Operation Stupidity in the State of Tennessee

Walter  L. Bell, Ph.D.

You would think that Senator Corker and  Governor Haslam of Tennessee would take pride in a well trained workforce in their state, but they chose to threaten workers if they chose to form a union at the new Volkswagen Plant in their state.  The German meaning of Volkswagen is peoples wagon  or folks wagon.  It was designed to be cheap enough to be available to the average worker in Germany.  Although the design was basically approved prior to World War II, it did not come into production until 1946 after the war.  The Germans have always valued engineering with highly qualified workers.  In fact a now deceased German friend, who worked on the German missile program during World War II,  told me that the German War machines were so highly engineered that if one broke down on the battlefield that they could not be fixed by the average German soldier.  By contrast, the war machines built by the Allied Forces in World War II were considered sloppy by German Standards, but the US, Russian and other European Allies could repair them in the field and  use parts from other machines that had been damaged but could be placed back in service by the American soldiers, who in civilian life had been rebuilding old cars using parts from junked cars.  When the Humvee was introduced to replace the Jeep, it did not have any armor plating for the IED introduced by Iraq’s insurgent troops, so the US troops without authorization from the US Army did it themselves until the Defense Department finally got around to requiring manufacturers to include armor plate these vehicles.

If Senator Corker and Governor Haslam of  Tennessee had the workers interests, instead of their own political interests in mind, they would not have tried to intimidate the workers at the new Volkswagen plant.  A well trained workforce, who the management of the plant is willing include in the running of the plant, should be a desired outcome by management in any company.  However, the Southern States have pursued discriminatory policies in both voting and worker rights since President Lyndon Johnson signed  into law his Great Society Legislation, in 1964 and 1968, which included laws for civil rights for all citizens regardless of race.  It is no secret that workers at the Volkswagen plant would include racial diversity with bargaining rights and employee representation.  The German government has pursued these rights and has encouraged technical training because they understand that a well trained workforce can compete with any workforce in the world, and are also the most loyal workers in the world because they are not discriminated  against because of  race or ethnic origins.

My origins and sympathies are with the South, but when it comes to racial and ethnic discrimination, labor unions, voting restrictions, and other rights of the citizens of the United States in any region, I have no patience with any part of the United States which denies equal rights of its citizens to work, to organize, and to prosper.  This is the reason the United States has become a magnet for other citizens of foreign countries who discriminate against the rights of their own citizens.  The United States entered into a new era when the Supreme Court of the United States signed the Citizens United law which made a corporation a person. I would not be surprised if ALEC is behind this with its billionaire backers, such as the Koch Brothers.  ALEC has been against labor unions, voting rights, and many other measures which guarantee equal rights of all our citizens.

If the State of  Tennessee and the rest of the Southern States would still like to join the Union, known as the United States of America, we would welcome them as long as all their citizens are granted the freedom and dignity enjoyed by the more enlightened states.  The Supreme Court Justices who claim that voting rights are not mentioned in the Constitution should read it again because neither are atomic bombs, nuclear accelerators, and many other scientific  and technical devices such as modern operating rooms, computers  in classrooms and homes, and also televisions.  So for a state such as Tennessee and many other states north and south, east and west, to prevent and threaten their citizens from voting or participating and bargaining for salary, working conditions, and pay is backward and discriminatory.

 

 

The Confiscation of Pensions by State and Local Governments

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
If you have been reading the press and watching the news lately, you may have noticed that cities like Detroit and Chicago and states like Oregon have looked to use pensions as a means of balancing budgets. Pensions were set up so that workers of all kinds could invest part of their salaries in a pension which was controlled by law with fiduciary experts who were supposed manage those pensions, with strict guidelines governing the actions of the managers who could be sentenced to prison terms for fraud and other misdeeds. One of the states leading the move to provide pensions for public workers was Wisconsin, until Scott Walker became the Governor, and decided to use those monies to balance the state budget. Scott Walker is a member of ALEC, a secretive organization made up of Corporations, Lawyers, Legislators, millionaires, billionaires, and mostly Republican Senators and Representatives, at both the State and National levels.

Cities like Chicago and Detroit have confiscated pension funds through bankruptcy and other means to build sports arenas. A federal judge ruled that in the instance of bankruptcy, that a city such as Detroit could confiscate pension funds to pay for the misdeeds of organizations such as ALEC, city managers, corporations who set up operations offshore to escape federal regulations and taxes, and use pension monies to pay for the misdeeds of others. In short, it appears that retirees, and union workers have no rights to the money that was set up for their retirement.

