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Old 11-01-2019, 09:02 PM   #1
dustoffer
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Let's reflect on this one---

A pause and reflect article.
By Victor Davis Hanson

Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forbearers' monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno -- and not yet a foot of track laid.
Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?

California's roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.

When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns -- and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our single replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.

Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.

California has not built a major dam in 40 years. Instead, officials squabble over the water stored and distributed by our ancestors, who designed the California State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Contemporary Californians would have little food or water without these massive transfers, and yet they often ignore or **** the generation that built the very system that saves us.

America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moonshot today?No American has set foot on the moon in the last 47 years, and it may not happen in the next 50 years.

Hollywood once gave us blockbuster epics, brilliant Westerns, great film noirs, and classic comedies. Now it endlessly turns out comic-book superhero films or pathetic remakes of prior classics.

Our writers, directors and actors have lost the skills of their ancestors. But they are also cowardly, and in regimented fashion they simply parrot boring race, class and gender bromides that are neither interesting nor funny. Does anyone believe that the Oscar ceremonies are more engaging and dignified than in the past?

We have been fighting in Afghanistan without result for 18 years. Our forefathers helped to win World War II and defeat the Axis Powers in four years.

In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could today's high-school graduate even finish "The Good Earth" or "The Grapes of Wrath"?

True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory.But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless.

We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask:

"Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?"


In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

- Victor Davis Hanson Oct 10, 2019
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:28 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting. Gotta love VDH. He is a native rural Californian whose contemporary writings about the changes in the lands his family has worked for generations is heartbreaking. He is also a brilliant classicist. His books about ancient battles and kingdoms are second to none.
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:53 PM   #3
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Jerp--I need to investigate his writings----I do like his style.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:58 PM   #4
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Good read
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:35 AM   #5
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Very true ... very sad.
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Old 11-03-2019, 04:59 PM   #6
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Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?
Not without 20,000 Chinese immigrant who we can pay almost nothing and work them 6 days a week...
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Old 11-03-2019, 07:13 PM   #7
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Not without 20,000 Chinese immigrant who we can pay almost nothing and work them 6 days a week...
With zero safety rules and regs.
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:29 AM   #8
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Not without 20,000 Chinese immigrants who fled their s-hole country and voluntarily came to this great country to work for the going rate and make a better life for themselves and their family...
fify
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:59 AM   #9
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.....
Hollywood once gave us blockbuster epics, brilliant Westerns, great film noirs, and classic comedies. Now it endlessly turns out comic-book superhero films or pathetic remakes of prior classics.

Our writers, directors and actors have lost the skills of their ancestors. But they are also cowardly, and in regimented fashion they simply parrot boring race, class and gender bromides that are neither interesting nor funny. Does anyone believe that the Oscar ceremonies are more engaging and dignified than in the past?

...
- Victor Davis Hanson Oct 10, 2019
My husband and I talk about this often.
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:02 PM   #10
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fify
Where they came from makes no difference to the point that the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had a vast labor pool that could be worked very hard, paid little, and a complete lack employee protections. And this wasn't just the chinese, but irish immigrants, and freed slaves as well.

As far as the chinese immigrants being paid the "going rate", well that's demonstrably false.
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Old 11-05-2019, 12:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by sir shovelhands View Post
Where they came from makes no difference to the point that the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had a vast labor pool that could be worked very hard, paid little, and a complete lack employee protections. And this wasn't just the chinese, but irish immigrants, and freed slaves as well.

As far as the chinese immigrants being paid the "going rate", well that's demonstrably false.
You brought up where they came from, not me. And they most definitely were paid the going rate. It was the rate that the railroad offered and the rate the workers agreed to work for. You make it out like the railroad workers were captured and forced to go work in terrible conditions. There weren't unions or osha back then but it was a voluntary mutual agreement. Workers' rights and working conditions are obviously better today. But the workers left their own countries and came here to be free and for the opportunity to make a better life for their families. Which most did. I guess we have to blame somebody for everything in our world today. Blame the evil railroads I guess. Blame them for giving jobs to people who wanted jobs.
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:09 PM   #12
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You brought up where they came from, not me.
Lol, because I said "Chinese" immigrants? Yeah, kind of hard to describe them otherwise...

But it was you who felt it important to make the distinction that they were people "who fled their s-hole country". Why is that?

Because the state of the country they came from is irrelevant, as it doesn't counter my point.

The point: the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

The fact that they were immigrants however, is important to my point. In those days you could pay immigrants less than citizens. The Chinese immigrants, for example, were paid up to 50% less than whites for the same work.

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Originally Posted by LWC View Post
And they most definitely were paid the going rate. It was the rate that the railroad offered and the rate the workers agreed to work for.
That's not the definition of "the going rate"...

"the going rate": the usual amount of money that people are paying for something.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/...the-going-rate

The chinese were offered less than whites for the same work, which by definition, makes it less than the going rate.

