Daily Podcast: The Hollow Men

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
daily podcast the hollow men

Rhode Island is one of those New England states with regular mill fires. Every now and then, someone torches the abandoned husk of a once-mighty factory, an eerie edifice from a bygone era nestled by the river of some obscure town. Even after they burn, often in spectacular fashion, the mills don't fall down. Back in the early part of the last century, construction technology was relatively crude, and amazingly robust. Post-conflagration, you're left with relics no less profound than Europe's abandoned cathedrals. The mill walls stand tall; the scope and scale of what was remains obvious. Of course, these days, the mill fire victims are bulldozed into oblivion, so that insurance companies and land developers may be satisfied. As I watched this video of a Chevrolet plant smokestack crumpling to the ground in Muncie, Indiana, it angered me that a confederacy of dunces has allowed the American automobile industry– the American automobile industry– to "escape" to Mexico, South Korean, Australia, Belgium and elsewhere. Unlike the mill fires, this local landmark falls to the ground like a prize-fighter who walked into a vicious right hook. And here, there are no remains. Only a pile of bricks to remove. It is the silence of this finale that scares me. To my eyes, it symbolizes the fact that The Big 2.8 and their legion of American workers are dying with a whimper, not a bang. [thanks to John for the link]

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  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Feb 02, 2008

    @WillBodine: I'm going to quibble with something you said not because its' important to your argument, which I otherwise agree with, but because I know a bit about the dinosaur extinction, and I care about that stuff. I'm not sure the dinosaurs qualify. They were very well adapted to the environment that existed on earth before the meteor hit what is now the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous volcanoes began blowing their tops--events which I suspect were triggered by the meteor hit. The Big 3 were not so well adapted even in the '60s and '70s, before the big changes in the world economy got going in a big way.

  • Dynamic88 Dynamic88 on Feb 03, 2008

    The decline of the US auto industry no longer bothers me (and I live in MI). I don't see it as a foreshadowing of the fall of the country. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyudai, etc. are able to build cars here - cars people want. They are able to pay attention to the market, and are able to improve their product consistantly. GM, Ford and Chrysler are not willing to pay attention to the market. They don't improve product as consistantly as the transplants. All that is happening is the US auto industry is changing owners. People from Japan and Korea who are able to engineer and able to use resources efficiently are taking over. The only sad part of the American companies decline is that it's primarily a matter of will. They'd rather throw money on the hood than take the time to engineer a class leader. On those rare occassions when they produce a class leader, they just rest, and let it be overtaken by the competition. It's really hard to have any sympathy for people who just wont try.

  • Terry Terry on Feb 03, 2008

    Dynamic, I agree with your post 100%. To ME, the US auto industry is alive and well--it's just that the transplants are now running the show. The imports are building HERE, employing AMERICANS, and satisfying consumers. In my area, the traditional domestic car is now--for lack of a better word--FOREIGN! Add to this the fact that the domestics are now importing design, technology, parts, and it comes down to: "Who are you going to buy your import from?"

  • Fallout11 Fallout11 on Feb 04, 2008

    Powerful and moving words, Mr. Farago. Thank you.