Bob Scott met another Scott
I was in Milwaukee for several days testing a piece of equipment at the Allis Chalmers plant. One of the Allis Chalmers workers introduced himself to me- his last name was Scott and he was from Tennessee. I asked him why he moved up north. He had been a farm worker inTennessee and he liked it there but the use of Premerge in the cotton fields had eliminated the need for hand cultivation. He could still get a job as a tractor driver but there was no longer any work for his children.
An agricultural tractor driver might have made minimum wage but he had had to rely on all his children working for his family to survive in Tennessee. He was working as a laborer but it was probably a union plant and he could support his family.
What is underlying this story?
What has happened since then?
I knew about Premerge. That was a brand of trifluralin which is still used today to kill weeds in cotton. My company, Shell Chemical Company, made a competing product. The cotton farmers could save a lot of money by using trifluralin and firing all the people who had been cultivating the cotton. The chemical companies could make money selling trifluralin. The people who had been cultivating cotton were left out and did not share in the benefits of trifluralin ( which is currently under suspicion).
Most of the people who had been cultivating cotton were descendants of the slaves who had been the people who had been cultivating cotton since cotton began. They had been kept subjugated and uneducated so they would be happy working on the southern farms and they were happy and they worked hard. Now they were no longer needed. Alabama governor George Wallace offered a box lunch and a bus ticket to a northern city to any black person who wanted to leave Alabama. Being a black person in the south without a job was grim and in the northern cities there was at least had some hope of survival. I remember Life magazine had an article about a child with a southern accent in a northern city.
Today the Allis Chalmers plant is gone along with much of the northern industry that built the United States and with it the good jobs. The people who used to be southern farm workers were sent on their way without any compassion- much less help in adapting to new circumstances. There are reasons for things being as they are now and we need creative and realistic ways of advancing our country. Unfortunately the Republican incumbent congressmen have shown little (none?) in the last congress.
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