Donate Now!

Donate Now!
Buy a membership or koozies to help!

Monday, May 05, 2008

In the Beginning (pre-depression)


Things were good in my suburban home. There is this man named Henry Ford that figured out how to give unskilled workers jobs, something called the production line. Though my grandfather calls it deskilling. I don't know, but dad says that Mr. Ford is paying his workers five dollars an hour. Can you believe it, five dollars for one hour of work. Dad says that other manufactures will have to start paying that kind of wage or lose their workers to Michigan.

Mom and I went to the local merchant and saw this thing he called a washing Machine. He says it is all the rage, many of our own neighbors have been buying them. Mom was sad when he told her how much it was. Dad didn't work for Mr. Ford, she told the merchant. And I must say I have never seen a bigger grin on a man before. He told my mother that she could buy it on credit. Mom asked what credit was. He said that they shouldn't talk about money matters in front of the children. So he and mom went into the office. And the next thing I know is that some delivery men our pulling up into our driveway with that washing machine, and refrigerator, a new gas stove and a machine that you plugged in and made waffles in! When dad came home that night he looked mighty angry, but then mom told him about credit. I tried to listen to what she said, she said that you didn't need the money upfront anymore, that the merchant trusted you and would send a bill to pay over time. I wonder how much candy I could get on credit.

My father and grandfather had some men over and I heard them talking in the pallor. They were angry and scared. One man said that since Mr. Ford and taken the skilled labor jobs out of the hands of the craftsman, and now had managers that knew nothing about their own work, that more business began to follow suit. He said that the rich were getting richer and that we were stagnant. He said that we were no longer free, and that companies like JP Morgan were the ones actually calling the shots. My dad grunted and all the men were sullenly silent. They were scared. Someone then said the word Union, and they all laughed.

My husband and I decided that we no longer wanted to be renters. It was time to look into owning our new home. We had ok credit, nothing too horrid, and we were making ten dollars an hour. But the housing market seem to be perfect for us. This would be our biggest purchase ever. We were financed quickly, with a relatively low interest rate, and discovered that credit now flowed through our fingers. We bought a new washer and dryer, a new gas stove and refrigerator. I even got a new waffle iron while I was at it. The middle class was prospering and we felt good about our investments.

My husband works for a factory, and after a few years, and many raises we thought things were going just fine. Thank you Mr. Ford!

Dad says that Mr Hoover is now President, and he has vowed to abolish poverty. Dad says that the reason things aren't going so well is because of all the immigrants. They take all the jobs.

President Bush says that Illegal immigrants only take the jobs that we don't. Tell that to my husband that lost a promotion, or to my brother in law that can't get work as a drywaller.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I agree that their is a shortage of jobs and that more and more jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries where a company can get more for less. However, that isn't our only problem. We need to learn to accept less- we don't need two new cars or the new oven or the latest fridge. We all want to keep consuming but we can't afford it.

For an interesting look at the outsourcing of jobs check out season 1 of the show 30 Days. They send a guy who lost his IT job to live with a family in India and he gets a job there. It's an interesting look into a place and a people we talk a lot about but don't necessarily know a lot about.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this Phelan. What a great post, and I'm not offended by the parallels at all, I think people tend to look a the Great Depression as a one time thing. People need to be thinking about these things. Great job!

Phelan said...

badhuman, thank you for the comment. This post is about drawing similarities from the late 1920's and today. In the late 20's immigration was a hot issue, as it was in 2007. With the creation of the production line, many skilled laborers that were getting paid good wages for their craftmanship was being pushed aside to allow cheaper unskilled labor to run wild. Henry Ford actually started paying less then that 5.00 an hour wage stated here. It wasn't until unions started and those unskilled laborers, many of which were frechly off the boat, started walking out and getting better paying jobs on other production lines. Mr. Ford began to pay more to keep those workers. Illegal immigration and outsourcing has affected many middle class households today. Thus I drew from that and the easy flow of credit to show you the connection between the two eras. Credit use to be a lot harder to get in the times between the depression and recent history. This is just the start of the series. As it progresses, more links will be examined and as we pass 2008 in the story, hypothetical situations will have to emerge.

Farm mom, thank you. I am glad that you are not offened, as that was not the goal.

alrescate said...

Excellent post Phelan!

lisa said...

Very interesting, and good points. Another similarity: even city people are talking about community gardens and growing their own food these days="Victory Gardens"? I bet canning supplies will be selling like hot cakes too this year.

abbagirl74 said...

Loved this post. I think the American people want all of the jobs, especially the ones that went overseas. It's just the ignorance of a few choice people who choose to exploit the illegals and have them work for less than half. Disgusting.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...