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+ - The Nation is Losing its Toolbox 2

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Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Louis Uchitelle writes that in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place, in Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don’t want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer as mastering tools and working with one’s hands recede as American cultural values. "At a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship," writes Uchitelle. "Craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people." Mass layoffs and plant closings have drawn plenty of headlines and public debate over the years, and they still occasionally do. But the damage to skill and craftsmanship — what’s needed to build a complex airliner or a tractor, or for a worker to move up from assembler to machinist to supervisor — has gone largely unnoticed. “In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,” says Michael Hout. “People who work with their hands are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.” The damage to American craftsmanship seems to parallel the precipitous slide in manufacturing employment. and manufacturing’s shrinking presence helps explain the decline in craftsmanship, if only because many of the nation’s assembly line workers were skilled in craft work. “Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,” says Richard T. Curtin. “They know about computers, of course, but they don’t know how to build them.”"
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The Nation is Losing its Toolbox

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  • We have landmark wooden Gothic church in town that was barged out of New York City in kit form in 1848.

    The Sears, Roebuck catalog was selling mill work, pre--fab doors, windows, stairways, and the like, as early as 1910. Sears would go on to selling barns, outbuildings, middle class homes in kit form.

    The machine cut parts fitted together perfectly and could be run up quickly without waste.

  • I've been trying for ages to convince my fellow exploitees that we must go back to the tools which even the Egyptians abandoned when they went high tech with the pyramids and irrigation canals, that we must go back to ignorance of the seasons and weather, back to hunting and gathering, and without tools other than what the Great Ugh-in-Sky gave us -- our hands and mouths. No reed containers to collect berries. No rocks or sharp sticks to kill food animals. No animal skins for warmth. No fire or built s

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

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