Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Leveraging and Energizing America's Apprenticeship Programs/Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015

When legislators don't legislate.

Getting Them Out Of The Way.

Did you ever find yourself in the midst of a rather fascinating inventive process that if you were left alone to develop it completely it would more than likely be quite beneficial and fluid without any form of interruption?

Think about this for a minute.

You are in your garage on a Saturday afternoon putting the very final coat of marine spar varnish on the hull of the sculling skiff you and your crew have been working on over the course of a long cold winter. As you are doing this, someone out of the blue, walks into your garage and begins to talk to all of you about the notion of giving you a tax break if you would be willing to take on the task of hiring a couple of “apprentices” that you would be responsible for training in order for them to be able to learn the fine art of scull skiff building.

Knowing full well that you had indeed just spent the winter developing a product prototype you were certain was going to be received positively by those in the rowing market, part of the reason you were so positive was in fact that your team of “apprentices” had in fact already done the work, and, none of them or yourself, needed a tax break in order to build the thing in the first place, or, for that matter, bring the scull to market.

None the less, this person persisted with the notion of offering you a tax break if in fact you chose to hire “apprentices”. Stating among other things that doing so would guarantee the long term growth of a well educated job force, this person somehow could not bring herself to understand that in fact all of you were already quite clear of the long term potential for job growth in the scull skiff building business you guys were actually already in.

Much like a naive yet overbearing seven year old, she persisted to the point where you and your team of scull skiff builders began to realize that this child looked vaguely, if not comically, familiar. As she went on and on about the value of apprenticeship, one of your team members finally pegged who in fact this woman/child actually was or “once was”. It turns out she was once a junior high school psychologist as well as a “community activist” who more or less made her money from going around on Saturdays and lecturing unsuspecting garage based inventors on the importance of making sure that their children had the right type of psychological screening needed to prepare them to become leaders in the real adult world they would soon be entering into. She was a federally funded and federally paid school psychologist who knew as much about the human mind as she did about the notion of minding her own business on a quite Saturday afternoon. But, as she was trained also in the field of community activism, she insisted that in order to keep her federally funded job as an impertinent psychologist that meddled needlessly in the lives of adolescent children, she would as well have to diversify her career as a community activist by pestering the parents of these children for more money so that she could someday go to school and get training in the advanced field of scull skiff building.


Now here's the thing, this woman claims that if the people who are either already working in or would like to be working in an industry that more or less is based upon the concept of apprenticeship to begin with, went ahead and registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency (or perhaps both), then the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency, or, both, would then give the company who hires the apprentice a tax credit for the few years it would supposedly take for the apprentice to acquire enough knowledge to become something more than just an apprentice. In the process of doing this, somehow both an enormous educational void would be filled in our country while at the same time, employment would rise significantly as well. Given the delusional nature of this woman's mind however, what seems to escape her altogether is the notion that if either existing or new federal or state agencies are formed, chances are the so called tax credit being offered to those who are just minding their own damned business and going about the business of scull skiff building would, much sooner than later, find themselves paying for yet another needless agency charged with yet another needless regulation, which of course would tend to make them want to raise the price of their finished scull skiff to begin with while laying off workers once again as those prices rise. As this type of “Ill Industrial Logic” has become the benchmark from which American industrial growth has been falsely measured for way too long, suffice to say, the nitwit proposing this particular concept, has for years, become a master of American employer and American worker as well as American consumer deception.

Getting more to the specifics of this “apprenticeship thing”, there are currently two bills before Congress that are attempting to outline or frame, and, then actually put into federal law, the concept of what it is I described above. The first bill is called the “Leap Act”. This term is of course the shortened version of the much larger title known as Leveraging and Energizing America's Apprenticeship Programs (Act, S. 574) introduced by U. S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). A summary of this bill can be found here. The full text of this bill can be found here.

The second bill is entitled the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015 (Act, S. 2792) introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mariah Cantwell (D-WN). A summary of this particular bill can be found here. The full text of this particular bill can be found here.

As these bills are essentially one in the same, the question of why four separate senators would be spending such an enormous amount of time essentially duplicating one another's work is of course, a twofold conundrum in and of itself.

