Pensive Ponderings-Election 2016

I left my voting booth today feeling empty. I didn’t like the choices and I felt that the campaigns had been nothing more than mud slinging contests. I’m forty-seven years old and I’m not sure where my country is headed.

My family made it through the housing crash of 2006. Over the years, our small family owned manufacturing business struggled until finally in 2015  it was sold.  Health insurance reform didn’t help, neither did the many new taxes and fees that were implemented by my state. Over the years, each increase chipped away at the company’s profitability. Not in an obvious way, but in that way that bills have of creeping up on you. We’re paying what to the state for unemployment? Job Development fund? They doubled the fee to file your business tax return. Vehicle registration increased. Your liability insurance went up because they reclassified your work environment.   So did Worker’s Compensation Insurance.  And , oh yeah, worker’s comp is mandatory and if you don’t have it we’ll shut you down. Did you pay the property taxes? Need a line of credit to help tide you over, forget about it. The banks didn’t lend a dime after the housing crash. friendly.

Really, I’m not complaining or whining.  I don’t want you to think that. Just venting a bit.  The business was great to us. We had some really good years, but sustainability is made even harder when the government has its hand out.

I keep waiting for the recovery that economists keep talking about. Then, just last week a friend was laid off, along with many many others, after over twenty-five years on the job.

Business in America isn’t pretty.

I want America to be great again. No wait, not great, strong. Having the experience I did running a manufacturing company, even a small scale operation, filled me with tremendous satisfaction. Someone needs something, and you make it for them. Someone needs something that doesn’t exist, and you design and make it for them. You create a product out of thin air. You engage all your abilities, from creation all the way through planning and execution. And if there is a problem, you solve it. And if there is a better way of doing it you implement it.

And the best part, you learn as you go.

I like working with my hands, but I also like trying out different systems. Paper flow managment. Kinda neat. We were never able to go paperless in my work environment.  In the shipping and packing department, I would lay out the most efficient way to pack the product. You would be surprised at how different people try to tackle a job. In some cases employees would be tripping over themselves to pack a job. I would move tape machines, tables, skids of boxes for a smoother more efficient layout.  I would eliminate footsteps so employees didn’t have to walk so far to get boxes- cut down on fatigue and time- and adjust table height-ergonomics. I did a lot of it out of common sense. My husband also had that same ability to streamline an operation. He taught me about time studies, and how material and labor costs were calculated.

You want to hear something surprising and sad at the same time. I was outperforming people at least ten years younger than me when physically packing product. (What does that say about the workforce in general?)

And we were small. Minute in the big scheme of things. Under ten employees.

And we were small and when the economy crashed, we felt it. And when the banks became “unfriendly” we struggled.

Add a cycle or two of lackluster sales…and …well…

There are two kinds of America in this country. The one presented to you in the media, on television and radio advertisements, and the real one where jobs are hard to come by, and education and housing are expensive, and where your neighbors would love to help you, if only they could help themselves.

The highly polished uber friendly emotionally stirring advertisements would have you believe that anything is possible here. Just the word America stirs up feelings of possibility. It has for generations. And the marketing gurus capitalize on that. But  I’m tired of the hype. Because that’s what it is right now. Hype.

I just wish I had seen through it sooner.

The big push in this country right now is education. University or college level. Multiple degrees would be even better. It’s all about tech and medical. But what if your not suited for that?

When I was in high school in the eighties, some of the kids supplemented their education with vocational technical training or vo-tech for short.  These were the kids, mostly boys, who took automotive class, or carpentry, metal working, mechanical drawing and I’m sure there were many other options. These boys had natural mechanical abilities but maybe they didn’t do well in a traditional classroom.

What do these kids do now? I not sure, but I don’t think this program exists at the high school level any more.

My husband, who I feel is a pretty smart guy, did well in high school, but he wanted to take automotive. His guidance counselor advised him against it, but he took it anyway. (They thought it would look bad on his college transcript. Can you see the blatant stereotyping, here?)

There is an entire population of men and woman who are under utilized because we don’t manufacture here. Their natural aptitude discounted in a world that relies on test scores to qualify intelligence, and where it’s intimated that if you have a degree you will automatically get a job as a highly paid chief not a lowly indian. (Try to hold in your laughter.)

I’ve heard stories from parents whose college educated children refused good paying entry level jobs because “they’re not paying me what I’m worth.”  (So go flip burgers while you wait for that CEO job and keep wondering why your dates never call you back once you reveal you live in mom and dad’s basement.) Too much pride, or not enough. I’m shaking my head here.

I only half jest.

I’m not sure what staid Hilary or blustery Donald can do this for country. I don’t even know what their platforms are. I probably shouldn’t have even bothered voting. One’s a career politician the other a wealthy businessman. Neither candidate has shown me their worth.  I think the next four years are going to be very telling. I’m concerned that the democrats will continue to burden taxpayers with welfare programs. I’m just as concerned that the republicans will pass laws that will only benefit the wealthy.

The chasm between the parties has grown too big. Instead of two groups with differing views that share common ground they have evolved into adversaries with diametrically opposing  views.   It’s heartbreaking and bad for America.

My polling station is located in my child’s elementary school. As many elections as I’ve participated in, I always find it ironic that I cast my vote in an environment filled with child size everything, from tables and chairs, to bathroom fixtures.

Boy, doesn’t that just speak volumes.

As I walk down the hallway to leave, I see walls covered in small handprints. Maybe this will be the generation to get it right. I sure hope so.

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