01.26.11

Mentafacturing vs Manufacturing

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 9:08 am by George Smith

mentafacturing: A pompous term for bullshitting, especially the variety associated with flacking for your offshored business, the innovative quality of cellphone applications, Facebook and/or American exceptionalism.

Usage: Mentafacturing replaced manufacturing as the primary export of American business resulting in a startling trade deficit disaster as well as mass unemployment.
— updated from the Joseph K Guide to US Tech Terminology

On SOTU — we got our Sputnik moment.

When Sputnik went up Bethlehem Steel still existed in Pennsylvania. There was a garment industry in Schuylkill County, where DD was born. And my father worked at the biggest aluminum extrusion facility in the world at the time, located in Cressona, PA.

Almost all of that is gone.

The United States was uniquely poised to take on the Soviet Union in 1957.

It is not in the same condition now. For one, the threat facing the country, as described so nebulously in the SOTU speech, is not an external one. The threat is of our own making.

The President did not address such challenges — the dilemma presented by American big business with no interest in American labor. Or the fact that US corporate goals no longer coincide with the goals of national renewal or providing security and a fruitful environment for the middle class.

Obama talked about investment in the future while announcing a freeze on domestic spending.

He talked about producing more science and math teachers without mentioning who would pay for them. Or what we would do with them given the fact that, even with science and math teachers, the subjects just can’t be taught in any realistic sense in US schools, as they stand now. And that a high school education that includes science is currently of no interest to the US job market.

One does not need any science education to assist in warehousing retirees, clean up unsanitary conditions, or be a cashier in retail selling goods all made in China. There is no demand for science and math in these growth “professions.”

Seriously. Science and math education in high school presumes there is serious desire and capability to move students into a college education career track that will build upon it, an educational trajectory that takes a long time and a lot of money. Unless I’ve gone completely out of my mind, that’s not the US in 2011.

Obama spoke of NASA and the space program, which was underwritten by the taxpayer — government spending (!) — without mentioning any idea of similar application for the present.

Here’s one.

Given the posts in this blog on the loss of capability in production and mining of strategic materials in this country. And their role in the development of clean energy futures globally, the President might have said the US will get back into the business of rare earth materials mining in a big way.

The President might have said he was setting up a government agency to take over the Mountain Pass mine from the private sector and to move ahead immediately in opening others like it.

The government would remain in the business, as with the developing space program after Sputnik, in order to guarantee use, demand and market for these strategic materials.

It would behave like China in this matter, aiming to eventually compete directly with that country, even to the point of subsidizing the production of the materials, knowing that in the very long term, the resulting jobs, technology and — ahem — innovation, might indeed have a big payoff.

That’s one example. But nothing like it was heard.

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