Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Great Hero

One of the United States' best-known World War I heros was Edward "Eddie" Rickenbacker (1890-1973), a member of the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron. His feat of 26 confirmed victories in air-to-air combat was unsurpassed, earning him the nickname "Ace of Aces." Congress also awarded him the Medal of Honor for his leadership and bravery.We need more like him today.He was from Columbus, Ohio.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

And We're Doing Well...Is That Right?

How well are we doing? A temp agency calls in 20 workers to stack pallets to fill an order and that's considered "20 new jobs for the economy."
The next week or month the workers, who have no medical benefits and are building no wealth or pension credits, are let go.
A sign in the local hospital reads that no one can be refused basic medical emergency care if s/he has no money to pay. Maintenance check-ups and preventive dental care? Sorry.
Thousands of blue collar jobs are being eliminated...,there are NO JOBS like there were for people who want to work and need a medical plan and a wage large enough to make a mortgage payment and fuel and finance a reliable vehicle. Workers who had ascended to the middle class via good union jobs are now being evicted from their homes and having their five-year-old trucks repossessed due to the fact they are members of the Great Working Class of the US.
For a generation now the writing's been on the wall: get an education and/or specific trade-training or be condemned to poverty for a lifetime.
I was in the last class of an Indiana rural two-room school before it was abandoned and the farm kids bused to the town school. Then my high school class was the last before massive consolidation plans shuttered the place.
I was in Vietnam as a soldier when ground ops were yielding to an all-out air war.
And I retired as the union plant I worked in was starting to ship machines and contracts to Mexico for cheaper labor. Now the plant in which I toiled for several decades is a shell of it's glory days, awaiting word of permanent closing. My eldest daughter lives a mile from a Ford plant that will close permanently next year, throwing hundreds more out into the wonderful world of "get mine."
Changes, changes, and more changes.
How is this helping the worker who needs a competitive income? It doesn't. My children are all university grads with post-grad degrees and are surviving by working long, stressful hours in the professional medical fields.
They can't complain However, many millions for whatever reason are still in the Great American Working Class. Their status is usually volatile if not downright shaky. When they fall through the cracks , it's all bad.
I'm writing all this to point out that the economy is not really all that strong. It's complicated and the solution varies for each individual .... many certainly have the ability and /or guidance to "pull themselves up..." A good many can't find the door that's open, however, and grow weary and sick knocking on all the doors of rejection.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nostalgia for Pipes and Matches

In 1970 I was wearing army olive drab and enjoying life at Fort Ord ,California, near Monterey & Cannery Row. I ate that stuff up ...the local history of the old days on Cannery Row and the tide pools...and vowed to return as a civilian and live there.
Instead, I ended up in Indiana wearing polyester double knits and smoking a pipe like all those Watergate lawyers and seemed as though all American men were smoking tobacco pipes that year. I asked my wife tonight, after seeing a particularly touching photo of Jerry Ford smilingly smoking his pipe, how long it has been since she saw a man smoking a pipe outside of TCM movies....she said YEARS AND YEARS!! Same for me...and my pipes gather dust in my den, still on my desk, after 20 years of dormancy!!
I must be waiting for the second coming of John Mitchell to get inspired to go buy some tobacco and matches!
As far as Watergate goes, I still occasionally think of Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina...he was a rock.