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The decline and the fall


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In a broader sense, I see this as the decline and fall of America. Years from now, we will be remembered as those who had it all and gave it all away.

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In a broader sense, I see this as the decline and fall of America. Years from now, we will be remembered as those who had it all and gave it all away.

+1

On a more broader scale, I would add that the West in general is committing cultural suicide. In 50 years, North America and Europe will be unrecognizable, if they exist at all.

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+1

On a more broader scale, I would add that the West in general is committing cultural suicide. In 50 years, North America and Europe will be unrecognizable, if they exist at all.

I'm not trying to be selfish, but I hope I'm not around when that moment comes. I can't believe that we haven't been shocked into some kind of awareness of this problem. Just like mortage/banking more recently and energy before that, the "denial" is so a few can get wealthy from the scheme while others are temporarily being "duped."

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I may be paranoid, but I'm convinced that this country is headed for a collapse somewhere in my lifetime. The greed and selfishness that has permeated our culture will finally get the best of us. Either we'll be overtaken by a Middle Eastern or Asian nation, or we'll see the current form of government overthrown and replaced by...um...something else, and we won't have the resources to do anything about it. Again, this may be paranoia, but I can't things getting any better if we stick to the status quo.

Not to put any pressure on the new guy, but if things don't get much better in the next Presidency, watch out.*

* - This isn't intended to be a dig at our next president. I'd say the same thing if the other guy won.

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If the world cannot look to us for responsible use of our mighty military, and if the world cannot look to us for a stable economic system, what good are we?
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The problem is the apathy of our population...I can count on two hands the number of people I know here who actually care about this economic crisis. Most don't even give it a passing thought because it hasn't affected them yet. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until things get really bad for people to wake up.

Edited by mustang84
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The public doesn't seem to notice except in the case where their own ox is being gored. I know several people, that are not relatives, that have seen their job disappear very recently. I'm laid-off from Wilmington assembly. I did work one week. two weeks ago attending a 'workshop' in the plant that dealt with panel fit for the Solstice hard-top. About 16 hours out of 48 with 'hands-on', the rest was theory and classroom-styled focus groups pertaining to panel-stamping variations. Conference calls with vendors and so forth rounded out the week.

I have 4 brothers, all younger'n me, all still employed. One brother, the precision grinder, is tooling pieces for windmills being used up and down the East Coast. Very busy even now. He wants a Solstice H/T in red. I guess to reciprocate, I'll have to buy a windmill. I'm planning to work for his outfit when I retire shortly.

Another brother is a foreman for 2 crews of masons. They're taking on anything that they can to keep his employer's crews busy. Pickings are getting slim, and going into the Winter, he states, likely one crew will be laid-off from hand-picking the lowest fellows on the totem pole from out of the two crews.

Brother #3 is fabricating motorized bracketry for solar-panels destined for the American Southwest. He's a welder. He states business is booked through next Summer and he's been working every other Saturday plus O.T. during the week. He seems confident. He just bought a new Silverado Z71 in September and we used that Monday and Tuesday in surf-fishing in Ship Bottom, NJ. Very nice truck. Uses it for work 'n play. We logged 22 mpg going point-to-point from home to the shore, 72 miles one way (his home) with one stop to get coffee and donuts at a Wawa on the NJ route 70/72 circle leading to Manahawkin, NJ. He's bullish on the future. Good for him.

My youngest bro', runs his own custom-tile and flooring business. He states that consumers are pulling way back. He got into this sideline, originally trained as a mason/bricklayer by our Father. Dad, as I'd mentioned once previously worked 35 years at/for U.S. Steel. An accomplished man is my Dad. In my opinion, a genius for planning and execution. He is the owner of the Masonry outfit that my brother more or less operates with oversight from him. Dad is still very active in the field. Kept the 5 of us in line until the concept of self-reliance became second-nature to us all, his Sons and charges.

