Readers write: Dec. 1

Are we producing the right grads?

One of the effects of reducing state funding for four-year colleges is it also reduces the job opportunities of those with only a high school education, making the gap between high school grads and college grads even more pronounced. The manufacturing of mechanical and electronic products, the kinds of high-paying jobs that high school graduates seek, requires experienced engineers and managers to design production facilities, manage product change, and supervise the production. Such products have frequent model changes, and internally, thousands of purchased parts, involving hundreds of vendors. Change is constant.

Are we producing the right college graduates to manage change? The talent should be home-grown talent when possible. Companies that were initially attracted to China simply because of the low wages discovered they needed experienced engineers and managers. But they also learned the cost of bringing in foreign-born engineers and managers — and their families — to supervise operations ate up much of the wage differential. It wasn’t until China began replacing foreign-born managers and engineers with home-grown talent that it could attract higher-paying manufacturing jobs.


Slavery remains our national curse

In 1967, German scholar Gert Kalow published a small book entitled (in English) “The Shadow of Hitler: A Critique of German Consciousness.” The argument is that Hitler continues, and will continue, to cast his shadow over German political consciousness. We in America have our own shadow, one that casts itself over every aspect of American political, cultural and social life. That shadow is slavery. Embedded in the Constitution, written in part by slave owners, slavery is that one historical fact that will not go away.

All the amendments to the Constitution can ameliorate, but not dislodge or erase, slavery’s pernicious effects. The present disastrous events in Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Arizona — you name the place — are bitter fruits from the crop that slaves (and now immigrants) picked. Will such hostilities, fears and mistrusts ever end? No one has that crystal ball, but it is well to recall that the current Middle East conflicts have recorded roots in the Old Testament. Some conflicts just seem to have a life of their own and admit of no resolution.

Certainly, no resolution will come from the top down. It will have to begin in the hearts of individuals, one by one, of all races, who say “enough is enough,” warm the milk of human kindness that has grown so cold, and serve it to one another.