My parents have always been workers. My Father was a printer by profession. He learned his trade in England. After 3 years of social garbage in England after World War II, my Dad decided to move away from England. He chose Canada to begin with. We had my Mom's Sister in Canada to stay with while Dad found an appropriate job. He was a skilled worker. He served an apprenticeship and was a good journeyman printer in the 50s. Union Printers always had a job waiting for them where ever they went.
His search led us in 1948 to the United States of America. At the time, unions were at the height of their power. A printing plant in Dayton, Ohio, McCalls, was printing a large number of magazines. Dad found a home in Dayton, Ohio. He worked for McCalls off and on for most of his life. Eventually the Unions got too greedy, the company was sold to people ignorant of how to run it, and the whole thing came crashing down in the 60s. I think a non-union plant in Illinois took over most of the business. Not even sure what exactly happened. Dad always had a job in printing. Even after McCalls went down, there was always a demand in his lifetime for printers.
So for most of my life, I have been in Dayton, Ohio. Dad was always restless, always looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow, and every five years or so, we moved. I have been to California twice to live. Came right back to Dayton within a year.
Have even went back to England a couple of times. The strange thing is, the second time around, I realized I really have adopted the United States as my country.
When I was 19, I joined the US Air Force. After a couple of years, I got my naturalization papers and became a full citizen of this country. After service, I got an apprenticeship in my Dad's printing profession. I was lucky. Just as I got out of my apprenticeship, the entire printing revolution happened. In return for all of our jurisdiction over the work at the newspaper, we were given life time jobs in a trust agreement out side of all contracts. As long as I stayed at the news, I had a job for life without fear of layoff. I took that job and ran with it for my 40 years at the paper.
The printing revolution started small in the 70s. This is the beginning of what became the destruction of an entire trade. It wasn't alone. Engravers, Stereotypers, Mail-room, Press room, all experienced automation that dumbed down the trades and reduced them to almost common wages over 30 years.
Graphic Artists became the new printers. These were college educated people. Yet they were non-union and that meant they worked for about 2/3rds of the salaries of union folk. Plus they had no rights and no security in their jobs. This lack of job security applies to this day. After billions of dollars of research, the printing trade was practically dead. But we were taken care of while this revolution took place.
In the middle 80s, somehow, the PCs took over. Macs became the computer tool of choice in cold type production of the newspapers. Something else interesting occurred in that time. The newspapers that sponsored all of this billions of dollars of research to do away with people making decent wages found themselves in competition with the Internet. They had literally cut their own noses off to spite their faces. Originally it took a lot of expensive equipment to run a newspaper.
I re-learned the tools of my trade at least 6 times in that trip to modern day printing. I literally became a semi-literate graphic artist using tools like illustrator, photoshop, indesign, and even small newspaper production like Quark Xpress 3.3. Some of our advertisers were into 4 color ad production and needed us to put it together for them. Quark Xpress was the best way to do it. Only a few of us were competent in those specialized tools. We became a slight elite class within the composing area known as Superusers. We actually got a few dollars more for doing it. Most of the Superusers were extremely good typists. I still type 75 words or more a minute without thinking about it.
I mention these facts because it is a forerunner of a revolution in industry. All industry world wide depends on trades. This was so even in the 1920s. The end of this era began then with the invention of the assembly line. Literally entire trades were destroyed by the assembly line. So from the 20s to the 30s, some men actually learned in apprenticeships 2 or more trades, just to make a living. I believe this destruction of trades was one of the biggest reasons that the Depression occurred in the 30s. Literally a lot of people lost their ability to make a decent living because of trades dying in that time.
It has gotten worse. In today's world, we see massive layoffs of people. The jobs go to slave labor countries where life is cheap. Literally life is expendable in severely over populated nations like China and India. Industrial revolutions have never occurred there. People can be made to work for 60 hours a week at regular wages. The currency differential makes those wages very cheap. Corporations loved it. All of a sudden they didn't have to contend with Union rights or Union wages. They have moved to these countries in groves. They are all greedy little souls and have no conscience about moving the factories to cheap labor overseas.
Our wonderful people in Washington, D.C. seem to have supported this move in their rush to get rid of decent working conditions here. They failed to realize the results of this move. For one thing, they no longer were subject to our tax structure. That didn't seem to occur to our representatives in Congress. These same corporations didn't realize that they may get “naturalized” by the countries they have moved to. That in common language means the governments of these countries will steal the factories and leave them with no compensation for their trouble. Britain experienced this big time after World War II. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, or at least that is what I have been told. A lot of those factories stolen died because they could not repair the machines. Parts were controlled by Great Britain.
