Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's the Little Things

It's not much of a stretch to point to the larger problems facing our country and worry that we may be a nation in irreversible decline but what troubles me at an even deeper and more personal level are the little things. Ordinary, everyday things that we take for granted if we notice them at all, things barely even interesting enough to be mentioned in casual conversation much less in the media, these are the things that I at least believe will be the death of us.

Some of these things aren't all that small and are similar to problems faced by many western nations like the fact that we have no skilled workers. That's right, I said no skilled workers. Try to find a carpenter, a diesel mechanic, a mason or bricklayer or even a plumber. Good luck finding one both competent and born in the US, it's pretty slim pickings. I'm beyond tired of hearing about the plight of the American worker, the typical American worker wouldn't know a job well done from a well done steak and please, don't expect them to know how to produce a steak in the first place.

The problem didn't begin yesterday. Twenty years ago there was a bus factory in a small town in the southwest but today our buses are built mainly in Mexico. Naturally things like this make for great talking points for politicians and labor organizers and Lou Dobbs can squeal about the "exporting of American jobs"and everyone can be angry at the big, bad corporations that moved for cheaper labor. Except it isn't entirely true. See, I was there and I remember what happened and it had very little to do with labor cost and everything to do with shoddy management and stoned employees. It's tough to build a quality product when more than half of your production line is under the influence. So yeah, Mexico was cheaper to operate in but even more importantly, it had an ample supply of competent workers who didn't have the munchies. Fewer Greyhounds falling apart on the highways due to poor manufacture was a bonus. Now if only we could import some people to drive them.

Then there are the really little things one of which is exactly what set me off on this tangent, the United States postal service. One more time I find my mailbox stuffed with.......someone elses' mail. The correct address clearly typed and my address clearly posted and they do not match, not even close. Not the first time, not the second or even the third, I've lost count of how often this has happened because in case you are thinking this is a purely local phenomena, it isn't, it happened even more often in southern California. Never mind that in many places a locked mailbox is now a necessity because our fellow citizens would otherwise steal our mail, I'm inclined to let them steal it as it probably isn't mine anyway.

Okay, it's a small thing, no big deal and one more time I'll see that the mail makes it to its rightful recipient. On the other hand I have to wonder where we're headed when something as simple and basic to our entire infrastructure as physical delivery of mail and packages has become a coin toss. Come to think of it, of all the many, many times that I've personally seen this mail to its rightful owner not one time has my missing mail ever been returned. Not once. I don't think I need to expand upon that point.

There are plenty of larger issues, from Iraq to health care that say a lot about us and where we're headed but I think it all starts with the little things and that my friends has not been looking good for a very long time.

15 comments:

ryk said...

The mail thing drives me nuts. We got a new mail carrier here a few months ago, and ever since then our entire neighborhood has to re-sort and re-deliver our mail daily. There used to be a rather difficult test you had to pass to be a mail carrier. I'm guessing the Postal Service lowered their standards somewhere along the line.

Woozie said...

Well if it makes you feel any better (I'm sure it doesn't) our mail is just about always right. Mostly junk though.

Omnipotent Poobah said...

The devil, as they say, is in the details and apparently the Devil has really low quality standards.

Flimsy Sanity said...

Is your mailman Cliff Claven or Newman? The post office was privatized several years ago so as a monopoly business instead of a service, you get less for higher cost.

Not Your Mama said...

Not sure, seems like someone different every time I actually bother to look.

Woozie: actually it does make me feel better. Hearing that something runs as it's supposed to anywhere in this country these days gives me a l'il hope anyway.

ryk said...

NYM, O/T I missed the Dem debate, but it sounds like your guy did all right this time. From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Russert now comes at Richardson with a list of all his gaffes, weird statements, etc. Good answer. I've noticed that Richardson's numbers, while still well behind the top three, are still pretty decent. I guess we just all assume that Richardson isn't pretty enough to win the nomination. But I could actually see him being a pretty good president.

Holden said...

Richardson looked better than usual. He has this little window of opportunity right now in which to make a critical point: that while HRC, Obama and Edwards were all unable to promise last night that we'd be out of Iraq by the end of their first term (1/20/13!!!), Richardson plans to have 'em all home in a year. But time is running out....

Featheriver said...

Well my mail carrier, a lady, I don't know her name, has been providing our household with excellent service. If she has a package she drives right up to our door to deliver it. She doesn't leave a card in the mailbox saying go to the post office to pick up the package.

I appreciate her. Sorry to hear everyone isn't getting the same quality of service.

Must be a difference in the different mail carriers. There are duds everywhere.

Better luck Coyote with yours!

Not Your Mama said...

Only about half paying attention at this point. Already know where they stand better than I know my neighbors so it's just noise now.

Where they stand on Iraq has been quite clear to me for months so I don't understand the "surprise". People will hear what they want to hear from whoever they've chosen.

I'm having a massive resurgence of all my doubts about the entire concept of "democratically elected government". As a group we seem to only be capable of finding the least common denominator. If I could come back in 200 years I'd probably find Elmer Fudd running the show.

Holden said...

I guess my hope is that there are a whole lot of people who either haven't picked a candidate yet, or aren't settled on one and if they know the deal of the respective candidates' Iraq positions, maybe that'll help. I agree with you that I've known the difference for months, but a lot of folks are just starting to pay attention.

Not Your Mama said...

Mebbe. Considering most people still believe that the dems "promised to get us out of Iraq" prior to the last election when I heard no such thing I'm not over confident about what people hear.

TomCat said...

Mama, I remember when I was in high school, the kids that were academically oriented went into a college prep program, and the kids that were not went went into a program to teach them skills to prepare them for the trades. Unlike today's system, where half the graduates are functionally illiterate, it worked.

On the left, we tend to say that all should get a college education. On the right, they tend to say that a college education should be reserved for those who can pay for it. Perhaps we need a middle where all who can do college work should get a college education, and all who cannot should be educated in what they can do.

Flimsy Sanity said...

Did you postman go berserk and kill you?

Not Your Mama said...

Nah, I was trying to not go beserk myself. The Clarence Thomas Circus was in danger of putting me over the edge.

Freedem said...

As long as exploitation, scam, and abuse, are more profitable than real, and competent, the real and competent cannot compete, and begins to disappear.

A a con man can always offer a better deal than an honest one as he has no intention of actually doing as promised.

As we get ever more Social Darwinist, this problem gets ever bigger till nothing of value can be obtained at any price.

Now like any other third world country, most of the national income goes to service debt on looted money, with little to operate and none to invest, and like some aging embezzled movie star, we do not yet comprehend our poverty or what it will shortly mean.