Several administrations, starting with President Reagan and including Presidents Bush, President Clinton and President Obama have turned a blind eye to the plight of union workers except when looking for donations for campaign funds. We have Raume Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and also the former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools who have denounced Public Schools in favor of Charter Schools where teachers must work ten hour days and are not allowed to join unions. Supposedly the teacher’s unions protected inept teachers from being fired, so the way to fix the problem was to create Charter Schools and work to eliminate unions including teachers’ unions and industrial unions as well. In addition, since our industrial complex has been sent offshore where workers are paid so little that they cannot feed their families, that leaves the few existing unions pension funds to be plundered by persons like Walker and Emanuel in order to build sports complexes in both Chicago and Detroit as well as in other cities.

In order for the Republican Party to gain traction they have lost in recent elections, they have refused to raise the minimum wage, and have allowed corporations to fire workers who try to join unions. One of the most prominent of these is Walmart, which until recently had been a member of ALEC, until it withdrew its membership because it feared more adverse publicity because it sells more guns than any other corporation. The latest Republican fiasco is to eliminate unemployment for workers who have been unemployed for more than a year. This will leave people who have not been able to get jobs in the United States because those jobs have been shipped offshore. Like WallmartMcSrooge, we have RepublicanMcSrooge, a party which has abandoned the Middle Class workers in the United States.

Detroit Michigan–The Demise Of A Great Industrial City

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I have never visited Detroit, but, after viewing Anthony Bourdain’s account of the city, I was saddened that American Companies had abandoned this city in order to find cheap labor in other parts of the world. This city was responsible for manufacturing our war machines when the Allied Forces were on the brink of collapse during World War II. It would have been unpatriotic and dishonorable to have abandoned this city at that time because the workforce was not only one of the most highly skilled in the United States, but that workforce was highly paid, unionized, and had pensions to support them when they retired. Now that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, the promises of retirement with dignity has become a source for bailing out years of mismanagement of the city and the lack of patriotism by the companies for relocating the operations where slave labor and sweatshop conditions abound.

During several administrations, both Republican and Democratic, the nation entered into NAFTA, WTO, GATT, IMF, FTAA, MAI alliances with countries all over the world to accomplish two things: 1) Allow corporations to avoid taxation in the United States, and 2) provide corporations with the world’s cheapest labor so that these same corporations could then import those goods back into the United States duty free. President Clinton was one of the most ardent supporters of NAFTA and the other list of Treaties and the demise of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which separated Banking and Investing institutions that had led to the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In 2008 we entered a period of meltdown with the combined Bank/Investment debacle where we had Banks and Insurance Companies such as AIG which were too big to allow to fail. To make matters worse, when TARP monies were transferred from the Treasury to the Banking/Investment firms, huge bonuses were awarded to the same executives who gambled away the monies entrusted to them in the stock market and in derivatives, a new form of gambling in the stock market. Even our Congress was involved by using insider information to invest in the stock market which could get a private citizen sent to prison. Congress passed a law to prevent the use of insider information to make them wealthy, but I have read that the law has been quietly rescinded.

The move to use monies from pension funds to bail out state and municipal treasuries continues. The Governor of Oregon has lowered the States’ commitment for the funding of pensions in order to use the money to balance the budget. We have individuals in highly paid positions who used outside sources of money to pad their pensions, such as the former Athletic Director of the University of Oregon, which has impacted the State of Oregon Budget. The Governor and his buddies in the Legislature passed this resolution, that has now been challenged and referred to the State Supreme Court.

In almost every instance, it has been the lack of appreciation for highly paid, skilled, and union workers which has led to the demise of our industries in the United States. Even within the United States, the move to avoid union labor has been to move industries from highly unionized states to the South where there are no unions. Most of the foreign car companies who manufacture cars in the United States are located in the South. Boeing, which has its home office in Seattle, when building the Dreamliner had to call in its contracts for parts which were scattered all over the world, because they had no quality control over those parts. This problem led to cost overruns because of the lack of quality control, so they had to use their union labor in Seattle, who were highly skilled and also highly paid to build the Dreamliner. It seems to have escaped their attention that in the long run, highly skilled and highly paid workers, are worth more than unskilled workers, because they are planning to relocate some of the manufacturing to non-union workers in North Carolina where they had poor quality control along with unqualified foreign contracts in the early stages of manufacturing the Dreamliner.

