Thursday, January 13, 2011

someone who gets it... and those who don't

John Grossbohlin sent a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal that will help us to explore some issues if you are even handed (meaning that there is some balance in your personal hand/brain/system functionality). Lynn Tilton is the unlikely hero of American manufacturing. Her firm Patriarch, named after her father, buys failing manufacturing firms (there are many of them) and builds them back up in value and competitiveness. She says,"The key to America's future is manufacturing." "We simply have to become a country that can make things again."

When those in American education so tragically failed to understand the value of the manual arts to ALL students, thus isolating career and technical training from "college prep", they shot our nation in the foot. As described by Ms. Tilton, "If we don't become a country that makes things again, we won't have enough jobs for our people. Without jobs, we could have social unrest. And that's not science fiction."

You can read about Lynn Tilton in the article Tilton Flaunts Her Style at Patriarch

It should come as no surprise to anyone with common sense that people are drawn to invest in the things the think they understand (whether they actually do or not). It should take very few brain cells to understand that a woman from a working class background, who put herself through Columbia's business school, would understand the value of manufacturing as those educated solely in college preparatory programs and universities would not.

So there are two things at play in the investment principle I just stated in the last paragraph. Because investment in the US has NOT been driven by an understanding of the values inherent in manufacturing, we've become crappy at it and drove it down the toilet, and then came up with all kinds of rationales to explain why we should abandon the American worker. Remember when we were told that we would be a "service economy?" When everyone realized that meant flipping burgers, they changed the name but left the mess. We would be an "information economy." Which meant we wouldn't really care about actually DOING diddly squat. Concurrently, because investment managers have had little insight into actual productivity, investment strategies have become driven by abstract market formulas, often unrelated to what happens on the ground. Thus investment has become riskier, less resilient, more speculative and less sustaining of long term economic success.

By abandoning manual arts training in schools, first eliminating it for those going to college, and then taking it away entirely from nearly everyone else during the last generation, we have done a tremendous disservice to our nation's people, to the value of our economy, and to our culture.

Lynn in the video above, describes "rebuilding with our own hands, what others have talked away." Those who are unacquainted with the serious, sincere, connection that the hands form with intellect, character, compassion and our essential humanity have pushed our nation to the brink.

I am back from Costa Rica. It was warm there, it is cold here. Back to work!


  1. Anonymous1:33 PM

    Good for Lynn Tilton! We need more people like her.


  2. It'll take people like Lynn to make this happen. In the meantime, I am going to checkout a program called "Work and Learn" in CT. The program teaches kids from the inner city how to repair bicycles, small engines as well as woodworking skills. It's nice to know that there are people at different levels of wealth in this country trying to do something to help people be useful and have better lives.