I'm not sure what people in the manufacturing belt of the US are doing for work anymore.
Wall-Mart is becoming the big employer in many of these areas. So people sell each other
cheap crap that they don't need - that seems like a recipe for decline. I recently wathced
a PBS American Experience documentary on Las Vegas. It seems that in the 50's, 60's, 70's
and '80's people want to Vegas to escape. Now they're moving to Vegas to make a living.
Turns out it's one of the only places where people without a college degree can make a living
anymore. Used to be that a lot of those folks got manufacturing jobs. Vegas is now
the fastest growing city in the US - something's screwy.
In recent years it's the engineering jobs heading overseas. And all we hear is that engineers
will move 'higher up the food chain' apparently into marketing-type jobs. But as Mr. Schoonmaker
says, some of us like to design things. We like being engineers and we really don't care to
become marketeers. So soon we won't make anything in the US and we won't even design
much in the US. What will we do? We'll be lawyers, marketeers and burger flippers.
The threat of a global flu pandemic is revealing a flaw with this global "countries should do what
they can do cheapest" economy: Guess what? We don't make a lot of basic medical supplies
in the US anymore. Things like high-grade masks that would help filter out viruses, hypodermic
needles, even a lot of different types of medicines - they're not made here anymore. We're
dependent on overseas sources for many of these things and in many cases we're dependent on
exactly the countries that will likely be hit first by a flu pandemic - countries in Asia. What
happens if manufacturing is shut down in many of these countries for a month or two or
three because they've been hit hard by flu? "Mr. Smith, you need an injection of this life saving
drug, but.... I'm afraid we have no needles available; flu pandemic is hitting Asia pretty hard
right now... We're trying our best to disinfect used needles. Bleach seems to work pretty
well, but of course it's running low. Oh, and that lifesaving drug... well it's manufactured in
Asia and we're running a bit short..."