Letter: Industrial base deserves more credit



This is in regard to Lou Glazer’s (Feb. 22) Guest Column (“Why is Pittsburgh better off than Grand Rapids?”)

Does his direction mean we will all be selling insurance or working at a bank? Becoming nurses and X-ray technicians? Programming computers and writing code?

I guess I don’t get it. If no one makes anything, what do we need all the “knowledge-based” people for? This is really like the chicken or the egg. Does the manufacturer need the accountant — or does the accountant need the manufacturer?

It would be a “Shangri La” of sorts, I suppose, if we could all be attorneys and computers guys and medical professionals. But where does the wealth come from to pay for it all? What actually generates the income? Does trading dollars create more jobs, as Mr. Glazer states, or just more pay? Why do all countries that want to be wealthy focus on manufacturing vs. selling annuities or making mortgage loans?

For that matter, what is “knowledge-based,” anyway? An R2D2? A Mr. Spock? Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”?

I suppose one could practice medicine while the next guy sues him and the third sells them both insurance policies, while a knowledge-based banker loans everyone money … but to what end?

Mr. Glazer calls construction and manufacturing jobs “low education.” But is that really accurate? Today’s factories are often computerized and require certain skills that are not low education — and not just in programming.

I think he misses the beat here and does not give proper credit to our industrial base. The bigger problem is the percentages of working vs. non-working individuals, access to education, and a certain motivation and desire to achieve.

These are things that are learned in one’s environment and through education. Not in a “knowledge-based” economy … but rather family, and church.

Mike Fassbender
Grand Rapids

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