So there is the thumbnail outline of my family. We all worked with our hands for the better part of our lives. We were all recently together on the aforementioned fishing trip to NJ. We shot the breeze between catching Stripers, Bluefish, Croaker and even a couple of Ling. Most of the conversation revolved around how esoteric that the American economy has become. Comments like: "These f*ckers only know how to make money (or lose money) with money"-alluding to traders working on Wall Street

Another comment: " It's all another motherf*cking Ponzi-scheme, like that c*cks*cking, motherf*cking, sh*t-sucking ENRON"-I'm paraphrasing, but things like this were actually discussed...

Mostly we were in agreement as to America having lost it's way in terms of self-reliance. The idea of American labor having to compete with anonymous/faceless Chinese men and women seems the height of absurdity as unemployment climbs here. We all agree that gainful employment needs to be found for the great mass of the Middle-Class as not every one of us can become Doctors, Lawyers and CEOs. The notion that we as working Americans can affect the shape of the world by doing with our hands runs deep in our family. At the end of the day, and many years hence, we can point to a house, a chimney, a fireplace a windmill, an array of solar-panels, a beautifully constructed tile floor and say: "I made that".

It gives Dad a reason to smile.

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'tooth: is your family adopting? This is what made North America great. People who take 'trades' in schools are looked down at today. Everyone wants to be a 'lawyer' or take 'business' (whatever the Hell that means). A nation that cannot build anything is doomed, IMO.

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'tooth: is your family adopting? This is what made North America great. People who take 'trades' in schools are looked down at today. Everyone wants to be a 'lawyer' or take 'business' (whatever the Hell that means). A nation that cannot build anything is doomed, IMO.

You can be made an honorary Brother, 'BIZ. Glad to have you aboard. Like the 6th Beatle you'll be. The hours (mostly) are long, and we never sneak breaks when Dad isn't looking. I'm the de-facto 'enforcer' of the clan. Send your resume' to... :CanadaEmoticon:

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Bravo Longtooth!

This simple truth seems to have largely faded from the American reality - much to our detriment.

There is honor and value in all work.

This.

Especially in services.... no matter what the field, people will ALWAYS need them.

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Another brother is a foreman for 2 crews of masons. They're taking on anything that they can to keep his employer's crews busy. Pickings are getting slim, and going into the Winter, he states, likely one crew will be laid-off from hand-picking the lowest fellows on the totem pole from out of the two crews.

my grandfather worked in a mill as a shift manager, he got tired of that and took up masonry. started his own masonry business and when my dad graduated highschool he becan a mason (started working for pop when he was 16) my dad just turned 50 last month and is still working as a mason but he isnt happy anymore anout what he does. he takes great pride in saying we built this and we did that just like you say LT but there is a difference in how he says it now than how he said it 10 yrs ago. he just recently took a $5 paycut because down here "cheaper" labor is plentiful. everything from mason, tile, even electrical and drywall is getting swallowed up. the thing that kills me though is now my dad is out there killing himself in the weather for the same money he was making back in the late 90's. the cheap labor isnt saving them money either. they screw up walls, and mess stuff up all the time. the company just has to bear it though because the other crews are undercutting his crews by $200K on the for the jobs. My dad built our house. he laid the foundation, framed it, roofed it. bricked it. we have a 20ft X 15ft rock wall with a fireplace in the great room and i can tell you the man knows his game... but everyone wants things cheap... you get what you pay for.

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You all know my personality...

If we're gonna burn this thing, then give me some liquor. some heavy metal and some kerosene. No challenge should ever be met by reluctance, so head first, guns blazing we go into the fire IMO. What happens, happens; at least we gave 'em hell in the process.

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Cletus: We've seen those conditions you have described. Another eye-opening fact is the use of undocumented illegal alien workers. Dad's never hired anyone but responsible legal citizens on his crews. The effect of the undocumented laborers presence in our region has been to undercut the prevailing wages in the areas where 'Illegals' are prevalent. Unions out of Philly and North Jersey have been vigilant in pushing them back mostly into the rural areas of Western PA. Enough about that though. Through the years it's been word-of-mouth via satisfied customers that has kept the masons busy. One brother-in-law is one of the largest HVAC contractors in Bucks County, PA. Another brother-in-law is a certified electrician. They all refer/recommend each other all of the time. Even they have seen a pronounced slowdown in business.

