Saturday, January 21, 2012

Economic Indicators

A while back, I wrote a post about a a cafe in Iowa, and its business uptick (people ordering "a full lunch") as an indicator, perhaps, of an uptick in the economy. There, I also mentioned that what might be good for the cafe (higher bills/customer) might not be good for the customers and the rest of the world (more calories, larger waistlines, more heart disease and diabetes). Today, I have four more possible indicators--all from stories I heard on the radio this week.
     1. Law School.
Apparently, many law students are concerned about their job prospects vs. the cost of a law school education. Complaints focus on misrepresentations by law schools and the ABA about the current career climate for lawyers. As my husband pointed out, it's easy to add more chairs to a law school classroom; it's not like in a science lab, where students needs high-cost equipment. There was a time (a long time) when a law degree was an excellent credential for a lucrative career path. It practically guaranteed one. I believe that this is not the case anymore.

     2. Nuclear waste.
In a small town in Spain, described in the radio story I heard as located in the land of Don Quixote, the unemployment rate is so high that the townspeople (at least those interviewed for the story) are celebrating the deal they've just made to become a nuclear waste site. It is jobs that the people of this town want above all else. I am grateful that I am not in a position to have to decide between having a job and living above a nuclear waste site.
     Here's another view of the town--with more of the Don Quixote feel.


     3. Guns.
The economy in the Flathead Valley in Montana is booming because they manufacture guns there. The manufacturers are having a difficult time finding enough workers with the technical skills required, as these are more than straight assembly-line jobs. To try to satisfy the need for highly skilled workers, the gun manufacturers are partnering with local community colleges to implement training programs that suit their industry.

     4. Mattresses.
A new nonprofit company in Nashville, called Spring Back Recycling is taking on the rarely attempted task of mattress recycling. In their words, they are working to "protect the environment by offering retailers, institutions, and consumers an economical alternative to dumping used mattresses in landfills," which, I learned from the radio story, is where most mattresses end up. 
Each year more than 30 million mattresses are sent to landfills across the country. Because of their large size, mattresses take up considerable space and can take decades to decompose. Additionally, mattress springs frequently get caught in bulldozers, loaders, and trucks causing extensive damage.

The mattresses are broken down into raw materials such as cotton, metal, wood, and foam. Each of these component parts is bundled and sold to area scrap buyers to be reused in other applications.
Equally impressive, Spring Back employs previously incarcerated and homeless men to do this work.

