Every day we hear about the need for new job creation. The media tells us the public is screaming for the federal government to create more jobs. I suspect this is echoing back to what Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats did during the days of the New Deal: public parks, roads, dams. What really got us out of that long and woeful recession (when my parents taught me to turn out the lights when leaving the room and to not let the water run in the sink while brushing my teeth) was our entry into World War II.  We needed massive employment to turn out the war materials we and the Allies required to achieve victory over Germany and then Japan. Rosie the Riveter — remember her? She had her head wrapped in a very unstylish (but patriotic) bandanna, and was flexing her arm muscles. Women moved into the work force as their counterparts went off to battle.

Way before that war, Henry Ford had started us on the road to the mass production of automobiles. His initial efforts were followed by other automobile manufacturers:  General Motors, Chrysler, Studebaker, Nash and Packard come to mind. Those automobile plants converted to the production of war materials during World War II and were safe from enemy bombs. When the war ended, we were the only industrialized country that emerged unscathed with our industrial capabilities intact.

To develop and produce products that people desired and required in the post-war world, the United States was in a most enviable position. As a consequence, there were good paying jobs for everyone, and they did not require a college degree or a massive intellect. All you had to do was show up on time and do your job. This resulted in the migration of workers from southern agricultural areas to northern industrialized cities. Those laborers (blue collar workers) eventually came to be known as America’s new middle class. Prior to that time, middle classes were business owners and implied skills in economics and social graces.

As the rest of the western world recovered from World War II, and newer technologies brought us closer and closer together, both physically and “cyberly,” America’s post war advantage gradually disappeared. There was more competition to produce what the United States was manufacturing (automobiles, textiles, clothing) and other countries were developing new products on their own. That was certainly to be expected, humans being what they innately are.

America’s middle class (or blue collar class) earned higher and higher incomes; and additional perks such as health insurance resulted in American products that became more expensive to produce as compared with those produced in poorer, yet industrializing, countries. In the United States, with its free enterprise system, industries began to open up plants in less developed countries where production and labor costs were cheaper. Gradually those corporate decisions began to erode the lives of our recently emerged middle class. Workers to run machines were cheaper to hire in the developing world than here at home. However, as in the United States, those days won’t last forever in the emerging and developing new economic powers.

It is time to stop whining and get to work. What really needs to be done is to develop new sources of income that the rest of the world lacks. Our superior educational system, especially after high school, has the ability to develop people and their minds, and offer them intellectual incentives to reach out into new areas for exploration that will ultimately result in the development of new jobs. As always, those with a higher education will have the greatest opportunities to further those enterprises and profit from them: both for their industries and for themselves and their families.

What do we need today?

One of the greatest needs in today’s world is the development of new sources of energy. Human kind will never go back to the days when animals and the human back were the main sources of power. We are truly addicted to having things done for us. (That is likely one of the principal reasons that obesity is such a serious problem today.  But that is a topic for another time.) We need to determine ways to develop new power sources. Petroleum with all its desirable portability does have serious liabilities: the principal sources of petroleum are located in the east, there are concerns about its relationship to climate change, and there is increasing competition for oil between the emerging nations and the west. The new sources of energy we hear about today are wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and the familiar atomic technologies. New equipment will need to be developed and patented and then mass produced to support the different technologies that will provide these new energy resources. These will provide new job opportunities for those citizens who have deemed a higher education as being unnecessary for them. Of course patents do expire and production of those new products will eventually go the way of automobiles and textiles in the United States: off shore. Human beings, being what they innately are, will find new things that will need development.

Education is the real key, leading to triumph again; and off we shall go into a new future — a future that will again offer opportunities for employment. And so it goes — and so it will go, ad infinitum. One does feel badly for those who come of employment age when jobs are leaving the country. Better to be born when new jobs are being created. Does one have a choice? That’s a tough one.

There is another potential option down the road. Will there ever come a time when human beings live in one country: our earth – under one government, one that is democratic? Competition will always exist, humans being what they are; but we will be competing with each other rather than with other nations. 

Lots to think about!