Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bitterness Across The Board

If you think Obama's comment about the blue collar workers' bitterness is "elitist and out of touch", as Hillary would have you believe, you're mistaken.

This is what he said:
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not."

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Were he not campaigning in Pennsylvania, he could have left out the first phrase of his statement and still have been correct. It applies across the board - bitterness. It applies to white collar workers as well as blue. Jobs go and they do not come back.

There was a time when workers were loyal to their employers and the employers were loyal to their workers in return. Then the almighty "bottom line" reared it's ugly head. Back in the early '60s my Dad was forced into "early retirement". He had been hired right out of college as a trainee with Westinghouse. He worked for them for 30 plus years. Then one day, when he was about to turn 60, he came home from work one Friday and announced his job, the first of the following week, would be in Buffalo, N.Y. We lived in Pittsburgh, PA. No notice, no moving expenses, no severance, no nothing - except early retirement.

It never got any better. Dad was always concerned that Hub had no company loyalty. He followed the career path no matter where it led, with me and a Saint Bernard in tow! He never saw the value in company loyalty after what he head seen happen to my Dad and many, many others.

It didn't protect us either. Often times the move was made yet the promises went unfulfilled. As had begun in Dad's day, companies found younger was cheaper and often times you were expected to train your replacement. Bitter? You bet.

Then came outsourcing. If younger was cheaper, overseas was even more so. Unlike a large corporation where these practices began bit by bit and may have affected only one department at a time, when it came to manufacturing - be it steel or tractors or washing machines - it affected entire communities. Bitter? You bet.

And what do you do? You seek your comfort zone. For some it is religion. For some it is walling themselves away from the rest of society and defending that action with guns. Or antipathy - you shut yourself off from everybody because those promises are never kept anyway. You turn inward to where you're comfortable.

My Dad was bitter. You bet he was. He was a white collar worker. Hub was bitter. He was a white collar worker. They were both fortunate enough to have other skills on which to fall back. Dad moved on. We've moved on. For many who have only the skills they've used their entire lives, things are far more difficult. In communities devoted to one industry, company towns, if you will, additional opportunities don't exist even if one has the skills. And the bitterness and all that comes with it runs deeper.

No, Hillary. It isn't elitist nor out of touch. It's the way things are and the way they have been for a good long time.


Betty said...

You are so right. Companies expect to receive loyalty from workers, but they don't return it. I worked for a large corporation (a small subsidiary) and watched for years, as the HR departments throughout the company made promises in order to attract the employees with the skills they wanted, only to turn around and break every promise that was made. Still, they expected their employees to whistle while they worked. Phooey!

Anonymous said...

I thought Obama was right on the money. Trust Hillary to twist it around. People do not trust politicians to represent them. They do not trust their government. And company loyalty...dream on. My father went to work for a bank in 1913, as a runner. He was 14. He remained with that same bank for his entire working career. He was 67 when he retired (which he didn't want to do) and he died soon after. Today, it is very unlikely that this would happen. Has society as a whole improved...sadly not. CU

Word Tosser said...

You nailed it on the head DWM... good post.. funny how truth doesn't make the headlines.

Bay Views said...

Wow! You are right on.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Glad to know every once in awhile I get it right!