The work ethic is under assault even as it evolves. I've personally met youngsters that eagerly took to the heavy, dirty and dangerous aspects of brick-laying. Seeing them show up regularly, work diligently does my soul good. I've seen my Father stretch his personal resources in order to keep the majority of his workers fully-employed. Of the regular workers, all own Chevy, GMC, Ford or Dodge pick-up trucks. None of the guys (and one woman) think much of the Toyota full-sized p/u especially after having seen the 'bed-flex' video on YouTube. Good. Standing at a job-site last Winter it was gratifying to see one crew building granite 'bump-outs' on an immense and new single home, near twilight and 2 days before Christmas. It appeared as a scene from a Norman Rockwell-styled piece of Americana. There was a light spirit in the air as work proceeded to accelerate just prior to quitting time. The thought of a week off cheered many. Hammers and chisels sang, biting deep into granite as the cherry smoke rose from the recently finished chimney into he deepening indigo of the winter sky. You don't get this sitting indoors selling imported Flat Screens nor from plotting arbitrage in a windowless cube in a nondescript and airless office. Americans, I think, hunger for real work. Substance.

Or at least I would hope.

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Camino: The real truth is in the living of it. Great memories can be retrieved at will. I rerun the good times spent with my wife of 26 years as often as I dare. She was in my life for many gatherings and through thick and thin as it were.

Family forms the foundation of our lives. From lessons learned in our past, with familial support, we can chart the course of our future.

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Yes.

Doesn't it then follow that an extrapolation of the familial defines a national identity?

Yes. Consider how many there are among us that seem rudderless and living in broken homes. Or not knowing Mother or Father perhaps, estranged from one or both, brothers and sisters.

Good grief. An identity crisis.

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'tooth: is your family adopting? This is what made North America great. People who take 'trades' in schools are looked down at today. Everyone wants to be a 'lawyer' or take 'business' (whatever the Hell that means). A nation that cannot build anything is doomed, IMO.

Well, this is the industry that I work day-in and day-out, and I can tell you it's not the fault of teachers but the fault of society and guidance departments and top-level school administration that is hell-bent on ALL students going to college and getting a degree. Many schools are pushing academic classes over skilled trades & vocational/business classes that can lead to a viable living after high school. If you are a student today that has no interest in going to college, you will likely be crucified - and it starts with parents, guidance counselors, and school administrators. I teach both Business Education and Career & Technical Education courses and we're mostly given the bottom-of-the-barrel students while guidance places upper-level students in AP and honors courses only (I had one student that wanted to be in my School-to-Work <Cooperative Education> program this year and because she's headed for an ivy league school, guidance REFUSED to enroll her!). Not to mention that when budgets are cut, it's the elective courses <vocational programs> that are targeted first. NJ school districts are great for saying that students interested in vocational programs can attend county vocational and technical schools, but then don't want to pay those schools the money for sending those students to them or those schools have no room available (in my county there is a waiting list AND an interview process to get into one of the two the vo-tech schools). We had a welding class that was cut after the teacher retired 2 years ago - and the main reasons were the cost-savings of both buying materials/supplies and hiring a new qualified welding teacher. I'm sure once the auto shop and wodd shop teachers retire in the near future, those programs will be on the chopping block (no one needs to learn auto mechanics anymore, do they? :rolleyes: ). And as teachers from the business department have retired, no replacements were hired (I've been personally told that of the three Co-op Ed programs, mine can be wiped out and the other two programs can carry on until the two older coordinators retire soon <I'm in my early 30s while the other two are in their 50s). It's sad to see schools pushing kids towards college, especially when there's (1) no desire in some students to want to go to college, and (2) no financial access for students to go, in turn creating more debt owed by students that have no means to pay it back. I'm a member of two state organizations that constantly fight the state department of education to keep our porgrams alive, but it's only time until those that care about what I teach are replaced with those that could care less. :scratchchin:

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