I received an e-mail on my website that features my latest book: The Big Ten of Grammar: Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors. Of course, I liked it because of what it said about my book, but even more because of its general emphasis on a completely different subject.
The e-mail reads as follows:
Reading this article reminds me of all those wonderful American products we had back in the 1960s and 1970s that always worked, every time. You didn't need a new TV or toaster for years. Unbreakable products made with the finest materials. Seems like ancient history, doesn't it? But somewhere along the line, maybe in the mid- or late 70s, American manufacturers, in the battle for the all-mighty dollar, traded quality for quantity. Nothing lasted anymore, so people got fed up and turned to foreign products, many of which were vastly superior to anything made in the U.S.
As for grammar, quality is essential here, too, but as you point out, the vast majority of people simply knows nothing about the rules -- and don't care. This is why the writing on websites is so abysmal. But it's not stopping companies from selling more products. If I try to sell myself as someone who knows the language and can shoot down dangling modifiers, no one cares. If I can write code, though, it's another story. Maybe grammar will be become important once again in this country, but it's certainly not now. Hopefully books like "Big Ten" can help turn the tide.
If I were President of the United States -- the current President or a newly elected one -- I would immediately convene in the White House a meeting of respected and imaginative representatives of both labor and management from a wide segment of the marketplace, our most gifted economists, faculty from public and private educational institutions, and of members of the United States Congress. I would charge them with finding practical and speedy ways of bringing manufacturing and other jobs back to the United States that we have lost in the past several decades to other countries. With the economy stagnated and so many Americans out of work, such a move surely would receive strong support from labor and management, Senators and Representative from both sides of the aisle, and the American people as a whole.
I suppose this sounds impractical, but I would lock them in a room, like a sequestered jury, and keep them there until they could come up realistic plans to baring manufacturing and jobs back to the United States and get our stagnated economy on the upward climb, making it possible for everyone to have the opportunity of earning a decent wage.
It seems ridiculous to me that in a country with the resources and talent that we have that we cannot manufacture our own computers, appliances, telephones, smartphones, furniture, household goods, clothing, and on and on the list could go. And what about all those customer service telephone calls that end up in some foreign country where we have to deal with someone who cannot understand what we are saying and vice versa.
Come on, we were able to gear up on short notice and provide the weaponry and man and woman power and make the sacrifices necessary to play a major role in winning World War II. During cold ward days, we were able on short notice to play catchup in outer space and put people on the moon. We almost lost the car manufacturing business to Asian and European counties, but labor and management got together, made the necessary compromises and sacrifices, and now we are gaining back our share of the car manufacturing business. We have shown in the past that we have the talent and the backbone to overcome the odds and come out on top. And we can do it again!
I know Walmart is the dreaded company that has been credited with destroying many small businesses and the main streets of many small cities and rural communities, as well as not providing a working wage, but to its credit it has provided jobs and training for volumes of unemployed people. And regardless of how you feel about Walmart, it is difficult not to admire its recent moves to bring manufacturing and jobs back to America.
Early last year Walmart announced that it would "increase sourcing of American-made products by $50 billion over a ten-year period, buying goods already made here and helping vendors bring production back from overseas." And week before last, Walmart announced that it had established a "$10 million fund to promote American manufacturing in a pubic push to sell more American-made products." The fund, "to be distributed over five years, will award grants for new manufacturing processes and help to encourage such projects in this country." (See The New York Times, 01/14/14, page B5.)
Walmart's effort it a small start to bucketful of very large and complex problems, but it shows that ideas and resources are out there ready to be tapped. And we need to restore quality to all goods being produced in the United States. The car industry did it. All segments of the economy need to do it.
Yes, if I were President, I would get to work on this pronto!
Follow William B. Bradshaw on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BradshawBud