Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Manufacturing Died in New England

I remember it well. In the mid-nineties I was teaching computer skills at a mid-sized training center with three schools and a strong alliance with the Vocational Rehabilitation bureau. At one school I had 30 seats mostly filled with Voc Rehab clients whose jobs had been off shored, most of them laid off from the local shoe factory where they had made upwards of $15 to $20 an hour doing piecework with a minimal base wage. Most of these folks had worked in the mill all their lives - like their parents before them, made a decent living wage and lived the middle class life promised by the American Dream. Then came NAFTA and Ross Perot's giant sucking sound of medium skill, high paying manufacturing jobs being off shored en-mass by people like Fucking Mitt Romney. After my class they would be competing for minimum wage, entry level jobs with some paying a little more for those lucky enough to have some technical skills. Broke My Heart.

Plants like this one in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts that employed thousands of workers and support staff are now empty.


 Plants like this one in Hongqingting Shoe Factory, Wenzhou China are now packed and very busy.

What happened here? The Oligarchs made a decision that the middle class was not as important as accumulating more wealth than they or their heirs would ever be able to spend. So they spent millions of dollars lobbying for NAFTA and the ability of owners to establish factories overseas for a fraction of the cost, none of the environmental penalties, tax breaks, and near-slave wages. Once that had been achieved and they had exponentially increased their revenue, power became the cocaine of choice for the ultra-rich and the accumulation of power to buy the American political process was the next "I have more than you" cocktail party line and to prove it they bought the American political process, lobbied to pass even more destructive legislation (for the middle class) and moved all manufacturing jobs overseas that they possibly could. The least money paid and the most profit earned became the bragging rights of the ultras. The American people were turned into chattel - expendable like just another piece of machinery, thrown into the wall of financial fire like Pickett's Charge without consciousness or morality. Only money and power are important to the Oligarchs. Even the known fascist Henry Ford wanted his employees to make enough money to be able to buy the products they made. No More.They no longer care about the American worker. They have moved their sights to overseas, expanding markets whose workers take raw materials usually exported from "developed" countries like the U.S. then they actually "build things" that add value then sell them back to people who have the money to buy their products - i.e. the local people who are making money working in manufacturing or the rich Oligarchs in the US. American buying power has stagnated since the 70's, the ordinary American no longer has a chance to earn a living wage without a college degree, (and even that is no guarantee) and our economy shows no signs of recovering. We no longer have the economic muscle to exert any power over foreign markets and curtail currency manipulation so the emerging markets are having their way with us. But you already know all this.

For the one millionth time - we need to make things here at home with our own raw materials, add value, pay workers, tariff the shit out of anything imported and bring back manufacturing so the many, many people in this country without a college degree can make a living wage.

OK Doc - I'm done... BP still within acceptable range.


  1. But mine's not, of course.

    Good to have you back with your fine ranting coverage of the day's realities, sweetheart.

    Hope things are going better with you and yours up there in the cool.


    1. Hi Hon, thanks for coming back. I am feeling much better these days. Of course it's the meds that hold back the daily waterworks but I'll take it. We are just getting by. I Lost the house and we are living in my friend's basement, out of boxes, but it could be worse. Hope you are well and look forward to visiting you on your site too!

  2. Very well written. Enjoyed reading it and look forward to more.

  3. I am devastated to hear that. But I knew something very bad must be ensuing, thus your absence from the waves.

    You'll never believe it. I don't.

    But something good happened to me.

    Call me?

    Love you all,


  4. Please write and let me know what's going on.

    Love you and yours!