Thrown to the Wolves

Bill Neinast

Back in the days of Jimmy Hoffa, when the labor unions and the democrats were in a love affair, the democrats frequently referred themselves as the Workers’ Party.  With Hoffa’s disappearance, the decline in union membership,  and wavering political activity, someone realized that the designation Workers’ Party had Marxist and communist overtones.  So it was back to simply the Democrat Party.

That history was forgotten or ignored in the first week of the Biden presidency.  Two of the first Executive Orders signed by President Biden was to stop construction of both the Keystone Pipeline and the border wall.

Our new president wiped out roughly 20 thousand jobs with those two signatures.  When this bulge in the unemployment rolls was pointed out, the Biden administration assumed a very cavalier attitude.  John Kerry. now the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, nonchalantly remarked that the unemployed construction workers could easily find work in the burgeoning solar panel manufacturing industry.

What?  Where are those jobs outside of China?    How long are the lines of the already unemployed  workers applying for those solar manufacturing jobs?  How does the salary of a solar panel assembly line worker compare with that of a master welder or heavy equipment operator on a pipeline?  Who will pay for moving the families from the prairies of mid America where the pipeline is being laid and the southern border where the wall was being built to cities where the solar panel factories may be established?

If Biden and Kerry were asked these questions, they apparently waved them off as irrelevant or immaterial. No simple problem like unemployment is to interfere with the much more important task of saving the world from destruction by the global warming caused bythe use of carbon fuels.

Here, again, the Worker’ Party is throwing a very large worker group to the wind.     When the only gas or diesel powered vehicles on the road are the few in the hands of antique car enthusiasts, there will be no need for automobile mechanics and repair shops.

Electric vehicles require very little maintenance and repair.  There is no radiator, transmission,  muffler, or moving parts like pistons that require constant lubrication.   There is no need for periodic checks of the oil and anti-freeze levels, replacement of spark plugs, rough running engines, etc.  

Basically, the only maintenance requirements for electric vehicles are for the wheels, brakes, an occasional lubrication of the motor rotaries, and replacement of the batteries.  There will be no need for repair shops with multiple hydraulic lifts, rolling tool cabinets, barrels for spent oil etc. 

What will be the alternatives for the auto mechanics of the future who watch their garages and repair shops shut down because of the lack of business?

Maybe there is an answer in history.  During my lifetime, a number of occupations have disappeared or are currently fading away.  

Before the advent of public water systems in every town, many rural communities had tin smiths.  Brenham had several and I remember the one in Somerville.  Their primary product was cisterns to catch and hold rain water for domestic use.  One of those cisterns and a brief reference to tin smiths can be seen today in the Toubin Park in Brenham.

Every rural town also had one or more black smith or iron forges.  Their product was to make and service farm and ranch equipment like plow, bridle bits, etc.

Somerville and Gay Hill had one each that lasted well into the 50s and 60s.  Brenham had a number of them, with one lasting well into the 90s.

Remember shoe shops, where shoe soles were replaced and other broken parts repaired instead of just replacing the shoes?  And what ever happened to those radio and TV repair shops?

So here’s the perspective.

Historically, various occupations have been phased out by changing technology.  The decline into single exhibits in museums was normally a slow movement to retirement geared to advancing technology.

That will be the route of auto mechanics as fueled vehicles are slowly replaced with electric vehicles.

It is not the case, however, for the Keystone Pipeline and border wall workers.  They are being summarily thrown to the wolves by our new president.

Is this a sign of things to come? 



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