Continuing from yesterday, I believe the second psychological factor that prevents people from opening their own sewing factory is based on an inappropriate emotional response mostly because manufacturing has an image problem. It makes me very very sad. Most people think factories are terrible places, that you only work in one if you have no other options, presumably because factory workers aren’t very bright. I’ll spare you the revisionist semi-rant but I have spent the best years of my life in factories. On one hand we decry the erosion of our economy due to the loss of US manufacturing jobs but on the other, we don’t encourage our young people to pursue careers in it because we think they’re smarter than that and of course, we find it repugnant. This has got to change.
We have a schizophrenic attitude about manufacturing in the US. If we’re not thinking it’s horrible, on the other hand, when we find domestic producers, we celebrate them as some kind of hero, that they are unusual and made of more special stuff than we are. I’m telling you I know they are not. They are no different from you, their sources of information are no different from yours. The only difference I can see is that they don’t think manufacturing is beneath them; manufacturing excites them; they work hard at it. F-I visitors often send me inspiring articles about such and such company producing domestically but I often can’t write about them because I can’t separate what I know directly versus what’s been published in a newspaper or appears in a video -and then it annoys me that some of the facts in the story are wrong and I can’t correct it without betraying confidences.
Grace sent me a link to an interview called The Meaning of Intelligence featuring educator Mike Rose, author of Lives on the Boundary. Mike could tell you this story both ways. Due to an error in processing his high school test results, he was shunted into remedial classes deemed more appropriate to his IQ. He has a lot to say about the presumed intelligence of workers. He’s probably the nation’s best known advocate for respecting and encouraging education among tradesmen and factory workers. Mike also says that tradesmen and workers harbor deprecatory impressions of the presumed intelligence of college graduates that are likewise dysfunctional with the end result of disrespect between the two camps. I don’t know where the truth of it lies. I only know that mutual disrespect gets us nowhere and if you propose to assume the role of leadership in starting a manufacturing enterprise, it becomes your responsibility to breach and repair the impasse. But you can’t get there by denying your role in the affair because you find manufacturing repugnant to the extent that you deny you’re a manufacturer even though the law says you are. Denial is nothing if not repudiation and distancing.
Recalling the difference between a wannabe and a newbie, wannabes are surprised that contractors don’t want to do business with them? Seriously? Plenty of people find me even via this site and they still treat me like dirt when they call to inquire about services. I do not hate myself so much that I would work for anyone who disrespects me so heartily to the extent they don’t feel compelled to conceal their disdain. They likewise presume we are so marginal that we have no other choice than to take their work according to the -often vicarious and ill formed- mandates they’ve established. That my friends is the truth of it. The only difference between someone like that versus an individual who denies they’re a manufacturer is but a matter of degree.
My circuitous conclusion is that you will find it far more difficult to gain the upper hand in the new economy to deliver immediates unless you respect the work sufficiently to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. I think most of you are afraid too but it doesn’t have to be that way. You will be surprised to learn how exciting, fun, challenging, rewarding and profitable it will be -and I would be delighted to take you there. You’re missing out on a lot, aren’t you curious as to what that is?