Finally, we need stringent laws to protect the pensions of those retired workers who spent the life in industry and other occupations. We need to have workers who are skilled and loyal, and who can look forward to good pay. Corporations like Walmart do not allow their workers to join unions, but yet Waltmart has asked their own workers to give some of their money for the support of their own employees who cannot make a living wage. Walmart, Inc. needs to be renamed WALSCROOGE, INC. WE need a new form of patriotism and commitment by the National, State, and Local governments to provide for the education and support of workers both union and non-union, so that the ordinary citizens can have a chance at the American Dream where we all succeed together through shared commitment and sacrifice.

USELESS HEARINGS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

By Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

One of the most costly and time consuming practices in the House of Representatives are hearings held by some disgruntled member of the House into some real or imaginary abuse by the other party. Darrell Issa of California has wasted tax our money in fighting every piece of legislation passed by the Democratic Party when they were in the majority during the first two years of President Obama, when the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, also so known as ObamaCare.

If the Speaker of the House had any control over his Republican Members, he would appoint a hearing committee to look into members such as Issa to either do something positive to add to the overall good of this nation and or resign as the head of this committee. Issa made his fortune by attaching anti-theft devices to cars in California, and it appears that this fortune addled his brain so that it is totally dysfunctional. He is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which is supposed to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. It is unfortunate that he is unable to recognize his own waste, fraud and abuse in his own hearings where he abuses persons who do not agree with his point of view.

The Affordable Care Act and Its Website

The amount of news the press and all the members of our government have been giving to the website for signing up for health care is amazing considering that we have powerful computer systems and very adept programers, who, when called upon, can do amazing work. For example whenever a new computer system or an update to computer program is needed both Apple Computer and Microsoft can hire the talent needed to get a system running without much problem. I am certain that if Apple and Microsoft had been asked they could have been successful in building an interactive page in which people could sign up for a health care program of their choice. WordPress.org is an example of an organization which brings out updates of the program which enables me to type this post without giving much thought to whether or not my readers will have problems with signing on and reading the post. This version I am using now is Version 3.7 which I downloaded yesterday. It will work on any computer system as far as I know. I use it on three different Apple Power PC models dating from the year 2000 to 2009, and a 2012 Mac Mini which uses an Intel Processor.

The expectation that Kathleen Sebelius, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, should be fired because the website for signing up for Health Care is not working properly is stupid and demeaning. I have worked with computers for years, but when I set up this website I had difficulties for about two years. Most of the problem
was my own inexperience with websites. I called Bluehost techincal staff numerous
times for help. I simply did not follow directions because I either forgot or I did not know they were important. My primary problem was not disabling the plugins which allow this blog to function as I want it to function so it would crash and I would have to go looking for my posts on the internet. I would then have to reformat each post so that it would be visible to my readers. I am finding that I still have many things to learn, but at present I take one task at a time and work on it until things work as I expect them to work. I talked recently with a friend of mine, who is a very bright person, who told me that he had never become computer literate. He spent is career teaching and coaching as a High School teacher, but I would not condemn him because he never became computer literate. So let us give Kathleen Sebelius a break, because I am certain the the bugs in the program to sigh up for Health Care will be successful very soon.

If you are unable to sign up for The Affordable Care Act, you can always visit your local Social Security Office and ask for help. Also, you can go to a state exchange, it does not have to be your state, and sign in on that exchange. California has very good exchange and has signed up millions of people. So, if you are currently without health insurance so there is no need to panic. I learned this information by listening to a TV program and not from the House of Representative or Senate critics.

A Historical Innovation

New innovations are usually stimulated by a problem that is important to an industry. The development of the computer came about during the nineteenth century as the result of the need for accurate star charts and maps as England developed into a world power. It was relatively easy for a ship to navigate from north to south because north of the equator the North Star provide a reference point. South of the equator the ships could navigate using the Southern Cross. The early Vikings stayed relatively close to shore so they were able to explore much of the known world including China where Viking artifacts have been found. The Vikings also explored the coastline of North America and possibly South America. When ships started to explore by sailing east to west they could easily get lost because the star and planetary charts were not dependable. Great Britain responded by creating a governmental entity called the Board of Longitude in 1714 which existed until 1828. A loss of several ships a few years before 1714 was the primary reason for the creation of a Board of Longitude.

