By Shane New  
Understanding Ag, LLC

I want to preface this blog by stating up front that some may find the contents controversial.  My intentions are not to belittle the current situation, anyone or anything an individual does. My intention is to promote thought and conversation as to how our country can move forward so we, as a country and as individuals, do not find ourselves in this situation ever again.

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The 24/7 news media coverage about COVID-19 fills our ears with more information than we can possibly digest.  But few stories examine the core problem. 

I asked my wife, a nurse practitioner, what she saw as the core problem.  Her response was that hospitals don’t have enough of the equipment and staff needed to provide care to those who contract this virus.  So why is the most sophisticated medical health system in the world caught in this situation? Part of the problem is we no longer manufacture the critical equipment that is needed and a willing labor force.  

It is not just medical equipment. Pharmaceuticals, clothing, computers, I-phones and much, much more are now manufactured in other countries. Why is this? Can they manufacture higher quality goods? No, the reason these goods are manufactured in other countries is because they can be produced at a lower cost.  Specifically, they have an abundant labor force. They have individuals willing to do the jobs that many in our country won’t and for a much lower wage. 

Those were the jobs that my classmates and I performed in our youth.  Those manual labor jobs gave us some hard-earned money, which we saved for our college education, and they taught us responsibility.  The jobs gave us experience that we would come to use as adults.

Today, most parents do not encourage their children to find jobs. Instead, they encourage them to take part in sports and other extracurricular activities. The last time I hired someone, I don’t remember asking how fast they could run a 40-yard dash, but I did ask if they had any job experience.

Now parents rely on their children to take out student loans to pay for their college. This leaves the children tens of thousands of dollars in debt upon graduation.  What is this teaching them about fiscal responsibility? Delinquency rates on student loans have reached 40 percent, approaching $200 billion. 

Many schools no longer have a shop class or vo-ag class that teaches trade skills.  Once youth acquire this basic knowledge, they can then train under local professionals while earning a wage rather than running up student debt. Let’s be honest, some children would much rather learn a hands-on trade then learn from a book. 

We need to be teaching the next generation these basic skills.  It is time that this country gets back to the basics. We need to have the ability to be independent.  This starts with teaching our children how to be responsible, be on time, perform a task, take pride in their work, earn their own money, save that money, be responsible with it.

Cannot these young adults work in these factories producing the medical equipment and supplies that are in such short supply?  Cannot they work in care facilities? And how about the food sector? Why not give these youth the opportunity to grow nutrient-dense food to fill our store shelves?  The ag sector is screaming for labor right now. Our youth and young adults are unemployed. What am I missing here?

Our country has gone decades trying our damnedest to destroy what made us great and that was our work ethic and ingenuity. We are, as a society, failing miserably here.  We are becoming a society that is unwilling to accept responsibility. Instead, we expect others, including the government, to provide for us. We are asking daycare providers to raise our children.  We are asking teachers to discipline our children, without spanking them of course. We ask the government to pay for our health care and now we have many who want the government to pay for college education.  Why? Because we are no longer teaching our children responsibility and we, ourselves, are no longer being responsible.

Using the principles of observation, ingenuity, a willingness to work hard, along with an independent spirit, drive and determination, combined with fiscal responsibility, we can succeed.

It is time for all of us to step up and be responsible.KATHY RICHBURG

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