what's so great about factories?
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  1. #1
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    what's so great about factories?

    Many have been lamenting the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US, but here's a question: What's so friggin' great about working in a factory, even if they pay good wages?
    I worked in a plastics factory for a very short time, standing at a machine cranking out plastic bottles. When I got a break, I sat in the break room, watching those bottles coming out of my machine non-stop, just waiting for me to return and try to catch up.

    Haven't we learned anything since the daw nof the industrial revolution? Working a repetitive task in a factory for your entire life is one of the most de-humanizing things you can do, and society should aspire to eliminate it. Before the industrial revolution, people worked hard, mostly agriculture. Would anybody back then have described their work--even if they were downtrodden peasants--as dehumanizing? I doubt it.

    I realize that factory work can pay well, but I also believe that developed societies that can should get rid of all their manufacturing jobs.

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    What's so great about most jobs?

    Cranking out plastic bottles, cranking out paperwork. I hate break it to you, but office work is plagued by repetitve motion disorders, too.

    A lot of people seem to think that we can just kiss off these "lousy" jobs. Because we are keeping the "good" jobs, right? We're all going to be in show business, professional sports or nano-technology -- is that the rationale?

  3. #3
    53T
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    Hey, an economics troll!

    Quote Originally Posted by fiddledoc
    Many have been lamenting the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US, but here's a question: What's so friggin' great about working in a factory, even if they pay good wages?
    I don't know, wealth creation?

    Peasant farmers had no dehumanizing work, but they had no wealth creation either. That's why agrarians always have agrarian economies.

    If we all go to work to service each other's copy machines, we will soon be agarian again.

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    Shoveling manure isn't dehumanizing?

    "Peasant farmers had no dehumanizing work. . ."
    Man, I've DONE that kind of work. Same thing every day, brutal conditions much of the time, NEVER a moment when you can sit down and say, "Whew, I'm done."
    I got my first clue when I went into the Army and all us suburban kids were griping about the hours and the work. The farm kids thought it was a vacation--they got to sleep until 5:30, knocked off at dusk, slept eight hours a night and when the day was over, they could go hang out. Later, in a fit of '60s values, I spent a summer working on a "ranch" (really a farm, but they call them ranches in the West) where they grew apricots, cherries and strawberries. Turned me into an animal...

  5. #5
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    reply to first two:

    Quote Originally Posted by czardonic
    Cranking out plastic bottles, cranking out paperwork. I hate break it to you, but office work is plagued by repetitve motion disorders, too.

    A lot of people seem to think that we can just kiss off these "lousy" jobs. Because we are keeping the "good" jobs, right? We're all going to be in show business, professional sports or nano-technology -- is that the rationale?
    1. I happen to be cranking out paperwork right now, and it beats cranking out plastic bottles. There are lots of jobs that aren't in show business or sports or nano-technology, and I'd be willing to bet czardonic has one. The fact is, the majority of people in this country do not work in factories anyway. There are plenty of other options. And yes, I admit that most jobs--whether you're a brain surgeon or violinist like me--involve mindless repetition to one extent or another.

    2. I didn't say that all factories whould be eliminated. What I said was that countries that can, should aspire to eliminate dehumanizing work by using robotics or exporting the jobs to other countries. Obviously, modern society wouldn't work unless we produce the crap somewhere. It just seems that we worship the bolting-together of widgets as something divine and inevitable.

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    I'd rather make plastic bottles. . .

    . . .than stand behind a register at Walmart all day for half the pay. I've worked in production, retail and offices and all have their pros and cons.

    You dodged my question, which put less facetiously is, what about people who don't/can't go to college and become professionals or master "high" skills. Should we export them to the third world too. We need jobs that offer options to the entire spectrum of our workforce. The "dehumanizing" work that isn't good enough for you might offer someone else an accessible, honest way to feed his or her family.
    Last edited by czardonic; 07-06-2004 at 11:05 AM. Reason: sp

  7. #7
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    depends on whose manure it is. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Cory
    "Peasant farmers had no dehumanizing work. . ."
    Man, I've DONE that kind of work. Same thing every day, brutal conditions much of the time, NEVER a moment when you can sit down and say, "Whew, I'm done."
    I got my first clue when I went into the Army and all us suburban kids were griping about the hours and the work. The farm kids thought it was a vacation--they got to sleep until 5:30, knocked off at dusk, slept eight hours a night and when the day was over, they could go hang out. Later, in a fit of '60s values, I spent a summer working on a "ranch" (really a farm, but they call them ranches in the West) where they grew apricots, cherries and strawberries. Turned me into an animal...
    I admit, neither ranching nor farming are easy lives. But answer this: if push came to shove and you had to work in a farm or factory, which would you chose? My wife's family
    farms in Iowa, and love farming. I highly doubt that most farmers and ranchers (in this country, anyway) do their work because they have no options, and by the same token, I doubt that most factory workers would hang on to their jobs making less every year like famers because they want to save their way of life.

    To all: I realize I'm generating a big pile of generalizations. It's been interesting to see the responses.

  8. #8
    Opus was just napping
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    Sometimes factories make things like "magnets" that we use in our weapons systems. When our only factory closes down and moves to China. Well that sounded important to me.
    In the time of battle you don't rise to the occasion you resort to the level of your conditioning...

  9. #9
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    reply

    Quote Originally Posted by czardonic
    . . .than stand behind a register at Walmart all day for half the pay. I've worked in production, retail and offices and all have their pros and cons.

