When Local Jobs Went Away

Dear Editor:

Special for me during isolation—by phone playing a Scrabble game just about daily with my 96-year-old friend Marylou in Florida, in assisted living, in isolation too. We have conversation while playing, so please don’t suggest online “Scrabble with Friends!”

My Scrabble game’s box lid is falling apart, but in it I glued, when new, this article about the manufacture of Scrabble letters. The article is dated January 13, 1999. A Hasbro spokesman said, “The Bauhinia Limited Co. of Hong Kong is [now] making the wooden tiles and tile racks at its plant in Shanghai.” Also, “For 20 years, Milton Bradley Wood Products, Inc., in Fairfax, Vermont, produced tiles and trays. Hasbro closed the plant Dec. 4th, costing 87 people their jobs.” Closing that Vermont plant and five other manufacturing (toys) plants “around the world” is “expected to save the company $350 million before taxes within five years.”

In 1998, plant-closing-year for Hasbro in Vermont, Bill Clinton was a 2nd-term President. His first election had Independent H. Ross Perot in the picture. H. Ross Perot accurately predicted “the sucking sound of jobs leaving the country.” Whether Clinton or G.H.[H.]W. Bush won in 1992, either one was ready to sign the first Free Trade Agreement. Clinton did. Environmental protections and labor protections were nothing compared to reaping big, bigger, biggest profits by the companies that gained by going overseas. Being Democrat or Republican didn’t play. President W.[MD] Bush came along, then President Obama. No curbing Free Trade Agreements. At one time I recall, early in Obama’s tenure, believing I’d see him sign the first Fair Trade Agreement. At the time we already had Fair Trade coffee purchases and Fair Trade chocolate. No. Obama was in the mode of corporations getting their way.

Now we need to think harder about our economy after this coronavirus is contained and hopefully receding, then over. Where should our goods be produced? How should the planet’s needs be considered equally—at least—to economic needs as we provide for people’s lives? Should we be throwing away so much as we do? Which people count? Everyone should count, no matter race or wealth or hemisphere. We are all on one small, lovely, stressed planet. Our next election must provide national leadership that is intelligent and thoughtful and far-sighted. If you agree, please send this letter to voting friends and relatives in other states of our U.S.A.

Lynn Rudmin Chong

Sanbornton, N.H.

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