Whereas on one hand, two men are working feverishly to produce a bill that is supposedly for the greater good of the country, why then are two women doing precisely the same thing? Taking this just a bit further, where on earth did these two men disappear to in order to draft this bill? In turn, where exactly were these two women at when they were doing exactly the same thing? As I can come up with a variety of scenarios that I think might explain this overall adolescent approach to drafting virtually identical legislation, the fact that this legislation begs to address the fundamental issue of American Apprenticeship, seems to clearly suggest that these four people were most likely locked in the separate his and hers senatorial bathrooms due largely to the fact that none of them had at their disposal mentors who from another age might have suggested to these four adolescent Senators that perhaps bathroom talk is just slightly less concrete than say the talks that would normally be had around either a kitchen table or, perhaps, a conference table where many others might be allowed to congregate as well.

Aside from these obvious expressions of amateur social redundancy, the meat of the issue which seems to benchmark a collective concern for the development of an apprenticeship bill is being brought forward to address the employment concerns of not every industry in America, but, only those that for the most part, would not possibly benefit from such a tax incentive in the first place. With both of these bills targeting such industrial groupings or “career fields” as manufacturing, health care and information technology, all three of these categories are currently, and, most assuredly, well into our 21st century industrial future will continue to be examples of industries that are wholly automated and therefore virtually devoid of a need for a human work force to begin with. With this type of automated industrial reality clearly staring our entire nation squarely in the face, again, one has to wonder just exactly what all of these elected senators and congressmen and women are actually doing with their time not to mention our future 21st century American industrial and economic life plans as such plans actually pertain to the everyday lives of all Americans.

Adding more to the redundancy of both of these bills is the fact that these “senators” have built into these “bills”, clauses that state that if in fact these bills prove to be absolutely worthless to begin with, the bills themselves will essentially be scraped anyway. Meaning that once again our America is being led by political nitwits who cannot for the life of their collective legislative bodies, sit down long enough together to craft a framework of a true mixed energy use, 21st century domestic American industrial growth policy that would perhaps last slightly longer than it takes to eat an order of fast food french fries that are themselves made by robots.

Think about this for a minute. I mean, really think about this.

I am a master carpenter. Within the definition of this term in my case resides a set of skills that if I were to take the time to either draw or write those skills out, could easily take up well over one hundred pages of a resume to both list and define as well as thoroughly explain. To put this statement into some sort of a tangible industrial context that hopefully everyone can relate to, let me reference what I reference often in my writings on this blog. North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes have, for several decades been the only practical and truly functional tool the federal government has utilized to literally keep both our domestic and global industrial mechanism working smoothly for the same amount of decades. As this system essentially blueprints every conceivable industrial function we in America are engaged financially, socially and industrially in, does as result, enable our nation to keep track of virtually every basic raw material as such material first comes out of the ground in its purest virgin form up to and including every conceivable industrial process that takes that raw material and transforms it into anything even vaguely capable of being thought of or invented to begin with.

Having said this and getting back to the statement I made about being a master carpenter, there was a time in our country when in reference to charting the entirety of our industrial capacity, “Standard Industrial Classification” codes were in existence. As I belief SIC codes were established for the first time in our America back in 1937, the singular and clearly crucial reason for doing so, was the fact that prior to the establishment of these codes, nobody in America really knew what anyone else in America was actually making. Long before the communication age, long before the age of interstate highways, someone in New York would be making one thing whereas someone in Ogallala, Nebraska would be making something entirely different. Whereas both of the things they were making had considerable brilliance and considerable value attached to them, due to this overall lack of information exchange, the industrial inventive process quite often was lacking in economic momentum due primarily to the fact that crucial industrial information was in fact not being exchanged, or, more precisely, not being exchanged fast or efficiently enough. Thus as someone in Nebraska was manufacturing a product that required the use of a certain raw material, someone in New York was doing something else but also required the same raw material to construct. Needless to say, as raw material is in fact a commodity, people from entirely different regions of the country were both mystified as to the fluctuation of price not to mention the lack of availability of the raw material in the first place.

At any rate, in 1954 (which is the year I was born) it took approximately 300 American industries to build the house I was born in. This rough figure is based upon the knowledge of industrial functions our federal government had at its disposal as a result of it's ability to refer to the very S.I.C. Coding system congress enacted into law back in 1937 in order to best serve both the short and long term industrial growth and expansion policy of our United States of America. So in 1954, the federal government new precisely what every function of every industry required to not only build my childhood home but provide every conceivable service, public utility, road, agricultural product, job description, tax base, wage, stock option, building code, zoning ordinance, hair coloring and nylon stocking it took to keep every one in America feeling pretty much “peachy keen”.

Fast forward to 2015.

