Support the Michigan film industry

July 11, 2009

This morning on CNN, some talking head was discussing the job situation in Michigan (bleak, we all know that) and how the state has had to find other ways of boosting their local economy rather than rely on the automotive sector. One of the post-industrial sectors they are looking at is the film industry.

It seems to me that the best thing an economy of any size in the U.S. can do is move away from a manufacturing base. The natural progression of any society is agricultural -> industrial -> post-industrial, where post-industrial can be service-based or intellectual-based.  (Look at my home town and my current residence: unlike 40 or even 30 years ago, the biggest employer in Syracuse is Syracuse University, and the biggest employer in Baltimore is the Johns Hopkins University. Both cities left their industry—Allied Chemical, American Can Company—behind.)  Other countries can compete in the manufacturing sector, but almost no other country can compete in the service-based sector—as anyone who’s had to talk to a help desk in India can affirm.

Lou Dobbs has a bully pulpit by virtue of his TV exposure. He continually rails against the putative death of the manufacturing industries in the country. OMG—we’re losing manufacturing jobs!! OMG! Only 4% of our clothing is made in the U.S.!  (

OK with me.

How many of you have ever said, “I’d love for my daughter (or son) to grow up to be a union garment worker”? Doctor, teacher, astronaut, Nobel Prize-winning scientist, yes, but factory assembly line workers? Not bloody likely. In this day and age, post-industrial skills and post-industrial, service-sector jobs are necessary for the economic health of any nation. It is the natural progression from an industrial economy.

Rather than peeing and moaning about how people aren’t buying American cars any more, and this is coming from a lifelong Chevy owner,  perhaps Michigan should start selling something people will buy. There’s one thing that no one else but Michiganders can sell, and that’s Michigan.


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