Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entire Town Outsourced To China

You know the product by sight. You know it's name, it's feel, what it's many uses are, and it's probably in almost every U.S household. It stands for Made In America, a good product, a working man's best friend since it's invention in 1918 by William Peterson. Produced in a small Nebraska town where the entire population works hard making them, the Irwin Tools company, a subsidiary of Rubbermaid, announced last month that the Vise-Grips plant is moving to China because the labor costs are so much cheaper there.

DeWitt, Nebraska lies about 35 miles southwest of the state capital of Lincoln, but couldn't be farther apart in lifestyles. With a population of 600, Dewitt epitomizes the small town values espoused by the candidates for President. Crossing the set of railroad tracks to gain entry to the town proper, it's main street consists of one small tavern, a small grocery store, a little clothing thrift operation, and the huge Vise-Grips plant.

Trees line every street here in DeWitt, a place where homes aren't packed together like sardines, and everyone knows your name. You can't pass through the little slice of apple pie without waving to virtually every person you pass, whether they're walking down the street, or sitting on their porch watching the gorgeous fall foliage. This every man and woman town is about to be completely uprooted though, due to the greed of a corporation, and the tax incentives that companies are still receiving to ship our jobs overseas.

The trade agreements with China actually provide for extra money for corporations to set up shop in China, rather than keep the plants here in America. Vise-Grips. Good Lord, one must think when they go to grab a pair of the ever handy tool from now on. Used as a portable vise, or a wrench in a pinch, Vise-Grips are in every garage, every mechanics shop, every kitchen drawer, and well, they're just everywhere. And it has been the good people of DeWitt, Nebraska that has been making them for us.

Worried now about what they're to do, the town's residents fear their home is about to go the way of many a small town in the Mid-West over the past eight arduous years. They cite the examples of towns and cities across the Heartland that depended upon Agri-Businesses for their survival and whose homes were turned into ghost towns when the business was bought up by a corporate entity and moved or it's workforce laid off to make way for immigrant labor who would do the job for pennies on the dollar.

And it always seems that they pull this crap just before or during the holiday season. It's not bad enough that the corporation could care less that they're destroying people's lives, but they rub salt in the wound by doing it in October, or November, or December. Is Vise-Grips going to send each of their ex-employees a Christmas card wishing them a jolly holiday season? Probably so, such is the heartless nature of these corporate beasts.

In times past, a plant closing wouldn't be this big of a deal. The townspeople could have probably commuted up to Lincoln and found other work. But with high fuel costs and the fact that there are not any jobs open in the tight market, that option isn't even viable. So, DeWitt will most likely go the way of other small communities. Neighbors that have known each other all of their lives will most likely move away, losing contact with their friends as usually happens despite promises to keep in touch. Houses will be foreclosed or sold, the few stores in town will shutter their doors and windows due to a lack of business, and the townspeople will move away. DeWitt will become just another victim of the Bush policies, lying silent and dusty in the vast Nebraska Plains.

This must stop. It doesn't matter who wins this election, this outsourcing and the incentives to do so must end. These are real people whose lives are being destroyed and who are going to lose everything they have worked and sweated and bled for all of their lives, going back two generations. Wiped out by the Corporate greed machine, and aided and abetted by our own government. This monstrous loss of good paying American jobs in favor of low paying ones is an insidious destruction of the American way of life, and the incoming President must end all tax breaks for those who would uproot entire towns and cities. Tax breaks must be given instead to those who would build new plants here in the United States. Make noise about this issue, because a complacent populace may just find that the next set of jobs shipped to China, or India, or Pakistan is yours.
Contact Irwin Industrial Tools, the parent company of Vise-Grips, and tell them we are no longer going to be silent about the grip that Corporate America has on the throat of the nation.

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