Today the industries involved in building that same house have expanded into the thousands whereas the NAICS codes have essentially done the same. Unfortunately, whereas our industrial base has expanded significantly in the past 60 years, the homes we live in and the vast amount of infrastructure required to service both the human and industrial needs associated with the home have not. On one hand then, we live in the most advanced industrial nation in the world, but, on the other, the fast (vast) majority of what it is our industrial base manufactures is manufactured by the manufacturing process itself leaving the human element entirely out of the equation. As one of the promises of both of the above mentioned “apprenticeship” bills is that jobs will be created, it is again quite obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that the meager framework of both of these bills has virtually nothing whatsoever in common with the actual creation of jobs and everything to do with simply analyzing financial figures in much the same way as everything else in our America that is already manufactured is analyzed as well. But, again, I am a master carpenter.

As I am a master carpenter, I am as well, an entity or a category, or, a statistic that is not recognizable by either our nation's NAICS codes, our nation's building codes nor our nations working corporate culture, not to mention, and, most significantly by our nation's financial institutions and economic culture as well as overall legislative agenda. Someone who claims to have substantial knowledge of every industrial function required to actually build a truly state of the art 21st century home or existing home retrofit in any community in America, is simply not an entity that is actually recognized by any computer program in America due exclusively to the fact that that computer cannot possibly cross reference all of the industrial knowledge it takes to actually build or rebuild such a house and do so repeatedly and simultaneously to the point where the American industrial economy is thriving to the extent that it truly has the potential to do so here in 2015. For as long as I have been building homes, for as long as I have been documenting the vast array of advanced technology products and systems that are currently on the American market and are clearly designed to be utilized by other master American trades people like myself across America, I have witnessed the potential of those products being reduced to nothing by the manufacturing process in and of itself.

In other words, those who exist in Washington DC have in many ways legislated our industrial economy to such a point of absurdity, that it has become virtually impossible to actually put into place the vast majority of products our nation actually manufactures for our homes and into those homes in the first place. In the same breath, the very legislation that would serve to constructively expand our NAICS codes to include a significantly broader spectrum of labor based American industries goes in many ways, blindly ignored by the manufacturing based legislative process to begin with. As a master carpenter, I cannot in any manner be either legislated or enforced. Nor can I be expected to benefit from the legislative mindset that is currently functioning in an entirely dysfunctional manner in our America today. To suggest solely that the purpose of the American industrial economy is to manufacture for the sake of manufacturing when in fact the outcome of manufacturing must always be the capacity of the population to actually utilize what is manufactured for something other than a 401k investment plan belies entirely the fact that whole segments of what should ultimately be based upon a quite pure form of Apprenticeship, goes entirely wasted by the overall lack of true hands on and labor intensive 21st century, mixed energy based and highly educated based, labor intensive industrial and economic thought.

Put simply, the two bills having been brought forth by four senators to broach the subject of apprenticeship, are, for all practical purposes, simply adolescent expenditures of a federal budget ruled over not by long term rational planning but short term whimsical forays into “Let's Try This Scenarios” that effectively void one another out every four years which of course is the corresponding time of election cycles as well.

Having said this, what in fact would an industrial nation whose economic foundation is clearly based upon the notion of extensive, apprenticeship based economic growth actually resemble?

Well, for one thing, up until just a few short decades ago this foundation was firmly rooted to the healthy existence and truly logical function of labor unions. I don't know if anyone who is reading this essay recalls, but at one time in the history of the United States of America there was an organization entitled the AFL-CIO. This entity successfully represented the rights of workers in virtually every industrial sector in America. As it did, it did as well represent a certain standard of excellence as such excellence was conveyed in the quality of product union workers produced. As I am all but certain that virtually everyone in our nation has a rather substantial understanding of how the AFL-CIO began to melt away into the history books of our American geopolitical time line, the simple truth of the matter is that the leadership in the AFL-CIO became just as redundantly dormant as our leadership in Washington DC as well as our leadership in corporate board rooms.

I mean think about this for a minute.

The leadership in the AFL-CIO became just as redundantly dormant as our leadership in Washington DC as well as our leadership in corporate board rooms in every segment of every industry throughout America.

And, we're still surviving economically?

Not really.

With the exception of a few half ass multinational trade agreements, a hopelessly passive federal reserve monetary policy and the continued announcement of yet another generation of cell phones, our American economy is about as stable as the minds of those convinced that by the year 2016 our earth is going to simply melt away.

Perhaps that overall fear of melting is what is driving the leadership in these sectors to be so scantly passive and unimaginatively docile to begin with. Your guess is as good as mine.