About 1819, three elite graduates of the University of Cambridge were hired to work on charts and maps which required tedious calculations by hand. John Hershel, George Peabody, and Charles Babbage were hired to do this work but found it so tedious that they hired a mathematical savant whose primary talent was to do mathematical calculations in his head. Babbage was so vexed by the monotony of the work that he exclaimed, “It is too bad we do not have a machine to do the calculations for us.” He started on a lifelong quest to develop a mechanical computer to do such calculations.

He was advised by his friends to write up the idea and let others work out the details.
He was determined to proceed on his own and set up a workshop where he hired skilled machinists to develop a mechanical computer. His first machine was Difference No.1, followed by Difference No.2, which to my knowledge was never actually built, and finally the Analytical Engine which was completed by his son after Babbage died.

The following are some of the outcomes of Babbage’s efforts to build a mechanical computer:
1. Machine tools with fine tolerances because if multiplications and additions were to be done by mechanical means the gears had to be machined to fine tolerances.
2. Mechanical drawings which previously did not exist were developed and are still used in all kinds of industries. Mechanical drawings are now done on computers using sophisticated programs.
3. Punch cards to carry out mechanical calculations with a high degree of accuracy. Metal punch cards were already in use by the weaving industry which Babbage found when he toured England and Europe to learn the latest techniques in manufacturing. A company now known as IBM used punch cards for the 1890 census in the United States.
4. Babbage hired very skilled workman to carry out his work. One was named Enfield who became wealthy because he introduced spiral grooves in rifles and other munitions. The Enfield rifle was famed for its accuracy because it spun the bullet while in the barrel of the gun and greatly increased its accuracy. I recently learned that the Enfield rifle was used by the Confederate Army during the seige of Vicksburg. When the Southern soldiers surrendered to Grant’s Army they stacked their rifles as they left Vicksburg. Among those rifles were the newest Enfield rifles which the Northern Armies had never seen. Grant was happy to use these for the first time because they were breech loaded, more accurate, and safer than tamping black powder and lead bullets down a barrel.
5. Mechanical computers were still used in university labs during World War II.
6. The first semi-electronic computers used old style radio tubes to power the computers, but they were slow, generated great amounts of heat, and needed a great amount space.
7. The addition of a video screen such as I am now using to type this post was used by Xerox in their Palo Alto research Laboratory. Steve Jobs visited this laboratory and incorporated it into his first computer. He also visited the University of California who were using a computer language developed jointly with ATT&T called Unix. He adopted the Unix system which put it at odds with MS-DOS computers used by Microsoft which became the dominant computer system.
8. When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple he started his own computer company called NEXT which Apple purchased when Jobs was rehired as CEO of Apple. The NEXT computer used Unix as its operating system with one difference–it used Intel processors instead of the computer Power PC processors developed by IBM, Motorola, and Apple. When IBM failed to provide Apple with the most advanced computer processors, because it sold most of them to Sony and Microsoft, Jobs stopped using the Power PC processors and purchased Intel’s processors and ported over the Unix operating system to the computers using Intel chips. By doing this innovative switch, he was able to run both Apples’ operating system and MS DOS, the operating system used by Microsoft. A program called Parallels is a software program which allows both Apple software and Microsoft to operate on an Apple computer using Intel processors without rebooting the computer. I now have an Apple MacMini computer which has an Intel processor so I could use both Microsoft and Apple software on the same computer. At present, I still have four Power PC Mac computers which are still very usable, but the software written for these computers is slowly becoming obsolete because the market for them is very small.
9. The process of innovation continued with printers and the internet which allowed paper copies and high speed communication which now spans every country. Internet speeds have increased dramatically from the early telephone to coaxial cable which I use. Typewriters have basically become extinct with the use of the word processor which is part of every computer program. Electronic mail in the form of emails and faxes have replaced the teletypes which were used for many years. Many newspapers and magazines are now available in digital forms so that the print media has given way to reporters who work for blogs such as the Huffington Post. Blogs such as this one allow me to communicate with anyone who cares to subscribe. The social media has allowed groups of people to communicate with one another. I have one in which many of my family members subscribe.
10. The last innovation I read about in the latest Popular Science Magazine describes the use of three dimensional printers which allow the production of human body parts which in the future can be made to order for a particular person since one size does not fit all. This is still in the development stage as far as I know.
11. I recently received a Kindle Paper White so I can now read digital books in low light, no light or bright sunlight. There are applications so that one can also read the books on the computer, but I like reading in bed and my Kindle is small enough, about 6 inches by 4 inches and can be read horizontally or vertically. Some of the novels are 99 cents, others like the Lewis and Clark expedition funded by my relative, President Thomas Jefferson, are more expensive.
12. I was once asked where I got my information for my blog. Most of it is out of my own head, but I also use the internet to look up information on the articles I write. For this post I referred back to the dissertation I wrote for my Ph.D. My dissertation was entitled Charles Babbage, Philosopher, Reformer, Inventor: A History of His Contributions to Science, by Walter Lyle Bell(1975). This took me about 4 years to complete because I had to get some of my materials from the British Museum. I had to wait almost 9 months to receive materials from Great Britain because the postal workers went on strike for the first time in British history. I also had to use interlibrary loans through the library at Oregon State University, which also took extra time. My Major Professor went to Denmark on a leave of absence while I was writing the first, second or third drafts, so that took extra time. Also, the dissertation is 393 pages so the length alone was time consuming.

