Current tax incentives designed to encourage business investment made it reasonable for me to buy a Taiwanese made table saw to replace my 30 year old Rockwell, American-made saw. I had been needing to upgrade the saw due to ongoing difficulties with it, the inadequacies of its design to allow for dust collection and its lack of reasonable safety features.
Americans gave up the battle for manufacturing supremacy long ago except in the areas of aviation, advanced weaponry and some areas of electronics. My old Rockwell was a dependable work horse, but when the Japanese entered the American market, followed by the Taiwanese, innovation blasted ahead in the available features, ease of use, and safety... American manufacturers gave up the competition, and those remaining in business shifted their manufacturing to Taiwan. So even if I bought an American brand, guess where it would be made?
Michael Ruhlman in his book, Wooden Boats talks about the difference between those who make boats, and those who commission wooden boats to be made. There are some that understand the creative process and the investment they are making in the creative lives of makers, and as one would expect, many don't have a clue and are on an ego trip that often puts them at cross purposes to those dedicated to the skill and making of wooden boats. It is those who haven't a clue, educated without experience of the hands, that have brought our economy to wrack and ruin. I have great confidence that the hands of wisdom and experience can put things right. The conservatives have long talked about the "unseen hand of the free market economy," but it will require real seen hands to restore what has been lost.
I am reminded of a story about famous Arkansas architect E. Faye Jones. When he was interviewing contractors to build a now famous chapel, he asked, "What kind of nail gun do you use?" One after another the contractors said "Senco. It is the most reliable." The contractor who got the job said, "We don't use nail guns. We use hammers."
We have been driven by expedience to the point of carelessness. It shows in our tools and it shows in our economy. But care can be restored. The following is a quote from former President Jimmy Carter from a Splintered History of Wood, sent to me by Joe Barry:
"When I tire of the computer screen, I can walk twenty steps to my woodshop and immerse myself in my current project," Carter says. And why does an Octogenarian, financially secure, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Emory University professor, Carter Center (Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope.) leader, and prolific author continue to make sawdust?And so what if we put our minds to rest? Put our hands to work? We would feel much better about things.
"What we need in our lives is an inventory of factors that never change. I think that skill with one's own hands - whether it's tilling the soil, building a house, making a piece of furniture, playing a violin, or painting a painting - is something that doesn't change with the vicissitudes of life. [Woodworking is] a kind of therapy, but it's also a stabilizing force in my life - a total rest for my mind.