Agriculture wants you

While the jobless rate continues to be a problem in the US, plenty of jobs go begging. Older folks would rather bail out of the labor force on a disability claim and younger folks are unwilling to search for a job in anything but the white-collar market.  

Last week, Public Television ran a piece on the evening news hour about the mismatch between job seekers and jobs in want of employees. Most of these jobs are in manufacturing and those asking why they would not take a manufacturing job gave reasons from “It doesn’t pay enough” or “It’s boring” to “There is no future in manufacturing.”  

Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing Jobs (Photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi)

The new manufacturing jobs are not the repetitive assembly jobs of yesterday, all those have gone overseas or been superseded by robots.  The new manufacturing jobs are computer driven and require some smarts plus good education. One of the potential employers noted that she had to turn people away who could not fill out the employment form, which required writing your name, address and phone number.  So illiteracy is also an issue in this mismatch between job seekers and jobs.

Mean while today’s Washington Post (4/09/12) published an article on the dearth of youngsters moving into farming or agriculture jobs. Apparently the USDA is quite concerned. These are not migrant worker jobs, but modern jobs promoted by groups like The Future Farmers of America. You can find the article at this address:


Apparently, we are now a nation of takers or people on the dole.  A recent survey shows 96 percent of Americans receive some kind of payment or subsidy from the federal government.  Included in these figures are items such as home mortgage deductions, agricultural subsidies, green energy subsidies, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs. 

In his column today, Paul Samuelson recommends a new book by Sylvester Schieber The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of Social Security. Here is the link: 

Basically, Samuelson is critical of the current Social Security program and he says Schieber recalls many of the problems facing the program today.  I  ordered the book on Kindle, but if you have already made up your mind about our ‘Entitlement Society,’ you may not want this book. 

Schieber says the Social Security system was not set up the way Roosevelt intended. Social Security as we know it today was revised after Roosevelt died. During an era when the US economy was expanding and everything looked rosy the means of payment were changed. Furthermore, the changing demographics of the Baby Boom were not anticipated by Congress in the 1950s have exacerbated the problem.  As a demographer, what makes me so angry is that this problem could have been avoided and to save Social Security now will require a bit of sacrifice from those least willing to make it.

The crises the program faces must be addressed, there is no alternative. The Simpson-Bowles Commission tried to do this but was shot down by leftists as the “Catfood Commission.” Some on the Right Wing didn’t think the commission went far enough. Burying our collective heads in the sand will not solve the problem, however. Nor will voting for candidates who lie and promise you something for nothing.  

Tom Sightings stuck his neck out yesterday with the first in a series of articles on the new health care law which potentially could send the US economy over a cliff. He asks, who should pay for health care?

This should give you plenty to read and think about, or as I like to say, keep you off the street and out of trouble. 


This week marks the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Hollywood has re-released the most recent film of the same name in 3-D. Those who feel the need can experience the sinking again. PBS ran a special news item last week on the desecration of the sunken vessel and the attempt of many nations to form a pact to protect the ship from scavengers in the same way battle fields and other monuments are protected. 

I first read about the sinking of the Titanic in my grandfather’s coal cellar.   Grandpa Schmidley owned an old Victorian House built around 1915 and purchased by him soon after.  My dad was born in 1913 and his sister Marge in 1915, and we know the family acquired the house shortly after because the younger sisters were born there.  

Not only were home births in vogue in those days, so were coal-fired cellars.  My grandpa or grandma had saved newspapers for starting the fire each morning.  Mostly he, as lone survivor, had stacks of copies of the Milwaukee Journal  in his cellar, although the odd Chicago Tribune was on the paper shelf too.  He might have purchased the papers at work as a railroad engineer, he had the Chicago Northwestern railway run from Milwaukee to Chicago for many years.

Dad told me grandpa used to “deadhead” back to Fon du Lac at the end of his work week.  I learned this semester that “deadhead” refers to non-paying riders, of which there were a few in those days.  Railway workers had access to free transport after their work day left them miles from home. 

At any rate, Grandpa or Grandma had saved and used the newspapers for decades when I found his stash in the cellar. Imagine my amazement when I found the papers from the day the Titanic sinking was reported April 15, 1912, and the day the Von Hindenburg exploded in Lakehurst New Jersey in May 1937. Oddly, he did not have the Pearl Harbor attack in his stash. I believe because the Titanic paper was saved from 1915 and the Pearl Harbor paper was missing Grandma must have been the paper saver.  She had been a school teacher before she married, and that’s the sort of thing they do. She developed ALS sometime during the war, and was unable to travel off the floor where her bedroom was located, certainly not to the cellar.  

Even at age 12 or so, I had already developed a keen interest in history, so I became very excited as I pawed over these old papers, and I asked Grandpa if I could take them home with me.  He seemed surprised to discover they were there (another clue that Grandma saved them?). Of course, he said yes, and I carried the papers back to my school, where the library put them on display.  School librarians appreciate history. 

The most amazing thing to me about the Titanic paper, was the long passenger list which covered several pages.  When I looked at this list, I was quite taken. We know some people survived, like the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Once upon a time when I was attending a professional meeting in Denver, I hiked blocks from my hotel to Molly Brown’s home. I think she was so amazing.  

On a more domestic note, below is a partial view of my front bed from the doorway of the house. Ignore David’s old red car, But notice the Fothergilla in bloom. Some day I hope it hides the car.  


Fothergilla (Witchelder family) bloom up close:





7 thoughts on “Agriculture wants you

  1. What a find!

    We save papers reporting big events, including the South African 1994 election, in which we voted.

    We also save papers on the boys’ birthdays.

    I hope we never have a fire; our loft is kindling.


  2. In a manner of speaking, you can get something for nothing. If I take it from another person and give it to you, you are getting it for nothing. Sound familiar?


  3. What would I do without Social Security? I am so grateful I receive it every month without fail. Sure, I have IRAs, but the ones that were invested in the stock market were nearly annihilated during the crash of 2008. This is why I refuse to invest in stocks anymore. It helps to be married, because 2 incomes are better than one.


  4. After ingesting the notes with dire ramifications past and present, you calmed the digestion with the serenity of your front bed and lawn, captured so well in both photos. Thanks for identifying the fothergilla. I always appreciate every bit of information when someone posts images of flora or fauna.

    Now I am ready to go back and explore your links for “further reading.”


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