Rushville Republican

February 6, 2013

Ward: The times they are a changin'

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — I can remember a time when life was much more on the slow track and things were easily understood and done, then I got older and things got more complicated. Many of the manufacturing, accounting, banking and many other areas now have found ways to use fewer individuals and yet increase capacity and workload. The jobs of my youth are fast disappearing from the scene and new ones coming online. And online is the optimum word here. The new economic engine for the world as well as our country is electronics, a field that is fast growing and people unfriendly. Where, in my youth, you had to have many more people (not machines) to get a job done, today we are the opposite.

Instead of a person painting your new car a robot controlled by a computer does it. Instead of people making steel a majority of the work is done by computer. Where machine shops used to work diligently cutting steel and other materials today all you do is program a computer and push a button. Where you used to go to a retail clothing store and be assured you would find a person there to help you, not so today. You used to go to the grocery and have the bag boy not only sack your purchases but also take them to you car and load them for you. Doctors had office hours but also made house calls, something I don’t believe any would do today.

If you borrowed money you did so reluctantly and with extreme caution. And when you did, the paper work consisted of one page (if that) outlining the transaction and how much it will cost you and how you will pay it. Today you have what seems to be reams of paper for most all financial transactions. Dairies used to home deliver their product to you, but no more; you go to the grocery and buy it. There used to be numerous individuals, my father included, who made a living by repairing things. Today, most of the items you purchase are not made to repair but to toss away. Rushville had a shoe cobbler, small appliance repair people and, like my dad, radio and TV repair people.

You generally understood what you invested your hard-earned money into. Today, there are so many different ways to invest it is mind boggling. And many of those investments are so complicated and unnecessary that you and I cannot fathom their meaning or worth, we have to take the word of a broker. In fact, the misunderstanding of these so called instruments is what I believe caused the recent economic problems. And also, in my opinion, our government has yet to do anything to alleviate those problems, nor do they seem to care. Our lives are much more on the complicated side and much more involved. Our time is used up outside the family and that is a shame.

I remember when I graduated from college I had several oil company credit cards sent to me to use. I did not ask for them nor cared to have them but the oil company sent them anyway. They sent the card itself, not an application. To them, your graduating from college was enough to make you credit worthy. Then Master Card, Visa and Discover and others came along and where individual stores had credit cards now there were cards available to be used all over the country and world (at a cost, of course). Machinery used to be run by steam or electricity and was usually set up to run several machines off one engine. Today, most machines have their own power and usually it is electricity.

Electronics and electricity seem to me to be the engines of our economy; without either we are indeed in trouble. I remember Metzger Lumber Company and how they ran all their machines off one engine and a long belt, leather yet, that ran the length of the shop. Today, the machines that then were huge are table-sized and have their own power. In fact, many individuals at home have saws and other machines much better and smaller than those of my youth. One is always in contact via cell phone, computers and (worst of all) social networking on computers. We don’t seem to ever be by ourselves, always a phone or iPad or whatever the newest gadget is with us.

Our fire, police and emergency people have so much communication that not much gets by them. Always the patrolman or fireman or EMT is in contact with someone or something. Yes, our life has indeed become much more hectic and time consuming and geared way to much too leisure time events than in my day. I look about me at my computer, cell phone, weather monitor and police monitor and wonder just how did I ever get by without them?

Well, I did! And, I sort of miss the time and era too.