American Elephants


If You Know History, Change Will Not Seem So Scary! by The Elephant's Child

I have the impression, which may be false, that American companies ordinarily went to great lengths to essentially stay out of politics. They might get involved when potential legislation negatively affected their company, or when their corporate knowledge suggested that something being considered was a very bad idea, that sort of thing. At that point corporate involvement would probably be requested anyway.

Today it is a different story. It has been reported that workers in a company may inform their management that they are opposed to something that is simply a political issue and has nothing to do with their company’s business. Last I heard, a company had an executive board and a president to decide corporate positions, and the workers were not invited to participate but only to vote in local and national elections like everybody else. And the discontented would probably get canned. But there was no corporate position anyway.

When I was a worker bee, I certainly had no illusion that I had a vote in corporate business nor did I have any expectation that my personal politics were anyone else’s concern, nor that it would be acceptable to announce who I was voting for or why. But then there was never an occasion when there were riots in the streets and company policies regarding race were up for discussion. I had a black boss, and associates came from a wide variety of national heritages, like life outside of work. Nobody wore campaign buttons or gave any idea of who they were planning to vote for. So it’s weird to see groups of workers attempting to inform their management  about what is acceptable and what is not.

Are the mayors who have been so prominent in the media up for reelection? I live in a Seattle suburb not Seattle itself, but Seattle is pretty far left. They voted for Mayor Jenny Durkan at some point, and Portland once voted for Mayor Wheeler, and we now have a clear understanding of how they perform under stress. and the same is true across the country. Democrats have been trying to convince Americans that the Corona virus and all accompanying problems are Trump’s fault, but the facts would indicate that he’s done a pretty good job. Governors have been grateful for prompt supplies of needed materials like ventilators and masks, and companies nationwide have started producing them to meet the needs. The Seattle area had the first cases in the country, and travel from China was halted immediately.

I expect that there will be long term changes. The big cities will lose population as residents move to places where riots are unacceptable. Businesses will move. Will working from home become the norm? Some businesses have already announced that working from home will extend into 2021 or more. Not having to maintain corporate offices would save a lot of money if a good portion of the workforce could work from home. If “daytime pajamas” become the norm rather than tailored suits, there will be vast changes in the fashion industry. What precautions will become necessary for business to avoid disruption? Things change, but the impetus is not always clear. If you know history, change will not seem so scary.

Schooling seems to be on the brink of mass disruption. States are trying to decide if schools will be open or closed. Charter schools are an extremely beneficial change for black kids, but extremely unacceptable to teacher’s unions. The unions do not want to return to the classroom, but online education is not working, partly because teachers don’t know how to make their online classes interesting and compulsive as well as get the necessary learning into student heads. So far, a lot of kids just aren’t doing the online work. Some well-to-do families are getting together to hire tutors. I don’t know how much we know about kids’ home situations. Do most parents go out to work and leave the kids home alone? There’s a recipe for disaster. Homeschooling may rise in popularity, but some families don’t really have choices. Parents need to work. So expect big changes, not all of which will be acceptable.

I live in a Seattle suburb. The area has many international businesses, some of them famous, who hire many workers from abroad. My suburb is dotted with little storefront schools that teach English, and small storefront groceries that carry the foods from worker’s home countries. Does this go on all over the country? Are international companies just situated on the coasts or are they the norm everywhere? I have no idea. Immigrants from some countries populated different parts of the country because of climate or industry there. Washington and Idaho and Montana have lots of wheat growers and lumbering. Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska have major fishing industry, and so it goes across the country. Meatpacking ended up in the Midwest. Potatoes in Idaho and Maine.

Britain’s invention of machines to make thread out of cotton led to America’s slavery, but less than 5% of African slaves were brought to America. The majority went to the sugar islands and to South America. Early on, indentured servitude was popular in the Thirteen Colonies because of a large demand for labor, and more than half of immigrants to British colonies south of New England were white servants who came under indenture, because of the high cost of transatlantic transportation which was beyond the means of European workers. Between the 1630s and the Revolution one half to two thirds of the total white immigration came  under indenture.

The British Empire ended slavery in 1833, but did not prohibit the practice of indentured servitude until 1917. Somewhere between one half and two thirds of European immigrants to America came under indentures, usually as young men or women. Most went to the South where cash crops were common, for the North industrialized earlier. Remember that Australia was partly populated by prisoners who were transported. It’s all a fascinating history, probably not very familiar to today’s rioters. The movement of people and customs around the globe is not over, and will not end any time soon, and we are still making new history. We’ll have to wait a bit to see what the Space Force turns up.


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