A Reader Reports On Globalization In Lexington, NC
January 11, 2007, 04:00 AM
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01/10/07 - A Reader Asks Us If We're Letting Others Define Our Terms

From: A Reader In Lexington, NC

I very much admire Dr. Robert's articles, especially those critical of US movement to a global economy and police state.

Wealthy U.S. elites and tag-along speculators who profit from outsourcing do not seem to care about the utter devastation they are bringing upon our nation. I will use my area as an example.

Ten years ago, Lexington, North Carolina was a world leader in furniture manufacturing. Surrounded by abundant, managed hardwood timber, third generation craftsmen in Lexington produced much of the world's very finest solid wood furniture.  The entire area prospered.

Dad worked forty-five years as a furniture worker. We owned a plot of farmland, kept a few cattle, grew a garden and managed a couple of small woodlots. The cutting of a few trees paid property taxes, the garden produced food and the sale of cattle brought extra income. I graduated college and became a teacher. Raised in a similar family, my wife became a corporate credit manager in the furniture industry.

Corporate raiding and global outsourcing changed Lexington. Now, government, education and law enforcement are the only employers left in our area. The prosperous twelve-factory, 7,000-employee, company that employed my wife has been sold four times, with each group of speculators picking it as clean as they dare to "maximize profits" until now only an office staff is left importing very low quality Chinese knock-off copies of the company's former designs. The knock offs aren't selling in the US. (Unemployed workers can't afford much). Clients tell my wife that Chinese manufacturers are already calling them offering side deals of the same lines of furniture for half price.

In local education, older teachers are forced to retire (brings in state retirement money in addition to new federal and state funds for hiring young teachers). Excessive law enforcement, police-state-style; black uniforms, jackboots, black patrol cars and roadblocks, is everywhere. County supervisors are bloating local government by hiring relatives and putting them on the public dole.

The timber cutting industry, however, is flourishing with the clear-cutting of two-hundred-year-old stands of hardwood, leaving much of our formerly-beautiful area a wasteland. Our once-treasured timber is now exported to China, except for the prime oak that is now going to France and Germany to make beer and wine barrels. "For sale" signs decorate lawns of at least two or three homes on each street and road, and we had 166 foreclosures listed one month. Our young people have left for poorly-paying jobs in surrounding cities; usually with their families sending them extra money to help them survive. 

I too have been affected by these changes. Not wishing to relocate at my age (61), I, who have a Master's degree from Wake Forest University, who formerly taught computers and technology, now make my living with an old log truck and chainsaw, cutting woodlot timber for export. Nowadays, finding timber to cut is getting harder and harder.

Welcome to our brave new world of globalization, outsourcing and its accompanying police state.