Can We Make America Great Again?

Today is Labor Day. Thinking of labor: When I was a kid, there were labels that said “Union Made” and “American Made”.
Foreign products were considered cheaper and lower quality. We advertised and took pride in American labor. However, the differences in quality were deeper than American vs foreign.
The differences between the cheapest products and the most expensive were huge. A cheap car had a rubber mat for a floor and cheap plastic seats. The seats would split after a few years. A manual transmission was “standard”, meaning an automatic transmission cost extra. We had one car that had an air conditioner that had been added after market. It was mounted below the dash. Now even cheap cars have carpet, quality material for seats, automatic transmissions, air conditioners, and stereos. The difference in comfort between a luxury car and a cheap car has become much narrower.
A cheap suit jacket was not fully lined, while an expensive jacket was. The cheap jacket typically had three buttons and the expensive jacket had four. The material of the cheap jacket was polyester and the expensive jacket was wool. Now cheap jackets are fully lined with four buttons. Materials have improved to the point that the average person does not know the difference between man-made and wool.
Few homes had air conditioning – even in Kansas. Of course the expensive homes had air conditioning first. Now nearly all homes in hot climates have air conditioning. In fact, when my relatives from Kansas and Missouri came to visit my home in the Pacific Northwest, I thought they would be too cool. I remembered the extreme heat in Kansas – 100 degree days were common. Here in Bellingham 80’s is hot. My relatives were hot while here. They were used to air conditioning. At the time, I had air conditioning but we rarely used it. Now, I live in a home built in 1902 and I do not have air conditioning.
All of the above came because of technological advancement. The difference in comfort and quality between the most expensive and the cheapest continues to decline. That is wonderful.
However, the question for American business is how can we make a better product? The question for American labor unions is how can we train our members to be better workers? Both business and labor must have visions of the future. While automation may eventually do away with many jobs, we still need electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, heavy equipment operators, right now!
What we need is people with imagination. We need visions that drive us into the future.
We once had a vision of crossing the United States by train. Now trains travel by my house many times per day.
We once had a vision of a network of Interstate highways. Now those highways carry people and goods across America and some are in need of repair.
We once had a dream of putting a man on the moon. Now a female astronaut just returned from the space station after setting records. She returned in a Russian ship.
It will be difficult to create big improvements in current products that make us proud to buy American. However, we must continue to use scientific advancements to create new, more efficient means of transporting goods and services.
We can decentralize power so that each home becomes energy self-sufficient.
We can prepare our cities for hurricanes and tornadoes.
Labor is important. We must value labor. However, what we need are big visions that require labor for accomplishment.
That is what has been lacking for decades.
Can we make America great again? Only if we recognize that American labor builds America based on visions and plans of American business.

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