Automobile Safety

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

Chrysler is now a private corporation whose directors thought they were immune from lawsuits caused by faulty parts for cars manufactured when the company was a public corporation. The directors of the new private company must have forgotten that they received money from the United States government to bail them out of bankruptcy. Their refusal to fix the gasoline tanks was a stupid decision because in assuming the Jeep brand, which has been the most successful in producing income for the previous public corporation and the current private corporation, it shot itself in the foot. Can you imagine the pain and suffering caused by the victims who survived a rear end collision and caused the gasoline to fill the entire passenger compartment which then ignited and either burned its victims alive or permanently scared the surviving passengers for life?

Any automobile which has a gasoline tank without a firewall between the gasoline tank and the passenger compartment can drench its passengers in a severe rear end collision. The answer to this problem is a fuel cell which is lined with a neoprene rubber lining which will not rupture under severe collisions. No race car is allowed on the track without an approved fuel cell. In looking at costs, a 22 gallon fuel cell costs about $850.00, from a company named:

RACER PARTS WHOLESALE
411 Dorman
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Monday through Friday, 8:00- 5:00 EST
Local: 317-639-0725
Toll-Free: 800-397-7815

info@racerpartswholesale.com

All the major car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and foreign manufacturers support the race car circuits and know about the safety requirements for race cars. So if you own a car without a closed off trunk such as a Jeep, I would put pressure on the car companies of the cars you own to prove that you have a safe gasoline tank in your car. Remember, we now have a Federal Consumer Safety Agency, thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren from the State of Massachusetts, who would have been appointed to head this agency except for the opposition of the Republican Party. She ran against Senator Scott Brown and won in the election when he chose to question her Cherokee Indian Heritage because she could not prove it on paper but had known it from the oral tradition handed down through her family. I have the same problem because the family tradition is that my grandmother was part Cherokee Indian. I have spent much time looking through the rolls of the Cherokee, Choctaw and other Indian rolls without success.

If you use the web browser, OmniWeb, you can find the names, address, and telephone numbers of all the Federal Agencies. Call or write to them and inquire about the safety standards for your model of automobile. Remember your safety and those of your family and friends are at stake. The life you save could be your own as well as people you do not even know–this is known as “paying forward.”

Adding High Speed Rail

Recent comments by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and other reporters at CNN have criticized the new rail installed in New Hampshire because the service was not high speed rail as found in Europe. This group of reporters did not do their job in finding out the limitations of high speed rail service over existing rail lines. For example, several years ago I was parked next to a man who was an engineer on a train for Union Pacific. He was telling me about the limitations of passenger train travel over existing rail lines and why passenger train speeds were limited over the lines. He told me that the rail lines were no longer short links of rail but were a mile and a half of a continuous rail. This was done to take out the clicks and clacks sound made by the trains rolling over short pieces of rail. The rails worked very well for freight trains but not for passenger trains. Freight trains travel at relatively low speeds compared to passenger trains. Passenger trains tend to derail at speeds above 50 to 60 miles per hour particularly during hot summer months because the rails expand and the passenger trains which are much lighter derail at high speeds.

