Life


I look at the changes that are occurring around me and I think of the time when I didn’t see change going on. It’s difficult to see your life in terms of change. Growing up in the Depression in North Carolina, I saw little change. Though my mother was bedridden for several years and my father was principal in three different schools, my life as a kid continued on in a seemingly unchanging pattern with kids in the same environment. Even when my father moved us to Washington, I continued in the same environment of school. The people were different—they thought my accent was funny—but we continued doing the things done in school.

Then, in college, I was moved out of my familiar school environment by joining the Navy as a member of an officer candidate program.The responsibility of being an officer was unlike anything I had ever known, and was probably the best experience I could have had in becoming an adult. I had a job with clearly defined responsibilities which no one else could assume.

My experience was like that of the veterans of WWII. The government paid for education, which made college available to all who could qualify. This, in turn, allowed all kinds of corporations to grow and production of consumer goods (cars, houses, kitchen appliances) to be manufactured. Millions of people had similar jobs required for a manufacturing society. Salaries and wages were more than that required for basic life requirement, more than was available when I was a child.

Well, that has changed. Capitalism has evolved, is producing more goods of all kinds and prices are being kept low by moving work to foreign countries and importing the finished product. Both of those changes mean that production and other work in this country have changed. There are fewer available jobs that pay well, particularly in states across the midwest where so many of the well paying (union) jobs were. In the Washington area well paying jobs are declining as government grants are becoming fewer. The Republican congress promises that they will continue the process of reducing federal expenditures. The Washington area has provided, since the Roosevelt era, many entry level jobs that offer the prospect of moving up the salary and responsibility ladder.

In the Washington D.C. area, for example, the ratio of single men to women is 1:4.1, in the close in Virginia and Maryland suburbs it is 1:6.1 in an area population above six million. What this often shows up in Arlington is 2 or 3 single men and 2 or 3 single women living in newly built apartments. While the Washington area has been growing in population and jobs until now, this is not true of much of the rest of the country.

For example, the Detroit area population declined from 1.8 million in the 1950 census to 717,000 in 2010, largely related to the decline of the auto industry. In 1950, the population of Chicago was 3,620,962 and in 2010 was 2,695,598. The figures in both of these cities show the results from a decline in a manufacturing economy. On both coasts, cities that are not dependent on manufacturing, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, show some growth. But, we do not see the overall growth of the mid century.

I certainly have no remedies for this problem, but neither do Donald Trump and his crowd!

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)