At any rate, what would it look like if in fact the AFL-CIO truly took on the role of representing the American worker substantially once again? In the same breath, what would the political atmosphere be like in Washington DC if in fact all the guys and gals who worked there were actually involved in the day to day operations of a real functioning domestic American industrial economy? In turn, what would the make up of a typical American based multinational manufacturing corporation look like if in fact a substantial number of those sitting around the board room table were called in off of rooftops where their teams were busily installing the very advanced 21st century environmental technologies the corporation also manufactured?

As the question here is essentially “what is being manufactured?”; the larger question is simply where and to what extent the manufacturing is done at a particular facility before it is moved to another location for both the final manufacturing phase as well as the labor intensive and final installation phase? In turn, how is the whole life cycle of the product or whole product system being fully integrated or utilized to begin with? If one chooses to consider that in general, the product can no longer be assessed as something that can simply be purchased off of a shelf or a showroom floor and in turn such product is in fact only an articulated segment of the whole combined manufacturing and associated service sector process, it becomes much easier to envision the substantive nature of the domestic American industrial renaissance “Apprenticeship Modeling” has the very real potential for creating here in our America. Once a segment of a manufacturing process is spun off from the whole process, the whole process immediately undergoes substantial industrial diversification.

An example of this might be a solar collector.

The solar collector is something that of course generates electricity. While it does a remarkable job of doing so, in and of itself the solar collector has virtually no financial value. As it only becomes valuable when it is integrated into a far more complex energy system, it does as well, only become valuable when it is defined as a part of a far more complex manufacturing system. Considering the initial fact that a solar collector has to actually be mounted on something for it to be used to its optimum advantage, whatever it is to be mounted upon, more than likely has to be just as sophisticated as the solar panel itself. In the same breath, it must as well, be manufactured, shipped to the installation site in much the same manner as the solar collector and then installed as one part of a series of parts that goes into producing the whole effective economic and industrial dynamic of the solar manufacturing industry. As there is virtually no escaping this fact, as there is simply no simple way to install a solar panel or a solar grid, there is as well, no simple way of installing all of the components that bring the electricity to the building being provided solar electricity nor the utility that the solar array is connected to once the solar aspect is not beneficial, for example on a cloudy day, or, perhaps several in a row.

None the less, the solar collector is a movable or mobile manufactured and manufacturing entity needing tons of logistical support to reach its total economic capacity. Within this singular truth then lies the legislative benchmark from which “Apprenticeship Modeling” does in fact become the undeniable route for true and substantial mixed energy use manufacturing and installation procedure nationwide. As my essays are constantly benchmarked by both an insistence that our nation must rework its entire building code and zoning framework, and, in doing so NAICS coding will become that much more sophisticated and industrially all encompassing, these essays are as well clearly anchored in the very blunt truth that community education is at the grade line of every aspect of our nation's 21st architectural momentum. As the AFL-CIO is in fact the only rational source for systematic advanced industrial training as that training pertains to virtually every segment of our nation's industrial infrastructure, more than likely the facilities that currently hold our junior high schools, high schools and community colleges should be the places where these new aged, 21st century American union educational stewards congregate.

Towards the accomplishment of such a broad spectrum goal then, an alternative to the currently proposed “Apprenticeship Bills” might be worth discussing.

Let's try this.

Let's assume that virtually every industry in existence in America today can, should and, indeed, must establish an apprenticeship program for that individual industry as it exists in and of its own industrial sector and manufacturing discipline. Let's assume as well that it is clearly understood by all stakeholders the singular purpose for the establishment of this legislation is for the prolonged and sustained educational and employable well being of America's entire work force as well as America's entire manufacturing framework. Let's assume even further the establishment of this apprenticeship ideal is the sole guarantor of long term domestic American economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and America's overall socioeconomic performance in the entire global economy for the remainder of our 21st century and most likely well into our 22nd century.

With these assumptions in place, identifying and blueprinting the specific functions of existing industrial sectors becomes the next mandate. Within the framework of this mandate and using the auto and light truck industry as but “one small, 21st century industrial example”, the first question to ask of the auto and light truck industry is not what one would conventionally ask in terms of a certain style or purpose of the automobile or the light truck it was currently manufacturing, but instead, how diverse is the chassis and the drive train from which either the auto or the light truck is actually built upon? This singular question asked by the automotive and light truck industry, if in fact the question was directed towards the adaptability of that chassis and drive train to the needs of every other industry, a rather startling response would, in all likelihood, immediately unfold.