High speed trains in France have their own dedicated rail lines which are enclosed by high secure fences so that no animal or person can get onto the rail line and cause the train to derail and cause an accident. So if we are to have High Speed train travel in the United States, we would have to build dedicated rail lines to be used only for Passenger trains. This might seem like a unneeded expense, but when one considers the expense and congestion at airports, I would opt for the comfort of high speed rail over air travel. I have read about the use of special airlock terminals where one could board a train and exit a train without it stopping. This sounds much like the old movies on Star Trek, but I am can imagine some very intelligent engineer designing such a system.

It continues to irritate me that the Republican Party is intent on not spending any money on our decrepit infrastructure for outdated bridges, freeways, schools, railroads, and so forth. The latest ploy to vote down the talking filibuster is and example of the lack of rational leadership by Republicans in the Senate. In any business one has to spend money in order to build and business and earn money. Investing in rebuilding our infrastructure would put millions of unemployed people to work and would be paid for by increased public benefits.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

The United States has long been a leader in new technologies, but recently other countries such as Germany have taken the lead in developing hydrogen as its primary source of fuel. In order to transport that fuel, it is building a special pipeline for nationwide distribution of hydrogen with refueling stations for its cars and trucks. Because hydrogen is the smallest molecule, it can penetrate the walls of steel pipelines and leak the hydrogen through the walls. High grade stainless steel with a special coating on the inside of the pipeline is necessary to prevent such leakage. The cost of building such pipelines is expensive, but the benefits of completely of burning hydrogen without polluting the atmosphere is worth the added expense. A simple means of producing hydrogen is through hydrolysis by passing an electric current through water with a positive and negative electrodes which produces hydrogen and oxygen. In reading the literature on the production of hydrogen by this method uses more energy than it produces. However, there are some ways to use wind energy, energy from the ocean and energy from hydroelectric dams to mitigate some of the costs. For example, during the night time periods more electricity is produced than is used at hydroelectric dams. The same is true with windmill farms and certainly the energy produced by wave action is wasted when unused. Presently it is possible to store electrical energy as mechanical energy in off peak hours. Fiber flywheels which rotate up to 60,000 rpm can store the electrical energy as mechanical energy during the nighttime and can then be used to produce electrical energy as needed. The flywheels rotate in an evacuated chamber with magnetic bearings so that their expected lifetime with minimal maintenance is greatly reduced. The flywheels are slowly being produced and used for many other applications such as storing energy used in braking on diesel locomotives and greatly decreasing the amount of energy used by the locomotives. Fiber flywheels are also used in race cars and can also be used in ordinary cars to store energy for use when needed.

Training and education are also needed to help the United States to become a world leader in the use and production of new technologies. In the October 2012 issue of Scientific American is an article on the complementary nature of corporations, technical schools and universities used by Germany to produce outstanding workers who are the highest paid employees in the world. This defies the logic of the US corporations who set up factories in other countries in order to produce products which cost very little because the workers are paid sweat shop wages and forced to work long hours without health care benefits or retirement benefits. Our US corporations and billionaires do everything to denigrate labor unions which were once responsible for great worker benefits and longevity of the workforce in our US based industries.

There is now a move toward INSOURCING, where our companies are returned to the United States. There are several reasons for this reversal, such as increases in the wages paid to foreign workers, quality control of parts and design, costs of shipping the materials to a foreign country and then shipping the finished products back to the U.S., language barriers, and many other problems in manufacturing at a distance. Boeing is a prime example of a company that finally had to bring all of the manufacturing back to Seattle, Washington when they were building the newest passenger jet, the Dreamliner. This jet is built of carbon fibers which are much stronger that steel or aluminum. It was necessary to build a special loom for weaving the fabric into the desired shape because of the extremely small diameter of the carbon fiber strands. Before the manufacture of the Dreamliner was moved back to Seattle, Boeing was plagued by cost overruns due to shoddy parts manufactured in many parts of the world. The American workers are well trained and very capable of overcoming design problems. I used to work as a consultant to a German engineer who worked on the German Rocket program in World War II. He was impressed with the ability of American workers to repair their own cars, homes, and almost anything that either needed repair or a new design for a product. In Germany in the 1980’s one had to hire a professional to do any kind or repair. Because our high schools no longer have shop classes, we have lost part of that level of skill. If a person wants to work as a skilled worker in a specialized trade, it is necessary to pay either to attend a Community College or a specialized school to repair automobiles, dishwashers, and all other kinds of equipment. These schools cost far more than the shop classes in our High Schools. For further insight into the high level skills now required in Germany for their industries, read the October 2012 issue of Scientific American. Germany has the highest paid workers in the world due to their educational system, and yet is able to compete with other nations throughout the world in selling their products.