The problem is that our entire economy is dependent on living wages of the common people. All the government is supported by taxes from this huge middle income group of people. You have a group of rich people in this country. They don't exactly have a track record of being too bright. They have through non-profit organizations supported many causes. Some of those causes have later proven to be quite dirty. Such as the corporations that supported Hitler prior to World War II. I am sure that track record is probably even public knowledge. Such as the Chili group that supported the take over of Chili from a democratic to a dictatorship in later times. A lot of this was financed by non-profit organizations.
As our tax structure is based on workers, not corporations, I suggest we need to support this group of people. If your food supply, and I mean money supply, is dependent on people earning a living, then perhaps we need to guarantee that people have a means to make a living.
We need to put the trade unions back in business. Not necessarily the same trades as before. We need to put the apprenticeship programs back together. Mostly in today's economy, the successful trades are all in service-related industries. Automobile repair has went from a simple backyard operation to a specialized trade. Body work is a trade. Drain Cleaning is a trade. Plumbing and Electrical are trades. Construction of houses such as carpentry is a trade.(though unless people have money, who can afford houses?) Air Conditioning construction and repair is a trade. All of it means you get your hands dirty.
All of the above pay better than college related jobs in today's economic world. And they do not leave you 20-30 thousand dollars in debt.
The problem as I see it is all chiefs and no indians. Everyone wants to be a highly paid executive. No one wants to do the grind work of everyday living. The motivation is wages. The CEO makes more for doing absolutely nothing than most wage earners see in a lifetime. So getting into college, earning a degree, has become on the same level as a High School Education was in the thirties. Most people back then had a grade school education. Then they served an apprenticeship if they were lucky and got a job that paid a decent wage.
We have to change all that. We have to change the work place. At most optimistic numbers, 15% of a workforce can get by with doing nothing and earning a good living. We are probably more in the neighborhood of 30-35% attempting this education route to not working in the present day world. How many lawyers are there out there right now? How many people want to make $800 to look up a title search and then make the people insure against you making a mistake on the 15 minutes worth of work assigned to a legal secretary in the office? There are hundreds of examples just like that.
How about the Doctors that make rounds in a hospital and then charge hundreds for glancing at a chart?
These are all “educated” people. The attitude is we owe them big money for them spending 8 to 12 years to learn their profession. Well the 85/15 rule is the balancing factor. Once you get past that number an adjustment historically has been made to reduce the number of people that do not work and want you to pay exorbitant amounts of money for simple tasks.
The trades are guilty of this as well. But usually you get what you pay for with a trade. How much is a 19% increase in your grocery business worth to you? That is exactly what happened when a local grocery started advertising in Zones. Zones are a once a week newspaper at drastically reduced rates per column inch. He placed a full page ad in every week in one local area of the city. The 19% number came from him not me. No advertising agency was involved. It was all local labor from printers that did the work. Used to cost us about a shift of work to put it together for him each week. We determined what it looked like. The profits spoke for itself.
Or how about a local politician advertising in one of our Zones. He had never been elected. Yet when he advertised with us for 4 weeks he came within 60 votes of overturning the local city council running against him. The printer that layed it out and made it work for him was me. The momentum got him on the council at the very next election. We made him well known.
We have to get back to basics. We have to fire our school administrators and teachers. They teach our children to be minimum wage workers at best. Our colleges don't do the job. They are in it to make us rounded individuals not wage earners. That is why all the cultural classes. That is why advanced English and History. But does it teach you to earn a living? I don't blame a kid for wanting to quit High School. It is a monumental waste of time in its present form. It is necessary. But it is still a huge waste.
And it is supported by industry . . . There requirements for a job are often a college education.
Well wake up. The industry I speak of left the country. Our educated class in the congress let it happen. Most have never fixed a faucet, plumbed a toilet, changed an electric wall socket, repaired a lawn mower, or nursed a car to a repair shop by filling the radiator with water. Most of them don't even know what I am talking about. Maybe it is time to do away with all the fancy theories of economics and go back to basics. Maybe we need to teach our kids survival. I was growing up, I learned more in the Boy Scouts than I ever did in school. That is tragic. We need to get back to teaching our kids what they need to know to survive.
I was lucky. I was under the shelter of a Craft Union. Those men in charge of that craft knew how to negotiate far better than any one individual could do. I made better than average wages most of my life because of that Union job. They protected us against unfair working conditions most of the time. Labor Unions, in my experience, don't protect people much. They are all about collecting dues. Not about providing services. They give the professional unions a bad name. We need to change that.
My brother went to college and got a degree in biology. He made half what I made most of his life. He stayed with a college job. There is a lesson there . . .