief by Michael Pollan

”The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy.”

Why, yes, you did read about that idea here at Get the Flick. Thanks for noticing.

Don Brown
February 11, 2012

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