REBUILDING THE UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

We have heard many speeches on rebuilding our infrastructure, but so far very little money has been appropriated to start such projects. If we go back to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we had President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was very wealthy, but also had great compassion for those who were poor and out of work. He fought a long fight to convince the Republican Party to work with him to rebuild old infrastructure, and to build new projects which would provide for the long term prosperity of not only the wealthy, but to build a prosperous middle class which would have a public safety net for health and retirement. He did not succeed in all of his attempts, but he did establish social security and provided funds to build hydroelectric dams which provided for electricity and water for irrigation. He expanded his efforts to large and small metropolitan areas in order to provide money to rebuild their infrastructure and to provide jobs. These efforts were very important because unemployment was approximately 25% nationwide, and included mostly men, since the number of women working outside the home was small compared to the present time. Also, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture during the 1930’s was well over 30%, and has gradually declined to under 3% in 2012.

As a young man, he was crippled by polio and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he was always careful to be photographed standing up in a special set of braces that allowed him to walk a few steps to a podium. He would not allow himself to be photographed in a wheelchair because he did not want pity or to be described as weak because of his illness. He brought the country back to prosperity from 1934 to 1937 only to have a second deep depression which was worst than the first. He did not despair but continued to develop new agencies such as the WPA, PWA, and the CCC’s. He put millions of unemployed workers to doing jobs which would develop the infrastructure across the nation. Many of these projects included hydroelectric dams which still provide electricity and water for irrigation, and included the Tennessee Valley Authority(TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA) which eventually spanned the length of the Columbia River, as well as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. All three of these great projects are still working today to bringing power and irrigation to large areas of this nation. He was fought at every turn by the Republicans, but he continued his work until his death just before the end of World War II, when his Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. He was elected as President four times and guided this nation through the great depression and through much of World War II. He also set up the CIA with the help of the British before World War II, so that he could use their services in espionage projects overseas, since the FBI operation is confined to the US. The automotive factories and other manufacturing facilities were converted to building all kinds of war machines from the Jeep, to trucks, to tanks, to landing crafts, to ships and to airplanes. Our industries provided the Allied nations including Russia and Great Britain with war machines and materiel to fight World War II. After the war, the Marshal Plan was put in place to rebuild the infrastructure over much of Europe and Asia. President Roosevelt used radio broadcasts throughout his Presidency to communicate with the nation. He had a great speaking voice, much like President Obama, and could convince people to support his policies in both peace and war. I grew up listening to his broadcasts, because my father always listened to the news on the radio when he came home from work. TV was first broadcast in New York in the late 1930’s, but did not expand around the nation until the 1950’s. Once the war was over, President Truman carried on President Roosevelt’s policies, and the equally progressive Republican President, President Dwight Eisenhower provided the funds to build the national highway interstate system so that we now have the United States connected by high speed freeways. The G.I.bill provided funds for the retraining of returning World War II veterans in colleges and trade schools. During the Korean War and the Vietnam War the G.I. bill was also provided for veterans. I used my G.I. bill to attend graduate school to earn a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. I was glad to see the G.I. Bill reinstated for the veterans of the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. These were the most cost effective programs ever instituted because they provided well educated individuals to work in building the infrastructure of the the U.S., and because they included both skilled workers and college graduates.

President Obama’s efforts to rebuild the infrastructure has been met with much the same opposition by the Republican Part that President Roosevelt experienced in the 1930’s, except the present Republican Party vow was to oppose his efforts in order make certain that President Obama was a one term President. In the meantime our infrastructure is between 60 and 80 years old. Our buildings such as schools are old and decrepit, our cities are showing signs of age and disrepair, our highways and bridges are unsafe and old, particularly in areas where salt is used to melt snow in the winter, our rail system needs to be updated to include high speed rail which is found in Europe, China and Japan. I would like to see high speed rail on the West Coast from the City of Tijuana , Mexico to Vancouver, B.C. Further, we need a high speed rail from Chicago to Seattle, and one from New Orleans to Los Angeles. I do not know enough about the needs of the East Coast to comment intelligently. I do know, that a high speed rail system would take the pressure off the airplane travel and offer an alternative to air travel which has become congested and increasingly expensive. Lastly I would like to see a Western White House built in one of the Western States possibly Nevada. We westerners get the impression that politics on the West Coast do not matter, but we do have a growing and influential population.