January 6, 2019

Having moved to North Adams in the summer of 2018, I asked one of the locals in the know what he thought was one of the most important issues facing our small city. He replied, “Jobs.”

The interesting thing about jobs is not only do they provide a source of income for one’s family but they also provide something equally as important, and that is pride. The power of the sense of self purpose is one of the bedrocks of a strong society. With a job can come comradery and morale among fellow workers, the feeling of financial security and a positive self-image all leading to curing many of society’s ills while fostering a strong sense of community.

Probably the best example in American history of jobs making such a positive impact to our society is in American manufacturing post World War 2. Almost all of America was working and able to support their families, buy a house and a car, and enjoy leisure time; all with usually one income. The working class was living a good and decent life stimulating the economy from the ground up with their spending. There were manufacturing plants, farms and mills all over America providing Americans not only a job but a source of pride. North Adams was no exception and when older locals talk about the good old days they are referring to Sprague Electric and the opportunities that Sprague provided to an entire community as the community, in turn, provided to them good loyal workers. With the shift of American manufacturing to overseas in the early 1980s, we saw not only a loss of American jobs but a slow decline of our society as well with the poor and middle classes taking the biggest hit.

Our focus today should not be in wasting our time placing blame for the loss of American jobs, but rather in thinking about and implementing new and alternative ideas that create opportunity for all Americans; opportunities that our country’s soul desperately needs right now.

Please look for my next article in The Greylock Glass where I hope to offer solutions to creating American jobs and restoring our sense of self purpose.

James Kennedy

James Kennedy is a local artist and former businessman. He enjoys fine art, cooking and music. His own artworks are on view and available for purchase at his website.

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