Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie wrote a cover story at the Nation magazine: How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe. This is a big deal. 95 out of 100 American adults owns a cellphone. Big Wireless copied the playbook of Big Tobacco & Big Oil to hide the facts about their products – an example of the unethical abuse of science and the truth by power and wealth that is all too common and sadly pre-dates Trump.
I do my best to question conventional wisdom, but I had heard and repeated the fact that the US had lost its manufacturing and it was never coming back so often that I assumed it must be true. But I pick up the December 2012 issue of the Atlantic magazine recently and two articles jump out at me – both declaring that manufacturing is re-emerging. James Fallows writes of US startups exploiting new technologies to speed up the process of design-to-product, and Charles Fishman writes about US corporations like GE moving production back to the US.
James Fallows’ article, Mr. China Comes to America, opens with these words: “For decades, every trend in manufacturing favored the developing world and worked against the Unites States. But new tools that greatly speed up development from idea to finished product encourage start-up companies to locate here, not in Asia.” That got my attention! Charles Fishman’s article The Insourcing Boom goes even a step further. It’s opening words: “After years of offshore production, General Electric is moving much of its far-flung appliance-manufacturing operations back home. It is not alone.”
I make no bones about the fact that I like to report good news, but I don’t want to make nice or play Pollyanna. This information from these reporters strikes me as the real thing and I’m only too glad to admit I may have prematurely buried “made in America”.
James Fallows www.jamesfallows.com
Charles Fishman www.thebigthirst.com
Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth.
After 3.8 billion years of R&D on this planet, failures are fossils. What surrounds us in the natural world is what has succeeded and survived. So why not learn as much as
we can from what works?
This week’s guest, JAY HARMON is doing just that, translating nature’s lessons and models into technologies that solve problems and perform tasks more elegantly, efficiently, and economically. He’s the author of THE SHARK’S PAINTBRUSH: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation. I believe biomimicry – a way of looking and working and designing – has enormous potential to save us from ourselves. I find this one of the most exciting developments in the world at this time.
I haven’t done a lot about the election on this show. I’ve been talking more about the foundational issues that underlie the situation we find ourselves in — an age of very imperfect politics, government, finance, and business. Our democracy and our governance are dominated by a handful of billionaires, and a number of multimillionaires and their corporations who do not share the interests of the larger society.
But In early September I read a piece by Tom Hayden at Truthout.com. Over the next several days, it appeared all over the progressive blogosphere – Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves. I immediately contacted Tom to come on and talk about the election.
Among other things, he reminds us of the accomplishments of the first Obama administration in light of the actual political and economic circumstances he faced. He also looks at history of previous social movements. How did they interact with the political process in pursuit of their goals? And what did they gain and sacrifice in the process?
HAYDEN: “History will show that the first term was better than most progressives now think…By their nature, the achievements of social movements are lesser versions of original visions…If Obama loses, it will be unfair to blame the left, but they will be blamed nonetheless. As a consequence they will become more marginal, far less able to connect with the progressive constituencies and mass movements with vital stakes in Obama’s re-election.”
Last week I interviewed longtime reporters Don Barlett and James Steele regarding their new book, THE BETRAYAL OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, looking at the relentless economic, financial, and governmental process over the last 40 years to enrich the largest corporations and richest individuals at the expense of the middle class. This week I’ll talk with another wise and experienced Pulitzer prize winner with a long term perspective, HEDRICK SMITH, about his newest book, WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence nor do I think it’s redundant to turn so soon to the same questions being pursued by another savvy journalist. HEDRICK SMITH had already won a Pulitzer by 1973, the year that the post-WWII boom for the middle class began to wane. Real wages for all Americans had risen pretty consistently from the war years, and have done so almost not at all ever since. I point this out to highlight the fact that Smith has witnessed first-hand the rise and long fall of the middle class and brings that experience to this book and this conversation.