For myself as a master carpenter who has watched the technology of the tools I've utilized evolve over the past forty years, I have to say that a pick up truck is an essentially useless contraption that has long ago outlived its industrial usefulness. Having stated this and being fully aware of the fact that pick up truck sales in the US have been the mainstay of corporate automotive and light truck profits for more than the last few years, the only reason they have is that Americans in general are quietly waking up to the fact that a utilitarian vehicle like a pick up truck is much better suited for the industrial economy that America is ultimately heading toward and simply feel as if the pick up truck is the answer to their expected future utilitarian as well as economic needs. Whereas this sense of logic might help the child psychologist /wanna be scull skiff builder fantasize about boat building and rowing for a living, without the proper apprenticeship training, the pick up truck is as useless to them as it is to the master tradesman just as it is equally as useless to the pick up truck manufacturer, unless, of course, the manufacturer focuses on the true versatility of the chassis as well as the drive train, while in turn focusing on the mixed fuel source requirements of the equipment and trade specific component parts mounted to the chassis.

As the equipment and trade specific component parts mounted on the chassis are in fact the 21st century's definition, of in this case, pick up truck functionality, the true diversification of that functionality from one industry to another is in fact taking the time to both listen to and develop the multiple platforms that must in fact be attached to the chassis in order to allow a much more highly educated and clearly trade specific insight into both the transportational as well as on site equipment operational needs of a broad host of industries. As again, the discussion here is of apprenticeships and long term job creation, it is as well, an equally in depth discussion of true 21st century industry by industry diversification that comes about for the most part by simply having high level design and engineering discussions from within the framework of a truly dynamic, mixed trades industrial awareness. Thus, if the big three auto and light truck makers know the vehicular needs of the residential solar panel installation industry, the apprentices of the big three specializing in the manufacturing of the vehicular equipment suited for solar installs, learn not only the trades of the auto and light truck manufacturing industry, but the trades of the solar industry installer, accountant and scull skiff builder as well.

With the possibilities of customizing the sheet metal that sits atop the chassis of America's fleet of American made pick up trucks virtually endless, and, it is, so to is the possibility to expand the micro manufacturing facilities that would quite naturally be defined as needed to do this as well. From within the overall framework of this need then would emerge not only the birth of micro manufacturing facilities for the auto makers, but the same micro manufacturing facilities for the solar industry, or the residential painting industry or the retail baking industry or the commercial and residential welding industry and on and on and on it goes. Apprenticeship then is simply not as small minded as giving an employer a $1,000.00 tax credit for few two years, it is instead a cognitive recognition on the part of our legislators to finally begin to take seriously the notion that other nation's worldwide are simply walking away from future economic dealings with America due primarily to the fact that America seems to really not quite take seriously its own capacity to solve its own broad spectrum industrial puzzle for and of itself.

Again, what is quite crucial to understand here is the very simple fact that due to advancements in every aspect of both design and engineering, in every aspect of manufacturing, and, in many ways, every aspect of modern finance, America has manufactured itself out of the now fundamentally static manufacturing based economy it originally created for its own benefit. The irony of this is that when one chooses to view that manufacturing economy in the static and clearly non performing mindset it currently functions from, due to advancements in every aspect of both design and engineering, in every aspect of manufacturing, and in many ways, every aspect of modern finance, there is virtually no reason in the world for it to continue to do so other than the fact that legislation pertaining to virtually every industrial function is operating from a set of very much non fluid and therefore wholly castrating, industrial regulatory principles.

With NAICS codes today being defined in a more or less ancient manufacturing based mindset that essential states that if it cannot be built on an assembly line most likely the world doesn't need either it or the work force associated with building it, this lack of consciousness or entire lack of a much broader and more dynamic industrial consciousness, leaves out entirely the fact that the general poor condition of every single aspect of our energy supply infrastructure, every single aspect of our transportation infrastructure, every single building built any where in America needs to be aligned with micro-manufactured technologies that can only be applied to our market place via the sustained efforts of an incredibly well educated and labor intensive work force. Thus as NAICS codes expanded properly will in fact include this enormously more diverse listing of services trades, along with equally specific and equally diverse national building codes, these two virtually indispensable tools utilized historically to produce a highly relevant if not altogether indispensable industrial blueprint for virtually every manufacturer in America long ago will afford an even more diverse manufacturing sector to do the same again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike Patrick Dahlke

Please visit some of my other essays.

Is The Great Recession Really Over? What Would Happen If Nothing Happened With Our Money?

Connecting The Industrial Dots Of Neighborhood Based Economic Revitalization

Urban Planning: The Fine Art Of Attaching Organic Belly Buttons To Non Organic Industrial Brains.

Wind Powered Solar Oil Wells

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think,
but, please think before you tell me.

Thank you.