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Imagining the Unthinkable

Updated on October 13, 2012

Can you picture this?

Imagine that you are a factory worker, assembling - let's say - sensors for automobile production. And let's imagine also that you've worked at that same plant for more than thirty years. Further, let's suppose that last year you and other workers at the plant were told that the firm is selling that part of the business and moving its jobs to China.

Now imagine that workers from China are brought into your plant to learn various tasks at your work station and others like it in order to produce the very same products overseas, and imagine that all of YOU are told to train these workers who will replace you.

Then, let's imagine that the owner of a majority share of that plant's parent company is an asset management firm, and that a former executive of that ownership group holds millions of dollars in your plant's company stock and is also campaigning to be . . .

Now, you write the rest of this story as you imagine it.

The truth is, this tale isn't imaginary. It's happening. In fact, it's happening in my home town, a small mid-western city that's been descimated in the past four decades. A stationary store, a thrift shop for second-hand goods, an occasional bar and one movie theater (there used to be three) are about all that's left now, downtown.

Major insurance companies used to be home-based there; no more. Large manufacturing plants that made batteries and frames for hearses and home remedies are either gone or drastically scaled back. And now another business is leaving town - not because it wasn't successful, but because evidently it wasn't successful enough in the eyes of the company owners who reap its profits.

This is a big story, and it's being repeated all over the country. It's a tragic story too, one that didn't need to be told. There are other and better ways to make money and provide solid, dependable jobs for people right here in the U.S. But it's going to take lots of us banding together and choosing a better path.


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