    You dodged my question, which put less facetiously is, what about people who don't/can't go to college and become professionals or master "high" skills. Should we export them to the third world too. We need jobs that offer options to the entire spectrum of our workforce. The "dehumanizing" work that isn't good enough for you might offer someone else an accessible, honest way to feed his or her family.
    You're right--I wouldn't want to work at Wal-mart. And there may be plenty of pleasant factories to work in. I guess it depends on the individual. However, let's set aside the question of how pleasant or unpleasant it is. : Are manufacturing jobs in particular sacred? In fact, those who can't or don't want to go to college could be seen as crazy to get involved in manufacturing to begin with. Over lunch today I was perusing the NY Times magazine article on the new Chinese economy--very scary stuff. Although I make
    a laughable living playing the fiddle, at least you can't ship my job to china. Yet.

    I'm not an economist but if you are, answer me this: What would happen if we lost every manufacturing job? Would we be a viable economy?

  10. #10
    Arrogant roadie.....
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    Here's the deal: about 1 out of eavery 4 jobs is a crap job (Maybe more, this is just a personal observation). Crap jobs are held by the lowest rung of society-the immigrants, the poor, the ex-cons, the marginally employable, etc. For these people, a [email protected]$$ factory job is heavan compared to janitorial jobs, or food service jobs, or dime-store stocking jobs. Yeah, I wouldn't want to work on an assembly line (once did that at a food bottling plant-yeech!), but a large portion of the population would.
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  11. #11
    53T
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    No!

    Quote Originally Posted by fiddledoc
    I'm not an economist but if you are, answer me this: What would happen if we lost every manufacturing job? Would we be a viable economy?
    I'm suprized you haven't got an economics lecture yet. For a capitalist economy to grow, wealth must be created. Unless you are making something, it is very difficult to create wealth. Service sector jobs (a misnomer, since there are services in every "sector") just transfer wealth, usually from someone who created the wealth to the folks who provide services for a living. Common service providers are: lawyers, accountants, doctors, dry cleaners, house cleaners, all government jobs (police, fire, tax collector, congressman, etc.) HR consultant, etc.

    Food service is a little tricky. McDonalds, and their restarunt owners, create significant wealth by buying food products in bulk then manufacturing and marketing higher value food products.

  12. #12
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    I took econ 101, but it was long ago

    But does a country absolutely need manufacturing? Norway and Switzerland have extremely high living standards, but probably couldn't be considered manufacturing powerhouses, could they? Isn't it enough to own the means of production to create the wealth, regardless of where the factory is?

  13. #13
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    Norway, Switzerland

    Quote Originally Posted by fiddledoc
    But does a country absolutely need manufacturing? Norway and Switzerland have extremely high living standards, but probably couldn't be considered manufacturing powerhouses, could they? Isn't it enough to own the means of production to create the wealth, regardless of where the factory is?
    Norway has car and truck factories, tire factories, etc. Switzerland has watch factories, auto component factories, etc., etc. Perhaps they aren't up to the manufacturing levels of Germany, but they are manufacturing nations.

    The reason why they have high living standards is because there isn't a hugely wealthy elite siphoning off the top 1/4 of the wealth. They tend to have income tax rates of 70% or better at the high end of the income spectrum. High minumum wages and excellent schools add to the mix.

    In nordic countries, the standard of living is very high, but the chance of mobility is less. You get paid well for your work, but don't expect to be able to chase your dream.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddledoc
    Many have been lamenting the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US, but here's a question: What's so friggin' great about working in a factory, even if they pay good wages?
    I worked in a plastics factory for a very short time, standing at a machine cranking out plastic bottles. When I got a break, I sat in the break room, watching those bottles coming out of my machine non-stop, just waiting for me to return and try to catch up.

    Haven't we learned anything since the daw nof the industrial revolution? Working a repetitive task in a factory for your entire life is one of the most de-humanizing things you can do, and society should aspire to eliminate it. Before the industrial revolution, people worked hard, mostly agriculture. Would anybody back then have described their work--even if they were downtrodden peasants--as dehumanizing? I doubt it.

    I realize that factory work can pay well, but I also believe that developed societies that can should get rid of all their manufacturing jobs.

    I think before we eliminate factory jobs, everybody should be forced to work in one for a couple months. Before passing judgment on people who work in factory jobs, everybody
    should be exposed to a job spending 8 hours standing in the same square foot of floor space, never interacting with another human, and hearing the same unnatural noises.
    Even Walmart employees get a chance to see different faces every day and talk with their fellow human beings.
    During their entire work day, factory workers breath the worst stale air, never see an animal or work of art, never use their mind to form an original creation, never view a single object ourside of the building, and see no children. It's the most unnatural atmosphere for a person to exist in.
    The media and government use increases and decreases in manufacturing jobs as a prime indicator of a countries economic health. I see it as the opposite. When we rely on these jobs we're showing we've lost our imagination, we're content with just existing.

  15. #15
    Zeppelin/Ultegra Rider
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    Just curious...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spoiler
    I think before we eliminate factory jobs, everybody should be forced to work in one for a couple months.
    Have you spent time in a factory? I'm not trolling, I applaud your suggestion that all should do an "internship" on an assembly line. I have spent my last fifteen years putting cars together, and while it can be physically demanding, it pays well and provides great benefits for my family.
    Ride in Peace....Enjoy every sandwich......Mike

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    We're dependent on this type of work for the lifestyles we live, even the food we eat, so I don't think most people that worry about it are really worried about losing an enjoyable way to make a living, but a way of life. How much you worry about it might have to do with your lifestyle and how likely you think some kind of economic collapse in th US is. Personally I think people are way too complacent and it might be just the kind of thing this country needs to get it straightened out, but without a manufacturing base to fall back on and in an increasingly angry anti US world, that might be really ugly. If a US company has all it's factories in asia and the dollar dies does it matter that it's a US company?

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