While the weeds grow in Solyndra lot, we need to revive basic industry, and unemployment is not a racial problem; it’s a problem of attitude…

September 23, 2011

In my job as an over-the-road truck driver I found myself sitting next door to the headquarters of the now bankrupt former jewel of the Obama green energy movement called Solyndra. There were a few cars there, but it looked empty and weeds were growing in the parking lot.

Ironically, while Solyndra the new hope for modern and green energy flopped, I was delivering newsprint next door, destined to become pages in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, part of a dying industry of the old order itself — both the Chronicle (a poor excuse for a  newspaper these days) and the newspaper industry as a whole, especially the conventional paper newspaper part of it. But delivering that newsprint keeps me in work and all those folks who were working at the so-called wave of the future are out of a job.

I have to wonder what the Obama administration has against basic industry or for the matter what any of our economic leaders have against it. We need all types of industry, to include the new green type, no doubt, but we have to have basic industries for our economic survival. Why we let them wither and die over these past many decades is pretty much a mystery to me. Part of it, of course, is the fact that the capitalists found that it was cheaper to produce products overseas, sell them there or even ship them back here too. Meanwhile they had the cover and protection, to include military and judicial, of the American taxpayer — as well as the American market.

American workers had enjoyed a higher and higher standard of living, thanks to a large part to unions. Most workers benefited in the end whether they were union or not. Years ago, I heard about a sawmill in my neck of the woods, so to speak, whose owner purposely paid high wages to keep his employees from going union — easier to pay more and not deal with arbitrary works rules and meddling of unions in management decisions. I even worked for a trucking company a few years ago and benefited from the union indirectly. While I worked at a then non-union terminal, I was paid as much as the union drivers were. But that terminal has since gone union, thanks to the card check system, in which if you get enough people to sign cards, the union can force a closed shop (union only). For the record, I am not in a union — my kind of trucking is not unionized (but I’m not complaining — I have job, a lot of union or former union people don’t (unions can do a lot of good things, but they can’t guarantee work).

But in this Solyndra thing where the government may be out more than half a billion dollars in a guaranteed loan, I wonder whether the government should be in the business of venture capital. It seems to me a better role of government in green energy would be in research and development, primarily through research grants.

Also there is nothing wrong with small business loans from the government, but they should have to compete by way of supporting business plans, not simply via lobbying and campaign contributions, as seems to have been the case in the Solyndra fiasco.

Tariffs or higher tariffs on incoming products would not hurt either. American industry and American workers, and their standard of living, needs to be protected.

And here is something somewhat unrelated to all of this, but when I was at the facility that was receiving may load of newsprint I encountered two young, clean cut black men on the dock who worked there. This was in Fremont, Ca,. So they have what are probably fairly well paid jobs and seemed quite efficient at them. Just up the road in Oakland so many of their black brothers (and others) engage in gangs and the illicit drug trade. Even when I am in Oakland (which has to be the murder capital of the West Coast) I note that black workers have good jobs in the warehouses (and of course in all kinds of work — I‘m just not in those other places).

Unemployment and hopelessness has little to do with race and a whole lot to do with attitude.

(Of course right now we are suffering from an economic recession.)

Some people prefer to or are willing to work for a living and follow societal rules and others cannot be bothered.