As for why they accepted those wages? It should be obvious: unskilled labor is just about the only choice for those who don't speak English, especially those who weren't white in the 1800's. So while the railroad didn't have a gun to their head, they knew exactly how few options they had.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LWC View Post
You make it out like the railroad workers were captured and forced to go work in terrible conditions.
Strawman. Please quote me where I implied this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LWC View Post
There weren't unions or osha back then but it was a voluntary mutual agreement. Workers' rights and working conditions are obviously better today.
Did I say it wasn't voluntary? None of these arguments you're making have anything to do with my point.

The transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

If you're going to rebut that, please do so.

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Originally Posted by LWC View Post
But the workers left their own countries and came here to be free and for the opportunity to make a better life for their families. Which most did.
Never said otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LWC View Post
I guess we have to blame somebody for everything in our world today. Blame the evil railroads I guess. Blame them for giving jobs to people who wanted jobs.
Strawman. I've made no attempt to litigate the past, however mightily you defend it against the strawmen you've built. I've only made this point (once again):
the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:23 PM   #13
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the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

How many construction companies today do you think have illegal aliens on their payroll, making less than "the going rate"?
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:29 PM   #14
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the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

How many construction companies today do you think have illegal aliens on their payroll, making less than "the going rate"?
LoL
I guarantee you the food you put in your belly tonight will have illegal alien hands that picked, produced or prepared it.
Unless of course you're lowfence or the guy with the Snoopy logo that has that really nice garden down south Texas.
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:55 PM   #15
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Read 'Fly Boys' if you want to see how we used to get things done...we had fighter planes go from design to combat in months. Our bomber that ruled the sky was like less than 2 years & I think the original design test fuselage was made in three different locations & then buttoned up?? It was amazing the next gear we went into after Pearl Harbor. This was without email, fax or computers.

Good article.
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Old 11-05-2019, 05:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by sir shovelhands View Post
Lol, because I said "Chinese" immigrants? Yeah, kind of hard to describe them otherwise...

But it was you who felt it important to make the distinction that they were people "who fled their s-hole country". Why is that?

Because the state of the country they came from is irrelevant, as it doesn't counter my point.

The point: the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

The fact that they were immigrants however, is important to my point. In those days you could pay immigrants less than citizens. The Chinese immigrants, for example, were paid up to 50% less than whites for the same work.



That's not the definition of "the going rate"...

"the going rate": the usual amount of money that people are paying for something.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/...the-going-rate

The chinese were offered less than whites for the same work, which by definition, makes it less than the going rate.

As for why they accepted those wages? It should be obvious: unskilled labor is just about the only choice for those who don't speak English, especially those who weren't white in the 1800's. So while the railroad didn't have a gun to their head, they knew exactly how few options they had.



Strawman. Please quote me where I implied this.



Did I say it wasn't voluntary? None of these arguments you're making have anything to do with my point.

The transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

If you're going to rebut that, please do so.

Never said otherwise.

Strawman. I've made no attempt to litigate the past, however mightily you defend it against the strawmen you've built. I've only made this point (once again):
the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.
I agree that the railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now. Guess what, people in the 1980's, 90's 00's and so on could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now. What is your point?
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Old 11-05-2019, 05:42 PM   #17
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Read 'Fly Boys' if you want to see how we used to get things done...we had fighter planes go from design to combat in months. Our bomber that ruled the sky was like less than 2 years & I think the original design test fuselage was made in three different locations & then buttoned up?? It was amazing the next gear we went into after Pearl Harbor. This was without email, fax or computers.

Good article.
Hoover damb too
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:02 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by LWC View Post
I agree that the railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now. Guess what, people in the 1980's, 90's 00's and so on could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.
Had you bothered looking, you'd have found that the difference between average hours worked in the 80s/90s/00s/today varies by about 1 hour per week. So, they weren't really working harder back then.

And you'd have also found that real (as in inflation adjusted) wages basically haven't moved since the 70's, meaning they weren't being paid less in the 80s/90s/00s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LWC View Post
What is your point?
My point should have been clear from my first post, but I'll re-type it one more time for you.

Part of the OP's quote stated "does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?" And I responded as to why it wouldn't be possible today.

It seems you're looking for something deeper. Sorry, there's nothing. No secret message, no hidden meaning.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:06 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by batmaninja View Post
the transcontinental railroad was built in 6 years because we had labor that could be worked harder and for less money than is legally possible now.

How many construction companies today do you think have illegal aliens on their payroll, making less than "the going rate"?
Quite a lot. Was there a follow up question?
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:03 PM   #20
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Had you bothered looking, you'd have found that the difference between average hours worked in the 80s/90s/00s/today varies by about 1 hour per week. So, they weren't really working harder back then.

And you'd have also found that real (as in inflation adjusted) wages basically haven't moved since the 70's, meaning they weren't being paid less in the 80s/90s/00s.
Had you bothered to read what you quoted, I said nothing about hours worked. I said the workers were worked harder. If you think people work harder today than they did 40 years ago, then we will just disagree.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:49 AM   #21
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Had you bothered to read what you quoted, I said nothing about hours worked. I said the workers were worked harder. If you think people work harder today than they did 40 years ago, then we will just disagree.
Way to move those goalposts to try and make the scale of work only based upon subjective intangibles. Why bother with quantifiable things like hours worked or productivity?
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