For the last forty years, American jobs have been slowly, but surely shipped overseas. All the talk in the media about “jobs created” in the current month refers mostly to minimum wage jobs. While this is great for the entry-level worker, these jobs do not pay enough to attract quality, seasoned employees–although many have had to take this level of employment in order to survive, often working two or three of these jobs.
The type of jobs that built America were manufacturing jobs. The factories made paper, auto parts, furniture, appliances, food products and others. These jobs gave our communities stability. They provided access to healthcare and pensions. They supported local banks and small business.
There was a time when “Made in America” meant a high quality product.
I grew up in a mill town where my Dad worked as an engineer. The mill supported every facet of the small town’s economic life. The jobs provided there allowed other businesses to thrive as well. When the mill started shutting down, the entire economic structure of the town began to fail. It is not a pretty story.
One would be hard pressed to find this type of decent paying manufacturing job in today’s market. The factories have been turned into loft apartments or are lying fallow from lack of use.
Most of the recent surveys have reported that jobs and job creation are uppermost in the average American’s minds. (At least for those who want to work and are not content being dependent on the government.) So who is going to bring these jobs back?
Not the large corporations and their fat cat CEOs, you can bet on that. They are doing well with the low payrolls they run in third world countries.
How about we do it ourselves?
We can bring back the Co-Operative. According to Business Dictionary. Com, a co-operative is “a firm owned, controlled and operated by a group of users for their own benefit. Each member contributes equity, capital and shares in the control of the firm on the basis of one member, one vote principal (and is not in proportion to his or her equity contribution.)”
As an example of the potential of the American entrepreneurial spirit, let’s say a thousand people live in a small town we will call “Littleton”. There was once a factory in Littleton that made blue jeans where most of the citizens worked. Each person feels that they can come up with $ 3,000.00, so 1,000 citizens band together, get legal advice and form the cooperative.
They produce a business plan to start a small manufacturing business. They plan to hire a certain amount of people at structured wages across the board, depending on experience. They locate a suitable piece of real estate to set up shop.
A CEO would be selected, taking into account that a reasonable salary would be paid. (It would not be six figures, nor include perks, stock options etc.)
The co-op would purchase necessary machinery and materials to begin. It would have a settled budget that could not be broken.
They create a mission statement to work together to make the best blue jeans at a reasonable price. They agree to give back to the community. Every member signs the agreement. At the end of the fiscal year, profits will be divided equally between the members.
Littleton would have income to its citizens, so other businesses, such as restaurants, department stores, grocery stores, etc. could have patrons. Littleton would flourish, as would the community at large.
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?
Our economic structure is like a game of dominos. It rises and falls on the flow of money going from one hand to another.
I fully realize that I am leaving out the problems that can arise when dealing with a large group. I know the municipality would have to cooperate with the cooperative in order to make it a viable, legal business. However, as a whole, a community could push something like this through.
When it comes to pulling up all of your roots and leaving a dying town, or working together for the betterment of all, I believe we have this strength within us.
There will always be naysayers, but it can and will work.
What if “We the People” called upon someone who had time, leisure and resources to mentor such projects across the USA? I imagine there are many people who would qualify to do this kind of work.
To sum up, if we are to succeed and keep our American dream alive, we will have to use our own heads, hearts, and hands to get the job done.
We cannot wait for someone to do it. We have to lose our apathy and become proactive, not reactive.
We have to take charge of our own lives and communities. We must fight for the future of our children. We can make it happen in spite of our leadership. We have to assume that we have no allies in our elected officials, from the dogcatcher on up.
We have to look at our neighbor and fight together for our way of life.
We all have specific talents. We must put aside our petty differences and remember who we are.
We are Americans, heirs of the greatest generation.
Shall we make them proud?