Sunday, October 19, 2008

Economic History Lesson In Old Tractor

I shot these photos of the rusted out American tractor last week at Cox's Farms. It made me think of the economic history of the American economy. First, America started out as an agrarian society so a farm photo is fitting. Second, American ingenuity made America a great manufacturing nation so an American made tractor is fitting also. At one time almost everything for American and world use was made in America. Not so now.

Third, for better or for worse the agrarian south which also included much of the west lost the Civil War partly because it couldn't compete with the manufacturing in the north eastern corner of the nation (New England plus New York and Pennsylvania).

Fourth, until the advent of commercial air travel most food was grown on the farm for farmers and for the folks in the farm villages around the farms. My dad who was born in 1903 as a child could remember only eating oranges for Christmas and never ever having orange juice in the refrigerator. Well, for one thing when he was growing up there were no refrigerators in the farmhouses because there was no electricity on the farms! FDR and the New Deal brought electricity to the farmer. But now we don't really know the origin of all the food we purchase at the store and few folks have a real garden today.

Then we had the post World War II era when America was the darling of the world partly because of its rescue of many nations from terrorism around the world during World War II and our economy was growing and growing and everyone wanted to see the USA in Chevrolet. But as we got closer and closer to the end of the 20'th century things became more complex. For one "how you going to keep them down on the farm after they have seen Paree (Paris)."

The big question for every boy back then was are you going to go to college or trade school or are you going to farm with your dad while working in a local food processing plant or some other type of factory.

And that leads us to today when we have a highly educated society with college degrees and post college instruction but we too are finding it difficult to find work that pays more than minimum wage. The motto today is if you have a job, keep it even if you don't like it much. But when well educated and hardworking people lose their jobs for what they see as no fault of their own making but the fault of world governments manipulating the marketplace there is tremendous built up anger.

Some direct their anger at the Middle East and the OPEC nations because of the oil price explosion. Others direct their anger at China and Japan and Vietnam for taking needed manufacturing jobs away from the U.S. Others blame India for taking service industries jobs for all their call waiting programs to service companies right here in the U.S. Others want to blame the poor folks who got loans for houses financed by Fannie and Freddie for leading to the housing crunch which led to the mortgage funding crunch which led to the Wall St. crunch which led to the worldwide financial crunch.

So when I look at that tractor I think that green vine growing thru the tractor must symbolizes all the anger we have in America right now. Left, right, Democrat, Republican, religious, irreligious, urban, suburban, rural farmer, the rich class, the poor class, the huge middle class, everyone is fighting mad and will "damm well tell you so at the drop of a hat!"

I find myself biting my tongue a lot these days. I don't like anger and I don't like being around angry people so I try to watch what I say for fear of hurting someone else's economic mindset or for fear of getting yelled at!

What I really want to do is pour some pesticide on that green vine! But after that I don't know what to do. Should we try to take the rust off the old tractor too since it symbolizes not only our economic history but our economic future. Do we need to get some rope and tie this tractor to something to pull it out and into the tractor repair shop by having these economic bailouts of President Bush and Secretary of the Treasury Paulsen. Or is that a futile big economic mistake.

I tell you your guess is as good as mine. I'm willing to state my ideas on the subject and I'm willing to listen to yours because let's face it we are all in this muddy field right now. But let's just keep the talk civil and on topic and not personal. I hate hearing folks back up their point of view by saying things like well, if he had a brain he would think like me, act like me and vote like me. We all may be in this muddy field but we all have a little different take on the situation depending on where we are standing in the field economically and what we are perceiving thru our vision.

Let's talk as Joan Rivers would say but let's keep it civil. And I would love comments from people from other countries. I wonder how they perceive America now that we are in this financial crisis.
My husband just read this post and Jack wanted to add his two or three cents to this post. First, Mr. Accountant Jack reminded me that you need to remember the past mistakes without pointing fingers at folks, so that you don't repeat those same financial mistakes. Blame the actions, not the persons on both sides of the pasture who share some responsibility for this crisis of confidence. Second, how do you buy American stock Joann. Take our Honda, some parts are American made and the cars are assembled in Marysville, Ohio but the Honda Corporation headquarters is in Japan.
Third, Joann, you garden so you should know that you use a pesticide to kill bugs on a vine and you use herbicide to kill a vine.
So then I had to reply to my husband by using my grandson's favorite word: uh-ohh!
News Flash!
Everyone needs to stroll to the left to DragonQuilter's blog and see how folks go to the races in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Here they do it in the old grand style with a few modern touches for personal delight. Let's do the stroll.


DragonQuilter said...

I just keep trying to focus on what can I do to help make things better? Let's not focus on the past as too many do just now. We are in a mess for sure but blame won't help solve it, so can we just look forward and work together to makes things better?!!

Jack and Joann said...

Good point Dickie. Looking back and rehashing what past politicians and elected officials did or didn't do doesn't change the present crisis or give us a solution to the crisis. I like to think that people will get over their temper tamtrums and start to pull together to make this a better world.

Deep down I am an optimist. I do think that this is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country by buying stock in American companies. Follow the lead of Warren Buffett by brown bagging your work lunch and skimping here and there to buy a little American stock to hold for a long long time and to pass down to your kids and grandkids. We need a new motto: Be Patriotic, Buy Made In Ameriica Stock!

Anonymous said...

Oranges were rare when I was growing up and to get one for Christmas was to believe in Santa Claus.

Tractors have come a long way. I remember plowing by horses and oxen were as common as blacksmiths who made and fit them with iron shoes.

Then I remember steam engines pulled two 12 inch bottom plows through sod, turning it over and exposing million, billions perhaps, of nightcrawlers that flocks of circling birds quickly feasted on.

I also remember the first tractors in fields and saw their steel wheels with iron triangular cleats pulling one or two 14 inch bottom plows. Especially the Green and Yellow John Deere that did not then have an automatic hitch release. So striking a rock with the plow would cause the tractors back wheels to keep on turning while the blow kept it in place, stuck, so the only thing that moved was the front end or wheels slowly going up towards the sky with the driver leaping off before it turned back on him, crushing the machine and all on it.

Those were the days I remember well.

Thanks for the memory machine.

Wanda said...

Love the picture of the tractor...

Very interesting narative...

I am an eternal optimist...and also believe that "God is the blessed controller of all things" and wonder want opportunities lay ahead for all of us Belivers regardless of who wins this election.

LOL:) Wanda

fishing guy said...

Joann: An interesting portrayal of America past and present. We have made great strides but where are we going.
On your car suject, when I was in Mexico I saw a GM plant making cars which is the opposite of what Japan is doing. Who knew what the world was coming to be.