We can all draw our own conclusions from my compilation of economic indicators, but I always like to see a little light at the end of a tunnel.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are attempting to tackle some huge problems. I will put in my three cents (with inflation two cents does not handle it).
I read your "cafe" post prior to answering. One can order a complete lunch, whatever that may mean, without increasing waist size, assuming it's affordable. One-half sandwich/bowl of soup may not be enough food for the amount of time between meals, but adding a salad, fruit desert and a low calorie drink (keeping in mind that drinking safe water is not a sin) may stop one from heading to th coffee emporium to buy a high-calorie sugared expensive drink between meals.
I don't feel qualified to comment about the climate for attorneys vs. the price, for the ticket, except to say that students owing on student loans in middle age says something is terribly wrong with the system, whatever the course of study.
Nuclear waste plants have no place anywhere. We don't know enough about nuclear power to be using it. Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing, located in Simi Valley CA, (outside LA) dumped radiation waste into the water in 1959 (You can read about it by Googling Runkle Canyon). at such high levels that a 62 mile area has been declared unlivable for centuries by the Union of Concerned Scientists. This did not stop the city council from denying building permits. One of the cancers on the list is Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer I was diagnosed with in 2000, having lived five miles from Runkle Canyon for ten years. The rate of cancer death in the area is currently 50% higher than anywhere in the country. Far worse than Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. There aren't enough attorneys to fight that one (which may save future lives if this horror is stopped) while the government has kept this atrocity secret and the company still pays fines and continues to radiate the water! Prior to CA we had the Monroe MI nuclear reactor offering its contaminated air and we now live too close to Palo Verde, the largest nuclear plant in the US.It leaks constantly. Of course we are told this is safe. These terrible places, like coal mines, provide jobs at the cost of lives, but the workers and dwellers nearby are so desperate they have no choice.
I was cured by a Naturopathic doctor located in Ojai, CA whom I never met, after 31 radiation treatments ruined my hearing, my teeth, my memory and my vision (tumor was on my head) and the cancer returned with the offer of a 40% chance of survival if I survived the first Chemotherapy treatment. I left the Oncologist's office.My son saved my life by telling the founder of the rock group Berlin, for whom he played keyboards, about me. Terri Nunn called me and recommended Dr. James Chappell/Ojai CA. After twelve years, the cancer has not returned. You may also want to Google "German Cancer Doctors" to find that Ronald Reagan was treated for three cancers during his presidency in Germany by having the cancers heat-treated and cured. That he or his family did not share this with the American public is unforgivable. But such cannot happen here because of the AMA/FDA greed unions that are stronger than Mr. Hoffa could have imagined.
It is easier to buy a gun in AZ than it is to buy fresh food. It is important to remember though, that guns don't kill. People do. You would not believe the number of gun related deaths in Maricopa County. Better start the turn when the light turns amber and hopefully avoid the other driver cutting the light. You could get shot by the angry driver behind you if you take too long.. I AM DEAD SERIOUS. As for gun laws - the crooks always get the guns.
The mattress company gets the "good job" award. Our prison system does not prepare those who want to be useful citizens for the outside. Too many of those in charge are as bad as the prisoners. Only the uniforms are different.
I'd like to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but so far the end of the tunnel is dark on a sunny day, except for the person collecting money for my passage.
rasirds@cox.net

Susan Messer said...

Thanks, Rasirds. Sounds like you've been through a lot, and glad to hear you found a solution that worked for you. These are all very complicated questions and balancing acts. I am always reminded how interconnected we all are (and the things we do) on this planet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words, but I've gone through a lot less than many. I consider myself fortunate. Life dumps a lot of obstacles on our plates and we deal, like finally confirming what I've thought for 50 years- my "cousin" and I share the same father! Thought I'd feel better finally knowing thanks to a kind soul in Lansing, but knowing everyone lied pretty well sours my platter at the moment. But, to borrow a phrase, "all things considered", I am married to a man I'd marry again after 48 years and we have a wonderful son and affectionate kitty. We didn't lose the farm in the stock market because we didn't invest. We don't take any of the pills advertised on NBC Nightly News. It's always better to focus positively even when reality challenges.

"A Question of Balance" is one of my favorite paintings. A copy hangs near me.

The way cancer (mis)treatment is handled in this country is extremely terrible. I hope it changes for the positive to balance the harm.

I truly enjoy reading your work and hope your second book is available soon.

rasirds@cox.net

Susan Messer said...

Thanks for your good wishes with the novel. I am still deep into it (seem to be snagged on one chapter in particular). I'm hoping to send the whole ball of wax off to my agent soon, but I'm afraid these things take quite a while. If she thinks it's ready to go, she'll send it out. Then we wait, hoping that an editor finds it worthy. If we get lucky with that stage, it still has to work its way through the publishing company. Can take a year or two . . . hope you have lots of good reading material in the meantime.

Patry Francis said...

Ah, Susan, there is so much to concern us worriers when we look at the future. Sometimes, in my limited vision, I don't see a way out of the problems we've created for ourselves. Then something completely unexpected happens. Thanks for sharing your light.

Susan Messer said...

Oh, Patry. So happy to see you here. I think of you so often (when I'm not worrying). I like that mattress story though. And I think I wrote a sentence last night (for the novel) that says exactly what I want it to say. That's something worth toasting to. Right?

Patry Francis said...

Toasting with you, dear. One perfect sentence is definitely cause for celebration.