11.07.2008

The day after

The Lydall plant in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on a snowy day in February 2006. When I worked (unhappily) in the packaging business I spent a couple of hours in this plant on Thursdays, inventorying their supplies and placing orders -- it was a very industrial environment, full of dangerous equipment -- large hydraulic presses that made the floor shake. The plant stamped out metal heatshields and its customers were domestic automobile manufacturers -- ie, not the best industry segment to operate in. The plant's closing was announced earlier this year, work is being consolidated to a plant in North Carolina, with the loss of 190 jobs. I remember that there was an American flag suspended from a large overhead crane traversing the length of plant's interior. I wonder if they will take the flag down when the plant finally closes; if not, it would a sadly powerful image if it remains hanging over the empty space.

With my new access to television (see previous post) I watched the election coverage on Tuesday evening -- we fell asleep, but I woke up just in time to watch Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The next day the local news operations had video showing thousands of UVM students pouring into the streets of Burlington, ecstatically (hysterically? -- some appeared to almost weeping with joy) celebrating the election result.

I hope, (like David Brooks) that this is the dawning a new, competent, successful administration that pursues sound economic policies at home and restores America's image abroad. Also, I hope that Sarah Palin stays in Alaska and never is heard from again in the lower 48 -- it really wasn't funny. However, I did not shed tears of ecstatic joy upon learning the results of the election. The problems are bigger than any one person (however competent -- and we don't know how competent the new administration will be) and will not be resolved quickly or painlessly. I know that this is stating the painfully obvious but it seems to have been swept aside in the post-election celebrations. Note to the UVM kids: You're incurring lots of debt ($40K+/year for out of state students) and face a very uncertain job market, so study hard and don't spend too much time in the bars downtown.

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